The morning sun is bright and the palm trees stand tall in rows down Disneyland Dr. in Ahaheim, California. I can’t help but feel a little jump of excitement in my stomach. The last few weeks, the anger, fighting and fear in my Facebook feed and on the news has been all consuming and distracting. The election is over and Donald Trump is our new president. Much of the country is divided, but you wouldn’t know the turmoil that it is creating in the world here inside the gates of the Disneyland Resort.
Disneyland is a special place. I’ve been coming here since I was five years old and now bring my own family to share the magic. We enter these gates with a whistle, to laugh and have fun with our loved ones. We leave with fun memories to last a lifetime. This place is timeless, despite the ever-present reminder that the kids are growing way too fast – especially as they stand to take a family photo with Mickey Mouse. This is what I love about the holidays at Disneyland. Time stands still.
Today, I am here on a media assignment with our family to experience #DisneylandHolidays, an annual event for the Disneyland Resort that runs November 10, 2016 – January 8, 2017. (Note: There is still time to book your own last miute trip). We have covered many holiday events here over the last eight years for Hip Travel Mama, but this year, the magic and message of the holidays and the line up of events struck a chord.
The new Festival of Holidays at The Disneyland Resort, and the new World of Color – Season of Light are just two new holiday festivites for 2016 that celebrate the spirit of the holidays and diversity of our cultures with music, dance, craft making, and food from around the world.
Festival of Holidays
The new Festival of Holidays theme this year celebrates the diverse cultures, holidays, and people from around the world. Everywhere you turn, at all hours of the day and night, there is great live music, street parties, food, drinks, special crafts for the kids to learn about celebrations around the glove including Christmas, Diwali, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and Three Kings Day. The Festive Foods Marketplace offers 14 food kiosks (think food truck style) in Disney California Adventure, offering you a chance to sample everything from spring rolls to street tacos, and even grab a glass of wine or beer on the go.
One of our favorite experiences during this trip was watching the colorful costumes and dancers perform in the Disney Viva Navidad! street party. Princess Elena, the first Disney Princess inspired by diverse Latin American cultures, also made her debut. I even snapped a quick selfie with Santa at Redwood Creek Challenge Trail in Disney California Adventure Park. Santa and his elves are greeting families for photos through December 24th.
Over in Disneyland Park, the signature 50ft Christmas tree welcomes you when you walk onto main street. Sleeping Beauty’s Winter Castle is adorned in snow and sparkle for the holiday and “A Christmas Fantasy” parade runs daily, spreading holiday cheer. This year, “It’s a Small World” Holiday celebrates 20 years of getting dressed up for the holidays. More than 50,000 lights illuminate the facade of “It’s a Small World,” and another 350,000 mini lights wrap the trees, hedges and animal topiaries. Be sure to keep an eye out for a half dozen “hidden 20s” inside the as you ride.
New – World of Color – Season of Light
This year’s new World of Color show really tugged at my heart strings. The music and themes touched on some of the most important themes to me personally – time with family, love, and peace on earth. As the show comes to a close, the lagoon in Disney California Adventure park is filled with the light and hearts with the message of peace and love to all.
After dark we lined up with the huge crowds to watch World of Color – Season of Light. I found myself getting choked up as the music played and I scanned the giant crowd of faces. These were people from all ethnicities, socio-econonomic backgrounds, and corners of the globe. Together, we watched peacefully in silence with friends and family. It was a moment I won’t soon forget.
To those who share our love of Disney, you get it. No need to explain. To the critics who see the long lines and crowds, I challenge you to spend a day in the park this holiday season with new eyes. To see how extraordinary it is that this place still brings people together from all walks of life, to line up each day for their little piece of Disney magic. I’m grateful for this place, for Walt Disney’s original vision, and the many employees who work hard each day to help us forget about our troubles and find a little magic in the day.
“To all who come to this happy place; welcome. Disneyland is your land. Here age relives fond memories of the past…and here youth may savor the challenge and promise of the future. Disneyland is dedicated to the ideals, the dreams and the hard facts that have created America…with the hope that it will be a source of joy and inspiration to all the world.” –Walt Disney, 1955 opening of Disneyland.
More tips to plan your trip coming soon. In the meantime, be sure to check out Hip Travel Mama on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter for more photos from our #DisneylandHolidays weekend.
Disclosure: We were hosted guests of the Disneyland Resort and received accomodations and other services to experience the resort. As always, all opinions expressed here are our own.