Thousands of families head to Disneyland in California every year for vacation. In fact, almost 65,000 people enter Disneyland Park in a single day. And that doesn’t even include the people going to Disney California Adventure, the Downtown Disney District, and the three Disneyland Resort hotels!
With that many people going through the turnstiles every day, it’s important to strategize your visit so you can make the most of your vacation. We’ve outlined the best time to visit Disneyland based on the least crowds, extended park hours, and seasonal events.
Best Time to Go to Disneyland For: Least Crowds
The best time to hit the Disneyland Resort with the least amount of crowds is when kids are in school. Think the middle of February, May, September, October, and early November. Weekends are typically busier than weekdays since locals head to the parks to spend some time with their family and friends.
But note that even though the crowds will be low, the amount of attractions, shows, and even park hours may also be less because of the lower crowd level. Be sure to get Disney MaxPass to ensure you’re able to get FastPass reservations all day and make the most of your shorter park days.
The slow season is typically when Disneyland does their ride refurbishments, so be sure to check the refurbishment schedule before you go expecting to ride Splash Mountain when it’s actually closed. The shorter days will also give you more time to explore the Downtown Disney District, or enjoy a late dinner at one of the Disneyland resort hotel restaurants like Napa Rose or Steakhouse 55.
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Best Time to Go to Disneyland For: Extra Park Hours
Disneyland can extend its park hours any day without notice, but park hours are typically extended when kids are out of school and more families are at the parks. This typically includes spring break in March and April, summer break in late May, June, July, and August, Halloween time in October, and Christmas time in December. Because the parks have longer hours, they typically bring out more entertainment offerings and add an extra showing of the nighttime shows at both Disneyland and Disney California Adventure. This is especially true on the weekends when both locals and travelers are at the parks.
The early mornings and late nights can make for a great time for exploring the parks. Many people, especially locals, will opt to sleep in on the weekend instead of heading straight to the parks when they first open. The first few hours after the park opens is a prime time to get on major attractions like Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run, Pirates of the Caribbean, and Haunted Mansion.
When the parks start to get busy, head back to your hotel to play in the pool or take a nap before going back to the park in the evening, when many people start to leave. Even with the extended hours at night, more families will power through the afternoon without a break and leave the park right after the parade or fireworks. Speaking of fireworks, try to snag a seat for the second showing if it’s available since there will be less crowds!
Best Time to Go to Disneyland For: Seasonal Events
There are two major seasonal times at the Disneyland Resort, and they are both fantastic options if you don’t mind a moderate crowd that’s somewhere between low-season crowds and peak-season crowds.
Halloween Time at Disneyland begins mid-September and runs through all of October. During this time, both Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure get into the spooky spirit with decorations, ride overlays, seasonal entertainment, and themed treats. There are two rides at the resort that tend to draw a crowd during the Halloween festivities: Haunted Mansion Holiday at Disneyland Park, and Guardians of the Galaxy – Monsters After Dark at Disney California Adventure. Both attractions offer MaxPass and FastPass so snag one to be able to ride with less of a wait. Even if you can’t get a FastPass, the cooler weather makes standing in lines outside a little nicer.
The winter holiday celebrations at Disneyland run from mid-November to the first week of January every year. Just like at Halloween, both parks get dressed in their festive best, there are seasonal ride overlays, new entertainment, and tasty treats only available during this time. One thing people will line up for hours in advance are the hand-made candy canes. In fact, there’s even a candy cane schedule so you know what park to be at what day to get one of the prized creations.
The holiday crowds can be a lot to handle, especially as you get closer to Christmas. If you’re planning to head to the Disneyland Resort for the holidays, try to go between the time the festivities start and the week before Thanksgiving, or the first week of December, for fewer crowds.
Visiting Disneyland in Summer 2020
Summer 2020 is gearing up to be a very busy one at the Disneyland Resort, with the debut of Avengers Campus at Disney California Adventure. One of the most anticipated new theme park attractions, the new land will open in two phases just like Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge did in 2019. The land will feature a new attraction at opening starring Spider-Man, a new eatery themed after Ant-Man and the Wasp, character meet and greets with favorite Marvel superheroes, a show staring Dr. Strange, and a stunt show with a new high-flying robot created by Walt Disney Imagineering.
Once the opening date is announced, you can be sure that rooms at and around Disneyland Resort will begin to sell out, so be sure to plan accordingly if you want to experience the new land upon its opening.
No matter when you choose to go to Disneyland, being prepared for the crowds is key. You never know when a beautiful day will hit and everyone in California will want to be at Disneyland for the day! Plan as best as you can, go in with a positive attitude, and know when to take breaks. Megan duBois is a theme park expert and frequent traveler to magical places. She covers all things Disney and Universal and runs marathons for fun. She thinks you can tell a lot about someone by the name of their signature lipstick, and hers is NARS Dragon Girl. You can follow her adventures on Instagram and Twitter.
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