Walt Disney World, located in Central Florida, definitely has better times of the year to visit. Disneyland in Anaheim does as well, but perhaps to a slightly lesser extent. The Central Florida annual weather patterns vary quite a bit more than those of Southern California, but weather can still play a part in choosing when to visit Disneyland. While we don’t think there’s ever a wrong time to visit, we’ve put together our thoughts of the best time of year to visit Disneyland.
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Best Time of Year To Visit Disneyland
When choosing the best time of year to visit Disneyland, there are some factors to consider. It’s important to note that there really isn’t a bad time – if you have a specific time that you need to visit Disneyland – for an occasion or other reason, then you should definitely visit whenever you’d like. You can have a good time whenever you visit.
Since the reopening in 2021, both Disneyland parks require park reservations as well as valid tickets to enter the parks. This does require a little bit more advanced planning, especially if you are visiting Disneyland Resort during peak time. Be sure to check the availability calendar before planning your trip, and make those reservations ASAP.
Because of this, theoretically, the parks shouldn’t be as busy as they were before the shutdown. However, they still can be crowded, with long lines, especially for the most popular attractions.
Do you want to plan your vacation around general weather patterns? Southern California has more consistent weather than other parts of the country, but there is still some seasonality. For the warmest days, visit in July, August, and early September. I’ve been in July, and while it’s hot, it’s not nearly as humid as other parts of the country. Winter months aren’t cold, but you may need a sweatshirt, especially when the sun goes down.
Rain is typically not too much of a factor, as it doesn’t ever rain too much. February is typically the rainiest month, but even then it’s just a few rainy days a month.
If you are hoping to visit Disneyland when it’s less crowded, you’ll want to avoid peak season when there are typically large crowds. This would include any long weekends (like President’s Day, Memorial Day weekend, and Labor Day weekend as well as summer vacation, school breaks, spring break, and holidays (especially the Christmas holiday weeks and Thanksgiving week). Sometimes, however, when the crowd levels are high, the park hours are extended a bit. So that could be an important factor in your decision.
Slower times tend to be late August (when school is back in session), late January, and early May (before school gets out).
In most cases, if you are planning a vacation (any vacation) over a school vacation or holiday, you really don’t have a choice. If you work in a school or have kids in school, school holidays are often your only option. There are lots of things you can do to maximize a visit during a busy time – including purchasing Genie+ to minimize wait times, arriving at the parks early (when you will typically see short lines for most of the rides), and getting the park hopper option on your theme park tickets to provide more flexibility.
There are some unofficial crowd calendars online, and those are typically based on historical data. Lower crowds are never a guarantee.
Disneyland hosts many events throughout the year, and you may want to time your visit with one of these events. Here are some of the most popular events, along with the timing associated with them.
The Disney California Adventure Food and Wine Festival is one of the most popular events of the year and is my favorite. It exclusively takes place at Disney’s California Adventure. Dates vary by year, but in the past, it started in late February/early March and runs through April. Dates for next year have not yet been released.
The Food and Wine festival includes seminars and cooking demonstrations, as well as food booths offering small plates and drinks for a nominal fee. I enjoy making a meal out of these samples, going from booth to booth rather than reserving a lunch or dinner in the parks. The first time I visited Disneyland, I visited during this time and had a great time at the festival.
The holidays are also a popular and Magical time to visit. At Halloween time, you can expect a variety of fun activities, including Halloween costumed characters, a special Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas-themed Haunted Mansion, Guardians of the Galaxy – Monsters After Dark, and Luigi’s Honkin’ Haul-O-Ween. These events typically take place starting in early September and running through October 31st.
There’s also the Oogie Boogie Bash, a special ticketed event that is held after hours on select nights. It takes place at Disney’s California Adventure and includes admission three hours before the event, as well as five hours of the actual party. It can be lots of fun with limited capacity, special entertainment, and more, but it does sell out fast. Attending one of these special ticketed events is often a great way to visit the parks with fewer people.
The parks also host Christmas season events. At Disneyland, these include holiday lights, a festival of holidays, and Christmas overlays on popular rides like it’s a small world, the Haunted Mansion, and Luigi’s Rollickin’ Roadsters. Other events include a themed parade and themed fireworks. The holiday season at Disneyland generally starts right after Halloween ends in early November and runs until New Year’s Day.
Other smaller special events take place at Disneyland throughout the year. These include the Eggstravaganza, Lunar New Year (at Disney’s California Adventure), and Grad Nites (for high school seniors).
Overall, if you aren’t interested in the events, it may be worth planning around them. However, if you love Halloween and/or Christmas, these particular events can be so fun to experience. I always love seeing the parks decorated – especially at Christmas time.
If I were to choose the best months to visit, I’d probably choose either March (for the Food and Wine Festival, May (for overall nice weather), or October (for Halloween events).
What is your favorite time to visit Disneyland?
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