In 2016, my sister and I were lucky enough to experience TWO great Disney events on our trip to Disneyland. We not only got to see the Disneyland Diamond Celebration for the 60th anniversary, but we also got to see Disney at Christmas! It was a dream come true for me. I got to ride The Haunted Mansion Holiday, something I’ve wanted to do for years. We got to see all the Christmas decorations and the Christmas shows.
The best part of all of this? It was extremely cheap and so affordable!
How did we do it? There are a couple of hacks of course. However, this is one big secret tip that really helped us capture the Disney magic at a low cost.
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It’s All About Timing!
Yes, that’s the big secret tip. See, our trip lasted from January 3rd to January 6th. It was only a couple of days, but when it comes to Disneyland, that’s all you really need. While it’s true that it isn’t EXACTLY during the holiday season, Disney is very gracious about extending the holiday season. There’s a nice little time where all the holiday shows and decorations remain after New Years.
The best part of it? This technically starts the value season. This means prices on hotels are much cheaper, and crowds are a lot lighter. It’s the best of both worlds!
We went from Sunday-Wednesday, right in the middle of the week, which also helped keep costs down. Right after we left, the decorations came down. We were able to make it in under the wire to experience the holiday magic!
What Holiday Stuff Will I Be Able To Experience?
That’s the best part – pretty much all of it!
At Disneyland, we were able to ride The Haunted Mansion holiday, which is the Nightmare Before Christmas overlay for the ride. We also got to see the holiday version of World of Color, and were supposed to see the Christmas parade which unfortunately got rained out.
All the decorations are still up at this time as well. We got to see the trees, the lights, the garland, and all the cute little Christmas touches. Christmas treats and souvenirs are still available as well. This way you can continue to hold on to the holiday spirit for just a bit longer.
Some people may fear that since it is AFTER the actual holidays, it won’t be as magical. That could not be more untrue! We got to experience everything we wanted WITHOUT the crowds. On any other day during the Christmas season, the Fastpasses for The Haunted Mansion holiday are snatched up in a flash. During this time however, we not only got a Fastpass, we also waited in line for only about 20 minutes, meaning we got to ride it multiple times!
Shouldn’t I Just Go During November or December?
If you don’t mind overpaying, and you don’t mind the INSANE crowds (even larger than summer on most days) then go for it!
It is true that there are some things you won’t be able to experience, like Mickey’s Christmas Party, once Christmas itself has come and gone. There are also exclusive meals you can enjoy at certain restaurants for Christmas, which disappear as soon as the holiday is over.
Still, I think it’s a fair trade off, personally. There is still a ton to do if you don’t attend one of the Christmas parties, and Disney’s food is going to be phenomenal no matter WHAT time of year you go. So save your money (and your sanity) and plan a trip for after the New Year.
Other Money Saving Tips
Our Disneyland trip in 2016 was probably our cheapest Disney trip to date. Not only because of the time of year we went, but because I used other travel tips to save money before we went!
- I opened a travel credit card prior to my trip and put the actual Disney reservation on this card. It was more than enough to earn me an introductory offer of 50,000 miles – enough for me and my sister to fly round trip during this time of year!
- Disneyland has a shuttle that transports you to and from LAX or Orange County Airport! There is a fee to book, but it is a super convenient way to get to and from the resort without having to travel via Uber or a taxi.
- I used eBates in addition to my Disney Visa card for my holiday shopping months prior to get cash back for my trip, AND every purchase I made got me Disney Dream Reward dollars. These can be used to help pay for dining, since there is no Disney Dining Plan at Disneyland like there is in Florida.
I know that going during January to try and experience the last minute holiday magic might not be for everyone. Some people may want to experience EVERYTHING, and unfortunately this cannot be accomplished unless you go in the heart of the holiday season. If that is the case, I can recommend lots of ways to save on your trip. However, it’s still going to cost a pretty penny.
However, if you want to experience the magic on a budget, and want the leisurely experience of low crowds and mild weather, I highly recommend going during this sweet window of time after the New Years. Trust me, you’ll be glad you did!
What’s your favorite part of the holiday season at Disney? Let me know in the comments!
Great tips! I’m going next year on January 6th….I’ll just miss the holiday decor and all but it is a cheaper time to go.
It really is, and honestly yes it’s a little cooler but the payoff with the smaller crowd + cheaper prices is DEFINITELY worth it!