Christmas at Disneyland – Lessons Learned

This year we decided to spend Christmas away from home for the first time as a family.
Maybe because we had some nostalgia for bringing Riley to Disneyland during the holidays, we thought it a good idea to go there again this year. It’s been a couple of years since we’ve been there, and we’ve never been there on Christmas Day.
If you’ve never been to Disneyland for the holidays, it’s unique. Around 9 PM every night, “snow” falls from the sky to the strains of “When You Wish Upon a Star.”  While this sounds unbelievably cheesy, it’s a bit of magic. Seeing a child react to this moment brings out innocence, hope, love, family, and all that is good in the world. What can I say? I teared up the first couple of years it happened.
With our son being 15, we thought, “this might be the last chance” for another shot of Disney magic.
I researched the Disney insider site “Touring Plans,” which maintains a historical attendance database, to learn that Christmas Day is NOT the busiest day of the holidays.
So we went for it.
And guess what? We had a great time!
But we did learn a few things.

Little Things We Learned.

  • The Grand Californian rooms have all been updated. Nice. Still, the best place to stay (if you want to splurge).
  • Two and a half days is the perfect time to do all of Disneyland and Disney California Adventure (DCA), even with crowds. Too bad no two-and-a-half-day pass is available.
  • Magic Mornings (getting in before the park opens and a benefit of staying at the Grand Californian) is a bit hyped. B/c, not everything is open, you get to go on one ride during the magic hour (and still wait). You do get a jump on the day.
  • The “Tower of Terror” is now “Guardians of the Galaxy” and better. The ride seemed longer to us. This is a great ride.
  • The Radiator Springs Cars ride consistently has the most interminable wait and may be the best thing in Disneyland or DCA. If you haven’t been on it, it’s terrific.
  • “Soaring over California” is now “Soaring,” letting you see global locations. While the higher definition video is beautiful, the ride seemed hurried to us to get to all the international spots. We preferred SOC.
  • Disney will soon break ground on a new five-star resort next to the Disneyland hotel in Downtown Disney. The theaters and ESPN Zone will be demolished to make room for it. Does anyone really like ESPN Zone?
  • We could see nothing of the new “Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge.”  It is scheduled to open summer of 2019. This could be cool.
  • The Starbucks app works for both downtown Disney and Starbucks! A great timesaver! Shhh! Don’t tell anyone about the Starbucks app.
  • Christmas Day turned out to be crowded as hell. More than Christmas Eve or the day after Christmas.

BTW – Expect This

When we told people we were going to Disneyland for Christmas, a typical reaction was, “Wow, that’s going to be SO CROWDED!”
In the future, can you say, “Wow, you’re a real idiot, aren’t you!” Which, if you don’t know, is how that comment comes across. A better reply is, “Sounds great! Have a wonderful time!”
No worries, we’re not offended. Plus, I’ve made those types of ridiculous comments for decades.
It turns out that Disney does a pretty good job with crowds. Imagine that? With the new MaxPass app, we could go on everything we wanted with little waiting.
The MaxPass was another $10 per person per day. In the land of the $5.00 bottle of Diet Coke, well worth it.

The Big Thing We Learned.

The big lesson learned this year was that we should spend all the coming Christmas holidays at home!
Home is the place to be on Christmas, at least for us.
Pleasant Holidays!

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