Monday, December 24, 2012

Disneyland vs Disney World: Christmas Showdown!

Merry Christmas from 3 Dis Kids! I wish you all a wonderful holiday season, filled with wonderful experiences with family and friends!

A couple weeks ago we got to visit Disneyland in California for the first time! As you can imagine I have a lot to share, but today I want to stick (or candy cane) to to subject at hand, Christmas, or more specifically how Disneyland compares to Disney World at Christmastime.

Round 1: Merriment 
It is hard to imagine a more merry place than a Disney Park during the holidays. Christmas music playing, characters dressed for Christmas cheer, Christmas trees that reach to the sky, and resorts decorated to the nines! If you can't get into the spirit at Disney, you should see your doctor about a serious yule tide deficiency.

Both resorts overflow with Christmas cheer.

Round 1 is a push

Round 2: Decorations in Disneyland Park vs. Magic Kingdom
Just like in round 1, both resorts do a wonderful job of decorating for Christmas. Walking down Main Street in the Magic Kingdom, or Disneyland Park there will never be a time when you forget what time of year it is. Wreaths hung on the light posts with care, display windows, the before mentioned music, and the smells exuding from the bakeries... When the sun goes down, the lights on the castles glow like ice palaces! Let's just say you won't confuse it with Earth Day!

After leaving Main Street is where the parks begin to separate themselves from each other....

For years I had heard how much better Disneyland decorates for Christmas, and before seeing it with my own eyes, I wondered how it was possible, but it is true. All of Disneyland is maxed out for Christmas! The level of attention that is paid to decorations is amazing! Even the miniature castles and villages of the Storybook Land Canal are decorated with tiny wreaths, Christmas trees, and poinsettias. The only place where I was surprised to see no decorations was on the Jungle Cruise.

Unfortunately once to get off of Main Street at the Magic Kingdom, there are very few signs of it being Christmastime.

Round 2 goes to Disneyland

Round 3: Resort Decorations
Once again if you are staying at or visiting any of the Disney Resort hotels at Christmas, you know it. Giant trees themed to match the theme of the resort, special music, chocolate carousels and gigantic gingerbread houses are just a few of the things you mights see when you stroll through the various lobbies.

Disney World has more resort hotels on property, but Disneyland does a great job of keeping up with their three on site resorts. Quantity does not necessarily trump quality, as they all match up very closely. This category was just too close to call...

Round 3 is a push

Round 4: Holiday Extras & Special Events
If you are visiting either Disneyland or Disney World there are special offerings just for the Christmas season. Tours of the decorations are offered, special treats are cooked up, and special performances are well performed...

From early November to a few days before Christmas you can purchase tickets to Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party (MVMCP) at the Magic Kingdom in Disney World. The party is offered a few times a week, and from 7:00-Midnight you get to be a part of a special hard ticket party, and enjoy the park with a much smaller crowd. There are special fireworks, stage shows, hot chocolate and cookies, and the Once Upon a Christmastime parade runs twice. It is a very festive evening, but you usually have to pay between $50-70 dollars to experience it. For people who aren't visiting right around Christmas Day, this is your only opportunity to see Holiday Wishes or the Christmas parade, but if you are there after the 21st, you get it as a part of your regular park admission.

The other parks at Disney World also get in the spirit. Every night Hollywood Studios lights up the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights, with lights dancing to popular Christmas songs. Animal Kingdom has a special Christmas parade called the Jingle Jungle Parade. Epcot offers Christmas storytelling at many of the country pavilions, and also the Candlelight Processional, where a celebrity host reads the story of Christmas, while an enormous choir sings songs from the season. This is hugely popular, so line up early to catch it!  

Disneyland does not offer a hard ticket event like MVMCP, but instead gives it to you with your regular park admission. In addition they have a Jingle Jangle Jubilee that takes up the Big Thunder Ranch in Frontierland. Here you get to see Hillbillies sing Christmas carols, color holiday pages, and decorate Christmas cookies ($6 per kit). Characters dressed in their Christmas best stroll around for pictures, and you can get your picture taken with Santa too! Depending on the day, the parade, A Christmas Fantasy, runs once or twice, and the nightly fireworks are the Believe... In Holiday Magic fireworks.

In addition there are special holiday overlays of It's A Small World, and Haunted Mansion. During the holidays these attractions are transformed into almost completely different experiences. It's A Small World turns into a Christmas carol filled cruise around the world. They outside of the attraction is covered in Christmas lights and there is a special little show that goes on around every 15 minutes. The Haunted Mansion is given a Nightmare Before Christmas makeover, and Jack Skellington, the Pumpkin King takes over. Both attractions are amazing, and should not be missed if you are there during the holidays!

Disneyland also has a Candlelight Processional, shown at Town Square. It is also very popular, and there is limited area to watch to pick out a place early!

California Adventure doesn't offer much more than special decorations, and a special opening Prep and Landing section in World of Color. But even with that...

Round 4 goes to Disneyland

Round 5: Christmas Parade
Normally I am more of a fireworks/nighttime spectacular type of person, but Christmas is when I really love a parade, and nobody does a Christmas parade better than Disney. Comparing Disney World's Once Upon a Christmastime parade to Disneyland's A Christmas Fantasy is like comparing red apples to green apples, it's just a personal preference. Both have great floats, classic and new characters, and most importantly, they both have my favorite, the Tin Soldier Marching Band. But for me there can be only one winner for best Christmas Parade...

Round 5.... Disney World  

So after 5 rounds who wins the Christmas Showdown?


Disneyland pretty much ran away with this one, but Disney World held it's own. Each resort offers a lot for Christmas, but Disneyland just does it better all around. Disney World has a lot more to offer for Christmas, but Disneyland just envelops the entire resort in Christmas! Honestly, I can't think of two more magical places to spend the holidays! 

***Sorry for the lack of Christmas pictures from Disney World... They are stuck on a laptop that I can't access....***