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). If you go through the first week or two of the month, you enjoy the holiday decorations and entertainment.
On the downside, park hours will be shorter than during busier times of the year. But the shorter hours are offset by shorter lines, allowing to you get in just as many rides as you can in the summer. Fireworks and parades are limited and mostly on weekends, and some rides will be closed for renovation.
It also might rain. If that happens, the park will still be open, but lots of people stay away. In fact, some people say they like to go on a rainy day because so few people are there.
To decide whether January is when you want to visit, read what's below, and also weigh the pros and cons of visiting Disneyland in winter.
Crowds at Disneyland in January
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 city fire code 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 the crowd forecast calendar at isitpacked.com. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day (third Monday of January) may draw slightly more visitors.
Disneyland Weather in January
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 in general. 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. Others may close when it's windy.
At the extremes, Anaheim's record low temperature was 30ºF (-1ºC).
- Average High Temperature: 66ºF (19ºC)
- Average Low Temperature: 48ºF (9ºC)
- Rain: 2 inches (5 cm)
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 that 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
California weather is highly variable in January. In some years, it rains a lot. In others, barely a drop falls. That makes advance plans for packing difficult. The only way to know for sure what will happen during your trip is to check the forecast a few days ahead of time.
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 rides that get you wet (Splash Mountain or Grizzly River Run), pack clothing that will dry out quickly afterward. And take a lightweight 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.
January Events at Disneyland
During the slow time of the 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, when you can enjoy Mulan’s Procession and other Asian-themed performances. You may find Disney characters in seasonal costumes, and the kids 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.
January Travel Tips
If you decide to go to Disneyland on January 1, be prepared for the park to stop letting visitors in when 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 cost of a one-park ticket. Check their website for details and dates.
When Disneyland is less busy, hotel rates drop. It's the old story of supply and demand. That makes January a good time to save money on your lodging.
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're going 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. 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.