Here is my complete guide on the best time to visit Disneyland Resort in 2024. Whether you want to plan your vacation around a special event, less crowds, are the best weather in California, this guide will tell you everything you need to know about choosing the best time to visit the happiest place on earth.
Table of Contents
What Factors Determine the Best Time to Visit Disneyland
Below is a list of factors you’ll want to consider when planning the best time to visit Disneyland. While some people may be mostly concerned with the crowds, others may choose to go during special events to enhance their stay. Here are a few considerations to take into account.
- Special UnOfficial Disneyland Events
- Special Disneyland Afterhours Events
Weather Conditions Can Influence Your Disneyland Vacation
Some people love the warmer weather, while I personally enjoy myself much more when the weather is cooler. Regardless it should definitely be a consideration. I learned this the hard when when I planned my trip for Florida’s Disney World in September. It was 90 degrees, humid and miserable. Below is what type of weather you can expect during California’s different seasons.
Southern California’s Rainy Season
Southern California does not get too much rain and personally, I think rainy days at Disneyland can actually be a ton of fun if you’re prepared. However, if you’re traveling, it’s important to take note that our rainiest months can be May, June, late December, and January.
Southern California’s Hottest Months
The hottest summer months at Disneyland and in Southern California are actually from early August into late October. This year it was still into the 90’s at Disneyland during October. If you want to visit Disneyland when the weather is colder you will likely want to avoid these months.
When Does California Have the Best Weather?
I personally think good weather is in the 70’s and so I enjoy visiting the Disneyland California Resort the most from November until June when the temperatures are the coolest.
Best Time to Visit Disneyland for Smaller Crowds
Peak seasons at the Disneyland Resort in California are typically during the summer months from early July into late August and during the holidays from November until early January. Here are some additional tips below on the best time to visit Disneyland for smaller crowds.
Check Magic Key Blackout Dates for Fewer Crowds
I tend to notice that the best time to visit Disneyland is when the Southern California Magic Key is blocked out and the parks are less crowded. The Imagine Key is Disneyland’s cheapest annual pass just for Southern California residents and its $450 price tag makes it hard to resist when it costs almost the same as two park-hopper tickets.
I recommend checking the Magic Key Calendar to see which days this pass is blocked out to help determine when there might be fewer crowds. This is typically June through late August.
Pro-tip: Recently in a Disneyland Facebook Group one former CM revealed that one of the least crowded days at Disneyland is black Friday!
Super Bowl Sunday
On Super Bowl Sunday, most people are watching the big game and Disneyland tends to have fewer crowds.
Worst Times to Visit Disneyland Due to Larger Crowds
Below is a list of days you should try to avoid as they tend to always have large crowds. While some might be unavoidable if you’re planning a family vacation, a few you may not have known about.
Spring Break Season and School Holidays
When schools are off there are massive spring break crowds. As a general rule, there are always larger crowds during school breaks, school holidays as well as Christmas break and summer break when kids are not in school.
Disney Marathon Days
The Disneyland half marathon usually takes place in January. This year it will be January 11th – 14th, 2024 and the following year January 30th – February 2nd, 2025. On Marathon days the parks are always packed as all the marathon runners visit the parks after the race.
Disneylands Grad Nights
While the early summer months are usually not as busy doing to lower-key Magic Key holders being blocked, watch out for the Grad Nites celebrations held on select nights through the months of May and June. On these nights various high schoolers fill up the parks to celebrate their graduations and most visit for the entire day into the late evening. You can always expect crowds and long wait times for rides. I try to never go to Disneyland on grad nights. Additionally, they close California Adventure early as it is only open for graduates with special Grad Night tickets.
Grad Nights for 2024 are May 10, 14, 15, 22, 23, 28, 31 and June 2. 5., 7, 9, 12, 14
Other Days to Avoid
I also recommend avoiding Labor Day weekend, Memorial Day weekend, Chock Walk, and D23 convention week
A List of Unofficial Disneyland Events
Numerous independent Disneyland Facebook groups hold unofficial events and the most popular ones are listed below. It’s good to know that most of these events always take place on a Sunday. You can follow this Facebook Group to keep track of when new dates are announced. Unofficial events can drive up the crowds into the thousands so unless you plan to participate, you may want to avoid these days.
Dapper Day is for Disney guests to bring back the roaring 20s in their dapparest styles and attendees go all out. This can be a great time to visit if you want to participate or a time to avoid larger crowds. It typically takes place on a Sunday in November and April.
Tiki Day is a popular day at Trader Sams and everyone comes to the park in their most adorable Hawaiian outfits. This event takes place one Sunday in September.
Gay Days is to celebrate our fabulous LBGQT community and typically takes place a weekend in September as well as a Mini Gay Day in March. This year it will be September 13th & 15th 2024.
Star Wars Day
Star Wars is really the entire month of May, but on May 4th the parks are swarming with Jedi’s and Sarm Troopers. Pack up your light sabers or plan for a different day if you want to avoid the massive amounts of Star Wars fans that flock to the park.
Bats Day is for Goth Disney fans to dress in their favorite steampunk and rockabilly fashion trends. It usually takes place in the month of May and will be May 5th, 2024.
Another great way to check out the various events taking place at Disneyland is with the Google Events Calendar which can show numerous upcoming events from unofficial days, to marathons, and even work conventions.
Special Disneyland After Hours & Special Events
Disneyland throws official after-hours events throughout the year. They offer unique entertainment and short lines for rides, but the park hosting the event also closes early. Additionally, many people who purchase tickets to these after hours events, like to spend the entire day at Disneyland, making the park more crowded on those days. They also do a mix-in for several hours which combines regular park guests with ticketed event guests.
Oogie Boogie Bash
The Oggie Boogie Bash is the most popular Disney After Houses event and takes place from September to October at Disney California Adventure Park. This means if you do not have tickets to the event, you’ll have to leave the park by 6pm those nights. I personally recommend that if you’re visiting from out of town, you consider going during the day and in the evening for the event, or just getting tickets to enjoy the event on that day.
Star Wars Nights
Star Wars Nights always take place during the month of May and always on May 4th. They are typically about 3 nights long, but not always consecutive so you have to watch the calendar. Unless you are attending the event, pick a day that isn’t having this after-hours event or you end up having to leave Disneyland early.
Other After Hours & Special Disneyland Events
- Candlelight Procession
- Princess Nite
- Pride Night take place in June and had it’s first event in 2023
- Villians Nite
Visiting Disneyland For the Holidays
Holiday seasonal events at Disneyland are a very popular time to visit the parks. Both Disneyland and California Adventure celebrate all the major holidays and are absolutely magical during Christmas time and Halloween. While the parks may be more crowded it is definitely an amazing time to visit. Below are a list of holidays that are celebrated at the Disneyland Resort.
- During the Festival of Holidays, the Disneyland Resort celebrates: Christmas, Navidad, Diwali, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and Three Kings Day
- Valentines Day
- Dia De Los Muertos
- Lunar New Year
- July 4th
- New Years Eve
The Best Time of Year to Visit Disneyland for Foodies
Throughout the year Disneyland has numerous California Adventure Food Festivals. In fact, I never miss them and if you are a foodie, I highly recommend visiting during one of these events. Below is a list of Disneyland Food Festivals which all take place in California Adventure and when they take place.
- Festival of Holidays: starts early November until early January
- Lunar New Year: takes place in early February until early March
- California Adventure Food & Wine Festival: takes place in early March until late April or Early May.
Cheapest Time to Visit Disneyland
Discount Disneyland Tickets are hard to come by but Disneyland does offer special 3-day discount tickets throughout the year and they are a great way to save money. These are almost always discounted tickets offered during the summer to compensate for all the Magic Key Holders that are blocked. It’s a clever way to get guests with Magic Keys to still purchase tickets for the summer when they aren’t able to go using their annual passes.
You can also visit the Disneyland Tickets Calendar and it will show you which days have cheaper ticket prices. For example, if you look at the picture above you’ll see there is an almost $50 difference on one park, one day park tickets Disneyland tickets if you attend November 27th – 30th as opposed to the week before. The entire month of December is more pricey due to the holiday season.
My Personal Opinion on The Best Time to Visit Disneyland
Personally, I think the best time to visit Disneyland is during Halloween time in October. Although it is also a very busy time of year, the decorations at Disneyland and California Adventure Park are so elaborate and amazing, that it is worth dealing with the extra crowds.
When I visited Walt Disney World in Florida during the fall season, I was really shocked by their lack of decor. Disneyland in California on the other hand will instantly put you in the Halloween spirit with special decor, food items, ride overlays, and characters in Halloween outfits. It is truly spectacular, especially the Haunted Mansion Holiday theming of The Nightmare Before Christmas!
Best Month of the Year to Visit Disneyland
If you love the Holidays, then the best time to visit Disneyland will be early September until the first week of January which will allow you to see the park all dressed up for the Holidays.
However, if crowds are more your concern then the least busiest times are typically mid-January through February and late May through June. Most people plan their summer vacation during July and August so the parks tend to be more crowded, even without annual pass holders.
What is the Best Week To Visit Disneyland
If you want to avoid crowds, around January 7th is when all the Christmas decorations go down and the holiday crowds end. This continues from late January up until March. Crows pick back up in early March due to the Disneyland California Adventure Wine & Food Festival. Then from June 14 – June 30th most Magic Key holders are blocked out and the Grad nights have officially ended.
I recommend visiting during the first week in January, first and last weeks of February, and the second and third week of June if your goal is to avoid large crowds.
What is the Best Day of the Week to Visit Disneyland
The busiest days at Disneylands theme park are highly debated amongst Disneyland Magic Key holders as crowds can be just as high on a random Monday as they are on the weekends. There are a few things to consider, such as whether kids are out of school and on vacation and whether there are any special events.
It’s also important to note that many Magic Key Holders are actually blocked during the weekends so they are actually not as busy as you may think. While you definitely will have more out-of-town vacationers, there are fewer locals.
The best days of the week to visit are weekends during the months of February, non-holiday weekends, and non-summer weekends. During the week most people seem to think Tuesdays and Wednesdays are the least busy. For some reason, Mondays almost always seem to be a busy day at the park.
What is the Best Time of the Day to Visit Disneyland
If you want to be at Disneyland during the least busy times of the day when it is the least crowded and there are shorter wait times for rides, then make sure you visit the Disneyland Resort early in the morning or late in the evening.
Should you rope drop?
I only recommend doing rope drop if you are determined to go on a ride like Rise of the Resistance which typically has very long lines which also cost extra for a lightning lane pass. Rope drop itself has a long line, but if you go to the park at 8:45am you can avoid the rope drop chaos and be at the park when it is less crowded.
Disneyland in the evening
Additionally, Disneyland and Disneyland California Adventure are less crowded in the late evening, especially after fireworks on the weekends. During the week anytime after 7pm the park starts to become significantly less crowded and 8pm – 9pm on weekends.
Pro-tip: If you don’t mind skipping the fireworks and would prefer to go on rides, 9pm is also a great time to enjoy short wait times for rides at California Adventure.
Peak times at Disneyland are always going to be afternoons. I notice the park begins to have higher crowd levels starting at 11 am and tapers off around 4 pm.
Disneyland Crowd Checker
There are certain apps that try to determine the best time to visit Disneyland by checking the crowd levels at Disneyland Park and California Adventure Park on a daily basis. There are numerous Disneyland crowd calendar websites but I found the one by que-times to be the most accurate. According to the site, it keeps track of the crowd calendars each year and uses that information to predict future crowd levels.
Whenever you decide to visit the Disney Parks you are sure to have a magical time regardless of when you plan your trip, but hopefully, this article has made your planning a little easier. The good news is that Disneyland truly is the happiest place on earth and I always have a good time no matter when I go. If you are worried about crowds and wait times, I recommend getting to the park early and purchasing Genie Plus to avoid ride lines. Be sure to check out our guide “Is Genie Plus Worth It?”.
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About The Author
Sondra Barker is an established travel writer, photographer, and culinary enthusiast. She resides in Newport Beach, California one of the most beautiful beach towns in the country. Her favorite destinations include visiting various wine countries, cruises around the world, and fun theme parks like Disneyland.