Disneyland may be “the happiest place on earth” but things can quickly seem not so magical during those more crowded times of the year.
The best time of year to visit Disneyland if you’re looking to avoid the crowds is in January, February and March (before Spring Break), late April (after Easter), late August (after the summer holidays) and on weekdays in both September and October.
The worst time to visit is over Spring Break, in the summer and over the holidays (the most popular being Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas).
Of course, whichever time of year you visit you’ll typically find that weekends are busier than weekdays.
Best Time To Visit Disneyland In 2023
As you plan your vacation this year, you’ll want to pay close attention to these times to visit:
- Early March: March offers moderate temperatures, so if you go before Spring Break, you’ll likely see fewer people and shorter lines. You’ll also be able to experience the Food & Wine Festival at Disney California Adventure Park, which is scheduled from March 3 to April 25.
- Late April: People don’t usually travel in late April because it’s between Spring Break and summer vacation, so this is one of the least busy times at Disneyland provided you can avoid Easter.
- Late August: Kids typically return to school in mid-August, so you’ll see fewer crowds in late August while still enjoying the warmer temperatures.
- Weekdays in September and early October: September and early October are also fantastic times to visit, although the difference between weekends and weekdays at this time of the year is significantly more noticeable so opt for a weekday to enjoy even fewer crowds.
Worst Time To Visit Disneyland In 2023
Below are some of what I anticipate are going to be the worst times to visit Disneyland in 2023 and why:
- March 17-19: The reimagined Mickey’s Toontown is set to open on March 19th, so that weekend will most likely draw huge crowds and make for a stressful Disneyland vacation.
Additionally, many kids finish school for Spring Break around this time, which makes it one of the busiest months, even when there isn’t a major opening.
- Early to mid-April: This is still Spring Break season in some parts of the United States, which combined with Easter and the nicer weather typically leads to those early summer crowds.
- All of June: June is typically one of the busiest and hottest months at Disneyland. The good weather alongside most kids breaking up for the summer leads to high crowd levels throughout the month.
- November 23 – 26: Thanksgiving Day and the days before and after are typically some of the busiest at Disneyland. Not only are most kids out of school during this time, but most adults have time off work too.
- Christmas: Christmas is busy at Disneyland because of the magical decor and unique attractions and entertainment options that the holiday season brings.
If you hate crowds, avoid visiting during this time. However, if you don’t mind sharing the park with scores of people, then spending Christmas Day at Disneyland could be one of the best days of your life. It’s all about perspective.
Best Time To Visit Disneyland In 2024
Looking ahead to 2024, here are what we think will be some of the best times to visit:
- Late January: After the craziness of December, most people return to routine whether it be work or school in January, making this one of the quietest and cheapest times to go to Disneyland.
- February: With no new rides or lands set to open during February 2024, we expect this month to be a continuation from late January with lower crowds. Just keep an eye out for the weather.
- Early March: Provided you’re able to miss the start of Spring Break, you’ll typically find that lower Winter / Spring crowds roll into early March.
- Late August: Once again we expect the summer of 2024 to be a busy one. However, once everyone returns back to school, the crowds typically dip significantly much like they do in January. Except at this time of year, you’ll still benefit from the warmer weather.
- Early November: There’s a two-week window between the end of Halloween and the start of Thanksgiving where Disneyland typically sees lower crowd levels. If you’re looking to visit Disneyland between November and December then this is the best time to do it!
Worst Time To Visit Disneyland in 2024
As with 2023, there are several times when you may not want to visit Disneyland:
- January 13 – 15: Martin Luther King, Jr. Day makes this a long weekend in the United States, which makes it a crowded weekend at Disneyland.
- Mid-March to early April: If you can avoid the Spring Break crowds, you should.
- May 24 – 27: Memorial Day Weekend is one of the busiest times of the year.
- June 1: This is Disneyland Day in California, and is subsequently usually one of the busiest days of the year to visit the park.
- August 30 – September 2: Labor Day weekend is another busy long weekend at Disneyland.
- November 28 – December 1: Thanksgiving is a busy time of the year at Disneyland, so it’s best to avoid these holiday crowds if possible.
- Mid-December to early January: The Christmas season is a busy time of year at Disneyland every year, so 2024 will be no exception.
Things That Influence Crowd Levels At Disneyland
Several factors influence the crowd levels at Disneyland so if you’re planning a trip beyond 2024, here are some things to keep in mind.
Major holidays are some of the busiest and most magical times of the year at Disneyland.
Disneyland often features special decor, entertainment, and activities according to the holiday season, making your visit even more special.
However, this also means that holidays are busier during holiday celebrations.
Here are some holidays that bring lots of people to Disneyland:
- Lunar New Year, January, and February
- Independence Day, July 4th
- Thanksgiving, the fourth Thursday in November
- Halloween time, late October to early November
- Christmas season, mid-December to early January.
While people of all ages are free to enjoy Disneyland, the target market of the resort is families with children.
Subsequently, you’ll typically find that school breaks see higher crowds when compared to times when the majority of children (especially those in the state of California) are in class.
Some school breaks you should keep in mind are the following:
- Thanksgiving break, typically the entire week of Thanksgiving
- Christmas break or holiday break, typically mid or late December to early January
- Spring break, typically the third or fourth week in March
- Summer vacation, typically late May or mid-June to late August or early September
Disneyland hosts various parties and seasonal events after regular park hours throughout the year, which can be a fantastic, trip-enhancing experience. The vast majority of these experiences require you to purchase a separate ticket on top of your regular park ticket and feature unique themes, entertainment, and other festivities.
The popularity of these events often increases the crowd size inside the Disneyland parks. However, it also frequently reduces the park’s standard opening hours. Therefore if you’re visiting during one of these times and not going to an After-Hours party you may be left disappointed. The current After-Hour parties scheduled for 2023 include:
Princess Nite, March 7 & 9
Princess Nite celebrates all of the incredible Disney Princesses. Attendees of this event will benefit from early admission to Disneyland, a concert, female DJs, a dance party, experiences with iconic female Disney characters, and delicious food.
Throwback Nite, April 18 & 20
Throwback Nite is a celebration of the 50s and 60s and features characters from that Disney era, a special fireworks show, and vintage music and dancing.
Star Wars Nite, May 2, 4, 8, & 11
Star Wars fans are sure to love the out-of-this-world experience that is Star Wars Nite. This after-hours party features a fireworks show set to music from the films, Star Wars character interactions, a galactic dance party, and after-hours access to some of the most popular attractions in the park.
Oogie Boogie Bash, Select Nights in September and October
Disneyland has yet to announce its official dates for the Oogie Boogie Bash (March 2023). However, on select nights in September and October, Disneyland will have a Halloween party with after-hours park access, photo ops with Disney characters, entertainment opportunities, and unique and spooky decor.
This event is similar to Mickey’s Halloween Party at Walt Disney World.
Southern California has a pretty moderate climate which makes Disneyland a year-round attraction. However, the best months for great weather at Disneyland are typically March, April, May, and November. That’s because these months have the most moderate temperatures (not too hot, and not too cold) and almost zero rainfall.
Disneyland often experiences the worst weather during December, January, and February. During these months, the lows are between 47-50°F (8-10°C), and rain (even snow in recent years) is common. Therefore if you choose to go to Disneyland during this time, be sure to bring a jacket.
Weekends are always a busy time at Disneyland. However, bank holiday weekends during any time of the year are notorious for bringing higher crowds.
Bank holidays you should be aware of include:
- Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the weekend of the third Monday in January
- Presidents’ Day, the weekend of the third Monday in February
- Memorial Day Weekend, the weekend of the last Monday in May
- Labor Day Weekend, the weekend of the first Monday in September
- Indigenous Peoples’ Day (or Columbus Day), the weekend of the second Monday in October
Ride Closures, Reopenings, & Specific Shows
Throughout the year, some rides and attractions at Disneyland close or re-open which influences crowd levels. Specifically in 2023, we’re seeing the re-opening of Mickey’s Toon Town and It’s A Small World.
However, annually the Haunted Mansion closes in late August and is converted into the Haunted Mansion Holiday until the end of January. As such there’s typically a week or two-week period during these months when the attraction is being converted and is subsequently not available.
How To Handle Crowds At Disneyland
For various reasons, many people are only able to visit Disneyland during a busier time of year. However, not all is lost, as with the right amount of planning and preparation we believe you can still have a fantastic time at the resort.
One of the best ways to maximise your time at Disneyland is to arrive early. During every visit, we aim to be at the park ready for “rope drop” so we’re able to head to the most popular rides and attractions within the park once it opens.
Rope drop takes place inside the park, past the ticket turnstiles so make sure you arrive at the resort at least 45 minutes prior to the park’s scheduled opening time. We also recommend deciding which of the most popular rides you want to go to first in advance and downloading a copy of the park map to understand the route you’ll need to take to get there.
Make Dining Reservations
If you’re looking to dine at a table service restaurant during your trip to Disneyland then you’ll want to make your reservation as far in advance as possible (up to 60 days in advance) to avoid disappointment.
If you’re travelling on a budget and looking for quick-service options then we recommend avoiding peak dining hours and using the Disneyland mobile app to place mobile food orders at eligible locations.
Stay At A Resort Hotel (Or Nearby)
If you have the budget then staying on-site at a Disneyland property allows you ‘Extra Magic Hours’. This extra hour allowed you to enter the park prior to general admission and subsequently the ability to ‘walk on’ many of the park’s most popular rides and attractions.
The cost of staying on-site at the Disneyland Resort isn’t in everyone’s budget (sadly, mine included). However, thankfully there are several Disney themed Airbnb’s near Disneyland as well as a number of hotels within walking distance.
The great thing about staying in a hotel within walking distance of the Disneyland Resort is that you won’t have to waste both time and money parking your car in the parking lot. Instead, it’s just a short morning stroll to the parks.
Genie+ is a new paid service that replaces the previous FastPass system. Available at a starting price of $25 per person, per day, you can make Lightening Lane reservations for select rides within the park which allows you to skip the line during your Lightening Lane window.
Plan An Extra Day
If you’re going during a busy time of year, it’s always best to allow for an extra day to get to everything because things will most likely take longer than you anticipate.
There are so many incredible things to do at Disneyland, so make sure you have enough time to do everything you want (and more!), especially when visiting during the peak season.