Patriotism and Pixie Dust: Celebrating the Fourth of July at the Disneyland Resort

Stars and stripes, barbecue, band marches, fireworks, and red, white, and blue as far as the eye can see. That’s what comes to mind for me when I think of the Fourth of July. And to my mind, there’s nowhere better to find these things along with an extra sprinkle of magic than at the Disneyland Resort.

While I enjoy the traditional Independence Day cookout and local fireworks show as much as the next person, my heart always returns to Disneyland. Here you can find Main Street U.S.A’s turn-of-the-century Americana practically dripping with festive bunting. The Dapper Dans’ sweet melodies float from the Horse-Drawn Streetcar, both horse and singers sporting their patriotic best. Scents of comfort food waft through the air to entice the senses. Strains of timeless band marches encourage toes to tap and hands to clap. Guests stream in, excited to celebrate the birth of the nation they call home.

There’s something so magical about Disneyland on a major holiday. The energy just feels different—lighter, more electric. Everyone seems to know this isn’t any ordinary day at the parks but a communal day off, a time to let loose and make memories. For me, that extra sense of frivolity makes experiencing attractions I’ve ridden hundreds of times appear fresh and new. I’m more likely to notice the small details or to “stop and smell the roses.” The pixie dust shines just a little more brightly all around me.

When I need some refreshment, I can count on plenty of festive food to satisfy my appetite. From an all-American hamburger at Galactic Grill or Flo’s V8 Cafe, decadent fried chicken at Plaza Inn, a classic corn dog at the Little Red Wagon, Southern favorites at River Belle Terrace, barbecue at Paradise Garden Grill, and red, white, and blue treats at every turn, there is something for everyone. My favorite place to indulge on the Fourth is with the Plaza Inn Dinner Package. This meal was first offered in 2019 and is back for 2022. The menu this year includes slow-roasted barbecue pork, a fried chicken thigh, smoked sausage, watermelon, corn on the cob, coleslaw, sharp cheddar mac and cheese, a bread roll, a drink, and (if you still have room after all of that) an individual apple pie. The package costs $75 for adults and $45 for kids 3-9, and includes the major perk of watching the fireworks from a reserved viewing area on the north side of the Plaza Inn patio.

Perhaps my favorite part of the Fourth of July at Disneyland is taking in the specialty entertainment. Throughout the day, guest military bands share their talents and bring patriotic spirit to guests. Performances happen across both Disneyland and Disney California Adventure during the afternoon and evening, including at the Flag Retreat. This year, the “40th Infantry Division Band” and “Guard Experience Rock Band” from the California Army National Guard as well as the 1st Marine Division Band will be on hand to lead the festivities throughout the July 2-4 long weekend. On July 4, the 1st Marine Division Band from Camp Pendleton will repeat their excellent evening concert in Fantasyland Theatre. I was fortunate enough to enjoy this show in 2018 and capture some clips, which you can see linked below. The love of country is so apparent at all of these appearances, both from performers and observers. I can’t help but be swept up in the pride of the service members and the majesty of their playing. Plus, “Stars and Stripes Forever” always gets my blood flowing!


But of course, no Fourth of July is complete without a spectacular fireworks display. Disneyland has one of the finest, with Disney’s Celebrate America! – A Fourth of July Concert in the Sky. Timeless patriotic music and fun projections set a fitting backdrop for a truly star-spangled fireworks show. Disney magic takes the traditional Independence Day extravaganza up a notch. “The rockets’ red glare, the bombs bursting in air” manifest in physical form, as a multitude of shells light up the night and remind us that “our flag is still there.” Disney’s Celebrate America! always feels to me like the perfect salute to honor our nation, and the best way to cap off a holiday in the parks.

If you weren’t convinced before, maybe you can begin to see why I believe there’s something compelling about a Fourth of July at Disneyland. In my opinion, it is truly the most all-American way to celebrate!

No matter how or where you commemorate the birth of our nation, the DAPS MAGIC team wishes you a happy and safe Independence Day!