The Holidays at Disneyland – 2010

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“It’s the most wonderful time of the year…” Or so the song goes – and I have to say that it really is a wonderful time of the year at Disneyland!

The 2010 holiday season started at Disneyland on Friday, November 12 and runs through January 2, 2011. The weather wasn’t very “holiday” like, being sunny and 80 degrees, but unfortunately the crowds were – the parks were very busy like you’d expect during the holidays instead of what you expect on a normal Friday afternoon. (A lot of school kids had the day off.) But if the decorations inside Disneyland aren’t enough to get you into the spirit of the season, then “Bah, Humbug!” to you. 🙂 From Main Street to Toontown to Critter Country and New Orleans Square, just about every land had decked its halls for the holidays.

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“it’s a small world” Holiday opened for the season, but I did not get a chance to ride it, since the line was always at least 60 minutes every time I went by. Did I mention the parks were crazy busy? Yesterday the queue for “small world” was starting at the end of the terraced area closest to the Matterhorn, rather than up near the attraction itself – they had it fairly well marked, and cast members were asking guests as they went by if they were looking for the “small world” queue. I don’t know if that is a change for the season or just the day, but something to be aware of if you go.

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There were many cast members and characters out in their holiday best:

The Disneyland Band, in their red/green/gold-braided uniforms, were performing just inside the park when I arrived.

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And the Dapper Dans looked a bit like singing candy canes.

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This Dickens’-themed band was performing holiday music outside the Refreshment Corner.

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Many of the characters (like Dale) were out in the morning greeting guests in Town Square.

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Over in Frontierland, Santa and Mrs. Claus and the reindeer have taken up temporary residence at Santa’s Reindeer Roundup. Though the reindeer really weren’t enjoying our beautiful southern California weather – they’re used to ice and snow!

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Mrs. Claus was out mingling with guests – she looked like she was having much more fun than Santa, who was stuck greeting people inside the cabin.

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The snow and icicle-covered Sleeping Beauty Castle continued to defy the elements.

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Over at Disney California Adventure…well, it really wasn’t very Christmasy over there. The candy cane-striped CALIFORNIA letters are back (and this will be the last year for those, since they are not part of the park’s new look – I will miss them).

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The wreath and garland is on the Golden Gate Bridge (also going away).

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The tree and Santa Claus greeting area are near Ariel’s Grotto – but that was the only part of Paradise Pier that was decorated.

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And there’s the usual over-sized decorations in Flik’s Fun Fair.

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I’ve enjoyed the “city sidewalks” decorations in the Hollywood Pictures Backlot in the past – but those are gone, probably because they don’t fit in with the ElecTRONica look.

And speaking of TRON…the lightcycle that we saw at last year’s D23 Expo is on exhibit outside the TRON 3D preview theater. Looks pretty cool.

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What used to be Sunshine Plaza is behind construction walls, so the characters, in their California-themed holiday attire, are doing meet and greets in the old Fastpass area next to “It’s Tough to Be a Bug”. It’s a little out of the way, though there are a lot of people going by there since that’s the only way to get to the Hyperion Theater and Tower of Terror now.

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I liked Pluto’s holiday “star”.

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Anyway…as far as the holidays go DCA was pretty disappointing – hopefully it’ll get a little more of a holiday makeover in the future when there isn’t so much construction going on. (I think the Imagineers will have a lot of fun coming up with holiday decorations for Cars Land!)

Back over at Disneyland for some of the holiday events…

Starting with the lighting of “it’s a small world” Holiday. There was a special lighting ceremony for this first night of the holiday season. Adela Jauregui and Mickey Mouse flipped the switch to light up “it’s small world”. Adela, an 8-year-old who is a patient at CHOC Children’s, was joined by her parents Jesus and Norma, and her sister Olivia. They were the Grand Marshals of the “A Christmas Fantasy” Parade earlier in the day.

(The “it’s a small world” projection sequence at the end is one of my holiday favorites – I think it looks crisper and better than ever.)

I also saw the A Christmas Fantasy Parade. The last few years there have been some new parade elements each year – no new floats this year, but the music/choreography was a bit different: for example the gingerbread men and Clarabelle Cow do a “Dance of the Sugarplum Fairy” number – I thought it was really fun.

For some reason they don’t put the time of the castle lighting sequences on the Times Guide that is available at the park, but it’s on the on-line schedule – though it was running late yesterday (but just about everything was running late yesterday). It’s only a few minutes long, but I enjoy seeing the castle transform so that it appears to be covered in shimmering ice.

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The Believe…in Holiday Magic fireworks are back for the season, though they were at a new time: 8:40 p.m. instead of the traditional 9:25. Check the time on-line before you visit the park – most nights they will be at 8:40, but at 7:30 on some week nights, and they are at 9:30 on December 3 and 4 (probably because of the Candlelight Processional on those evenings).

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Whew! Busy day, and I still have lots more photos – I’ll probably put them into a photo gallery on AllEars as I have time.

Laura Gilbreath is a native of San Diego, CA. She has been making the trek up Interstate 5 to Disneyland since she was a small child and terrified of talking tikis and hitchhiking ghosts. She and her husband Lee enjoy trips to Disneyland and Walt Disney World, as well as sailings on the Disney Cruise Line.

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