Everyone wants to know, when should I go to Disneyland? The answer, anytime you get the chance! Things, like weather, crowds, special events, and holidays can have a significant affect on your visit, but even the most crowded day in Disneyland can be magical.
To answer this question in full gets complicated. I’m going to try to break it down into several smaller questions to make it easier to digest.
(There are several websites that have crownd calendars, some are free and some charge. I’ve used a combination of this data, Disneylands own time of year to visit calendar, my own experience, stories from others, and a dash of common sense)
-When should I go to Disneyland if I want to avoid crowds?
There are several times of year that are almost always less crowded. In years past, if you went to DL on these days, you would almost have the park to yourself. Stories of rides without anyone on them, empty streets, and 15 minutes character interactions can be heard in the halls of Disneyland lore. Sadly those days are almost completely over. As a company, Disneyland doesn’t want to have it’s doors open for only a few guests, so they do their best to fill these dead times. Events like marathons, special things for minor holidays, extending holiday celebrations (Christmas before Thanksgiving, Halloween in September), and deals for guests who book hotels during these slower times have helped to fill the parks year round.
But don’t dispare, there are still days that are comfortably slow, and will leave you wondering why anyone comes on a busy day.
No matter what season you come during, weekdays are much less crowded then weekends. Monday-Thursday are slowest, with Friday getting more crowded. Even during the slowest times of the year, Sat-Sunday are almost always busy. This is due to “locals” who live nearby and just come to the park for some weekend fun.
The entire month of Septmember, with the first two weeks in September after Labor Day being the most sparce. Kids are back in school, most colleges are back in session, summer vacations are finished, and holiday vacations haven’t started yet.
But be forewarned, there can be a downside to coming when it’s slow. The park is open for less hours, sometimes at little as 10am-8pm. Rides often go under referbishment during these slower times, and in park shows often take a break during these times. But if you’re ok with having a few things unavaliable, you’ll have much more time to do what is open. (As as note, even during the busiest times of the year, like summer, Disneyland often has several rides closed for refurbishment, making ride closures a null point for visiting during slower seasons if you ask me.)
The week before Thanksgiving. Everyone is saving those vacation days to come over the holiday weekend when school is out and they have time off work. So if you can come the week before Thanksgiving, you’ll have lower crowds, and most likely the park will have some, if not all of it’s holiday decorations up.
Early April and Early May (you must avoid Easter if it falls in April and the Tinkerbell Marathon(or any other marathon) that falls in May.)
These weeks are in the moderately slow times. It’s getting warm outside, so it can get hot, but the crowds are milder then they will be around Easter or after Memorial Day.
The first week in December (This only works on years where Thanksgiving lands early in November, it doesn’t work as well if the first week of December falls on the week following Thanksgiving week). The crowds are not at the lowest, but it’s still on the quieter side, and you get to experience Holiday magic.
-When should I go to see Holiday Decorations?
Christmas/winter decorations start going up as soon as the Halloween decorations come down, with the park being fully decorated by mid-late November, always completely decorated by the week of Thanksgiving.
-When should I go if I don't want to take my kids out of school?
-When should I go if I want the most possible hours in the park for my ticket price?
If you have the stamina for 17 hour park days (my longest Disney Day started with a 7am breakfast and ended with Fantasmic ending around 9pm, and I thought I would never walk again after that day) going during busy season is the way to go. The parks can be rather empty at midnight.
-When should I go to avoid the most kids?
Go during the week, avoid weekends.
Go in the middle of school season. (You will see a lot of under school age children during this time though.)
Go later in the day when they need to be in bed.
Overall anytime that works for you is a good time to make a trip to Disneyland. So grab your calendar, a marker and go to town circling all the dates that work best for you for a trip, then check out what’s going on in the parks, the park hours, and anything else you need to know before deciding on a trip date. Let the countdown to departure day begin!