Holidays mean time with family and friends and I can’t think of a better place to spend time than Disneyland. I had the fun opportunity to attend a press preview of the Disneyland Holiday events and with a full line-up of cross-cultural activities there was lots of holiday cheer to go around. Beyond my regular delight with being at Disneyland, it was great to experience holiday surprises in many of the attractions, yummy holiday treats and decorations that sparkled beyond belief. Here are details, including my favorite events and tidbits from the press releases and a video made with my partner in “video” Kimberley Clayton Blaine, TheGoToMom:
Disney ¡Viva Navidad!
The newest celebration at the Disneyland Resort is “Disney ¡Viva Navidad!” -Nov. 15 2013 through Jan. 6, 2014 in Disney California Adventure Park. I had the chance to see the beautiful parade with music that made me want to get up and dance (I was wishing I had one of those amazing skirts to dance in). Then I learned more details from the press release: “Disney ¡Viva Navidad! is a merry celebration inspired by the warmth and joyous spirit of the Latino culture, filled with holiday traditions, jubilant dancing and exciting music. Based in and around the Paradise Garden area of Disney California Adventure, the special activities include crafts and face-painting for children, live Latino music, dance lessons, holiday foods, the “Disney ¡Viva Navidad! Street Party” and, of course, appearances by some popular Disney characters“.
“Micky Mouse, Minni Mouse and Goofy will have festive costumes along with the Three Caballeros: Donald Duck, Panchito from Mexico and José Carioca from Brazil. It takes place at Paradise Garden several times a day (check the daily schedule for timing). You can watch a great performance at the Disney ¡Viva Navidad! Street Party that includes “Mexican folklorico dancers, samba dancers and drummers, plus giant “Mojiganga” puppets, including Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus” Jan. 3 Through Jan. 6 2014 will be the grand finale of “Disney ¡Viva Navidad!” with a special celebration of Three Kings Day (Dia de los Reyes).
If you are hungry, you can also head out to dining locations in Paradise Garden to try popular Mexican dishes such as “such as pozole (hearty stew), chicken mole drumettes, pescado (fish) Veracruzano, champurrado (Mexican-style hot chocolate), sweet tamales, torta al pastor (pork sandwich), buñuelos (deep-fried sweet treat) and choco flan”.
World of Color Holiday Winter Dreams:
The new version of the after-dark Paradise Bay (Disney California Adventure) experience called “World of Color − Winter Dreams” features a new story including new characters from the Walt Disney Pictures animated motion picture “Frozen” hosted by Olaf the snowman. There are also new special effects, advanced technology, music and methods for utilizing the “massive “stage” of water, color and light on which “World of Color” is presented”.
The new World of Color – Winter Dreams has seven sequences that was explained in the press release:
1. “The Pre-Show: Glow Honor Choir Wonder – Season’s Greetings: features the “World of Color” Honor Choir singing “Glow,” written especially for this new show. Then Tinker Bell’s traditional greeting from “Wonderful World of Color” summons Old Man Winter and the skating Frost Fairies. more than 500 singers representing all 50 United States appear in the pre show! Disneyland Resort teamed with Grammy®-winning composer Eric Whitacre, who has joined hundreds of voices online in similar “virtual choirs.” More than 1,400 submissions from around the country were received for the “World of Color” Honor Choir. Other Disney fans designed holiday cards and submitted them online to appear in the “Glow-A Season of Light” sequence.
2. Snow – A Winter Wonderland: Olaf takes guests on a breathtaking winter sleigh ride, encountering Bambi, Thumper and, from “Frozen,” sisters Anna and Elsa.
3. Glow – A Season of Light: The holidays are celebrated with images of holiday cards created by Disneyland Resort guests and cast members.
4. Enchantment – The Toy Story Nutcracker: This familiar ballet is danced in some delightful, offbeat renditions by favorite “Toy Story” characters.
5. Spirit-Holiday Sing-Along: Snowman Olaf has always loved the idea of a warm summer. He innocently imagines himself enjoying the sunshine, then leads the audience in a holiday sing-along.
6. Finale – Merry & Bright Holiday Lights”: Olaf welcomes a surprising Santa as 700 newly installed lights blaze to life for a colorful finale around the lagoon.
7. After Glow: Finale (Honor Choir): “World of Color – Winter Dreams” features more than a dozen songs, ranging from familiar holiday tunes such as “Jingle Bells,” “Feliz Navidad” and “The Dreidel Song” to musical numbers from “Frozen” and original compositions such as “Glow.
Those interested in the “behind the scenes” will be excited to know that the programming for the new “Winter Dreams” show took three months to create the 17 million pixels in the “World of Color – Winter Dreams” screen. The surrounding area was enhanced with “700 high-power, color, LED strobe lights were installed along the side of the California Screamin’ roller coaster, 16 narrow-beam moving lights within the sun-ray sculpture on Mickey’s Fun Wheel, plus 21 narrow-beam movie lights within the viewing area. To add to the Winter Dream theme were six snowflake generators within the viewing area produce giant snowflakes in six different shapes. The beautiful sparkle effects were created with ten mirror balls installed on the speaker and lighting towers.”·
The existing “World of Color” technology (already amazing in itself) includes “a platform composed of nearly 1 full acre of engineered superstructure, longer than a football field and capable of settling on three levels – one for the performance, one under the water surface and one for maintenance. There are nearly 1,200 powerful and programmable fountains, and a vast underwater grid with more than 18,000 points of control. Each fountain has multiple points of control for lighting, color intensity, water angle and height”.
Steve Davison, creative director of the original “World of Color” show in Disney California Adventure, also staged “World of Color − Winter Dreams.” Davison, parades and spectaculars, executive for Walt Disney Imagineering Creative Entertainment, said: “I’m thrilled and amazed to see ‘World of Color – Winter Dreams’ come to life on the Paradise Bay. Each night as we worked on the programming, it was fun to see the magic happen as we blended the new music, animation, lasers and special effects into a dazzling holiday show.”
Disneyland Park – Here is information from the press release about the other Holiday fun at Disneyland and California Adventure Parks:
* Fantasyland, guests meet the enchanting sisters from “Frozen” – the fearless and optimistic Anna, and Elsa, who has the power to control snow and ice.
* Sleeping Beauty’s Winter Castle – A sensational holiday lighting and special-effects show carries the magic of the holidays from the castle all the way to the 60-foot tall Disneyland Christmas tree in Town Square. The finale of the show includes the legendary “Believe … in Holiday Magic” fireworks show, ending with a touching rendition of “White Christmas,” along with a climactic snowfall swirling upon Main Street, U.S.A., “it’s a small world” Mall and New Orleans Square.
* Tomorrowland, Thor: Treasures of Asgard invites guests into a column of light and color which magically transports them from Disneyland to the home world of Thor, the Mighty Avenger.
* A Christmas Fantasy” Parade - On Main Street, U.S.A., Disney characters celebrate the magic of the season, wrapping gifts, baking holiday treats and preparing for the arrival of Santa Claus, who shouts a jolly greeting to spectators along the parade route. New for 2013, winter skiers (on roller skis) glide around a frost-covered pine tree, Princess Tiana and Prince Naveen from “The Princess and the Frog” join the Candlelight Costume Ball, and a corps of Finale Dancers in gorgeous Dickens-era costumes lead the way for Santa and his reindeer.
*“it’s a small world” Holiday becomes a worldwide celebration of the season, boasting more than 300,000 glittering lights on its façade and, inside, the children of many nations in their holiday attire. New for 2013, the smiling clock at the front of “it’s a small world” reveals a sparkling, new projection show. After dark, on every quarter hour, the façade of the attraction is transformed into an enormous clockwork mechanism with advanced 3D-projection technology. The gears and springs pull back to reveal a world of holiday wonders hidden behind the clock.
* Haunted Mansion Holiday presents a madcap celebration as the traditions of Halloween and Christmas collide. The ghoulish but well-meaning Jack Skellington from the film “Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas” has come to Haunted Mansion to transform it with his skewed vision of the holidays.
* Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus greet Disneyland guests at Jingle Jangle Jamboree in Big Thunder Ranch, in Frontierland. Children and families can chat with St. Nick, meet Disney characters, and enjoy games, music, crafts and seasonal entertainment.
* Carsland: Adventure A whimsical “snowcar” (the Radiator Springs version of a snowman) stands at the entrance to Cars Land, and each address along Route 66 – Flo’s V-8 Café, Fillmore’s, Cozy Cone Motel, Luigi’s Casa della Tires and more – features holiday décor that reflects the personality of the “Cars” character who lives there.
* Buena Vista Street: A dazzling, 50-foot Christmas tree adorns Carthay Circle along Buena Vista Street. The tree and surrounding buildings, inspired by Los Angeles as it appeared when Walt Disney arrived in the 1920s, are decorated with vintage-style ornaments. Children of all ages may visit a classic department store Santa at Elias & Co., the main department store along Buena Vista Street.
I enjoyed the treats at Trolley Candy Treats on Buena Vista Street:
* Mad T Party: Wintertime fun rocks the night at “Mad T Party” as Alice and the Mad Hatter add their own brand of off-kilter holiday spirit to the nighttime celebration in Hollywood Land.
* “a bug’s land” transforms as Flik and his bug buddies spread giant Christmas lights and oversized ornaments throughout their realm.
* A Holiday edition of the street show, “Phineas and Ferb’s Rockin’ Rollin’ Dance Party,” includes festive décor, costumes and holiday tunes. The show invites guests of all ages to “seize the day,” dancing and singing on Paradise Pier with the Disney Channel’s inventive animated boy geniuses.
*We found Hanukkah Decorations at a store on Buena Vista Street which I promptly purchased to celebrate Hanukkah in Mickey style. The stores at Disneyland have a wide assortment of holiday décor.
*Guests in the Downtown Disney district get into the holiday spirit at the Downtown Disney Winter Village, visiting the quaint cottages, browsing for gifts in the “shopping chalets” and enjoying a 30-foot Christmas tree. Guests also lace up their skates to make spirits bright along the newly themed Olaf’s Frozen Ice Rink. The rink hours are scheduled for 3 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and 3 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. Friday through Sunday.
I was thrilled to bring a new TechMamas.com writer, Jennifer. She is not only my friend but also one of the most knowledgeable people I know about all things Disney with great tips about the park and rides. Here are some of her tips from the Disneyland Holiday 2013 press event:
The Haunted Mansion has been transformed into Nightmare Before Christmas in the most entertaining, eye-catching way. I found this attraction so amazing that it alone was worth the trip to Disneyland! The creativity and artistry was truly impressive, and I became attached to Zero, the darling ghost dog who appears throughout the ride. If you are traveling with a child who can handle just a little spookiness in the not-so-dark amidst a ton of visual delights, then I would label this attraction kid-friendly. If a fast pass is offered when you are visiting the park, I suggest grabbing one and making the Haunted Mansion a priority. Check in at the information booth on Main Street to ask about the fast pass option or wait time.
It’s a Small World is another must-see on your holiday to-do list at Disneyland. How could you not just relax and enjoy with a big smile as you sit back and tap your feet to the musical beat on this boat ride through a wide assortment of singing dolls? I loved singing along to the usual “It’s a Small World” tune perfectly mixed with Jingle Bells to give it that holiday spark. Disney went all out with the holiday decor for this attraction, both inside and out. Even with its popularity, this ride handles large crowds. Rarely is there much of a wait. But, if you want to avoid a line, consider visiting in the morning or later in the evening for your best chance of walking right on. For Hidden Mickey fans, keep your eye out on the ride for extra Mickeys this holiday season.
World of Color: I’ve seen the World of Color show many times, and it’s always a delight. Without a doubt, the new World of Color show, “Winter Dreams”, is my all time favorite! Olaf, the Snowman in Disney’s movie, “Frozen”, is the host of this spectacular. Now, I cannot wait to take my family to see the movie Frozen. A couple of things to keep in mind…you can pick up a free Fast Pass for this show earlier in the day to reduce your time in line for a great standing spot. Alternatively, you can purchase a dinner package, which is a great way to enjoy a delicious sit-down dinner followed by a short wait for this fabulous show! Just call Disney’s dining for more information on this.
Of course, you’re not required to do either of these and can just show up an hour or so prior to show time. Ask a Disney employee when people start lining up. Once you arrive, choose to stand in the front section if you enjoy a good spray of water. Alternatively, there are plenty of good viewing spots slightly back which allow you to stay dry. When planning out your souvenir purchases, keep in mind that it’s fun to pick up a pair of Mickey Ears for this show because the ears light up and change colors in sync with the show. I was impressed with the comfort and (light) weight of my set of ears.
Buena Vista Street:
I just loved experiencing the festive holiday cheer from every direction, both in sight and sound. Many times, I heard the music of a quartet singing holiday songs or discovered a gorgeous array of wreaths loaded with attractive colors.
I have to admit…I’m a shopper. I couldn’t help but recognize this as an opportunity to pick up holiday gifts of adorable plush characters decked out in cute holiday outfits! And, who can resist the yummy sweet treats in the candy shops? I certainly couldn’t. A little chocolate is a great way to end a fabulous day! It always tastes better when in the shape of a favorite character, of course.
Disclosure: This was a press event.