This article originally published on June 30th, 2016. It has been updated and republished with a new date.
What Are the Best Times to Visit Disneyland?
Figuring out the perfect date between work and school schedules with a balance of ideal weather, holidays and special events may seem impossible!
Yes, there are better times of the year to visit Disneyland than others. But that is subjective for sure, depending upon your personal needs and the needs of your family. Your favorite dates could be someone else’s worst months to vacation, because it depends upon various factors.
This article will help you choose a personal best time to visit Disneyland based on this criteria:
- Avoiding big crowds
- Choosing dates with optimal weather
- Seasonal events
- Theme park seasons with longer hours and late nights
- Lower hotel costs and ticket prices to save money on the trip
Choosing the Right Time for Travel
Historically one could count on Disneyland attendance statistics from years past to get a good idea on when the park would be busy. Over the years Disneyland has done a nice job of adding special events during the “slower” months.
The implementation of new at Disneyland procedures like the reservation system and online ticket sales has added new challenges. Therefore the typical Disneyland crowd calendar isn’t always reliable!
This article will tackle some of the concerns about choosing a vacation date. Keep reading for some of my tips and answers to the most-asked questions about the best times to visit Disneyland.
What’s the Best Date to Avoid Disneyland Crowds?
There are definite concerns to be addressed when it’s crowded at Disneyland. This includes long lines for everything, congestion in the parks and frustration at lengthy wait times.
When are the best days to go to Disneyland if you’re aiming to avoid crowds? And what days should be avoided?
There’s no guaranteed tried-and-true Disneyland crowd calendar anymore. There are too many factors to accurately predict Disneyland busiest days. If you’re aiming to visit Disneyland during the least busiest times, this article will guide you to the best off-peak periods.
The parks will be packed any time that kids are out of school, which would be all holidays and breaks. This would include weekends, summer break, major school breaks and holiday weekends.
Consider Christmas vacation, Thanksgiving week and Spring Break to be very crowded days. And any long weekend including Labor Day, President’s Day, and Memorial Day will bring in huge crowds.
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Dates to Avoid Disneyland (If You Don’t Like Crowds)
Beware of visiting on any date that draws in visitors to the Anaheim area. This requires a bit of research on your part.
Check out the Anaheim Convention Center website for big events, including D23 and NAMM (annual music convention).
Consider crossing off these dates from consideration if you want to avoid crowds at Disneyland:
- Martin Luther King Jr. weekend
- Superbowl Sunday
- President’s Day weekend
- Spring Break for the local schools
- Easter weekend
- Bats Day (aka Goth Day)
- Memorial Day weekend
- 4th of July weekend
- Labor Day weekend
- Gay Days Disneyland (traditionally mid-late September)
- Columbus Day weekend
- Veteran’s Day weekend
- Thanksgiving break for schools
- Holiday/Winter break for schools, including Christmas and New Years
Purchase a Disney vacation planning calendar to keep track of travel plans. This will allow you to make notes about upcoming vacation needs, like making theme park reservations and booking advance dining reservations.
What Day of the Week is Best to Visit Disneyland?
If you hate to wait (and really, who doesn’t?) consider going to the park during off-peak times. Once you’ve picked a season you’re ready to choose specific dates. But what are the best days of the week to visit Disneyland?
The most optimal days of the week to visit the park are in the middle. There are some factors that can affect this plan (keep reading!):
- Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday are often the best times to visit Disneyland.
- Saturday and Sunday are generally the busiest days of the week.
- Monday and Friday (especially Friday evenings when locals get off work) are usually more crowded as well.
Keep in mind that certain ticket specials like the Disneyland Ticket California Resident Offer can bring in crowds when least expected. Read the fine print. Does the offer exclude weekends during a specific time period? This may cause weekdays to be busier than usual.
When Will the Weather at Disneyland Be the Best?
Fortunately, Disneyland is in Southern California and weather is generally pretty nice year-round. There are times of the year however when you can expect more extreme temperatures, whether hot or cold.
November – April: Watch the forecast during this rainy season, from light showers to occasionally heavy storms accompanied by chilly weather.
Rainy days at Disneyland can be downright cold with the combination of icy temperatures and wet feet! Wear layers and rent a locker to store cold weather/rain gear.
May – June: Might experience “May Gray” or “June Gloom”. This overcast weather can create cooler temperatures into the afternoon with warmth after the clouds burn off.
Dress in layers that can be peeled off easily. Bring a sweatshirt for morning and evening hours.
July – October: Expect the parks to be extremely hot. Pack appropriately with lots of drinking water and sunscreen. The warmer temperatures often result in lower crowd levels when the sun is overhead.
Work in plenty of mid-day breaks in which to seek air conditioning or return to the hotel. Follow these additional tips for doing Disneyland in the heat.
Best Time to Visit Disneyland for Special Events
Crowds aside, sometimes you’ll want to plan a Disneyland vacation simply to take advantage of the in-park entertainment and special events!
Year-round, Disneyland offers seasonal activities that draw in crowds. Go into the trip knowing it will be crowded at Disneyland. These events always popular!
In general, fireworks usually take place regularly in summertime and holiday seasons. There are seasonal fireworks spectaculars including Disneyland Forever, Halloween Screams and Believe…In Holiday Magic.
The full fireworks show includes pyrotechnics and projections on Sleeping Beauty Castle, Main Street USA and it’s a small world facade. This display usually happens on weekends with a projection-only show (like Mickey’s Mix Magic) happening on weeknights.
Keep in mind that fireworks shows will be cancelled in inclement weather or in times of high winds.
From World of Color to Fantasmic!, nighttime shows are back. During summer and holiday months, these shows happen several times each night.
If crowds are a concern and you don’t want to struggle with finding a viewing location, consider one of these add-ons. A dessert party or dinner package may be available for booking through the Disneyland dining reservation system. Guests receive a reserved viewing spot to watch the show via purchase of the package.
Since Disneyland reopening, there’s been a rotation of parades in the theme parks. The Magic Happens will be returning to Disneyland in 2023.
Character cavalcades have been a recent substitute for the usual full parade. These abbreviated parades often happen when weather is wet. Watch the Disneyland calendar via the app to know what parade (if any) might be showing during your visit.
Throughout the year Disneyland offers in-park entertainment and activities including food festivals. These events draw in large crowds but there’s plenty of fun for all ages to participate.
These seasonal events are included in a regular theme park ticket. Examples include Lunar New Year, Dia de los Muertos shows and entertainment during Halloween time, Disney Food & Wine Festival or the Festival of Holidays.
Check the Disneyland app to know the exact times of particular activities and shows that will take place.
Special Nighttime Hard Ticket Events
Additional events are offered through the year that require a “hard ticket”. This event ticket is separate from a regular park ticket. Guests without an event ticket must leave the parks early and only those with the party ticket may remain.
If you don’t plan on attending the event, watch the calendar for those dates. Your in-park hours will be limited since the park closes early to accommodate these parties. These seasonal “after-dark” parties may include Sweethearts Night, Star Wars Night, or Oogie Boogie Bash.
Read the fine print on when the party begins and when those with an event ticket may enter the park. There is often a “mix in” period where ticket holders may arrive several hours early for entry to the designated theme park.
Which Seasons are Best to Visit Disneyland?
Winter, spring, summer and fall. Disneyland is wonderful for all seasons! There are certain considerations to know before booking a vacation in the summer months or for a holiday get away.
If you’re looking for the best months to visit Disneyland, the following sections can help you plan. Keep in mind, trends change every year depending upon the scheduling of special events and ride openings/closures, so your milage may vary.
The First Weeks in January
The busy holiday season at Disneyland has come to a close. A vacation in January, after the holiday decorations come down is a great time for a trip! Watch the calendar for Disney’s Lunar New Year, which will increase crowds.
The Disney100 anniversary celebration kicks off Jan. 27, 2023. As a result of this, there will be special offerings including the return of Magic Happens parade and the grand opening of Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway. Expect crowd levels to increase in late January as a result.
Pros: Lighter crowds as kids return to school. Ideal for families with babies and preschool-aged children who don’t have to worry about school schedules.
Cons: Scheduling may be an issue if you’re just coming off work and school holiday breaks. Certain attractions may be closed for refurbishment including water attractions.
Haunted Mansion and it’s a small world close for removal of their seasonal overlays. This season may have some rain & cold weather.
Springtime – Late April to Mid-May
This particular time of year works for many reasons! Spring Break at Disneyland is over but before kids are out for summer so crowds are lessened on weekdays.
Pros: Spring at Disneyland is beautiful, with flowers in bloom. The weather is warm but not overly hot. Crowds are fewer after the lengthy spring break when kids return to school (usually a full week after Easter).
Cons: Coming out of spring break, you may hesitate to pull elementary aged kids out of school. Park hours may be limited (ie: shorter park days).
You know what they say about “April Showers”? Guests might experience rain this time of year.
Early Fall – Late August to early September
In those days before and just after Labor Day, the late weeks of August and early weeks of September can work for many families. It’s the season to celebrate Halloween at Disneyland in early September. And if you time it right, the crowds will be cooperative!
The late summer season can be very hot in Southern California. Plan for the warmer weather by stocking up on items like cooling towels.
Pros: Hot weather means it’s a great season for swimming. Plan to stay at a hotel of the Disneyland Resort to swim mid-day. Fewer crowds midweek with kids in school.
Cons: Many parents will be reluctant to take kids out of school just after returning to class. The month of September can also be one of the hottest months of the year! Expect and plan for mid-day breaks to get out of the sun.
Late Fall – End of October through Mid-November
Once the Halloween events have ended and before the official kick-off of the holiday season. These few weeks leading into the week before Thanksgiving offer lower crowds and usually nice weather.
Arizona residents often flood into the Disneyland parks for their fall break. Consider checking AZ school calendars to ensure your visit doesn’t coincide with their school time off.
Pros: Get a taste of the holiday season, as decorations begin to trickle into the California theme parks. Weather is still nice enough to enjoy a mid-afternoon swim.
Cons: The weather can still be extremely warm. Christmas at Disneyland parks decorations and events won’t be in full swing quite yet. Weekends can be much busier.
On days in which Oogie Boogie Bash takes place, Disney California Adventure park will close at 6 pm to regular ticketed guests.
Tips for Oogie Boogie Bash Nights
Throughout September and October, the Disneyland Halloween party Oogie Boogie Bash takes place on select nights. If you aim to visit, watch for ticket sales months ahead of time (generally late June).
If you choose to attend Oogie Boogie Bash during your trip, consider not purchasing a full-day park ticket. Guests are able to access Disney California Adventure park before the party begins. You’ll gain admittance to the “mix in” 3 hours early with your special event hard ticket.
Not going to the Halloween party? Make your theme park reservations for Disney California Adventure and rope drop to take advantage of lower morning and afternoon crowds. Once the mix-in happens, crowd levels will increase and your family can Park Hop to Disneyland!
Early Holiday Season – Late-November through Early-December
There’s a period of the holiday season at Disneyland that offers lower crowds, if you time it right! It begins a few days after Thanksgiving and lasts into the first week or two of December.
Christmas time at Disneyland can get busy, especially in the days leading up to the actual holidays. Avoid the weekends. Choose a Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday visit for the best crowd levels. This 3-Day Park Hopper ticket with Disney Genie+ is perfect if you want to sail through the lines!
Pros: The park is decorated fully for the winter holidays. Expect to find special activities, shows and parades.
Seasonal ride overlays Haunted Mansion, it’s a small world and in Cars Land will be operational. Midweek crowds are better than the weekends.
Cons: Weather is typically unpredictable this time of year. Remain flexible. Check the 10-day forecast ahead of your visit to know what to bring to Disneyland.
Midweek Park hours might also be shorter, so check the calendar for the days you’ll be there. Some families may not want to pull kids from school before the official holiday break.
Best Times to Visit Disneyland on a Budget
If saving money at Disneyland is a concern, which times of year are lower in cost? Peak season means higher prices, so it pays to know when the costs of a Disney trip will be lower. Throughout the year, Disney releases special offers to save money on a vacation.
The best tip I have is to contact Get Away Today and ask for a complimentary vacation quote. Their professional agents can suggest which package fits within your budget. Call 1-855-GET-AWAY and mention the code REWRITTEN to save!
Midweek hotel pricing is generally lower in cost versus weekends (Friday, Saturday, Sunday). Rates also increase when a major convention is taking place.
Also, certain seasons will be better priced in the way of hotels and travel packages. The holidays will always be more expensive. The cheapest times to go to Disneyland are during the “off-season”. These are the specific periods of time I mentioned in the previous sections.
The earlier you can book your vacation, the better your pricing will be! Get Away Today offers free price monitoring services which refund when prices go down. Locking in your travel by booking as soon as you have your trip dates is key.
California Residents and SoCal Residents as well as military members and educators may receive special discounts off the cost of Disneyland tickets.
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