Christmas Time at Disney California Adventure

Now that Thanksgiving is over and the holidays are in full swing, let’s continue exploring Holiday Time at the Disneyland Resort by taking 187 steps across the esplanade over to Disney California Adventure (yes I have actually counted). You can see my first article about all the holiday fun over at Disneyland park here: Christmas at Disneyland. Although Disneyland park is my first love, I have made room in my heart for Disney California Adventure, especially during the holiday season. Most of the holiday events at Disneyland will last through January 6, 2016 and here are some of my favorite, not to be missed holiday extras at Disney California Adventure park.

  1. Buena Vista Street Community Bell Ringers

buena vista bell ringers

While strolling along Beuna Vista Street, if you hear ringing in your ears, don’t worry, follow the sounds and they will lead you to the Buena Vista Street Community Bell Ringers. Throughout the day they perform holiday favorites accompanied only by their hand bells.

  1. Holiday Tree Lighting

california adventure tree lighting

Every evening, the citizens of Buena Vista Street gather together to celebrate the season with the lighting of their towering Christmas tree. The new California Adventure winter tradition creates a heartfelt tribute by nightly ringing in the season surrounded by all sights and sounds of the holiday.

  1. Santa Claus

disneyland santa

The Man in Red likes to “travel” between the two parks this holiday season. This means that not only can you visit him in Critter Country at Disneyland, you can find out if you are on the nice list by visiting him at Elias and Co. on Buena Vista Street. The setting is reminiscent of classic department store Santas; think Miracle on 34th Street. The elves are happy and bouncy and add even more magic to the experience. Santa likes to really visit with each guest, so the line can get long, make sure to wear your wear your holiday best and see him early in the day.

  1. Handmade Candy Canes

disneyland candy cane

Starting after Thanksgiving California Adventure sells very special handmade candy canes. They are only available on certain days and they make a limited amount. You will need a wrist band that you can collect at Trolley Treats in order to purchase the candy canes later on in the day when they are ready.

  1. Cars Land

carsland christmas

Although the entire Disneyland resort is decked out in its holiday best, nothing compares to the holiday decorations in Cars Land. All of the decorations are automotive themed: Christmas trees made from oil cans, garlands made with air filters and snowflakes made out of wrenches to name just a few. The daily Lighting of Cars Land when the town’s neon is showcased is made extra magical with all the added holiday lights. Even if you bypass the rides in Cars Land, take a detour and cruse Route 66 in Radiator Springs.

  1. ¡Viva Navidad!

viva navidad disneyland

In the tradition of the recently closed Big Thunder Ranch Holiday Jamboree, California Adventure celebrates the holidays with ¡Viva Navidad! a Latin themed holiday event with crafts, a street parade, musicians and a special character meet and greet.

viva navidad street party

The ¡Viva Navidad! Street Party is hosted by the Three Cabiaros.  The trio is joined by Mexican and Brazilian musicians and dancers wearing traditional costumes of their representative countries. Mickey and Minnine make a special appearance and 15ft tall mojiganga dolls, these giant paper mache dolls wiz around and through the party. The street party occurs hourly throughout the day and is located in front of Pardise Gardens. The best place to watch the party is in front of  the Jumping JellyFish ride.

viva navidad meet greet

¡Viva Navidad! character meet and greet rotates between Mickey and Minnie, Goofy, and the Three Cabiaros. All of the characters are dressed in their Navidad best. If you are lucky and patient enough to keep getting back in line, it is possible to get pictures with all of them.

viva navidad craft

¡Viva Navidad! also provides an area where guests of all ages can create a holiday craft. This year the project is a hanging paper lantern that can be decorated and taken home as a free holiday souvenir.

  1. Paradise Garden Grill ¡Viva Navidad! Transformation

garden grill viva navidad

Holiday treats and menu items are everywhere in the restaurants and shops of California Adventure, but the most exciting holiday edibles are over at the Paradise Garden Grill. During Holiday Time the regular Mediterranean menu is replaced by Latino holiday favorites. The ¡Viva Navidad! menu includes Mexican Hot Chocolate with masa, dessert tamales and chicken mole. While you enjoy your holiday edibles you can listen to live music at the Paradise Gardens Bandstand.

  1. Winter Dreams WOC

world of color olaf

During Holiday Time in California Adventure, Disney offers a special winter version of World of Color. The night time spectacular water and light show features the spirit of the season with different beloved Disney characters; old and new. There is a special appearance by the warm hug loving snowman Olaf and Elsa creates some winter magic by conjuring snow in Southern California. If you were looking forward to seeing the Diamond Celebration World of Color, “Celebrate! The Wonderful World of Disney”, fear not. Both versions are presented nightly with Winter Dreams first on the program and Celebrate!  as the last attraction of the evening.

  1. The Grand Californian Hotel

grand californian ginger bread

As soon as you step inside the lobby of the Grand Californian Hotel, you are surrounded by the holiday spirit. In the center of the lobby stands the majestic Christmas tree that looks like it nearly reaches the top of the rafters. The piano player “twinkles” the ivories with traditional holiday tunes. But, the most impressive sight is the life-size gingerbread house which you can watch being assembled by the talented culinary artists of the Grand Californian. When finished, it will have over 500 lbs of ginger bread and 60 gallons of frosting and look good enough to eat!

grand californian gifts

If you suddenly get a craving for gingerbread, don’t try to sneak a snack from the sweet structure. There is a stand just a few feet away that sells holiday refreshments such as cider, hot chocolate and even shingles of gingerbread. Even if you are not staying at the stately hotel, stop in for a drink, a snack and bask in the holiday.

I cannot wait to get back to California Adventure with my family in tow next week to enjoy all the added special holiday fun that Disney has provided. Hope to see you all there, I will be the one with the gingerbread shingle in one hand and Mexican hot chocolate in the other!

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