The month of January is an excellent time to visit Disneyland if you don't like big crowds (as long as you avoid New Year's Day). You can even still enjoy the holiday decorations and entertainment through the first week or two of the month.
On the downside, park hours will be shorter than during busier times of the year, fireworks and parades are limited, and some rides will be closed for renovation. It also might rain. If that happens, the park will still be open, and some people say they like to go on a rainy day because so few people are there.
To decide if January is when you want to visit, read what's below and weigh the pros and cons of visiting Disneyland in winter.
January 1 is one of the few days a year when Disneyland can get so crowded that it reaches capacity. When that happens, they have to obey the fire codes and can't let any more people in, whether they have a ticket or not.
After the first week of January, school holidays end. In general, the rest of the month is relatively uncrowded. For day-by-day crowd predictions, use this crowd forecast calendar. Martin Luther King Jr. Day (third Monday of January) may bring slightly larger crowds.
The averages below can help you get a rough idea of Disneyland's January weather. But beware: California weather is unpredictable. No matter what the averages say, the worst rain all winter could fall on your Disneyland day, or it could be so warm you'll wish you packed your shorts.
January can be one of Anaheim's rainiest months. During a winter storm, rainfall can be best described as a downpour. Disneyland never closes because of it, but rides with outdoor tracks may close when it's raining.
At the extremes, Anaheim's record low temperature was 30 degrees F (-1 degrees C).
- Average High Temperature: 66 degrees F (19 degrees C)
- Average Low Temperature: 48 degrees F (9 degrees C)
- Rain & Clouds Index: 2 inches (5 cm) rain
Haunted Mansion and It's a Small World close the second week of January to take down the holiday decorations, and they may remain closed into February.
The less-busy season in terms of visitors is the busy time for the Disneyland maintenance team with major closures happening this time of year. Check touringplans.com for a list of rides which are expected to be closed for refurbishment.
Disneyland's hours are generally shorter when the days are shorter. That changes for the holidays, and the parks will be open longer through the first weekend of the month. After that, here's the regular schedule in January.
- Monday through Thursday: Both parks are open about 10 hours a day. Parades may run only once, and night parades (World of Color, Fantasmic!, and the Disneyland fireworks) may not happen at all.
- Friday through Sunday: Parks will be open between 11 and 16 hours. Martin Luther King Jr. Day (third Monday) will have weekend hours.
California Adventure hours are often shorter than Disneyland's. Check January hours up to 6 weeks in advance.
What to Pack
Take a poncho or hooded rain jacket if rain is forecasted. Leave your umbrellas somewhere else, though. It's hard to move around a theme park while carrying one, and they're a nuisance to stow every time you want to go on a ride.
If you want to go on the water rides (Splash Mountain or Grizzly River Run), pack clothing that will dry out quickly afterward. And take a simple plastic poncho, which will also help keep you dry while on the ride. A change of socks may also be welcome if your feet get wet.
Before you start packing, check the tested and proven tips in the girls' guide to packing for Disneyland.
During the slow time of year, few events are scheduled. A small celebration is held in early January for Día de los Reyes (Three Kings Day).
The Lunar New Year begins when the sun and moon begin their journey together for another year. In honor of that, California Adventure park puts on a celebration in Disney style, when you can enjoy Mulan’s Procession and other Asian-themed performances. You may find Disney characters in seasonal costumes and you can participate in free arts and crafts activities. And even if it’s not the Year of the Pig, you can pig out on Asian-themed food with an unmistakable Disney twist. It usually starts toward the end of January but you can check this year’s calendar for the schedule.
If you decide to go to Disneyland on January 1, be prepared for the park to close early to visitors if it reaches maximum capacity. New Year's Day is not a time for park hopping—pick one park, get there as early as possible, and stay there until you're ready to go home.
Disneyland sometimes offers promotional deals in January, selling adult tickets for the kids' price or Park Hoppers at the price of a one park ticket. Check their website for details and dates.
Toward the end of January, the NAMM show takes place at the Anaheim Convention Center. It's the year's biggest convention, filling hotels and raising their rates. Get this year's dates for the show if you want to avoid it.
If you are a collector and want to grab some of the limited time Lunar New Year merchandise, get there early on the first day of the celebration. Ask any cast member where the Lunar New Year merchandise stands are located and go there fast before the best stuff sells out.
During the Lunar New Year celebration at California Adventure, kids can get their faces painted for free. Make that one of your first stops so you can get maximum enjoyment from it.
If you want to sample the Asian foods at the Lunar New Year celebration, start by looking at the menus and decide how many you want to check out. If you want to eat enough of them, consider getting a Sip and Savor pass to save money.
January temperatures can be cool to chilly, especially after the sun goes down. If you want to enjoy Splash Mountain or Grizzly River Run, expect to get wet. Go during the warmest part of the day to avoid an unpleasant chill. Put a pair of socks and a cheap plastic poncho in your bag to repel water and get your feet dry right away. If you take a full change of clothing, don't lug it around all day. Instead, rent a locker when you arrive and stow it there.