Cars Snowman and signage

2023 California Adventure Park Holidays & Christmas Guide

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Things are looking mighty festive around Disney’s California Adventure Park, and we don’t know about you, but we love to see it. In fact, the holidays are our favorite time to visit any Disney theme park. Why? Well, because from the yuletide ride takeovers and cozy treats to the infectious music and entertainment and downright jolly decorations, it’s hard to compete with that sweet combination of Christmas cheer and Disney magic. But just how can you plan to spend your merrymaking this Christmas at California Adventure?

2023 has a lot to offer. So, grab some paper (leftover gift wrap will do) and a pencil as we go over all the yuletide celebrations going on during the holidays at Disney’s California Adventure ParkLooking for even more festive fun this holiday season? Get in the spirit with our ultimate guide to Christmas at Disneyland Park. (Updated November 8, 2023)

Christmas in Hollywood Land at Disney California Adventure Park
Christmas in Hollywood Land by HarshLight is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Visiting Disney California Adventure Park at Christmas

Ready to pack your ugly holiday sweater and a pair of mouse ears? Before you buy your tickets, there are some things to remember when planning your magical Christmas list of California Adventure must-dos in 2023.

When does Christmas start at California Adventure Park?

The holidays last almost two full months this year at Disney California Adventure Park, from November 10, 2023, to January 7, 2024. So, even if you aren’t able to go on Christmas Day, Christmas Eve or even the rest of December, there’s still an opportunity to spread and enjoy some holiday cheer. With Christmas at Disneyland Resort being such a festive affair – even Downtown Disney gets in on the merriment—you’ll never need to wonder what to do at Disney in California this holiday season. However, remember that you do need to make a park pass reservation to enter the park. 

When does Disney’s California Adventure decorate for Christmas?

While the holiday soiree is officially scheduled for November 10, 2023, to January 7, 2024, California Adventure and the rest of Disneyland Resort actually undergo their yuletide transformations right after Halloween passes, literally. That’s right. In a flurry of activity that can only be described as a pixie-dust (and coffee!) fueled holiday miracle, California Adventure Christmas decorations largely go up overnight, with swarms of cast members decking the halls with themed garlands, wreaths, twinkle lights and more. 

That being said, although it starts to look like Christmas right around the beginning of November, you’ll still have a wait a bit before all of the rides get their merry makeovers and the festive food booths get wheeled into place. So, if you absolutely must experience each and every holiday to-do at California Adventure this winter and not just the trimmings and trappings, then we recommend you plan your trip for some time over the official Disneyland Christmas 2023 dates. 

Is Disney California Adventure Park open on Christmas Day?

Yes!  Both Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure Park are open to welcome guests this festive season, and that includes Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. So, if all you want for Christmas is a day at California Adventure, the park should be open from 8 AM to 11 PM, with park hopping available from 11 AM to park close. There is a caveat to the magic, of course. Christmas Day at Disney isn’t just busy. In fact, the week of Christmas through New Year’s is the most popular time to visit the Disneyland Resort all year long. Needless to say, you’re going to want to make your park pass reservation in advance and be prepared to endure the merry madness that will likely ensue. 

Christmas tree with decorations

Things to Enjoy During Christmastime at California Adventure in 2023

From festive foods inspired by vibrant traditions and multicultural holidays to thoughtfully themed Disney Christmas decorations, here are the many ways you can celebrate this yuletide season at Disney California Adventure Park this year. 

See the Disney California Adventure Christmas Decorations & Holiday Attractions

Christmas isn’t Christmas without plenty of tinsel and baubles decking the halls. Fortunately, from the moment you walk through the turnstiles, you’ll find enough Disney holiday decorations at California Adventure to fill a whole forest of Christmas trees. Just like over at Disneyland Park, Christmas decorations at California Adventure are themed based on where they are in the park.

Buena Vista Street brings the nostalgia, with classic garlands and ribbons that would be right at home in the Golden Age of Hollywood. California Adventure’s 50-foot Christmas tree—draped with tinsel, bells and other retro accents—is the centerpiece of the park entrance. You can even watch it shimmer to life each night during the Buena Vista Street Holiday Tree LightingCars Land is another can’t-miss destination this yuletide season. The residents of Radiator Springs really love to get in on the festive decorating fun. So, keep an eye out for ornaments crafted out of spare car parts and other appropriate accouterments. For example, white-wall tires with merry red bows become instant wreaths. Mater and Luigi are especially fond of the holidays, transforming Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree and Luigi’s Rollickin’ Roadsters into Mater’s Jingle Jamboree and Luigi’s Joy to the Whirl.  

Christmas in Cars Land at Disney California Adventure Park
Christmas in Cars Land by HarshLight is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Rock Around the Clock at Mater’s Jingle Jamboree

Mater loves to collect old car parts, proudly giving tours of his on-site junkyard to visitors during Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree. But in the wintertime, the junkyard transforms into Mater’s Jingle Jamboree, getting a seasonal sprucing up with some tinsel and wreaths, while the ride’s soundtrack receives a few festive, Cars-inspired additions courtesy of Mater himself. 

Cruise into the Holidays at Luigi’s Joy to the Whirl

As the story goes at Luigi’s Rollickin’ Roadsters, 20 of Luigi’s cousins from Carsoli, Italy are in town for the Race Day festivities. Well, the cousins are back for Luigi’s Joy to the Whirl – only this time, instead of Race Day, they’re celebrating the holidays. Roll around Luigi’s backyard from the seat of an Italian roadster as you take in the scenery, all while listening to some holiday tunes sung by Luigi. 

Disney Festival of Holidays at Disney California Adventure Park
Disney Festival of Holidays by Blake Handley is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Go on a Wintery Cultural Tour at the Disney Festival of Holidays

Winter is a special time for many cultures, with plenty of tempting culinary traditions to match. Taste a few of them at the Disney Festival of Holidays at California Adventure. Not to be confused with the confusingly similarly named Festival of the Holidays at Disney World’s Epcot, this worldly celebration offers the sights, sounds and tastes of holidays like Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Diwali, Navidad and Three Kings Day. (Check out or Disney Festival of Holidays foodie guide here.)

A whole lineup of festival entertainment is available, with something on offer for kids to adults. For the little ones, Mickey and the gang make an appearance alongside the Holiday Toy Drummers, while Mirabel from the popular Disney movie Encanto and other beloved Disney characters are out walking around. Adults, meanwhile, will enjoy listening to the live musical acts or catching the Diwali-inspired dance troupe. 

Of course, there’s also a smorgasbord of seasonal eats with a global twist to savor at the Festive Foods Marketplace. And whether you’re hoping to make a whole holiday meal or just need a snack to tide you over, be sure to be like St. Nick himself and save space for something sweet. Festival of Holidays runs for the same dates as the rest of Christmas at California Adventure—November 10 to January 7. Best of all, entry to the Disney Festival of Holidays is included in your price of admission. It’s a Christmas miracle!

Entertainers jumping in the air
© Disneyland Resort

Get in the Spirit with Festival Entertainment

As Buddy the Elf so astutely put it, “The best way to spread Christmas cheer is by singing loud for all to hear.” And while singing along isn’t required, we dare you to keep from humming or tapping your toes as you watch these holly-jolly acts. 

  • Mariachi Divas – A two-time Grammy Award-winning musical group, the Mariachi Divas celebrate the spirit of Navidad as they put a bilingual twist to your favorite holiday songs every day at the Pacific Wharf Stage. 
  • Mostly Kosher – Revel in the Festival of Lights as you listen to Mostly Kosher’s modern stylings of traditional klezmer music with hints of jazz, Latin and rock in honor of Hanukkah – held every day at Sonoma Terrace. 
  • Blue13 Dance Company – Bollywood is all about the party, and there’s no better time for a celebration than Diwali, the Indian Festival of Lights. Be energized by the Blue13 Dance Company as they dazzle with their festive takes on traditional dance every day on the Palisades Stage. 
  • Phat Cat Swinger – Nothing says the holidays like big-band, brass rhythms. Swing along to the holiday music selections with classy flair on Wednesday to Saturday at the Palisades Stage. 
  • The Mistletoes – A cappella harmonies share the spirit of Christmas and Kwanzaa every day at the Pacific Wharf Stage when The Mistletoes bring the R&B to popular holiday songs. 
  • Tina and The Sounds of Celebration – Hoping to hear some holiday tunes with a dash of spice? This must-see act adds a merengue, salsa, rock Latino and cumbia twist to yuletide favorites. 
  • Holiday Toy Drummers – More like mischievous minstrels than militaristic percussionists, the Holiday Toy Drummers will have you in awe of their playful precision at the Palisades Stage. 
Chocolate Peppermint Churro at Disney Festival of Holidays
Chocolate Peppermint Churro at Disney Festival of Holidays © Disney Parks Blog

Savor the Flavors of the Holidays at the Festive Foods Marketplace

Whether Christmas or Kwanzaa, Hanukkah or Diwali, Navidad or Three Kings Day, just like family and friends, food is at the heart of any holiday celebration. So, it’s no surprise that you’ll find a diverse buffet of cozy yuletide dishes and sweet (and possibly boozy!) accompaniments to sample at the Disneyland Festival of Holidays. 

To maximize your eating and drinking around the world, consider investing in a Sip and Savor Pass for $59 ($54 for Magic Key holders). This convenient pass gives you eight entitlements to use however you wish at participating dining locations, including Festive Foods Marketplace booths. 

Tuck into traditional celebratory classics from cultures around the globe at the Festive Foods Marketplace at California Adventure’s Festival of Holidays. (Check out our full foodie guide for the complete list of offerings.) Disney Festival of Holidays Marketplaces include:

  • A Twist on Tradition
  • Brews & Bites
  • Favorite Things
  • Grandma’s Recipes
  • Holiday Duets
  • Making Spirits Bright
  • Merry Mashups
  • Winter Sliderland

3 Cábenos on stage in costume

Say Olé at Disney ¡Viva Navidad!

Christmas Day—or La Navidad, as it’s called in Spanish—is celebrated throughout the globe, specifically Central and South America and Spain. And with a wealth of music, dance, food and decorations to enjoy, your Christmas is sure to be prosperous at Disney ¡Viva Navidad! Held multiple times each day in Paradise Gardens Park, the ¡Viva Navidad! Street Party brings the fiesta with dancers, musicians, massive puppets and more. The Three Caballeros host this seasonal street soiree, as folklórico and Brazilian samba dancers show their moves while backed by mariachis and drummers. 

While revelers in the United States sing “We Three Kings,” those in Central and South America pay homage to that regal trio on Three Kings Day, or El Día de los Reyes Magos. Celebrated on January 6, 2024 (in California Adventure, expect the celebrations to take place around the first week of January), Three Kings Day sees Paradise Gardens bedecked with traditional decorations like papel picado, making for a vibrant selfie backdrop.  

No matter when you visit from November 10, 2023, to January 7, 2024, take some time to enjoy some holiday food and music. Paradise Garden Grill is serving up celebratory Mexican specialties like IMPOSSIBLE Albondigas Soup and a Shareable Loaded Torta (check out our Disneyland Resort holiday foodie guide for the full list of Disney ¡Viva Navidad! offerings). And as we mentioned earlier, live musical acts also take to the Palisades Stage just nearby, so feel free to grab something to munch on as you take in the show. 

Along with Disney characters like Donald Duck, José Carioca and Panchito, Mickey and Minnie also stop by in their fiesta finery. You’ll even get to see Mirabel from Encanto, Disney’s newest animated film, in her Disneyland debut, complete with live entertainment and photo opportunities. Finally, Mr. and Mrs. Claus also make an appearance in the form of mojiganga puppets that tower up to 12 feet in height.  

Christmas at Grizzly Peak in Disney California Adventure Park
Christmas at Grizzly Peak by HarshLight is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Meet Santa and His Elves

Santa Claus is coming to Redwood Creek Challenge Trail from November 10 to December 24, 2023. Each year, jolly old St. Nick stops by California Adventure for his annual visit. In his honor, the Redwood Creek Challenge Trail has gone through a merry transformation filled with festive games and other outdoor activities. The elves have hidden lots of toys and trinkets along the trail, so pick up a map at the trailhead to Redwood Creek as you hunt for them all. While you’re there, be sure to swing past Ahwahnee Camp Circle to catch a glimpse of Santa Claus. Then, once you’ve updated him on your Christmas wishlist, snap a selfie for the ‘gram.  

Enjoy a Festive Grand Finale with World of Color – Season of Light

Although you can end your night at Disney California Adventure Park with a bang and a showing of World of Color all year long, the yuletide season sees the show get a merry makeover especially for the holidays. With a wintry mix of shimmering snowflakes, a joyful medley of both beloved Disney songs and festive favorites, scenes from classic films and contemporary blockbusters like Frozen, and colorful fountains lit up like a forest of Christmas trees, this seasonal spin on California Adventure’s ever-popular nighttime spectacular is sure to make spirits bright.

Showtimes for World of Color – Season of Light vary from day to day. Some days don’t have a showing at all, while other nights might offer two showtimes to choose from. For the most up-to-date schedule, be sure to refer to the Disneyland app or website. For more information, check out our World of Color viewing guide.

World of Color - Winter Dreams at Disney California Adventure Park
World of Color – Winter Dreams by HarshLight is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Get in the Spirit with Other Christmas Food at California Adventure 

Along with all the global eats in the Festive Foods Marketplace, you can also indulge in all manner of holiday sweets and other treats around California Adventure. From a Chicken Pesto Alfredo Cone stuffed with Cars Land’s take on Christmas Fettuccine at the Cozy Cone Motel to Peppermint Bark crowned with marshmallows from Bing Bong’s Sweet Stuff, these culinary yuletide treasures are only available for a limited time and are on offer at snack carts, quick-service restaurants and lounges. There are even seasonal churros and funnel cakes. Sounds like the makings of an epic Christmas-themed food tour to us! (Check out the complete foodie guide here.)

Have a sweet tooth? Then you won’t want to miss the park’s highly sought-after, hand-pulled candy canes. Standing almost 20 inches tall, these traditional treats have been made in the same way for the last 36 years, resulting in a candy cane so fresh that people will show up early just to claim one. If the distribution process goes the same way as last year, guests at California Adventure and Disneyland Park will have to join a mobile waitlist to get their nostalgic sweet. (Note the singular noun—in past years, guests have only been able to reserve one candy cane each. Stay tuned for the official 2023 Disneyland candy cane distribution dates, as they are only offered a few days each year. 

For our best guess at how to snag one, we suggest you arrive at California Adventure at least one hour prior to park open. Given the extremely limited quantities, the closer you can get to the front of the line, the easier it will be to earn your candy cane. And you will earn it—because if this year is anything like previous years, then people will start running for their dessert as soon as they’re through the turnstiles. So, while the competition may be stiff, the rewards are sweet.  

Well, folks, that’s a wrap on our guide to the holidays at Disney’s California Adventure in 2023. Even with all the people and waiting in line, there’s still no shortage of Christmas cheer. You just need a bit of patience and some careful planning to make the most of it. Have you spent Christmastime at California Adventure? Which Festive Food Marketplace booth or holiday ride takeover is your favorite? Are the hand-pulled candy canes worth the early start? Let us know in the comments!

Wanting to maximize your merriment? Get ahead of the crowds and spend more time feeling festive with our 1-Day Disneyland Park Plan. Don’t want to dig into your gift budget? Keep things thrifty with our discount Disneyland tickets