The holidays at Disneyland is always such a special time to me. Everything seems to have a little more pixie dust. The extra lights are vibrant and beautiful, the entertainment a little merrier, the food a little more delicious, the weather a little cozier, and all the moments a little more magical.
As I think back about why I like this time of year so much at the Disneyland Resort, I find myself honing in on Main Street and Buena Vista Street. There is an element of nostalgia that brings the magic of Christmas of my childhood back alive like nothing else can… especially the snow moments.
I grew up in the Midwest in a part of the country where winter seems to last for six months. To say it was cold back there would be an understatement. With the cold though came snow. There are few things more magical than a white Christmas. Serving the Christmas lights glowing through the snow as it silently falls to the ground in the evening is on of the most beautiful and magical things ever. I firmly believe that is what kept me in the cold climate for as long as it did. Winters were brutal, but they were also beautiful.
Eventually, I would make my way to California after discovering how much nicer winter could be at 65-70 degrees instead of 60 degrees below zero. To say this discovery was life-changing would be an understatement. I moved to California in January and really haven’t looked back… except at Christmas. At this time of year, I start literally “dreaming of a White Christmas, just like the ones I used to know.” After moving to California, the lyrics for White Christmas took on a whole new meaning. I didn’t realize just how poignant those words were until my first Christmas living in California.
My first Christmas in California I found myself visiting Disneyland quite frequently. I wasn’t local but I loved the people I found and connected with while visiting. Every weekend I’d hop in my car for the two-hour (or sometimes more) drive down to Disneyland. It was this time I discovered just how magical the holidays could be at the Disneyland Resort. Up until then, the only time I had been at Disneyland during the holidays was right around Christmas. It was always insanely busy and there was always a rush to get as much in as possible. After all, you never knew when you would be back for sure. However, visiting Disneyland multiple times during the Christmas season was a completely different experience. There was time to experience things without rushing. There was time to just enjoy the atmosphere, the music, the people, and the smiles of other people enjoying the same.
I don’t remember the specific date but I do remember it was my first time visiting Disneyland on the first day of Christmas. There was a charged excitement in the air. I honestly don’t remember a ton about the day. I feel like I watched A Christmas Fantasy Parade, drank coffee, enjoyed a gingerbread cookie, and enjoyed being around some amazing Disney friends. The one thing I do remember was watching Believe… in Holiday Magic and the most memorable part of that? The end with I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas as the snow came down on Main Street.
As the snow came down, the magic of the season was amplified. Eyes were looking up at the skies with looks of wonder as the snow drifted down through the lights on Main Street, USA. As I listened to the music and watched the snow drift down, I found myself getting choked up. There was a very strong feeling of nostalgia that Disney tapped into at that moment as I thought back about all of the white Christmases I had known. In that moment, I went from being a geek who wondered what the snow was made out of to instead a person filled with wonder at the magic of this white Christmas in Southern California.
Sometimes it is easy to take Disney magic for granted. As Disney fans, we sometimes get so excited about how the magic is made and what goes on behind the scenes, that we forget to look at the beauty that is right in front of us. As we are deep in the thick of the holiday season at the Disneyland Resort now, I’m reminded of my first Christmas experiencing Disney’s version of a white Christmas. It isn’t the same as what I grew up with but it is beautiful (and a whole lot warmer).
I’m thankful for Disney and all the cast members who bring this magic for the merriest season to life each year. I also hope I never forget to just slow down and enjoy the magic Disney offers during this time of year (and really all times of the year). And as I do and listen to White Christmas, I’ll be thinking of all those that I used to know in the Midwest.. and now here… and for both of those I am thankful.