Visiting Disneyland during the holidays? Use the New Genie App (and Follow These Tips) | To travel

Every holiday season since Disneyland opened in 1955, the park has been adorned with hundreds of sparkling lights, ornaments and wreaths, a glittering display that draws crowds throughout the month of December.

Those crowds, as much a tradition of vacationing at Disneyland and neighboring California Adventure Park as seasonal decorations, are likely to be smaller this year due to new rules requiring guests to make reservations before going to the door. In the past, visitors could go through without pre-booking, forcing park operators to close the doors when capacity was reached.

Planning some holiday cheer in the parks? If you already have a reservation or are planning to book one, here are 10 tips to make the most of your visit this holiday season.

How to book

To enter the parks, you must purchase a ticket and reserve a reservation for the day of your visit. The Disneyland reservation website shows that both Disneyland and California Adventure Park are almost full until January 2. But don’t panic yet. The reservation system is fluid and Disney operators can add new openings at any time. Refresh your web browser often to find reservation openings. Some Disneyland fans say new openings appear to be added every night after midnight. (We have not been able to confirm such speculation.)

Celebrate the holidays a little later

Holiday decorations will remain in place and seasonal shows will continue through January 9. Disneyland’s reservation website has plenty of openings for the nine days following New Years Eve. If you book a reservation January 2-9, you can avoid the crowds and still see all the lights, ornaments, shows and parades. celebrations.

Use Genie or Genie +

Starting December 8, park visitors can use a new feature on the Disneyland app called Genie, which uses algorithms and wait time data to create a route that can help you pick your best choices for them. rides, attractions and restaurants during your visit. If you pay an extra $ 20 per day, you can upgrade to Genie +, which also lets you use the new, accelerated “Lighting Lanes” installed in 19 of Disneyland and California Adventure’s most popular rides.

Lightning Lanes are estimated to reduce your wait times by up to 90% compared to traditional queues. The Genie +, however, won’t give you access to the Lightning Lanes for the three most popular rides: Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance at Disneyland, as well as Radiator Springs Racers and Webslingers: A Spider-man Adventure at California Adventure Park. To access these fast lanes, you will need to shell out an additional $ 7 to $ 20 per trip, depending on the trip and demand that day. You can pay these fees through the Disneyland app.

Get the best view of the parade

The Christmas Fantasy Parade which launched on November 12 at Disneyland draws huge crowds along the parade route, so it can be difficult to find a good vantage point. Longtime Disneyland fans recommend camping in front of It’s a Small World ride, near the origin of the parade. The parade is launched twice a day and the start times vary between weekends and weekdays. Check the schedule here for more details.

Resistance is not in vain

One of the most popular rides at Disneyland is Rise of the Resistance in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. The park has suspended the use of the virtual queue system adopted when the attraction opened. If you don’t pay for the Lightning Lanes, you’ll have to stand in a traditional queue that could make you wait up to three hours. A long line is inevitable, but Disneyland enthusiasts say you can cut your wait time by showing up late in the morning but before 1pm. Another good time to visit Rise of the Resistance is around 7:30 p.m., just before the ride closes at 8 p.m.

Let it snow

Several attractions at Disneyland do not require you to stand in line. For example, hang out anywhere on Main Street USA with a clear view of Sleeping Beauty’s Castle in the early evening to see Wintertime Enchantment, a display of projection lighting, music, and fake snow falling. on the crowd from blowers atop neighboring buildings. If the holiday spirit hasn’t caught you yet, this taste of winter should. Hours vary, so check the Disney website for details.

The fireworks are back

Most visitors watch the nighttime fireworks display, Believe in Holiday Magic, from Main Street USA, with Sleeping Beauty’s Castle in the foreground. But some Disney fans suggest avoiding the crowds and standing in front of the It’s a Small World ride, where you can see the fireworks above and an eye-catching light show on the front of the attraction. Check the Disneyland website for start times.

New treats

The park has several new meals and snacks for the holidays, including pozole (hominy soup) and arepa encantada (a cornmeal cake topped with Impossible beef). Disneyland fans have raved about the Gingerbread Mickey cookies, sold at the Jolly Holiday Bakery Cafe and Market House, both on Main Street USA, among others. Use the food ordering feature on the Disneyland app to save time and avoid queuing with other guests.

Santa Claus on a parade float at Disneyland

Santa is the star attraction of Disneyland’s annual Christmas Fantasy Parade, which resumed on November 12. (Joshua Sudock)

Where is Santa Claus?

You can see old Saint Nick waving the last float in the Christmas Fantasy Parade. It will also greet guests near the entrance to the Redwood Creek Challenge Trail at California Adventure Park. Due to pandemic protocols, children can sit on a bench in front of Santa Claus for waves, smiles and photos, but they will not be allowed to hug him or sit on his lap . Santa will be there until December 24.

South of the fun border

Disneyland is filled with plenty of holiday festivities, but California Adventure Park has its share as well, including the high-energy Viva Navidad Street Party, with mariachi musicians and folk and samba dancers. Disney enthusiasts have given the performances rave reviews. You won’t want to miss seeing Mickey and Minnie Mouse in colorful Latin American dresses, dancing to “Feliz Navidad”. The party starts six times a day. Check the park’s website for exact times.

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