Disneyland’s half century-old candy cane making tradition returns this Christmas season after the coronavirus pandemic shattered the peppermint hearts of die-hard fans who have turned the hand-made holiday treats into a cult classic.
The limited-time seasonal candy canes will be sold Dec. 7, 9, 15, 21 and 23 at the Candy Palace and Candy Kitchen in Disneyland and Dec. 8, 14, 16 and 22 at Trolley Treats in Disney California Adventure.
“Disneyland’s hand-pulled candy canes have achieved cult status over the years,” according to MiceChat.
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This year, Disneyland will do away with wristbands and instead use a mobile waitlist system for candy cane purchases. Sweet cravers can add their names and phone numbers to the mobile waitlists at the candy cane locations in the parks to be notified by text of their return times to make their purchases.
Disneyland’s Candy Palace and DCA’s Trolley Treats typically sell the limited-edition candy canes from Thanksgiving week until Christmas Day.
Disneyland whittled down the number of candy cane making days to just nine this year from as many as 22 days in 2014, according to MousePlanet.
The reduced number of dates and later-than-usual announcement means Magic Key annual passholders could be forced to go without candy canes for a second year in a row with reservations booked solid through virtually all of December.
“If you were lucky enough to already have a theme park reservation for the right park on the right day, then you have a shot at getting a candy cane this year,” according to MousePlanet. “If not, you’re out of luck unless Disney happens to release a new batch of theme park reservations.”
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Disneyland’s candy cane making tradition dates back to 1968.
The five-ounce, 18-inch-long candy canes are handmade each holiday season from pulled sugar and peppermint extract in display kitchens along Disneyland’s Main Street U.S.A. and DCA’s Buena Vista Street. Park visitors crowd outside the shop windows to watch Disney candy makers dressed in white with striped scarves pull and mold the gooey sugar into red, green and white hooks. The aromatic Disneyland treats have a familiar peppermint taste with a more airy and flaky texture than their machine-made candy cousins.
The display kitchens at Disneyland and DCA candy shops are kept steamy hot to maintain the sugar’s pliability. Disneyland resort concept and development pastry chef Beau Bailey says making candy canes in the hot kitchens is hard work — but totally worth it.
“It’s taxing on your body,” Bailey told the Orange County Register in 2019. “I think the first year I did it I lost 20 pounds.”
Hardcore candy cane fans arrive before dawn to stand in line outside Disneyland or DCA — with sales alternating between parks during the holiday season. After securing a spot on the mobile waitlist, the candy cane faithful return later in the day to claim their coveted confectionary crook.
Typically fewer than 150 candy canes are sold each day. There’s a limit of one candy cane per person — but in the past newborn infants have been issued wristbands to help expand a family’s bounty. The sweet treats end up on eBay, under Christmas trees and eaten immediately while they are still fresh.
“It’s not Christmas until you get your Disneyland candy cane,” Brittany Thompson, 28, of Wilmington, told the Orange County Register in 2017 while waiting in line before Disneyland opened. “We are crazy people. We line up here every year.”
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Disneyland was closed during the 2020 winter holiday season due to COVID-19 health and safety reopening guidelines issued by the state. DCA’s Trolley Treats reopened in November 2020 for holiday shopping, but the sweet shop did not sell the seasonal candy canes.