When Is the Best Time to Visit Disneyland?

Disneyland is most enjoyable when you don't spend much of your day waiting in line — visit when crowds are low.
Carissa Rawson
By Carissa Rawson 
Edited by Giselle M. Cancio

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Believe it or not, you can go to Disneyland when it’s not crowded.

If you’ve been there, this may not seem possible — especially if you’ve visited only on the weekend or during summer. But there are ebbs and flows to crowds at Disney parks. Depending on how you like to travel, whom you’re traveling with and what your budget is, the best time to go to Disneyland will differ.

Let’s look at when’s best for you, no matter your travel situation.

For first-timers

If you've never been to Disneyland, you’re in for a treat. Two parks constitute the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, California: Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure Park.

As you may expect, Disneyland Park is the original; it opened in 1955. The park contains Sleeping Beauty Castle and fan favorites such as Pirates of the Caribbean, Space Mountain and Haunted Mansion.

Disney California Adventure Park, meanwhile, opened in 2001. Originally modeled after the various landscapes you’d find within California, the park has since seen significant retheming and now contains a land dedicated to the "Cars" movie, one focused on Marvel movies and a pier based on Pixar’s films.

If this is your first visit, you’ll want to do your best to experience everything. We recommend a minimum of two days: one for each park.

As long as it's not spring break, then spring can be an excellent time to visit. (Photo by Sally French)

You’ll want to consider nonpeak periods when the resort is less crowded to maximize your time. Generally, Disney is extra busy and crowded during the following periods:

  • Spring break: typically late March and April.

  • Holiday weekends: Memorial Day and Labor Day.

  • Summer: mid-June to the end of August.

  • Halloween and weekends in October.

  • Thanksgiving week.

  • Winter break: second half of December through New Year’s Day.

Though you may find periods that are busy outside these windows, these are the big ones you'll want to avoid. It will be difficult to deal with the crowds, and you’ll probably pay a premium for hotels and accommodations.

For families

If your children are school age, you may be limited as to when you can visit Disneyland. This means you may end up at the parks during peak periods.

Though it's not possible to avoid crowds, there are still times that can be better than others.

This is thanks to some of the special events Disneyland puts on. These include Princess Nite and the Oogie Boogie Bash, both of which take place after the park closes (the park closes early to accommodate these parties).

The Oogie Boogie Bash is especially popular for kids because of the unlimited trick-or-treating. There are also character meet-and-greets, a special parade and the ability to ride all the standard rides.

For crowd-haters

Listen, we dislike crowds, too. There’s a reason entire websites are dedicated to figuring out when Disneyland will be crowded. If this is you, do yourself a favor and visit only during the offseason.

Though it isn’t often that you’ll find hardly anyone at the Disneyland Resort, there are some times when it will be as close to empty as possible.

This includes many weekdays throughout the year, especially during January, February and March.

It’s also relatively empty at the end of August before Labor Day weekend brings huge crowds. September as a whole is also empty, as is the two-week period after Thanksgiving before winter break starts.

For the frugal traveler

A visit to Disneyland can be pricey, especially if you need to travel in from out of town. Disneyland operates a dynamic pricing structure that’ll charge you from $104 to $179 for a one-day ticket.

To find the cheapest days, you’ll want to check out the price calendar. Typically, periods of least demand — those with the lowest ticket prices — also coincide with the lowest cash prices for flights and hotels.

You may also want to consider using points and miles to keep costs down. Several chain hotels are within walking distance of Disneyland, including Hilton, Hyatt, Marriott and IHG, which makes redeeming your points easy.

Disneyland is near six airports in Southern California, making it easier to find flights on all major airlines. With so many options, it shouldn’t be difficult to find a way to redeem your miles.

For adults

Disneyland isn’t just for children. Though many of its attractions are meant to appeal to little ones, Disneyland also has adult-oriented activities. Disney California Adventure is a great example, with refined eateries and plenty of different drinks to sample.

The Sip and Savor Pass sold during the Food and Wine Festival encourages you to try a variety of menu items. (Photo by Sally French)

The park also offers a rotating selection of festivals throughout the year, featuring pop-up pavilions. These pavilions provide limited-time food and drink offerings and are popular with adult parties.

The Food and Wine Festival offers unique eats, like this cheeseburger bao. (Photo by Sally French)

Disneyland also offers nighttime events that are great for adults, including Sweethearts’ Nite, Throwback Nite, Pride Nite and Star Wars Nite.

The best time to visit Disneyland, recapped

The best time to visit Disneyland will depend on whom you’re traveling with, your preferred travel style and your budget. After all, you’re not going to be looking for the same entertainment options with your adult friends as you would if you’re traveling with your children.

No matter when you decide to travel to Disneyland, you’ll be in good company. Just don’t forget to grab yourself a churro.

(Top photo courtesy of Disneyland Resort)

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