Far from the pressures of cooking, shopping and putting on mittens, it’s all cast members on deck at the Disney theme parks to create winter holiday cheer, and ensure you and your family have a “magical’ stay. The seasonal fun continues through January 6, 2015 and there are some lodging, shopping and meal bargains to be had during this period in both Florida and California.
First, let’s explore the fun recently showcased by Disneyland on a Holiday Blogger weekend.
#DisneyHolidays Wow at Disneyland
Disney artisans are masters of style and, from the enormous Christmas tree ornaments decorating It’s a Bug’s Life in California Adventure, to the Santa hats on vehicles at the Cozy Cone Motel in Carsland, there are hundreds of wintry touches. We loved the turrets of Cinderella’s castle draped in molten gingerbread with gumdrops. The Big Thunder Ranch “Jingle” Jamboree and other shows have woven in favorite carols.
Hanukah-celebrators will love the range of glittery blue and white products inspired by “Frozen.” Bakeries are selling gingerbread tiles decorated with scenes from favorite films, chocolate-covered baked apples that look like ornaments, and sugar cookies with red and green sprinkled icing like your mom used to make.
Surprises are Fun for all Park Goers at #DisneyHolidays
Favorite rides have been re-themed, too. Board the Jungle Cruise (now Jingle Cruise) in Disneyland’s Adventureland, and you’ll be attacked by hippos in poinsettia bogs and tigers with wreaths around their necks. Day and nighttime parades include Santa and his reindeer among the procession.
It’s a Small World remixes Disney’s best known tune with “Jingle Bells” to drive parents crazy while multi-ethnic, brown-eyed children on either shore of the boat ride sing it in multiple languages. In a nod to the growing importance of foreign markets, Chinese children are now surrounded by a dragon ice sculpture honoring the famous Ice Festival in Harbin, and Indian girls in saris are shooting off fireworks for New Year’s Eve.
Of course there’s a lot of “Feliz Navidad” on the ride, too. The traditions of Latino fans are celebrated in more depth at Viva Navidad!, a Hispanic market, decked out in traditional Mexican papercuts and candelaria, serving churros and holiday tamales. Mariachi perform several times daily and there are several crafts shops the whole family will enjoy.
What Better Time of Year to Be “Frozen”?
Come nightfall, the parks’ sparkling décor and fantastic sound, light and water displays go all out in winter theming.
The 9pm nightly World of Color: Winter Dreams show I saw at California Adventure – a delightfully magical collage of favorite animated clips projected on a scrim of water – includes Christmas and Hanukah wishes, new scenes of Anna and Elsa from “Frozen,” snow flakes and snowmen.
Topping off the fun is a new “Believe … in Holiday Magic” fireworks display, again, with more of that icy blue and white theming that made all the young princesses in my group scream “Elsa!” All of these holiday activities and events are in store at Disneyland and Disney World, with enough differences that your family will need to see them both before New Years!
Secret Santa Savings at Disney Theme Parks
How can you find a bargain in the happiest place on earth during the happy season?
In one secret savings opportunity, guests purchasing food at the park restaurants before January 4, 2015 can use their receipt for a 20% discount in most park shops. Tell the kids to hold onto those receipts and they can practice their math by double-checking the figures.
Booking Anaheim hotels after Thanksgiving and prior to the Christmas week can mean savings of up to $23 per room per night -– nearly 17% — according to the hotel metasearch engine Trivago, which tracks the rise and fall of hotel prices in major markets. Their study found that the week of December 13-19th is the best bargain of the season, with Disneyland rates averaging $123 per night double occupancy (of course kids under 18 stay free in your room.)
In Orlando, notes the Trivago Hotel Price Index, room rates for Disney World holidaymakers rise from as low as $128 per night during the first week of December to a whopping $171 if you check in December 25th, so get planning and get going.
For more subtle savings, stay on property to get into the parks an hour or two early.
Boomer couples and grandparents with young grandchildren, who wake up early anyway, will find the parks have zero wait lines and are much easier to navigate. Getting on more rides each day can add at least 20% value to your entry ticket – not to mention decreased blood pressure. Note that many favorite restaurants that get booked far in advance for dinner serve holiday breakfast (try the tamales at Flo’s Diner in Carsland) and are just as thrilling a dining experience.
We believe it’s better to give than to get, so please share your favorite #DisneyHolidays moments and travel tips in the Comments section below.
This story was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question, and stay up to date with current events to ensure a safe and successful trip.