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20 Best Tips for Crowded Days at Disneyland (2024)

20 Best Tips for Crowded Days at Disneyland (2024)

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Concerned about experiencing a crowded Disneyland day? Disney Parks are popular destinations for families from around the world. That means, more often than not, Disneyland is going to be busy. Planning ahead and knowing these travel tips can help you prepare for Disneyland crowds ahead of your vacation.

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This article originally published Sept 7th, 2016 and has been updated and republished with a new date.

Crowded Disneyland Day

Once upon a time, Disneyland had a pretty predicable off-season, when you were practically guaranteed lower crowds. Theme park attendance has increased, despite higher ticket prices and a mandatory daily reservation system.

Nowadays, you can usually count on higher Disneyland crowd levels daily at the California theme parks. While you might not be able to avoid the packs of people, there are ways to maximize a crowded Disneyland visit.

There’s really no “off-season” when it comes to the Happiest Place on Earth, especially since the Disneyland reopening. These are my top tips in a full guide for what to do when you visit on a crowded Disneyland day!

Is it Busy at Disneyland?

It’s never ideal to visit Disneyland when it’s crowded. However, work and school schedules often dictate your personal vacation dates. Maybe summer months, holiday break, spring break or 3 day weekends are the only time you can visit?

So how can you maximize your time and navigate the crowds? Does it matter what time of year and when you visit? Are there ways to know exactly when fewer people will be in the parks?

These are my expert tips on how to make the most of a crowded Disneyland day including prepping kids, ways to plan ahead, making an itinerary and using Disney Genie+.

Disneyland Crowds – Do Dates Matter Anymore?

In the past, guests planning a Disneyland vacation could count on ebbs and flows in crowd levels based on the season. With the increase in special seasonal events throughout the year, seasonal advantages no longer hold true. Disneyland is busy all-year long.

Are some days guaranteed to bring in bigger crowds? What about choosing a different day of the week for fewer crowds? There are some factors to consider when picking dates for a Disneyland trip.

READ MORE about the Dates to Avoid Disneyland with tips for choosing more ideal vacation days.

Crowds of people on Disneyland Main Street during holiday season

Don’t Compare Disneyland to Disney World

Unlike at Walt Disney World, where the parks are huge and spread out, the Disneyland parks are much more compact. This means congestion in many areas can be oppressive and tight at times. The same number of guests at Disney World looks very different at Disneyland, where the park walkways are much narrower.

Crowd outside of Disneyland entrance gates

Know What to Expect from a Crowded Day at Disneyland

How crowded is crowded at Disneyland? If you’ve never experienced a crowded day at Disneyland, you might not know what to expect.

Some areas are more congested than other areas. On a very crowded day at Disneyland it can be a challenge to find a bench to rest on, a table to eat at or shade to stand under!

Expect to see people…everywhere!

Ride queues are lengthy and attractions are jam-packed. There are long wait times for just about everything from ordering food to getting a stall in the bathroom.

But if you know that it’s going to be bustling in the parks, there are still things to see and do. Making a pre-vacation plan, showing up for “rope-drop” and using these time saving tips will offer you more opportunity for fun, despite the crowds!

Go to the Disneyland Resort for More than One Day

If you’re visiting on what you know will be a crowded day, it’s best to plan on a multi-day Disneyland pass. Seeing and doing it all at Disneyland in one day is impossible, even under the best circumstances.

Plan on at least 3 days at Disneyland to properly experience the parks. Choose a 5 day Disneyland ticket or longer if visiting during especially busy seasons like during Thanksgiving or Christmas break.

With the multi day passes, the pressure will be less rushed to hurry and do it all. Fit in a mid-day break to escape the crowds or enjoy a leisurely full service restaurant meal. With more than one day at Disneyland, the desire to join the throngs of other guests will be eased.

DISCOUNT DISNEYLAND TICKETS – My travel partners at Get Away Today offer both discounted Disneyland tickets and Anaheim-area hotels to fit any budget! Many hotels include exclusive discounts like free parking, complimentary breakfast or even free nights, just for booking through Get Away Today.

Disneyland tickets purchased now are good through January 12th, 2025. Purchase your multi-day tickets through Get Away Today today and lock in the best pricing of the year.

When you’re ready to book your Disneyland vacation, my friends at Get Away Today are ready to help! Mention code REWRITTEN to receive an extra discount off your SoCal vacation package (when booking 2+ nights with two or more tickets).

Is it Going to Be Crowded at Disneyland?

On the Disneyland with Kids Facebook group, we consistently received the question, “Will it be crowded on this particular holiday?” “Is it packed?” The answer is usually a resounding, YES. There are a few easy ways to quickly determine if Disneyland parks will be busy.

School Holidays

If kids are out of school, crowd levels at Disney will be higher. School holidays mean that families will take advantage and often go to the parks. Expect Disneyland to be busy during the holiday season, summer break, and 3-day weekends, like Memorial Day weekend.

Sold Out Reservation Dates

Another way to predict that you might be visiting on a busy day? Is the date on the Disneyland reservation calendar “sold out”. There’s a good chance the park has met their capacity and might be more crowded than usual.

Disneyland walt statue with castle

Are Disney Crowd Calendars Accurate?

Any Disneyland crowd calendar will tell you that any day kids are out of school the Parks are going to be crowded. But it’s much more than just planning trips outside of school breaks. Here are common questions to “Will it be busy at Disneyland?”:

Is Spring Break busy at Disneyland?

For sure, but with a few caveats. The actual spring break varies between school districts so it’s really more of a busy month than just a week or two. If you want to avoid spring break crowds, read up on what to expect during Spring Break at Disneyland.

Are 3-Day Weekends Busy at Disneyland?

Yes, kids are out of school and families often plan a visit to Disneyland during the holiday weekends. This includes President’s Day, Labor Day weekend, Memorial Day, and Veteran’s Day.

Is it crowded at Disneyland on Christmas Day?

Yes, in fact the time from mid-December, New Year’s Day, through the first week of January are the busiest times of the year in the parks. Read these tips for visiting on busy days during the holidays at Disneyland.

Celebrating Christmas at the Disneyland Resort is simply magical! Here are the top tips on maximizing your Christmas at Disneyland vacation.
A Christmas Fantasy parade

Is it crowded at Disneyland on Super Bowl Sunday?

Yes, based on personal experience. There are tons of people who don’t care about football or who don’t have a team in the game.

Will Easter Sunday be crowded at Disneyland?

Yes, but the crowds ebb and flow as families come to the parks after church or leave in the evening for Easter dinner.

Is it crowded at Disneyland on a rainy day?

Sometimes. If the rainy day is on a mid-week in March, then it will probably discourage crowds. However if the rain comes on what is regularly a busy season, it will probably still be crowded at Disneyland. We still saw some really heavy crowds on a rainy day at Disneyland during the Halloween Time events.

Dia de los Muertos decorations at Disneyland Frontierland during Halloween Time
Rainy day at Disneyland during Halloween Time

Is Thanksgiving crowded at Disneyland?

Yes, but the mornings seem to be busier than evenings. Many people go in the earlier hours, then leave to have Thanksgiving dinner elsewhere. Early November weekdays are a better time to visit, and Christmas decorations will already be up!

Are Mondays crowded at Disneyland?

Yes, as are Fridays (especially after noon). Guests often create their own 3-day weekends adding on a Friday or Monday visit to their holiday. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday mid week visits generally have lighter crowds.

Do theme park reservations make Disneyland less crowded?

With the inception of park reservations, Disneyland is able to place a cap on the number of tickets sold for select dates. However, nobody knows what the limit is or what days will be less crowded. If you see that reservations are full on the Disneyland calendar, expect the park to be busy!

Why is it so crowded at Disneyland today?

Disneyland is a major family vacation destination, bringing fans from around the world! Add this in to the fact that many locals have Magic Key annual passes and come to the park for a few hours, adding to the crowds.

Disneyland crying toddler in a stroller
All these crowds at Disneyland might have you in a cranky mood!

Planning Ahead for an Optimal Vacation Time

Disney vacations require advance planning to ensure a smooth trip. First time guests cannot expect to simply show up and “wing it”, in particular during busier times of the year. Of course getting a theme park reservation is a must-do as well.

You’ll want to plan out things (at least roughly) in advance so you’ll have a plan for the day. These are a few things to look for when planning:

Download the Disneyland app onto your smart phone. Get familiar with it ahead of your vacation. See how you can check wait times, mobile order, pinpoint where characters are and find out show times.

Looking for all the tips on meeting characters at Disneyland during the holiday season? I'm sharing where to find Mickey & Minnie, other Disney characters dressed for Christmas and where to find Santa at Disneyland! These time saving tips will guide you on how to meet n' greet, parade tips to see Disney characters in winter wear and where to get souvenir autographs at the Disneyland resort in California.
Using the Disneyland app is a must

Purchase a Disneyland ticket with Disney Genie+ added in. You’ll save yourself time after scanning into the park and immediately be able to book your first Lightning Lane attraction (more on this coming in the article).

Know what time the Parks open and close during your planned vacation. Check the Disneyland Resort Parks calendar on their website in advance so you can schedule your day. Certain special events like the Oogie Boogie Bash Halloween Party and Grad Nites can abbreviate park days when they close early for the event.

Oogie Boogie Halloween Party Disney California Adventure park entrance gates

Dates to Watch for When Planning a Disneyland Vacation

Search your travel dates on the Anaheim Convention Center website. Big conventions in the area (like D23) can add massive crowds to the parks.

Search your travel dates online to see if there are any other events happening in the parks. Events like Gay Days and Dapper Days can add extra crowds.

Is there a festival taking place during your visit? Annual events like the Food & Wine Festival at Disney’s California Adventure can bring in large crowds.

Figure out what shows are must-see. Some shows like parades and fireworks shows are not shown year round. Check the park calendar.

Look at the Magic Key Annual Pass holders block out dates, especially the Southern California pass. Dates when annual passholders are blocked might be less busy. However there might be a reason they are blocked out (like during busier seasons or days).

Websites that offer a crowd tracker or crowd predictor aren’t always accurate (since they are comparing dates from years’ past). Use them with a grain of salt.

Consider a “Disneyland Plan“. My friend Jessica at The Happiest Blog on Earth will custom design the perfect itinerary for your family!

Prep Kids for a Crowded Day at Disneyland

As an adult, you’ll know more about what to expect when the theme parks are packed. But how can you prep your children for long lines and lengthy waits? These are a few thoughts on preparing kids for crowds on vacation:

Don’t hype up doing ALL the things. Plan out a rough schedule. Logistically, you’ll be able to get an idea on what can actually be experienced during the time of your visit.

Have kids choose one or two must-do attractions for each day of your visit. Aim to complete those items and the rest of the day is a bonus!

Check the ride closures ahead of your trip so you’ll know what’s not operating.

Have things to do while waiting in line at Disney. Stock a day pack with items that will help pass the time whether in queue or waiting for food.

Take safety precautions if you have kids that wander off. I personally use a backpack with a safety harness tether. I used this on my youngest daughter as a toddler. She liked to walk independent but I still wanted her close, especially when passing through large groups.

Older kids can understand crowds, so share that information with them ahead of the trip. They should be made aware that heavy crowds means they might not see everything and that the average wait time for everything will be long.

READ MORE about the ways to prepare kids for a Disney trip.

Use Disney Genie+ on Crowded Disneyland Days

The free FASTPASS system and the paid MaxPass are no longer offered at any Disney park. The new line skipping plan is called Disney Genie+. Using Disney Genie+, guests can schedule return times for the most popular rides via a mobile device.

The cost starts at $30 per person, per day. This fee fluctuates, depending on demand. Expect higher costs for Disney Genie+ in busy times.

Yes, it’s an awesome time saver on a crowded day at Disneyland. The extra cost is worth the time saved compared to waiting in long queues. Work in the additional upcharge when planning out your Disney vacation budget.

On truly busy days, most rides will “run out” of bookings, so you’ll want to schedule early. For more tips about using Disney Genie+ at Disneyland, check out this helpful guide from my friend Leslie at Trips With Tykes.

Disneyland "it's a small world" attraction
Waiting in line at Disneyland for “it’s a small world”.

Purchase Individual Lightning Lane

Separate from Disney Genie+, there are currently three attractions for which an “individual Lightning Lane” can be purchased. The only other option to get on these rides is through the stand-by queue, which could be several hours long for each.

If you want shorter lines, consider purchasing “a la carte” Lightning Lane for these popular attractions:

  • At Disneyland, buy your way to the front of the line at Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance.
  • For Disney California Adventure park, purchase LL for Radiator Springs Racers.
Guests riding Radiator Springs Racers at Disney California Adventure park

Book Advance Dining Reservations for Full Service Meals

While generally you might be able to eat at Disneyland without Advance Dining Reservations, during very busy seasons you should absolutely book them. Full service dining restaurants, in particular the popular locations, will fill up early.

Consider booking reservations for all full service locations, especially Blue Bayou, Lamplight Lounge and all character meals inside and outside the park, including Minnie’s Breakfast at the Park at Plaza Inn.

Cocktails at Disney California Adventure park Lamplight Lounge
Want cocktails? Book an ADR at Lamplight Lounge.

Throughout the year, both Disneyland parks offer special dining experiences for shows like parades and nighttime entertainment. You’ll want to research if these are something your family would enjoy and book as soon as possible, because they do sell out.

These include the Fantasmic! dining package, Tomorrowland Skyline Lounge Experience and World of Color Dessert Party. 

Disneyland Splurges for kids (and Money-Saving tips that still feel like a splurge!)

Scoring Coveted Advance Dining Reservations

If dining at table service restaurants is a must-do on your trip, booking with advance dining reservations is essential. Avoid having to stalk the Disneyland app to book ADR and try MouseDining.

There’s a way to upgrade your account for additional features but for most people, their free program is adequate. Here’s how this system works:

  • Open the MouseDining website and search the restaurant you want to dine at.
  • Add in your dates to see if a reservation is available.
  • If everything is booked, simply set up an alert with more details including meal, preferred time, and party size.
  • MouseDining will email you when a reservation comes available!
Lamplight Lounge Brunch Burger at Disney California Adventure park

Disneyland Mobile Order Offers Fast Food without Slow Waits

There are many reasons to choose quick service at Disneyland. The cost is lower than full service table dining. And mobile ordering can save loads of time. While you might prefer to choose dining as you go throughout your day, I still recommend planning meals ahead of your trip. Planning out which restaurant you’ll eat at as well as reading menus ahead is a huge timesaver.

Mobile ordering is a must on a crowded Disneyland day. Wait times for restaurants will be long and ordering through the Disneyland app can speed up the process for food. Food is ready much faster and you’ll skip the line to order and pay!

Here’s how to use mobile ordering at Disneyland: Choose the quick service restaurant and place your order in the Disneyland app. When you arrive at the location, click the “Prepare My Order” button. Use the mobile order pick up location (look for signs at the counter).

Mobile Ordering Tips for Busy Days at Disneyland

Plan ahead all of your restaurants and meals before your vacation. This will eliminate unnecessary walking around the park. Have each family peruse menus in their own time ahead of the trip to decide on the orders. Menus for each restaurant location are in the Disneyland app.

On busy days at Disneyland I recommend placing ALL of your mobile orders first thing in the morning. Often times, I’ll do this while waiting in line for my first attraction of the day.

Simply place all the orders through the Disneyland app and schedule them for when you think you’ll be ready to eat. You can always push back the time in the app if necessary.

Stay Close to Disneyland to Ensure Early Arrival

Area traffic on the freeways can cause a morning delay getting to the parks. Then add in the time spent parking, walking and taking the tram. Don’t forget passing through security and then standing at the gate to enter.

If you aim to be at the Disneyland parks early, you’ll want to stay overnight close to the parks. Optimally, choose a hotel room that’s within walking distance of the parks. There are three Disney Resort hotels and tons of other choices in the surrounding Anaheim area.

Magical, musical headboards at the Disneyland Hotel

Should You Book Onsite or Good Neighbor at Disneyland?

Before booking your accommodations, read up on this comparison of staying at a Disneyland Resort Versus an Anaheim “Good Neighbor” Hotel. There are benefits to staying “on property” at either Disney’s Grand Californian Resort & Spa, the Disneyland Hotel or Paradise Pier Hotel. 

A few notes about choosing a Disney Resort Hotel:

Fairly close to the gates, with a quick walk through Downtown Disney to the front gates or use of the Monorail inside Downtown Disney in the morning.

Shorter security lines on the Disney Resort Hotel side. Guests at the Grand Californian have dedicated security lines that are usually very short.

Early Entry (30 minutes early entry), available for both theme parks.

Guests at the Grand Californian may access the private entrance straight into Disney California Adventure park with their valid park ticket.

Guests staying at the Pixar Place Hotel may access a private entrance into California Adventure with valid park ticket.

Disneyland Pixar Place hotel lobby
Rooms at the Paradise Pier Hotel, one of the Disneyland Resort hotels

Staying at an Off-Site Disneyland Area Hotel?

Certain hotels are even closer to the parks than the Disney Resort hotels. Check an online map to be sure which are best.

The security lines at Harbor Blvd can be extremely long so allow extra time. Arriving at security during park opening time will assure very long waits, get there 45-60 minutes before park opening.

Some area hotel shuttles might not get you to the park as early as you’d wish. Consider taking ride share like Lyft or Uber.

Bunk bed room at the Element hotel

Arrive Early for Everything on Crowded Disneyland Days

What is Rope Drop at Disneyland?

Guests should aim to be at the Park entrance 45-60 minutes before the official opening. On busy days, the gates will open early and a select amount of those at the front of the lines will be admitted onto Main Street U.S.A. You’ll be able to shop, visit the restrooms or stop in at City Hall. 

The official “rope drop” (when the rest of the Park opens) will happen on time, if not a few minutes early and you’ll be steps ahead of everyone else who are still lingering at the gate, waiting to be let in.

READ MORE: For more details on how to take advantage of those first few hours after Rope Drop, read my post about how to Make the Most of Your First Two Hours at Disneyland.

Arriving bright and early to the Disneyland gates

Show Up Early for Entertainment

Arriving early also holds true when you want to attend parades, fireworks or other shows/attractions. If you want a decent viewing area, you’ll need to get there early and stake out your spot. However this doesn’t mean you can set up hours early!

Keep in mind that “holding spots” on busy days may not be permitted. Disneyland Cast Members need to keep pathways open for the flow of traffic and will let guest know when they can set up blankets on the curb for parades.

Considering a Disneyland vacation but worried about crowds? Here are the tips you need to know even if the parks at Disneyland are crowded! #Disneyland

Best Use of Early Entry at Disneyland

Maybe you’ve heard of a way to access the Disneyland park early in the mornings? Early Entry (formerly referred to as Magic Morning) is a fantastic way to get in some early morning park time with lighter crowds. But how do you know if they apply to you and how you can access these special hours?

My friend Jessica at The Happiest Blog on Earth has all the details on her post Disneyland Resort Magic Mornings for all the details on how and when these apply.

*Editors Note: Extra Magic Hours has been discontinued at this time.

Considering a Disneyland vacation but worried about crowds? Here are the tips you need to know even if the parks at Disneyland are crowded! #Disneyland

Stay Late at Disneyland for Fewer Crowds

Stay as late as you can to take advantage of the emptying Park and subsequent shorter queues. Just like arriving early, staying late at the parks is another way to maximize time.

A large amount of Guests, in particular those with small children, will immediately pour out of the Park after the Fireworks show.

Get in Line Before Official Closing Time

If you weren’t able to land a coveted Disney Genie+ booking for a particular ride, here’s an insider tip that can help. This only works if you can stay until the wee hours of park closing!

Hop in line just before the official park closing time. You’ll be permitted to wait in line for that attraction until you are able to ride, even if the park is officially “closed”.

Pixar Pier at night
Jump in the line for Incredicoaster before official park closing

Keep Track of Your Stuff in the Disneyland Crowds

It’s easy to lose things in the crowd, including strollers, cell phones or your own family members! Here are some tips for keeping track of things at the parks on busy days.

Lost Children at Disneyland

Waves of bigger crowds in the theme parks can easily separate families. Check out these travel safety tips for kids, which include techniques and products to use in the parks with children.

Lost Child? – If you do lose a child at Disneyland, immediately contact a Cast Member. Prep children to look for Cast Members in the park if they are lost (they can be recognized by the distinctive personalized name button on their shirt).

Use a Tracking App – Add the Life360 app to your cell phones. Even if your partner doesn’t answer a call, you’ll be able to use the app to track location. Be aware that the app drains batteries quickly so have a fully-charged external power bank phone charger.

Dress Brightly – Dress each family member in a brightly colored t-shirt that makes individuals easier to spot in a crowd. Use code AFF20PCT for 20% off your first order at Primary.com.

Bright shirts from Primary coordinate and make kids easier to spot in a crowd

Additional Tips for Theme Park Safety

Glow stick bracelets and necklaces make kids easier to find after nightfall.

Use Disneyland lockers outside of the theme parks in the esplanade. These lockers tend to be less packed with people than the locations inside the park, especially at park closing.

Personalize your stroller with bright ribbons, a balloon or battery-operated fairy lights on the handle for night time.

Recovering Lost Items at Disneyland

Did you lose something at the Disneyland Resort? Search “Lost and Found” on the Disneyland website. There is a form to complete in which you’ll be able to describe your missing item and submit a photo (if you have one). Disneyland will mail your item back to you if it’s recovered.

Personalize Your Items – It’s highly recommended to personalize your things that might be misplaced. Use Name Bubbles to add a personalized sticker inside Disney hats or on souvenirs.

Add Name Bubbles permanent labels to all your Disney essentials

Where to Go on Evening Event Days

Is there a special evening event being held at either Disneyland or Disney California Adventure park? If you have a regular park ticket for the day of the event, you’ll be required to leave that park early. Only those with the special event ticket will be permitted to stay.

If you’re using a regular park ticket on one of these days, consider visiting the park that is hosting the evening event. For example, if California Adventure is hosting the Oogie Boogie Bash Disney Halloween Party in the evening hours, start your day at that park. Odds are good that most guests will visit Disneyland that day instead.

Purchase a Disneyland Park Hopper ticket and move over to the opposite park before the party “mix-in” hours begin. You’ll be able to finish the night out at the other park!

Use Single Rider Lines

Traveling with older kids or just adults? Take advantage of the attractions with Single Rider Lines to maximize time spent waiting. Guests using the Single Rider Line will be used to fill empty spots one at a time in ride cars.

These are a few tips when using the Single Rider system:

  • Single Rider Lines aren’t always open. Ask a Cast Member at the entrance is Single Rider is available. 
  • Guests will wait in line together and then be separated. You cannot request to be seated together.
  • Don’t use Single Rider if you want PhotoPass ride photos of you and your family together (on rides that offer this feature).
child holding Disneyland single rider pass

Attractions that offer Single Rider:

  • Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run
  • Matterhorn Bobsleds
  • Space Mountain
  • Goofy’s Sky School
  • Incredicoaster
  • Radiator Springs Racers
  • Grizzly River Run
  • WEB SLINGERS: A Spider-Man Adventure
  • Soarin’ Over California
Grizzly River Run at Disney California Adventure park

Two FREE Ways to Optimize Wait Times with Young Kids

Are you one parent traveling with one child or have two children that includes one lap sitter? Two rides at Disney California Adventure park have a special pass for these families that will minimize wait time.

Toy Story Midway Mania! offers a “Moving Buddy” pass. Monsters Inc. Mike & Sully to the Rescue! also offers a “Buddy Pass”. Ask the Cast Member at the entrance for one if you qualify.

You’ll be permitted to go through the exit, making a wait time approximately 10 minutes or less! These special passes aren’t always available. Ask a Cast Member at the entrance if they are using them during your visit.

Toy Story Midway Mania Moving Buddy pass at Disney California Adventure park

Rides With Quick Moving Lines at Disneyland

Some rides in the Parks are “Fast Loaders”. These rides at the Parks are fast loading or have a large capacity. So even if the lines appear quite long, the speed at which Guests are moving through the queue can be quicker than others.

  • Mark Twain Riverboat
  • Haunted Mansion
  • “it’s a small world”
  • Pirates of the Caribbean
  • The Little Mermaid – Ariel’s Undersea Adventure
Rivers of America Disneyland Mark Twain Riverboat

Seek Less Populated Areas

If you’re in search of more space to spread out and avoid people, try some of these less populated areas in the parks. You’ll find spots for kids to play, areas for relaxing and locations to distract from a Disneyland meltdown.

At Disneyland Park:

  • Snow White’s Grotto
  • Waiting areas at each Train Station
  • Back patio at Hungry Bear Restaurant
  • Mark Twain Riverboat
  • Pirate’s Lair on Tom Sawyer Island
Quiet places in the shade at Pirate’s Lair on Tom Sawyer Island
  • Accessible space indoors to view the Sleeping Beauty Castle Walkthrough
  • Outdoor patio at restaurant Docking Bay 7
  • Backside of Harbour Galley restaurant dining patio
  • Boat pier next to Edelweiss Snacks in Fantasyland

At Disney California Adventure park:

  • Grizzly Trail behind Grizzly River Run
  • Hollywood Land, just outside of Monsters Inc
  • Paradise Garden Grill patio dining
  • Redwood Creek Challenge Trail

Stay Out of the Theme Parks

If your trip involves multiple days at the Resort, skip what is forecast to be the busiest day and don’t go into the Parks. Plan one of these fun things to do with the family instead!

Lounge poolside at one of the pools of the Disneyland resort.

Go to a Character meal at one of the Resort hotels instead (book an Advanced Dining Reservation ahead of your trip).

Wander through the Downtown Disney District to shop or dine. There are plenty of places that kids will enjoy, including the LEGO Store.

Check out this post on Spending an Off-Day at the Disneyland Resort for more ideas!

LEGO Store Downtown Disney District shop Disneyland Resort Beauty and the Beast
Beauty and the Beast LEGO figures outside the Downtown Disney District shop

Disneyland’s Busy? Just Relax and Go with the Flow

If the Park is wall-to-wall people, you may have trouble sticking to your touring plan. It’s important that you do whatever you can to keep your family relaxed and happy. If a long wait is ahead of you, these are a few things you can do:

Rapunzel and Pascal at Disneyland
My Rapunzel posing with Pascal in one of the Disneyland shops
  • Ask each person beforehand what their one “must do” ride or attraction is for the trip. Make sure those things happen! Anything else you can accomplish after that is just a bonus!
  • Eat your meals at “off-times” to avoid the meal-time rush.
  • Window shop and take photos with the souvenirs. The hat shops are particularly fun!

There are pros and cons to visiting Disneyland when it’s peak season. Yes, you’ll be dealing with more people and possible frustration when waiting in line for everything from a corn dog to the restroom.

Mickey balloons at Disneyland

However Park hours are longer (Disneyland opens earlier and stays open later) and more rides will be operational. Disney Parks generally refurbish rides during slow season so that attractions be up and running during peak season.

It’s a personal choice for sure when scheduling your vacation during peak season. Just remember to relax, have fun and even when the Parks are busy, you can still have a magical time!


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Lin @ DisneyMamas

Friday 10th of April 2015

Great tips! We are big users of Touring Plans as well and it definitely came in handy for our Disneyland vacation last summer!

Heidi

Friday 3rd of April 2015

Great tips! I would suggest many of the same for those visiting Walt Disney World. However, for myself, I prefer to visit during the slow times. I know when those are at WDW, but when would you say are the slower times at Disneyland? I am determined to visit there one of these days!

Julie Bigboy

Friday 3rd of April 2015

I prefer that too Heidi! It's getting harder and harder to predict the "slow" periods at Disneyland. January & February (but avoid any of the "race" weekend dates) though you might be dealing with rainy weather. I would say that early September is still great. First two weeks of December are still good and mid May (after all the spring break stuff and before summer break). Hope to see you in California one of these days!

Kimberly

Thursday 2nd of April 2015

Great tips! While I haven't been to Disneyland, I am a big fan of arriving early and staying late at WDW. It's a great way to beat the crowds and get more time in the parks!

Julie Bigboy

Friday 3rd of April 2015

It can be a challenge with little ones but it really does make the difference in your day to try at least one or the other if you can't do both.

Disney Mamas 5 Tips for Managing Crowds at Disney Parks

Thursday 2nd of April 2015

[…] 1st Stop – Saving Up for Disney | Tips for Handling a Crowded Disneyland Day […]

Rosanne @ The Disney Point

Thursday 2nd of April 2015

Great tips! It was pretty crowded during our trip last year to Disneyland and we managed it well. The best part about Disneyland crowds versus Walt Disney World crowds is the weather! I don't mind waiting in lines outside when it's 80 and sunny rather than 90 with the Orlando humidity! :)

Julie Bigboy

Thursday 2nd of April 2015

That's a interesting spin on it Rosanne, I hadn't thought it about it like that. I always wondered about the crowds at WDW. Since the entire place is the size of San Francisco I would think it would be less congested than Disneyland, which is literally the size of a few city blocks!

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