The Best Time to Visit Disneyland

  • 01 of 04

    When to Go to Disneyland

    ••• Deciding When to Go to Disneyland Can Make You Dizzy. ©2013 Betsy Malloy Photography. Used by Permission.

    It's a common question: "When is the best time to go to Disneyland?"

    For other places in California, I can give a one-word (or one sentence) answer. It's easy to say the Eastern Sierras are best in the fall or San Francisco is more fun in October. In fact, I can even say that my favorite time to go to Disneyland is in the middle of the week in February, on a sunny day when there are no school holidays. But I've been there before (so many times that I lost count) and I don't feel like I have to do or see everything in one trip.

    Unfortunately, it's not that simple for everyone, and you'll have to balance several factors to find the best time for you.

    How to Decide When You Should Go to Disneyland

    To find the best time for your trip to Disneyland, just follow these tips. They'll help you choose when to go - the best time for you.

    What's Important?

    Ask these questions before you decide when to go to Disneyland:

    1. Is your calendar open? Or do you have kids' school calendars and other schedule...MORE constraints to consider?
    2. Can you go during the week — or are weekends your only option?
    3. Do you want to do every single thing at Disneyland and California Adventure, see every parade and have the most time possible to do it all? 
    4. Are you dreaming of doing or seeing some particular thing? Would your trip be ruined if you couldn't? 
    5. Do you hate crowds worse than anything and wish Mickey Mouse would stop inviting so many of his friends to visit every day?
    6. Do you hate hot weather?
    7. Would you be disappointed if it rained on your Disneyland day?
    8. Do you want to see the holiday decorations? Or go to Mickey's Halloween Party? Or enjoy any other annual or seasonal event?

    Other Considerations

    In a nutshell, your choices for when to go to Disneyland boil down to this: If you go when it's open longer, has the most entertainment going on and few rides closed for maintenance — it will also be — the most crowded, with longest waits and highest total costs.

    Or choose the opposite.

    If you want to Do It All: Disneyland hours are longest in the summer. Rides seldom close for maintenance, except during big refurbishment projects. Parades, shows, and fireworks happen every day. But it's hot, and the place is packed.

    If you're going for The Magic: Disneyland is more laid back when it's less busy, but you'll have fewer hours to enjoy it but some rides may be closed and evening entertainment may not happen. 

    No matter what time of year it is, your birthday is always a fun time to go to Disneyland. Find out all the fun ways you can celebrate

    The Bottom Line

    This is the advice I give my friends: Be aware or the cons — as well as the pros — of going to Disneyland any time of year, but don't let them dictate your schedule. If you want to plan your trip when a lot of things will be going on or to see the seasonal decorations, go for it. Just start looking for lodging as far in advance as you can to get better rates.

    Continue to 2 of 4 below.
  • 02 of 04

    Crowds and Going to Disneyland

    Crowded Day at Disneyland
    ••• Crowded Day at Disneyland. ©Betsy Malloy Photography

    Overall, Disneyland is the second-busiest theme park in the United States, with more than 15 million visitors per year. No matter when you go, you won't be alone. 

    If avoiding crowds is your number one goal, these are the least busy times at Disneyland:

    • First full week of January through the middle of February
    • Third Tuesday of February to mid-March (when spring break starts)
    • Mid-April through the third week of May
    • First Tuesday of September to the beginning of October
    • Second week of November 

    If you can't go at one of those times, these tips about crowds might help:

    • Sundays are usually less busy than Saturdays — unless the following Monday is a holiday.
    • Weekdays are less busy than weekends. Fridays are the busiest weekday.
    • Parades and other special activities may happen less frequently (or not at all) any time the park is less busy, hours will be shorter and rides may close for maintenance.
    • A couple of online resources provide day by day crowd predictions based on history. They can't account...MORE for a big celebrity showing up with their entourage or an east coast hurricane driving visitors to California instead, but their predictions are generally accurate. I like to use the crowd calendar at touringplans.com or check predictions at isitpacked.com.

    Any school holiday or three-day holiday weekend will be busy. That includes President's Day (third Monday of February), Memorial Day (last Monday of May), Labor Day (first Monday of September), and Columbus Day (second Monday of October). On the big holidays — July 4, Thanksgiving week, and Christmas through New Years — Disneyland can get so crowded that they sometimes stop letting people in for safety reasons.

    The first week after season pass blackouts end is also busy as all those pass holders rush back for their Disneyland fix. You can find the blackout dates on the Disneyland website.

    Sadly, none of us are Disney princesses with magical powers, and we can't have it all. If you want longer hours to play, more things to do and more rides open, Disneyland will be busier. There's no way around it. 

    If you hate crowds but can't go during a less-crowded timecheck these tips for how to stay out of line, spend more time having fun and less time waiting. They're especially important when it's busy.

    Continue to 3 of 4 below.
  • 03 of 04

    Going to Disneyland: Weather and Seasons

    Christmas at Disneyland
    ••• Christmas at Disneyland. Yeejah/Flickr/CC BY-NC 2.0

    Weather in Anaheim is good for a theme park visit almost any time of year. Summers are hot (but not as blistering and humid as Florida), and it might rain in the winter, but even that is infrequent. Check the Disneyland weather page to see month-by-month rainfall, high and low temperatures.

    Winter is our readers' favorite time to go to Disneyland, followed by spring and fall. They like summer the least. Any season has its pluses and minuses at Disneyland and the individual pages that follow details the pros and cons of going to Disneyland in SummerFallWinter or Spring

    After you narrow your choices down based on the guidelines above, check the guide to Disneyland by month for more details about crowds, weather, and special events.

    Continue to 4 of 4 below.
  • 04 of 04

    Other Considerations

    Disneyland Castle
    ••• Disneyland Castle. ©Betsy Malloy Photography

    In a nutshell, your choices for when to go to Disneyland boil down to this: If you go when it's open longer, has the most entertainment going on and few rides closed for maintenance — it will also be — the most crowded, with longest waits and highest total costs.

    Or choose the opposite.

    If you want to Do It All: Disneyland hours are longest in the summer. Rides seldom close for maintenance, except during big refurbishment projects. Parades, shows, and fireworks happen every day. But it's hot, and the place is packed.

    If you're going for The Magic: Disneyland is more laid back when it's less busy, but you'll have fewer hours to enjoy it but some rides may be closed and evening entertainment may not happen. 

    No matter what time of year it is, your birthday is always a fun time to go to Disneyland. Find out all the fun ways you can celebrate