One question that lingers on many tourists’ minds when visiting Disneyland is, ‘When is the best time to go to Disneyland?’ The answer to this question depends on what you’re looking for. Do you love visiting in summer when the weather is warm or off-season when there are fewer crowds?
You may also want to attend limited-time events like Get Your Ears On: A Mickey, Minnie Celebration or the Disney Diamond celebration. Whatever your reasons, this guide will help you determine the best time to go to Disneyland.
- Activities by Month
- When Does Disneyland Have the Fewest Crowds?
- What Is the Best Time to Visit Disneyland for Cheap Rates?
- What Is the Most Expensive Time To Go to Disneyland?
- What Is the Best Time To See More Attractions in Disneyland?
- When Is the Best Time to Visit During the Halloween Season?
- What Is the Best Time To Go to Disneyland During December Holidays?
- Other Factors Affecting Timing of a Disneyland Trip
- Tips To Get the Most of a Visit to Disneyland
- So, What Is the Best Time To Go to Disneyland?
Activities by Month
Knowing the monthly activities is an excellent starting point when deciding the best time to visit Disneyland.
The weather is still cool in January, and Christmas lights may still be up for a few more celebrations. If you visit early enough, you’ll find the holiday celebrations wrapping up in the first week or two of the month.
You may also be lucky to enjoy discounted Disneyland tickets. The weather is still somewhat chilly, ranging between 45 and 69 F, and the park hours are shorter (10:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.).
Also, some parks may be closed for renovation. Some events to look out for during this period are:
- Disneyland After Dark: 80s Nite
- Lunar New Year holiday
- New Year’s Eve fireworks
February is one of the best months to visit Disneyland if you don’t like huge crowds. The weather is slightly warmer (47-69 F), and only a few events are held during the month.
Look out for special dining events at the Downtown Disney District on Valentine’s Day, Disneyland After Dark: Sweetheart’s Nite, and the President’s Day celebration on the third Monday of February. The Lunar New Year Celebration may also extend to February.
Other festivals to look out for are:
- Disney Food and Wine Festival on 28th February
- The New Magic Happens parade at Disneyland Park on 28th February
March marks the beginning of Spring break, which means the days are longer and warmer. Disneyland parks may be just as busy as the summer because many schools break during this period.
It’s best to visit the parks earlier in the month to avoid the large crowds streaming towards the end of March. You may head to the Disney California Adventure park, which hosts a food and wine festival that extends to mid-April.
You don’t have to pay an extra admission fee to attend the event, and you’ll get treated to the most delicious California-based cuisines.
The Eggstravaganza, an annual Easter egg hunt celebration, also begins in March. Guests are tasked to find Easter eggs scattered around the park for a mindblowing Disneyland experience. Other festivities held in March include:
- Mardi Gras
- Disneyland After Dark: Pixar Nite
- St. Patrick’s Day celebration
This time is one of the busiest months in Disneyland because it’s the prime spring break time, and it often coincides with the Easter holiday. The warmer temperature (51-73 F) makes walking around the parks more comfortable.
Besides the Easter holiday, visitors come here to celebrate DapperDay, held in late April. Visitors don the best outfits when visiting the park, often wearing retro outfits they may have worn on the opening day. Other celebrations to look out for include:
- Disney Food and Wine Festival, which extends to the 21st of the month
- Egg-Stravaganza at the Disneyland Park
- Disneyland After Dark: Villains Nite
May marks the beginning of the peak summer months. As such, new attractions may open in preparation for the summer season. T
There are two major holidays during this month – Mother’s Day and Memorial Day – the busiest and the most crowded days of the month. The parks may close early on select weekend nights in preparation for Grad Nite.
Other celebrations to look out for this month are:
- Star Wars Day
- Disney Channel Fan Fest
With perfect weather and kids at home for the summer holiday, June is the best time to go to Disneyland for the best experience.
You may need to make reservations ahead of time because the parks are crowded and busy, especially on weekends. If you visit early in the month, you’ve got a chance to participate in the Grad Night celebration consisting of light shows, parades, and fireworks.
Disneyland is a beehive of activities in July as it’s the peak of the summer season. The parks are open for longer hours to allow the large crowds to enjoy as many rides and activities as possible. Independence Day (July 4th) is one major celebration held in July, as well as Disneyland’s Birthday (July 17th).
July 4th attracts such large masses that Disneyland may prevent people from accessing the park. Guests come to watch the patriotic-themed fireworks illuminate the sky as they celebrate the country’s independence.
In August, the parks are still crowded with people, and Disneyland is open for extended hours, usually 14-16 hours a day. You can expect a full lineup of entertainment activities, including water shows, parades, light shows, and fireworks.
The CHOC Walk, a charity event that benefits the Children’s Hospital in Orange County, and D23, a Disney fan expo, also happen in August. The crowds reduce towards the end of the month as many Californian schools resume sessions ahead of labor day.
If you love small crowds, short queues, and relatively nice weather, September is the best time to visit Disneyland. Crowds grow smaller ahead of labor day weekend and remain so until the beginning of Halloween festivities. The Disneyland Half Marathon also happens during this month.
Dia de Los Muertos is a relatively new event held from early September to early November every year. The Latino celebration features cast members from the Disney Coco movie. Be sure to check out Disneyland’s website before planning your travel itinerary because the parks have shorter hours of operation. Other celebrations to look out for are:
- Plaza de la Familia
- Oogie Boogie Bash (starts in mid-September)
Dubbed Halloween month, Disneyland is notorious for holding celebrations the entire month. There’s the Disneyland Halloween Party and Gay Days held in the early days of October as part of Anaheim LGBTQ celebrations. The Oogie Boogie Bash celebration also continues in early October in place of Mickey’s Halloween party.
With the weather chilly, crowds grow smaller by the day. Towards the middle of the month, the park swells as it inches closer to Thanksgiving Day (the fourth Thursday of the month) and Disneyland’s holiday celebrations.
Disneyland’s holiday celebrations are in full swing continuing until New Year’s Day. Disneyland becomes abuzz with activity and holiday decorations marking the festivities.
It’s a chance to visit Santa, watch fireworks, a holiday parade, and attend the annual Candlelight Processional. This may be the best time to go if you love the excitement.
When Does Disneyland Have the Fewest Crowds?
When the parks are crowded, it only means you wait longer for meals, rides, and other attractions. As such, you want to plan your trip or vacation when there are fewer crowds. January- March, May, September, and early November are the best months to visit Disneyland as long as you avoid school holidays and weekends.
Parks have shorter operating hours during non-peak travel times, fewer entertainment options, and some attractions are under renovation. It’s best to check the Disney Calendar before traveling to find out about such restricted areas.
Typically the calendar is available 30-45 days before travel. Another way to avoid large crowds is to visit during the rainy season. Annual pass holders usually visit any day of the week, but if it’s raining, they’re likely to cancel a visit to the park.
What Is the Best Time to Visit Disneyland for Cheap Rates?
Many variables come into play when planning for a vacation, and finding ways to reduce costs is necessary. Traveling during off-peak months may just cut back on the charges. The best times to visit Disney for cheap rates include:
- February during weekdays except for Presidents’ Day
- The first few days of March
- May on weekdays (except Grad Nites)
- The last two weeks of August
- The first two weeks of September
- The last two weeks of October
- November weekdays, Monday-Thursday, except Thanksgiving Week
- The first two weeks of December
During this period, park ticket prices are discounted, and hotels near Disneyland offer cheaper rates than during peak months. Disneyland adjusts ticket pricing up in busier months and down in the off-season.
Remember to check Disneyland’s one-day ticket pricing schedule to spot the cheapest times of the year to visit the parks. Alternatively, purchase advance tickets instead of buying them at the gate and pick a weekday. Weekends are always more expensive, even during non-peak seasons.
What Is the Most Expensive Time To Go to Disneyland?
You also want to look at the most expensive time to visit Disneyland. Typically, Disneyland tickets, hotel room rates, and airfare are at a time high during these peak months:
- Spring break (March and April)
- Summer months (June- mid-August)
- Winter break (December)
What Is the Best Time To See More Attractions in Disneyland?
Visit during major school breaks if you want to see more or all attractions. You’ll find most or all of the attractions open in April, May, June, July, August, October, and December. Moreover, if you’re big on watching night-time thrills like the fireworks, extra parades, and nighttime shows, visit Disneyland during the weekend.
You might be lucky to find extra shows and fireworks on weeknights during the peak months, but it’s not always guaranteed. Disneyland also has longer park hours, opening early in the morning and closing late at night to cater to the large crowds.
A great way to maximize the long park hours is to arrive early in the morning (at least 30-60 minutes before the rope drop). Typically, the theme parks open 30 minutes early, and arriving at this time guarantees shorter queues and wait times around the rides.
It allows on-site hotel guests to access the park’s attractions, shops, and dining areas beyond the ropes for 30 minutes before the Rope Drop. This ability means you can access attractions at Fantasyland and Tomorrowland ahead of the other guests.
When Is the Best Time to Visit During the Halloween Season?
The Halloween period starts as early as September and continues to the 31st of October. Although schools are in session and fall festivities are somewhat few, Disneyland is likely to experience heavy traffic.
This traffic means the best time to visit during the Halloween Holiday is early September (during weekdays). You expect larger crowds from mid-September when celebrations like D23 Expo are held. They grow larger in early October through Columbus Day towards Halloween weekend.
What Is the Best Time To Go to Disneyland During December Holidays?
With the holiday season in full swing, Disneyland is most crowded in December. However, you can always play around with the days to get the most out of the holidays while avoiding the large crowds.
A good rule of thumb is to visit a week after Thanksgiving or on weekdays (Tuesday-Thursdays) during the first two weeks of December before the crowds pick up. The wait times are moderate (30-40 minutes), and the queues are shorter.
The week before Christmas is the busiest time because schools are out of session, and families are on winter vacation. In fact, Disneyland reaches its maximum capacity at this time of the year, leading to restrictions on park admissions and suspension of ticket sales. If you must visit during this festive season, arrive early and avoid the weekends.
Other Factors Affecting Timing of a Disneyland Trip
Knowing the monthly activities is just one way to determine the best time to visit Disneyland. Here are other factors to consider.
Timing of Your Visit
Are you planning to go to Disneyland on a workday or a weekend? The park seems less crowded on regular work days than on the weekends when most people visit. A quick morning stroll around the parks can be less stressful than visiting Disneyland on a holiday or a Saturday afternoon.
If you arrive early, you can visit both parks up to a specific point where cast Members prohibit people from going further. Half an hour after the opening, visitors start queuing up for the rope drop, but if you arrive early, you’ll be way ahead of other guests.
The crowds’ peak time is in the afternoon, especially if there’s a special event, but it tapers off late in the afternoon unless it’s during the holidays.
You don’t want to plan your vacation around school breaks. Disneyland experiences heavy traffic during spring breaks, summer, and other holidays. Once the kids are back in school, only local crowds visit the parks on weekdays, making it an excellent time to visit.
However, holidays like the Memorial Day weekend, Halloween, and during the Disney California Adventure Food and Wine Festival attract large crowds regardless of the day of the week.
Type of Pass
Anyone visiting Disneyland must buy Disneyland passes to access the park. The passes differ by price, the number of days you can visit, and additional perks.
The annual passes have been the most popular, especially among locals who visit Disneyland three to four times a year. Disney has also launched the Magic Key passholder program.
The program allows Magic Key holders to access the park on specific days depending on the pass type. For example, during the busy summer months of June to mid-August, some Magic Key Holders (Enchant and Imagine Key pass holders) can’t access one or both parks.
Occasions Popular with Locals
The weather and school schedules affect attendance at Disneyland significantly. As such, you’re more likely to see heavy traffic on these specific days:
- Labor Day- September 4th or 5th
- Yom Kippur, if it’s on a weekday- 4th October and 24th September
- Veterans Day on 11th November
- Utah and Arizona fall breaks from late September to mid-October
Check the Disneyland Calendar for upcoming promotions. Sometimes Disneyland offers special promotions to California residents, which means the parks will be packed to the brim even on supposedly quiet months.
In addition, some separately ticketed events may be scheduled on the best days and times to visit the park. They include:
- Disneyland After Dark parties (held in February, March, and May)
- Disney Merriest Nites (held in November and December)
- The Oogie Boogie Bash (held on specific days in September and October)
You must avoid planning your trip around such events because the park closes earlier than usual. Disneyland’s events schedules are available six weeks in advance, allowing guests to avoid buying tickets on such dates.
Events Near Disneyland
Events like the D23 Expo are known to attract large crowds, albeit being held towards the end of August. Many vacationers assume this period is quiet because it’s at the end of the busy summer season, but it’s likely to be crowded.
Remember, the Anaheim Convention Center is near Disneyland, and attendants often spend many hours at the park, even after the convention.
The reservation calendar is another tool that tells you the best time to visit Disneyland. When buying an admission ticket, you must select the park you want to visit. If the calendar shows neither of the parks is available to visit, you may need to choose another day.
Tips To Get the Most of a Visit to Disneyland
You probably know the best time to schedule a trip or vacation to Disneyland. But if you want to get the most out of your experience, these tips should come in handy.
Make a Reservation Early
Disneyland has changed a few things since the COVID-19 pandemic, and the most notable is making a reservation in addition to a ticket entry. Visitors must present a valid ticket and reservation for each day they want to enter the pack. Luckily, one can make a reservation 120 days in advance through Disneyland’s website.
Carry Your Food
You probably want to try out a few dining options, but with the crowds picking up, it’s best to carry your food. It saves you money and the time taken lining up at various eateries. This tip also helps if you don’t want to get tempted by all the sugary snacks at the park.
Make a Reservation at One of the Disney’s Resort Hotels
It gives a massive advantage over other guests if you want to check out most or all the attractions. Disneyland hotel guests get an early security check at the park’s entrance allowing them to enter the park first.
Go on a Ride During Shows and Parades
This time is the best because most visitors are busy trying to find the best seat to view the parade. Most Disney rides remain empty, so you don’t have to wait for long in queues to go riding.
Opt for Single Rides
Want to save time and get the most out of the rides? Opt for the solo ride position. Single riders spend less time in waiting lines and are placed in empty seats to act as placeholders.
Buy Souvenirs at the End of the Day
The best way to make the most of a Disneyland trip is to prioritize the fun side of the park – rides and shows. Most souvenir shops remain open an hour after the park closes, so you’ve enough time to buy your favorite item when the parks are less crowded.
So, What Is the Best Time To Go to Disneyland?
The best time to go to Disneyland is during off-peak months, for example, in January-March, May, September, and November.
However, it would help if you looked out for special events planned for such months as they could also interfere with your trip. For example, the first week of January is a beehive of activities to celebrate the New Year. You must also consider other factors like the weather, local promotions, school schedules, and reservation availability.
More about our TFVG Author
A seasoned traveller, Dad, and avid sports tourist, James foundered The Family Vacation Guide to share his expert vacation experiences- especially when it comes to being a travelling family man.
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