Christmas at Disneyland Paris is serious business. So serious that it starts warming up its engines in November by putting up the first decorations and putting on the first shows, and by December the itinerary is mind-blowing, magical and moving in equal proportions.
Disneyland Paris is considered one of the biggest attractions on the continent; the reason is simple: beyond the fun rides and attractions, everything in this place is orchestrated and designed to provoke emotions, to make you fall in love with the charm and want to come back again and again. Needless to say, it is the perfect place if you are travelling to Paris with children, because although adults have a lot of fun at Disneyland, the innocence of children gives everything a special touch.
1. New Year's Eve party at Disneyland Paris
Every year on New Year's Eve, Disneyland Paris organises an exceptional party with lots of activities, parades, shows and lots of fireworks!
The programme of the New Year's Eve celebrations starts around 7pm, but my recommendation is to arrive at the park at 5pm at the latest to enjoy the beginning of the party. A DJ entertains the evening and several characters from the Magic World of Disney put on shows to invite you to dance. In addition, Disney Park restaurants offer special menus for New Year's Eve.
Tip: The demand for this party is high, so book early, buy your Disneyland Paris tickets and arrive as early as you can.
2. Admire the festive decorations and colours of the park
Throughout the festive season Disneyland Paris is enveloped in the magic of Christmas. A 24-metre high twinkling tree stands to welcome you right in the Town Square, the main nave is filled with Christmas lights that will guide you on your way to Sleeping Beauty's Château. Several times a day, and as soon as you least expect it, it will snow on Main Street USA.
This is just the main area of Disneyland Park; as you go deeper into the park, you'll notice that Christmas decorations and details are everywhere you look: the roofs of the shops, the colours on the rides, the characters' clothes and much more, making this one of the best times to go to Disneyland.
3. Take a tour to meet the Disney Characters and Father Christmas
From early in the morning your favourite Disney characters are strolling around the park and you can take photos with them. The funniest part? They're all dressed in their 100% Christmas-themed finery. Even Jack Skeleton from "The Nightmare Before Christmas" is showing off his trademark Santa suit with a fake beard.
But without a doubt, the most iconic Christmas character at Disneyland is Father Christmas, who can be found every day in the "Meet Mickey Mouse" house until, of course, Christmas Eve. Meeting Santa is one of the best things to do at Disneyland at Christmas, and don't leave without having your picture taken with his fabulous sleigh parked at the entrance gate.
4. Try the special Christmas menu at the park's restaurants
Whether it's table service or takeaway, Disneyland Park's restaurants and food stalls join in the festive atmosphere by preparing special menus. From delicious hot drinks, seasonal dishes, gingerbread biscuits, burgers in Christmas colours or Christmas-themed decorated desserts, every detail has been thought of to contribute to the visual experience. Some interesting alternatives include:
For fast food:
- Café de la Brousse
- Cookie Kitchen
- Cool Post
- Cowboy Cookout Barbecue
5. Enjoy the Disney Princess' Enchanted Waltz
Called the Royal Sparkling Winter Waltz, this is possibly the shortest show at Disneyland Paris: during the Christmas season but one that I still recommend. It lasts 15 minutes and takes place in the open-air Plaza right next to Sleeping Beauty Castle. The stage is beautifully decorated with colourful Christmas trees and the princesses and their princes dance a romantic waltz.
Tip: This is the best opportunity to see the princesses up close, the show is usually repeated 2-3 times a day, depending on the seasonal itinerary. It is advisable to familiarise yourself with Disney Park schedules, arrive early and get a good spot for the shows.
6. Don't miss Mickey's Christmas Big Band
Here you can enjoy the Christmas concert of Mickey Mouse and his friends performing with a live big band. Originally located in the Videopolis Theatre, the famous show moved to the Animagique Theater in Walt Disney Studios Park a few years ago.
Two important details to note about this show: Mickey Mouse 's fabulous drumming and the "French touch" that is evident in the show's choreography. Some of the songs in the repertoire include live versions of: White Christmas, Father Christmas is Coming to Town, Here Comes Father Christmas, A Holly Jolly Christmas and Frosty The Snowman.
7. Rediscover the attraction "Its a small world"
The mythical attraction It's a small world is a must on a Disneyland tour; listed among the best attractions at Disneyland Paris, it is located in Fantasyland. The ride consists of a leisurely boat ride on a waterway and features more than 300 animatronic puppets whose traditional costumes represent cultures from around the world.
At Disney Christmas This attraction is reinvented to include beautiful Christmas decorations and new colours. So if you've seen it in the past, it's time for a repeat visit.
8. Enjoy a meal and carols at Café Hyperion
Plan your lunch route for a day at Café Hyperion and enjoy your lunch in conjunction with a carol show. Particularly charming is the screen above the stage which displays, throughout the show, the words to the songs allowing the audience to sing along with the performers and Disney characters.
This carol show is usually performed 4 times a day; twice in the morning and twice in the evening. If you don't want to eat in the cafe, you can enjoy the carol singing standing in front of the stage in an area set aside for this purpose.
9. Discover the French side of Disney at L'Hiver Gourmand
Every year during the winter season, La Place de Rémy hosts L'Hiver Gourmand, a Christmas gourmet food market that honours Parisian gastronomy.
I recommend a stroll around the Place de Rémy at dusk, when the Christmas decorations turn on all their fabulous lights. The décor here is different from the rest of the park as it evokes a neater but equally vibrant French style.
The food stalls are arranged in small, elegant red chalets. From gingerbread, old-fashioned hot chocolate cider, mulled wine, Disney-branded sparkling champagne, sweet pancakes, French crepes or nut soup, you'll have enough stomach to try anything!
10. Do your Christmas shopping in Disneyland
Disneyland' s festively decorated shops and boutiques are the perfect place to find your Christmas gift list. My favourite part of visiting Disneyland is that the souvenirs you find in the shops are really durable so when you give a gift, you not only get something nice but also a gift that will last for a long time.
At Disneyland you'll find two shops with Christmas decoration themes: the Boutique du Château and Merlin l'Enchanteur - the Christmas balls with Mickey Mouse ears are really cute!
11. Don't miss the Christmas parade or cavalcade
Among the highlights of any visit to Disneyland is the parade of floats. During the holidays, this event is renamed the Mickey and his Sparkling Christmas Parade and the stellar characters from the world of Disney ride on five large, beautifully decorated floats.
The parade is not to be missed: Mickey's float with his friends, the Disney Princess float, Tinker Bell's float and of course Santa's float in his sleigh. The Christmas parade takes place twice during the winter season, my favourite is definitely the daytime version where the floats are spectacularly illuminated.
12. Attend the Christmas tree lighting ceremony
Another iconic moment of Disneyland Paris at Christmas time is the Christmas tree lighting party. The spectacle has become a tradition and one of the most eagerly awaited events for fans who come every year for the holidays.
At 24 metres high, the tree stands in Town Square throughout the holiday season and there is plenty of room for the large crowds that attend the ceremony. Mickey, Minnie, Father Christmas and other characters will sing carols under the night sky and finish the show by bringing the giant Christmas tree to life.
13. Cap off a magical night with the Disney Illuminations show
The show that closes a magical day at Disney is known as DisneyIlluminations. It lasts approximately 20 minutes and takes place every day outside Sleeping Beauty Castle.
On the façade of the castle you'll see all sorts of stories from The Little Mermaid to Frozen, Finding Nemo and even Star Wars and Pirates of the Caribbean come to life through a play of lights and sounds, water jets, and amazing pyrotechnic effects.
At Christmas, beautiful messages of peace and love can be seen at the end of the show, so once the fireworks are over, wait a few more minutes for the surprise.
14. Tour the Disney Village and its Christmas decorations.
At the end of your day at Disneyland, take a moment to stroll through Disney Village. It is a square full of boutiques and restaurants located just outside Disneyland and where you will also find spectacular Christmas decorations. Winter time is the best time to enjoy the Village because the parks close a little earlier during this season.
Disneyland Paris Christmas crowds
During the Christmas holidays, the number of tourists in Disneyland Paris is still high, in spite of the winter cold. However, if you follow these tips to visit Disneyland, you will be able to plan your holidays and avoid excessive crowds as much as possible. During the month of December, the influx of visitors is as follows:
- The first two weeks of the month, before December 20th, are the least crowded and you will be able to enjoy the full itinerary of Christmas shows. The only exception during this period are the weekends (Friday, Saturday and Sunday) when the number of visitors increases considerably.
- From around 20 December until New Year's Day, the flow of people is overwhelming, every day of the week.
In conclusion, if you visit Disneyland Paris in December and you have flexibility in your schedule, choose the first fortnight of the month and try to go between Monday and Thursday.