As I’ve said before, one of the best perks of being a Disney Parks Cast Member is having accessibility to the Disneyland Resort whenever I want. This gives me a chance to experience every attraction, watch every show, and (try to) eat as much Disney Dining cuisine as possible! I also get to tell my friends and family (and you!) about my favorite offerings, both old and new.
The following are must-do experiences if you and your family are headed to the Resort this holiday season.
Must-Hear: Billy Hill & the Hillbillies at the Jingle Jangle Jamboree
In what is sadly their last program at the Disneyland Resort, Billy Hill & the Hillbillies are the featured entertainment at the Jingle Jangle Jamboree in Frontierland. They play funny, toe-tapping holiday tunes with their own unique twist multiple times a day, featuring some VERY surprise guests. If you’re a fan of the Hillbillies or of Yesterland (now-gone to Disney Parks history), this is definitely worth a visit!
The Jamboree is also a great place to visit as a quiet escape from what can be a very crowded time of the year. With Big Thunder Mountain Railroad down for a renovation, many guests bypass Frontierland altogether, leaving Big Thunder Ranch and the Jingle Jangle Jamboree fairly light crowds-wise. This allows for easy and relaxed meet-and-greets with Mickey and friends in their holiday best, fun arts and crafts, and of course the Jingle Jangle Jamboree entertainment.
Must-Dance: Disney ¡Viva Navidad!
Disney ¡Viva Navidad! is one of the most energetic and fun shows I’ve ever seen at the Disneyland Resort! I have a particular soft spot for it since it puts The Three Caballeros (Donald Duck, Jose Carioca, and Panchito Pistoles) into the limelight (though I also love that they have a segment in Mickey’s Soundsational Parade), as well as creating an entirely new story and celebration around these characters.
The show is a street party, not a parade, so the float and dancers come to a particular spot and then stop, so you’ll want to make sure you’re in a good spot to see everything – my tip is to watch it right next to the Bayside Brews cart! Both Panchito and Jose showcase music and dances from their respective nations (Mexico and Brazil), while Donald struggles to keep up with learning the new dances. I don’t want to spoil anything, but the show is full of lots of surprises and will become a great new memory to make here at the Disneyland Resort!
Must-Trade: The New Frozen Set
I recently fell down the rabbit hole of Disney Pin Trading due to some Cast-exclusive pins I couldn’t not buy – and already my pin pouch is full and I’ve gone to multiple morning-of pin releases (aka what I did with my Thanksgiving).
The high-collectibility fandom aside, the must-trade pin set for this holiday season is the Frozen set which was only just released the week before the film opened, and the combo Anna/Elsa snowflake pin. As a pin trading Cast Member, guests kept asking when the Frozen pins were coming and, as a new collector, I’m so glad they’re finally here!
Must-Drink (If You’re 21): Mele Kaliki-Mocha at Trader Sam’s
Having conquered the entire regular Trader Sam’s menu, I was delighted to try for the first time the three new holiday offerings. My favorite of the three is the Mele Kaliki-Mocha, which you can also make at home (though nothing can match the ambience of Trader Sam’s Enchanted Tiki Bar.) The Mele Kaliki-Mocha is a uniquely delicious cocktail which blends iced coffee with Kahlua and rum. There’s truly nowhere else in the Resort you can order a drink like this, so be sure to sample this while it’s around!
Must-See: World of Color – Winter Dreams
Ever the Disney princess fan, I couldn’t be more excited for Frozen to be featured in World of Color – Winter Dreams. Winter Dreams is an entirely new show in the waters of Paradise Bay, hosted by Olaf the snowman from Frozen, who takes us on a journey throughout the winter season through different Disney stories, including the Tinker Bell series, Bambi, Toy Story, and of course Frozen.
This nighttime spectacular, like the regular-season World of Color, is astounding for its seamless blend of classic and contemporary Disney moments, and the fusion between video footage and more abstract, colorful water imagery. It’s a conceptual piece somewhat reminiscent of Fantasia, as an epic, emotional musical journey.
What’s exciting too is that, prior to Frozen‘s opening on November 27, it was the only place you could hear two songs from the film, In Summer and the knockout Let It Go, which is already destined to become a classic in the Disney songbook.
Even as a lifelong Disney purist, who falls very much into the same routine when visiting the Disney Parks, I am so happy to find these new favorites. These are great experiences for you to share with your family and may become holiday traditions for years to come!