By Charly SHELTON
It may be beginning to look a lot like Christmas. But despite the plastic snowmen on every lawn and mall Santas in full swing, the 95-degree weather forbids it from feeling even a little bit like Christmas. Perhaps more like Independence Day. Regardless, Disney has put up Christmas decorations and brought out the festive holiday goodies in both parks. So even though snowmen right now are made of sand and wear sunglasses, visitors to Disneyland will get into the holiday spirit.
Many families make it a priority to go to Disneyland during the holidays because it’s not as crowded as summer and the decorations/holiday foods/holiday attractions are a huge draw. But year after year, it’s the same routine: Haunted Mansion Holiday has the same pieces in the same places, the parade has the same floats, It’s A Small World has the same decorations and so on and so forth.
But not this year.
Haunted Mansion Holiday got some new effects for its 13th anniversary, haunting the attraction every Halloween through New Year’s since 2001. This year much-needed updates can be found in new projection effects in some of the rooms of the mansion and a really cool new gingerbread house, as is seen every year, in the ballroom. What is normally “the same old thing” for those living close enough to see the displays each year have little surprises like these to keep SoCal residents coming back to see what’s new.
It’s A Small World Holiday is another returning favorite and, like Haunted Mansion Holiday, it can get stagnate after several years of the same thing. But this year, Small World gets a few additions. New decorations in many of the scenes not only add to the overall festive tone but also brighten up low points of the ride which were previously unremarkable. For example, rather than a sign reading Merry Christmas in a small, dark transition room, there are now beads lining the walls, giving it a slightly festive feel when combined with the other aspects of the ride. Even after the Christmas decorations come down, those beads will serve to brighten up that dark spot between continents.
One entirely new holiday theming can be found at the classic attraction The World Famous Jungle Cruise. With jungle-style holiday decorations throughout the shipping office queue and holiday themed jokes on board the ship, the skippers invite you to “Jingle All The Way” for this new experience. This one is near and dear to my heart as I used to work there. My trainer and good friend, Skipper Nik, was in the park the day I went to see Jingle Cruise and he gave a cruise that had us rolling in the aisles. Definitely a holiday experience not to miss.
Another brand new holiday offering is Winter Dreams, a nighttime water spectacular at Disney California Adventure. The seasonal edition of World of Color, this holiday water fountain show is hosted by Olaf, the sentient snowman from Disney’s upcoming picture “Frozen” due out tomorrow in L.A. and everywhere next week. The show, which features many of the numbers from “Frozen” as well as some other classic scenes and cartoons from winter or Christmas themed pictures of Disney’s past, runs until the first week of January and is a great way to end a day at the park.
So whether it’s a Beach Boys Christmas at 95 degrees or it’s cold outside, baby, Disneyland is the holiday destination for families, couples, shoppers or anyone who wants a memorable holiday experience.