Scenes from Disney Parks: Reflections of Christmas


Merry Christmas Eve! Hopefully you’re done with the hustle and bustle of Christmas shopping, present wrapping, making cookies, and are snuggled up at home by the fire watching The Muppet Christmas Carol. My plan for a quiet Christmas Eve calls for a traditional viewing of that (plus A Muppet Family Christmas, Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas, The Bishop’s Wife, Christmas Vacation, Elf, and It’s a Wonderful Life, for all of you keeping score at home…), but first I wanted to share a quick post with you. Last Christmas Eve, I shared a post about Country Bear Christmas, something with a lot of personal meaning to me. I thought I’d continue the tradition this year with something else I love: rain.

I’ve spent a decent part of the last month or so in the pouring rain, and I couldn’t be happier about it. Really. When it starts raining in the Disney Parks, other guests start heading towards the exits, leaving those who are willing to “brave” the precipitation the parks at their prettiest (save for perhaps when the parks are snow-covered, which I have yet to see) and least crowded. This is especially true at Christmas-time, when the reflections of the lights form long streaks of light on the ground.

If you only focus on the soggy feet or soaked shirt, it probably doesn’t seem worth it to stick around once the rain starts falling. However, if instead of heading for the exits, you take a moment to pause and soak up not just the rain drops but the serene scenes of the park, you’ll notice there’s beauty all around you. I know, I know, it doesn’t sound like a ton of fun to get soaked in a Disney theme park, but trust me: it’s worth it for the beauty…or for the shorter lines, in the event that you don’t care about the “extra” beauty and would rather just enjoy the beauty when it’s nice out!

You can click on each photo to view it larger (and with high resolution) in my gallery and to see the camera settings I used. All photos in this post were captured with my Nikon D750 DSLR and Nikon D810 DSLR.

Hope you enjoy the photos. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to you and your families! (more…)

5 Tips for Surviving the Crowds at Disneyland

The busy holiday season is upon us, with the weeks leading to Christmas and New Year’s being two of the busiest weeks of the year. This post will help you avoid the long lines at Disneyland and Disney California Adventure if you’re visiting during these two highly crowded times (or any other busy holidays, for that matter, such as Easter, July 4th, etc.) with 5 of our best tips for surviving the crowds at Disneyland Resort.

Before we get started, let’s make it abundantly clear that Disneyland and Disney California Adventure are both madhouses on holidays. Based on comments and questions we receive, a lot of people seem think they can “outsmart” others by visiting on days like Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, or New Year’s Eve, and are surprised to find that tens of thousands of their closest friends have also had the same idea. It’s like the movie theater: it seems like people would want to stay home with their families instead of going to movies on holidays, and yet the theaters are slammed, too.

That’s the unfortunate thing. Fortunately, there are ways to minimize your time spent waiting and line and maximize what you accomplish. To be clear, you will encounter hordes of people and lines in the middle of the day for popular attractions will be ridiculous. There’s no magical hack to avoid that. This post is not written from the perspective of having the most amazing time ever with no crowds–it’s about making lemonade out of lemons. If you envision a day skipping around from one headliner thrill ride to another, it’s time to adjust your expectations.

With that said, here’s what you can do to improve your experience, based on our holiday visits to Disneyland Resort when the parks have been crowded… (more…)

Ultimate 2014 Disneyland Christmas Guide

Disneyland Resort’s Christmas season runs November 13, 2014 through January 6, 2015 with tons of holiday entertainment, decorations, and attractions. Is there anything better than experiencing Disneyland and Disney California Adventure during the holiday season? Perhaps only experiencing Walt Disney World, which, with its four parks and myriad of resort hotels, has a bit of an unfair advantage over the more compact Disneyland Resort. Pound for pound, though, Disneyland Resort arguably has the better Christmas offerings, especially in 2014 now that Disney California Adventure’s Cars Land and Buena Vista Street fully embrace Christmas.

This “Ultimate Guide” will give you tips about visiting Disneyland at Christmas, including Jingle Cruise, World of Color – Winter Dreams, Haunted Mansion Holiday, ‘it’s a small world’ holiday, the Believe… In Holiday Magic fireworks, A Christmas Fantasy parade, Candlelight Processional, The Holiday Time at Disneyland Tour, Disney California Adventure’s decorations and offerings, and everything else Disneyland has to offer at Christmas! Along the way we’ll offer some of our tips and tricks for best-experiencing the Disneyland Resort at Christmas-time, and we hope this thorough guide will prove helpful for everyone from first-time guests to yearly visitors.

This isn’t merely the Disney-marketing copy you’ll find on every other site offering the same generic information about Christmas at Disneyland with “helpful” tips such as making such to check out Sleeping Beauty’s Winter Castle. Of course you will check it out…any idiot who strolls into the park is sure to check it out by virtue of strolling into he park. Instead, we’ll try to offer things that are less intuitive or well known. Unfortunately, we haven’t visited Disneyland Resort at Christmas since Cars Land or Buena Vista Street opened, so we don’t have photos of its decorations, but we’re heading back for Christmas this year, so we’ll update the guide once we have photos of everything new!

Unlike a Christmas overlay to Captain EO (fortunately, there isn’t one!), this guide will be sure to make your holidays at Disneyland better!

When To Visit



If you’ve read our When to Visit Disneyland or Disneyland Trip Planning Guide posts, you may know that the holidays at Disneyland are a veritable “Tale of Two Seasons” when it comes to crowds. There are times when crowds are relatively low, and times when the parks are so slammed that you’ll think it’s spring break all over again! (more…)

Disney ¡Viva Navidad! Tips

viva-navidad-puppet

Disney ¡Viva Navidad! is a celebration of Latino holiday cultural traditions in Disneyland Resort’s Disney California Adventure from November 13, 2014 – January 6, 2015. It is a really high energy celebration with a wide array of appeal for just about anyone, taking place in the Paradise Garden corner of the park (it’s near beloved Disney institution Corn Dog Castle for those unfamiliar with DCA). This post takes a look at the various things going on during ¡Viva Navidad!, and provides some tips…to the extent that they are actually necessary. It’s a pretty straightforward and easy-to-experience event.

The Disney ¡Viva Navidad! Street Party is the main draw of ¡Viva Navidad!, and it’s like a party that rolled straight out of circa-1982 EPCOT Center. With its marrying of authentic culture with Disney fun, it has shades of vintage EPCOT Center, and reminds me how well that park used to integrate entertainment, education, and culture. (more…)

Best Disneyland Christmas Snacks

ice-cream-cookie-sandwich

One of my favorite things about Disneyland Resort at Christmas is the food. Yeah, yeah, “it’s a small world” holiday, Haunted Mansion Holiday, and World of Color – Winter Dreams are all good, but is there really as big of an E-Ticket at the Plaza Inn Yule Log? Is there anything more ‘magical’ than playing with goats and then heading to the Big Thunder Ranch for Peppermint Ice Cream and Brownie Skillet? Not only are there a lot of great desserts at Disneyland and Disney California Adventure for Christmas, but there are interesting special items available for the holidays.

Eating all of the special Christmas menu items at Disneyland Resort would be a herculean task, and this is a task we’ve proudly(?) attempted to undertake in the name of research. There are probably an upwards of 40 special menu items available for Christmas each year, with most on special placard menus at the restaurants. Many of these items ostensibly have nothing to do with Christmas (like the Hot Roast Beef and Cheddar Sandwich at Jolly Holiday Cafe). Others sound delicious in theory, but are sort of duds (like the Golden Horseshoe Ice Cream Nachos). Others still just sound like really bad ideas (like the Cherry Cobbler Flatbread at Village Haus).

This post takes a look at some of our favorites that we recommend seeking out if you have the chance…

plaza-inn-yule-log

Yule Log – Any day of the year, Plaza Inn is a gift to mankind thanks to its amazing fried chicken. During November and December, it approaches dangerous levels of awesomeness due to the fried chicken plus the Yule Log. How does the Yule Log taste? Succinctly put, the yule log had us saying “yum” and “wow” about every seven seconds! Less succinctly put, the Yule Log is the perfect combination of sponge cake and cream, with rich pumpkin or chocolate mousse. None of the flavors overpowers or is too rich, meaning a single guest can easily conquer this entire largely-sized dessert. Usually, November is a pumpkin yule log and December is a coffee or chocolate one. Plan trips both months to try them each. Worth the airfare. (more…)