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Photo TR: Celebrating the Holidays at the Disneyland Resort

Day 1: Downtown Disney, Disneyland & holiday lighting!

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For what seemed like my first trip to Disneyland in forever (my last trip was just over two years prior for the D23 Expo 2019), my wife and I managed to sneak away to the Disneyland Resort for a trip full of firsts... This was our first time visiting during the holiday season with all that that includes, as well as our first time visiting since the opening of Avengers Campus at Disney California Adventure. Having been to Disneyland many times prior, this trip took a more relaxed pace, with us focusing on the unique holiday offerings, the new experiences at Avengers Campus and repeating many of our favorites. This worked out well as we also visited in the time before Genie+ and Lightning Lane was in use--meaning that all attractions operated with standby only. Fortunately enough, we were able to plan our time strategically and never waited more than 45 minutes for any one experience, with the exception of WEB Slingers, which we waited over an hour for due to the new ride's popularity. 

We had three days at the resort with the first day being the most casual--allowing us to enjoy Downtown Disney, Trader Sam's for lunch and Disneyland in the evening. 


The former ESPN Zone had some neat murals added to promote the variety of content available to enjoy on Disney+.


It was announced at the Destination D23 event a few weeks ago that this corner of Downtown Disney would be demolished in the near future for a midcentury modern designed area of Downtown Disney with new shops and dining. 


The former Rainforest Cafe was repurposed as an expanded Star Wars Trading Post and I can't help but admire how the former rainforest ruins have been mildly rethemed to a Yavin 4-esque Rebel base. 


If you remember the retail interior of Rainforest Cafe it is kind of neat to see how the space was reutilized for Star Wars Trading Post.




I've got a tradition to keep up...


Yep! Trader Sam's it is!


Don't pu pu my love of this wonderful oasis.


After Trader Sam's reopened post-COVID, the venue started requiring dining reservations and with that change, the menu received a few heartier entrees to choose from. This ramen was awesome and truly hit the spot on the chilly day we visited!


New mug acquired!


Even though we dined outside (the weather was just too nice not to) we had to check out the holiday decor inside the Enchanted Tiki Bar!


On our way out of Trader Sam's we spotted Goofy standing outside Goofy's Kitchen waiting to take photos with guests!


We agreed that we would focus on Disneyland for our first day's time in the parks and seeing the park dressed up for the holidays was honestly the best way to really kick off our trip's theme park time. The Dapper Dans were great to see and hear here.


Quite the tree.


Hello beautiful!


I had experienced Haunted Mansion Holiday years ago during a Halloween-time visit that I made to the resort but it was my wife's first time experiencing the glory that is this overlay. 


This was also Haunted Mansion Holiday's 20th year in operation.


It isn't a visit to Disneyland without at least one ride on Big Thunder Mountain.


Snow White's Enchanted Wish was another new experience for us since the last time we rode this it was still Snow White's Scary Adventures. In addition to updated scenes and effects within the ride, the facade and queue received enhancements to lighten the mood.


But many of the classic touches have been preserved.


Less gloomy than before but still very cool!


A fun new detail we noticed was that you can see Snow White's silhouette dancing in the window of the cottage at the boarding area for the ride. 


I now present to you: The Backside of Castle!


I was really excited to see just how much live entertainment and character experiences were being offered throughout the parks during our visit. 


Alien Pizza Planet has moved in permanently and received a neat sign to match.


Still among my favorite experiences getting the chance to Rockit through space. 


That evening we had the chance to see A Christmas Fantasy Parade. 


This is a charming, classic parade with some of the iconic holiday elements I've grown used to seeing at the Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party over the years.


Mickey and the Gang are here!


Hi Elissa!




Fun to see Frozen integrated into the parade.


Most classic holiday characters in the parade.


Goofy and Pluto!


The toy factory float was super impressive!


Hi Jack!


Santa even came by to visit!




This is next-level pretty.


For a cool evening, the grilled cheese and tomato bisque at the Jolly Holiday Bakery was a perfect dinner.


I love the Castle Dreamlights on Sleeping Beauty Castle. 


They had a neat Muppets Haunted Mansion exhibit in the Main Street Opera House featuring props from the special. As a fan of The Muppets and Haunted Mansion, the special is something I really enjoyed and would recommend if you're a fan of either. Lots of fun references from both sides of the fandom.


Good night Disneyland... See you tomorrow!

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Great report, Adam! I have visited most of all the Disney parks around the world, usually June-Sept, and have always dreamed of the time when I could visit any Disney park, during it's Holiday Season. This was a great look at traditions still used and loved, in Disneyland. Thanks for the visit.

And the Pickle Dog stand reminded me....


Yes,  bought one of those "pickle dogs" way back in 2017 at our PNE. Never again, I say! It - was - huge!

And pardon my liberal use of mustard. It helped.

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