How to Celebrate New Year’s Eve at Disney California Adventure Park

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Where better to ring in the New Year than at the Happiest Place on Earth? If you're tired of trying to feel festive on the final day of the year, we've got the solution for you. You'll be merry indeed at Disneyland's sassy sister park in Anaheim, California. Put on your party hat because it's time to countdown 12 ways to celebrate New Year's Eve at Disney California Adventure Park!

Celebrate New Year's Eve at Disney California Adventure with Kids

My family celebrating New Year's Eve at Disney California Adventure Park (Photo credit: Travel Mamas)

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12. Choose one Disneyland park for your New Year's merry-making.

Selecting just one park for your New Year's Eve celebration makes good sense in more ways than one. You'll save money on entrance tickets by purchasing a one-park ticket instead of a park hopper. Additionally, your feet will thank you for sticking to just one park and you'll save lots of time normally spent traipsing between the two Disney theme parks. Most importantly, though, Disneyland and Disney California Adventure Park may fill to capacity, leaving you unable to reenter one or both parks on a busy day like New Year's Eve. Another reason to choose Disney California Adventure for your celebration? It tends to be less crowded than Disneyland. Still, I wouldn't risk leaving the park until you're ready to turn in for the night.

Toast the New Year with tasty beverages from the Festive Food Marketplace at Disney California Adventure

Toast the New Year with tasty beverages from the Festive Food Marketplace at Disney California Adventure (Photo credit: Disneyland)

11. Toast the New Year at Disney California Adventure Park.

If you would like to ring in the New Year with something stronger than hot cocoa, then choose Disney California Adventure Park. Alcohol is forbidden at Disneyland, but you'll find all sorts of festive libations at its rowdier sister park. Order such tasty drinkies at the Festive Food Marketplace as cranberry sangria with lime, Bourbon cider with house-made Bourbon-infused whipped cream, and a blood orange ginger mule. Teetotalers and children can get in on the toasting fun with a holiday punch made with sherbet and Sprite or a s'mores frozen chocolate milk, among other non-alcoholic options.

Crowds get larger and larger as the day progresses at Disney California Adventure on New Year's Eve

Crowds get larger and larger as the day progresses at Disney California Adventure on New Year's Eve (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

10. Arrive early in the day.

Even if you'd rather sleep in so you can stay up late on New Year's Eve, it's important to arrive at Disney California Adventure fairly early in the day. I'd advise getting there at least before noon. Again, this goes back to holiday crowds filling the theme park to capacity. If you get there too late, you may not be allowed entrance at all.

Chorizo queso fundido with house-made tortilla chips from Brews & Bites at Disney California Adventure for the holiday season

Chorizo queso fundido with house-made tortilla chips from Brews & Bites (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

9. Taste foods from around the world at the Festive Food Marketplace.

Choose from a dozen specialty food kiosks set up for the holidays at the Festive Food Marketplace at Disney California Adventure. Your tastebuds can travel the world on such offerings as chorizo queso fundido with house-made tortilla chips from Brews & Bites, shrimp and grits with andouille sausage from Holiday Duets, and chana masala with grilled garlic naan from Winter Wonders.

Milk chocolate candy cane pot de crème from Winter Sliderland at Disney California Adventure on New Year's Eve

Milk chocolate candy cane pot de crème from Winter Sliderland (Photo credit: Disney)

Leave room for dessert so you can dig into a milk chocolate candy cane pot de crème from Winter Sliderland or an eggnog wreath éclair with white chocolate icing from Vision of Sugarplums. If you want to taste a bunch of goodies, your most affordable bet is a Sip and Savor Pass, which allows you to nosh on eight food or non-alcoholic beverages from the participating Festive Food Marketplace booths.

Celebrate the New Year at Carthay Circle Restaurant at Disney California Adventure

Christmas-colored halibut ceviche at The Carthay Circle Restaurant (Photo credit: Disney)

8. Make New Year's Eve dinner reservations in advance.

While festive food bites are fun for lunch or snacks, you'll probably want something a bit more elegant and relaxing for your New Year's Eve dinner. Be sure to make holiday dinner reservations as far in advance as possible. Disney Dining takes reservations as early as 60 days in advance at (407) 939-3463. Want to save money on your Disneyland character meal? You can! Click here to save up to $11 per adult meal and up to $5 per child meal with our partner, Get Away Today.

Since you don't want to leave Disney California Adventure for fear of the park reaching full capacity, stick to dining options on-site. Table service options in this park include the fancy schmancy Carthay Circle Restaurant on Buena Vista Street, Lamplight Lounge where lobster nachos are all the rage in Pixar Pier, and Wine Country Trattoria at Pacific Wharf, which features Tuscan cuisine and a good wine list. Premium World of Color seating options are available when dining at Carthay Circle or Wine Country Trattoria. Meanwhile, Lamplight Lounge offers a Frozen Dining Experience with priority seating for Frozen – Live at the Hyperion.

Cars Land gets all dolled up for the holidays at Disney California Adventure Park

Cars Land gets all dolled up for the holidays (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

7. Soak up the holiday decor.

No time of year is more magical at Disney California Adventure than during the winter holidays. You'll see an array of holiday decorations throughout the park, but Radiator Springs in Cars Land ratchets it up a notch. Look for wrench-inspired snowflakes and a “snow car” welcoming you to Route 66. As the sun sets on Buena Vista Street, gather around for a joyous Christmas tree-lighting ceremony.

Frozen - Live at the Hyperion is one of the many live entertainment option available at Disney California Adventure on New Year's Eve

6. Scope out the holiday entertainment.

Look for holiday entertainment throughout Disney California Adventure Park on New Year's Eve. Mariachi Divas sing bilingual holiday songs in Pacific Wharf. Mostly Kosher musical band celebrates Hanukah with klezmer, latin, jazz and rock music at Sonoma Terrace. Blue13 Dance Company wows the crowds with traditional Indian dances at Paradise Gardens Park to celebrate Diwali. The Sound celebrates Kwanzaa and Christmas with impressive a capella holiday tunes at Pacific Wharf and Paradise Gardens Park. Kids will love the Holiday Toy Drummers, who march to a merry beat at the Obelisk. Last but not least, Phat Cat Swinger puts on a swinging show of holiday music at Paradise Garden Park.

Meanwhile, World of Color puts a holiday spin on its traditional musical dancing fountain and light show. Frozen – Live at the Hyperion makes a great winter holiday choice as well with its snowy, yet heart-warming theming and plot. Check the daily schedule on your park map for specific times to see live entertainment.

Disney ¡Viva Navidad! street party at Disney California Adventure on New Year's Eve

5. Join the New Year's Eve dance party.

Last year when my family visited Disney California Adventure on New Year's Eve, there were three dance party locations at which to get our groove on while waiting for midnight.

Disney ¡Viva Navidad! Street Party in Paradise Garden Parks takes place nightly during the holiday season. The three Cabelleros, Panchito, José Carioca, and Donald Duck star in a holly, jolly celebration through the streets. Expect mariachi and samba musicians, folklórico dancers, some of your favorite Disney Characters and incredible 12-foot-tall mojiganga puppets of Santa and Mrs. Claus.

Take a look at Disney's website or the daily map for specific party times and locations for New Year's Eve 2019 at Disney California Adventure Park.

Disney California Adventure is a festive place to celebrate New Year's Eve with kids, or without!

Disney California Adventure is a festive place to celebrate New Year's Eve with kids, or without! (Photo credit: Paul Hiffmeyer, Disney)

4. Get glowing goodies and noise makers.

Disney cast members typically pass out noisemakers and party hats to park goers on New Year's Eve. The good news is that these are given out for free. The bad news is that not everyone got one and the noise makers were, well, very noisy. Check your map for distribution locations and times so you don't miss out!

Nighttime at any Disney park is made more festive with glowing goodies like light-up necklaces, mouse ears, and toys. This is especially true when visiting Disney California Adventure on New Year's Eve…particularly if you'll be watching the World of Color spectacular. Instead of shelling out big bucks for glow-in-the-dark favors at the park, I recommend buying some light-up goodies before you go! You'll save lots of money, for sure. To make it more magical for kids, keep these hidden in your day bag and dole them out as night falls.

3. Dress in layers.

If you think Southern California is always warm, you might be surprised when the sun goes down and the temperature plummets. Be sure to dress the whole family in layers to handle sun, rain and nighttime temps. If traveling with kids in strollers and/or you want to queue up early for World of Color or parades, you might want to tuck a portable blanket into your day bag, too. During our New Year's Eve visit last year, our whole family wound up buying winter hats at a premium at the Disney California Adventure. To save money, you may want to pack your own warm headgear instead.

2. Countdown to midnight…or not.

I can't think of a more festive place to ring in the New Year than Disney California Adventure. But after a long day at the park, you might be ready to hang up your mouse ears before midnight strikes. If you're not much of a late night person, or you're visiting with kids, you may want to forego the midnight hoopla in favor of a good night's sleep. You'll be glad you did when you get up bright and early the next day to enjoy fairly light crowds at the parks on New Year's Day. While the party animals are dozing, you'll be riding Space Mountain or Radiator Springs Racers without having to wait in monstrous lines.

New Year's Eve at Disney California Adventure Park

1. Choose a hotel within walking distance.

If you're planning to take an Uber, Lyft or cab on New Year's Eve, you might be waiting for your ride for a very, very long time. Even if your hotel offers a shuttle, keep in mind that New Year's Eve is typically one of Disney's busiest days of the year and as such, your shuttle may be delayed.

If you want to be sure to hit the hay as soon as possible after leaving the park, your best bet is staying somewhere within walking distance. I'm partial to the three Disney hotels: Disneyland Hotel, Grand Californian and Paradise Pier. If your wallet can't take that big of a hit, though, choose from an array of hotels near Disneyland. Click on the “VIEW MAP” button on the right side of this Get Away Today page to get an idea of which hotels are closest to the theme parks.

Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa decked out for the holidays

Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa decked out for the holidays (Photo credit: Joshua Sudock, Disney)

Save money on your Disneyland New Year's Eve vacation

Want to save money on your Disneyland vacation? Of course you do! Use discount code TravelMamas to get $10 off any two-night or longer Southern California package (hotel and two ticket minimum) when you book through Get Away Today. Just want tickets? Buy discounted Disneyland Park tickets now!

Save money on your Disney California Adventure Vacation with Get Away Today

Keep these tips for future reference

Be sure to save these tips for celebrating New Year's Eve at Disney California Adventure Park. Just pin the image below to Pinterest. Go ahead and follow Travel Mamas on Pinterest while you're at it!

12 Tips for Celebrating New Year's Eve at Disney California Adventure Park

Have you ever celebrated New Year's Eve at a theme park? Let us know your tips and questions about celebrating the New Year at Disney California Adventure Park in the comments below!

A Note from The Travel Mama: My family did not receive any discounts or comps from Disney related to this story.

About Colleen Lanin

Colleen Lanin is the founder/editor-in-chief of TravelMamas.com. As the author of her book, "The Travel Mamas' Guide," she teaches parents not only how to survive a trip with children, but also how to love exploring the world with their offspring. Her stories have appeared online and in print for such outlets as the "Today" show, NBCNews.com, Parenting Magazine, Orlando Sentinel, Chicago Tribune, Expedia, San Diego Family Magazine, and more. Colleen gives tips on television, radio, and as a public speaker. She has a master’s degree in business administration with a background in marketing. She lives in Arizona with her husband and two kids.

Comments

  1. Ellen Lanin says:

    Last year New Year’s Eve at Disney California was the best ever! It pays to go with someone who knows what and where everything is happening!

    • Colleen Lanin says:

      LOL! It was SO MUCH FUN! I really am tempted to go again this New Year’s Eve. It was one of the best New Year’s ever – so much better than a house party!

  2. That looks like so much fun! We adore Disney for the holidays. They really do it up big time. We’ve only been able to get out there for it once, but we’ve been trying to get back ever since!

  3. Mary Edwards says:

    I would love to attend this. We’ve been to Mickey’s Christmas Party for the last couple of years at the Magic Kingdom. I never thought of going on New Years Eve. Sounds like so much fun!

  4. Wow these pictures make me really want to go there with my family! I didn’t realize there are fun activities for adults, too. Love the matching Disney shirts too. 🙂

    • Colleen Lanin says:

      Thanks, Ronnie! I love getting into the Disney spirit with fun clothing. I hope you can ring the New Year in at Disney CA Adventure with your family some year!

  5. Those are some great ideas to celebrate New Years. My favorite holiday, celebrating the year past year and reflecting on good times.

    • Colleen Lanin says:

      I really don’t like New Year’s Eve much usually. There is so much pressure to have a great time and it feels forced. New Year’s Eve at Disney California Adventure really was a ton of fun, though. I didn’t feel this pressure to have fun, because it IS FUN!

  6. I would love to go there, or really to WDW for New Year’s eve. I imagine it’s completely magical.

    • Colleen Lanin says:

      I’m sure WDW is fabulous on New Year’s Eve as well but I encourage you to give Disneyland and Disney California Adventure a try for this holiday!

  7. Elicit Folio says:

    What a great list for any family vacation! I loved all of your tips! Saving this pin for sure!

  8. I’ve heard great things about Disney for pretty much every holiday. New Years Eve looks like a blast at California Adventure.

  9. I can’t think of a better way to ring in the New Year than at Disney! We’ve done Halloween and Christmas with them in the past, but New Years we definitely need to add to the agenda. These are great tips to help make the most out of the day.

  10. Sounds like it would be SO much fun. I’ve never done anything for New Years Eve and this would be one for the books. How fun.

  11. Becca Wilson says:

    This looks like it would be such a fun time. I have always wanted to take the family to Disney!

  12. Melanie Walsh says:

    We love Disney during the holidays, but I’ve not celebrated New Years Eve there. I’m sure it’s such a fun place to kick off the new year. I’ve got to eat all of the Festival of Holiday foods before my resolutions start.

  13. katrina gehman says:

    looks like a blast! i’d love to go, just need to get healthy first. i’m sure all of you had a great time.

    • Colleen Lanin says:

      Katrina – I’m so sorry to hear you’ve been having health issues. May you have good health & Disney fun in the New Year!

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