Magical parades and more grace Disneyland and Disney California Adventure
Sure, Donald Duck has been known to be grumpy. Sometimes he just wakes up on the wrong side of the pond.
But he’s all smiles when it comes to a good party, like the one he’s in now at Disney California Adventure.
That’s where Donald and his friends from “The Three Caballeros” (1944) are on a float while folklórico dancers and Mariachis, Brazilian samba dancers and percussionists, and giant mojiganga puppets go down the street in “Disney ¡Viva Navidad!” Mickey and Minnie Mouse also show up for the fun street dance party, which is part of the winter holidays celebration at Disney California Adventure and its Anaheim neighbor, Disneyland.
The News-Press recently visited both parks and found they were all decked out in the holiday spirit, from Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion Holiday (inspired by “Tim Burton’s Nightmare Before Christmas”) to Disney California Adventure’s Cars Land. And of course, there’s Disneyland’s perennial favorite, “A Christmas Fantasy” Parade. At night is “Believe … In Holiday Magic” fireworks above Sleeping Beauty Castle, which is decked out in its winter best.
It’s enough to make Santa go “Ho, ho, ho,” from his sleigh high above the parade (led by reindeer, of course). And don’t miss Mater the tractor singing Christmas- and Hanukkah-inspired songs while people ride his Jingle Jamboree in DCA’s Cars Land. It’s worth a spin or two.
The first thing people see when they enter Disneyland is the 60-foot-tall Christmas tree on Main Street, U.S.A. Don’t try to count the ornaments; Disney estimates there’s almost 1,800 of them.
The annual parade, “A Christmas Fantasy,” again features the toy soldiers, dancing gingerbread cookies, prancing reindeer and characters such as Anna, Elsa and Olaf from “Frozen.”
And Disneyland’s Mainland, U.S.A., now has a new holiday store, Plaza Point, a Victorian-era boutique with garlands, nutcrackers and Christmas treasures.
Across the way at Disney California Adventure, people celebrate Christmas/Navidad, Diwali, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and Three Kings Day with the annual Disney Festival of Holidays. You can go from booth to booth to sample various sweet and savory treats. The eight booths are known as Festival Food Marketplaces, and they vary from Holiday Duets to Winter Sliderland (pun intended) and A Twist on Tradition.
But the big highlight at Disney California Adventure, at least for this writer, are the season-themed attractions and events. “Disney ¡Viva Navidad!” is a fun blend of cultures with dancers and musicians on the street in the Paradise Gardens area. In addition to the dance party, the band El Sabor Bueno plays Colombian music there on Fridays and Saturdays.
And in Cars Land, you can go on Luigi’s Joy to the Whirl and, as mentioned previously, Mater’s Jingle Jamboree. New seasonal music is now on those attractions, proving that yes, you can get your kicks on Route 66.
At Pacific Wharf, you can enjoy holiday-themed menus and listen to the Mistletoes, an a cappella ensemble, sing holiday favorites.
And you’ll find characters from the animated Disney movie “Encanto,” which tells about the Madrigals family in Colombia. It will be released in theaters Wednesday, just in time for the holidays.
The movie’s fans include Susan Tubert, the Disneyland Resort’s creative director of creative entertainment.
“I’m from Argentina, so I’m a little bit biased,” Ms. Tubert told the News-Press with a smile. “The filmmakers went deep into the culture and spoke to the people of Colombia. They wanted to find a place with a confluence of cultures: Afro-Latinos, indigenous people, people from Spain. They were able to put all of that into a single family. They were able to weave what I call magical realism into the story.”
Of course, it wouldn’t be the holidays at Disneyland without special treats, such as the macarons that resemble the Little Green Men from the “Toy Story” movies or the peppermint shake that a sous chef held up for a News-Press photo.
The shake was topped with cookies as Mickey’s ears, which somehow make their way each year into the culinary creations.
The News-Press asked Stephanie Yee, the pastry sous chef, about the discussions about incorporating Mickey’s ears into treats.
“It’s definitely a process in the menu planning,” Ms. Yee said. “We try not to overload the guests with Mickey everything, but we put them in where we can.”
And the most popular treats? “The most popular would be the gingerbread person at the Festival of Holidays (at Disney California Adventure). People come from all over to enjoy our gingerbread cookies,” Ms. Yee said.
“I think the secret to a good holiday treat is to make it festive and reminiscent of childhood.”