Summer at Disneyland Resort typically means new rides while fall brings holiday-themed decorations and treats. The first months of the year, however, offer their own kind of magic at the two Anaheim parks: a combination of special events, shorter lines, and some serious deals. Here are seven reasons why winter is a fun—and savvy—time to explore the Happiest Place on Earth.
The Year of the Tiger officially begins on Feb. 1, but Disney California Adventure Park will celebrate Jan. 21–Feb. 13. Start by strolling through the Downtown Disney District to check out the new Lunar New Year mural—a depiction of Korean culture that takes its inspiration from traditional “minwha,” or “painting of the people.” The main party takes place inside Disney California Adventure Park, where strolling characters such as Tigger, Mulan, Mickey, Minnie, and the Three Little Pigs are decked out for the holiday. Head to the forest canopy in Redwood Creek Challenge Trail for a meet-and-greet with Raya from Raya and the Last Dragon, then watch Mulan’s Lunar New Year Procession parade. Browse the seasonal merch and dig into Asian dishes at the Lunar New Year Marketplaces; make the most of it by picking up a Sip and Savor pass, which includes six vouchers to be used toward select food and drinks.
The Downtown Disney District is now home to Pelé Soccer, where you can find soccer gear and national team jerseys from around the world. Also new: The 3D pop-up cards, gifts, and paper art of Lovepop and Post 21, which offers modern gifts and home decor by Black-owned businesses.
Throughout winter and spring, experience three exclusive, evening-only events with entertainment, food, and photo ops. Since the park closes to the general public before these special-ticket evenings, you’ll also enjoy shorter wait times for rides and attractions. February features five romance-themed Sweethearts’ Nites (Feb. 1, 3, 8, 10, 14) in Disneyland Park, while March offers two Villains Nites (March 8, 10) in Disney California Adventure Park. In May, there will be three Star Wars Nites (May 3, 4, and 27), including the all-important May the 4th. Based on availability, tickets for all three events are on sale now.
For a limited time this winter, you can book a 90-minute private party at Mickey’s house in Toontown before the area within Disneyland Park closes for renovations. The package, good for up to 10 people, includes ready-to-decorate cupcakes, all-ages-friendly crafts and party games, a group photo with Mickey (with free photo downloads afterward), and express entry to the Chip-n-Dale-themed Gadget’s Go Coaster. Based on availability, good through March 6.
Get a peek at new entertainment
Throughout February, head to Disneyland Park’s Fantasyland Theater for live choral performances at Celebrate Gospel. During the spring (date TBD), the Tale of the Lion King will return with its live-music-and-dance adaptation of Disney’s The Lion King.
As spring approaches, more nighttime entertainment will return to the parks, such as the Main Street Electrical Parade through Disneyland Park; the Fantasmic! show over the Rivers of America, which features special effects and projections of scenes from Disney movies; the World of Color show of music, fire, fog, and laser effects at Disney California Adventure Park; and the Disneyland Forever fireworks over Main Street, U.S.A.
If you plan your theme park days around eating and drinking, this annual festival has your name all over it. Come on Saturdays and Sundays March 4–April 26 to watch a variety of local, Disney, and celebrity chefs conduct culinary demos—then do plenty of noshing yourself. Buy a Sip and Savor Pass with vouchers for the food and drink kiosks, or book special experiences such as a Mixology Seminar, held at Trader Sam’s Enchanted Tiki Bar at the Disneyland Hotel.
This is a good time of year to find discounts and extra value for your Anaheim trip. The Magical Getaway Deal takes up to 25 percent off stays at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa and the Disneyland Hotel, or an easy 10 percent off at Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel (book by March 17 and stay by April 8). Or, check out the Start 2022 with Disneyland Resort and Hilton offer: Book at a participating SoCal Hilton, and receive discounted admission on single- or multi-day Hopper tickets (with Genie+), as well as a daily dining credit and a $20 Disney Dining Gift Card (good on stays through March 1).
Locals can score their own deals, too. This year’s Southern California Weekday Offer brings resort admission down to $67 per day when you buy a three-day, one-park-per-day weekday ticket. You can use those three days consecutively or spread out, as long as you use them by May 26. Bundle in a massage at the Grand Californian’s Tenaya Stone Spa, which is now open.