What It Takes to Put on a Disneyland Christmas, by the Numbers
It’s officially Christmastime at Disneyland, and along with the seasonal treats and must-have souvenirs, there are plenty of eye-popping decorations ready to be admired.
With garlands lining Main Street, trees outfitted with all the trimming, and festive cheer abounding, big-time Disney fans may be wondering how the park decorates its castle or just how high those towering tire trees in Cars Land are. (For the record, it’s 20 feet.)
We know, because there’s an entire tour dedicated to uncovering all things Christmas and beyond over Disneyland’s 62-year history that we experienced firsthand. Here are just some of the secrets we discovered during the Holiday Time at the Disneyland Resort guided tour, offered all winter long.
51,000 Castle Lights
The amount of lights used to cover the Sleeping Beauty castle facade, which give it an icicle-drip appearance. The castle just narrowly beats the amount of colored bulbs — 50,000 — used to adorn the It’s A Small World facade when it is transformed at Christmastime. Six times as many lights — 300,000 in total — cover the glimmering trees and topiaries surrounding the attraction as well.
Disneyland’s Main Street, U.S.A. Christmas tree clocks in as the resort’s tallest. Disneyland previously used real Evergreens for their seasonal decor, but switched to an artificial tree almost a decade ago. Environmental reasons are often cited, but the truth is that Disneyland’s crown holiday jewel caught fire the night before it was set to debut. The tree was still ready for park goers to ogle and photograph the next day, but was swapped for fake trees moving forward.
The number of ornaments adorning Disneyland Park’s Victorian-themed Christmas tree, which is topped with a traditional star. The tree at Disney California Adventure, which is inspired by the 1920s and 1930s, is lined with less as it features oversized reproductions of traditional ornaments of the era. Some of the vintage fiberglass bells and objects were even copied from those belonging to Imagineers’ own grandparents!
Years that Disneyland’s Candlelight Processional has been running. The December event, which retells the biblical tale of Christmas with carolers marching down Main Street, U.S.A., a full orchestra and a celebrity narrator, was first held in 1956 and officially added to Disneyland programming in 1958.
The first year Disneyland sold its now-famous handmade candy canes. The seasonal sweets are still pulled by hand in limited quantities and sell out rapidly each day they’re offered. Part of the difficulty of perfecting these oversized treats are that the candy has to remain between 105 and 110 degrees in order to not shatter nor crystallize, making it less of a dessert and more of an artform.
The duration of time that the windowsill Christmas tree in Walt Disney’s in-park apartment remains lit during the holiday season. The Disneyland founder loved Christmas so much that every winter, staff members continue the tradition of lighting his tree; it can be seen above the Main Street Fire Station, shining brightly.
A 22-ton Star
The weight of the fabled oversized star that used to top Matterhorn Mountain each winter. Supposedly, the two-foot-wide star — which sat 147 feet off the ground on the mountain's peak — could be seen from surrounding neighborhoods as a beacon of festive joy, but was eventually retired to conserve energy.
The collection of unique Jack-o’-lanterns lining the Haunted Mansion courtyard during its seasonal holiday change to incorporate “The Nightmare Before Christmas” throughout the attraction. Since its first spooky transformation 16 years ago, the frightful ride has added 400 flickering candles outside the ghoul-filled manse and, in a nod to Jack Skellington’s ghost-dog Zero, the garland on its door includes 200 bones.