Musical marching soldiers during a Disney Christmas Parade in Disneyland

Best Time to Visit Disneyland (By a California Local)

The best time to visit Disneyland is in the fall or summer when the weather is most agreeable. Earlier in the day is also a good time to visit Disneyland because there will be fewer wait times for the rides.

You will want to visit the “happiest place on earth” on a sunny day to maximize your theme park experience. There are fireworks shows and more frequent Disney parades during the Disneyland peak holiday and summer seasons as well.

Like many popular California places to visit, if you’re looking for the least crowded time to visit Disneyland, then you will want to plan your trip in the off-shoulder cold and wet seasons. The weather may not be as agreeable, but you are sure to get on as many rides as you hoped for. 

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When is the Best Time to Visit Disneyland?

The best time to visit Disneyland depends on whether you want an emptier park, cheaper ticket days, or more events scheduled. 

The summer is a great time to visit Disneyland for perfect weather and special events. The off-season winter months provide fewer crowds and more access to rides.

A trip to Disneyland is a magical experience at any time of the year. You will want to choose the best time to visit the park depending on your needs.

If you want to find the cheapest tickets, go during the non-peak season months of February-April. If you want the ultimate Disneyland experience complete with parades, more frequent character sightings, and holiday events, then you should visit the park in September-January.

Next, we’ll break down the absolute best time to visit Disneyland so you can experience the theme park in all its magical splendor. You can also read Katie’s guide to the best time to visit Disney World if that’s on your bucket list too!

When to Visit Disneyland for Good Weather

Rides from the Disney California Adventure Park

If you’re trying to decide when to visit California, then it’s important to keep in mind that Southern California experiences mild weather year-round. The summers are dry but can exceed 100 degrees Fahrenheit and the winters only receive a moderate amount of rainfall. 

Fall and spring are the best times to visit Disneyland for good weather. They are not as dry and sticky as the summer months, meaning you will have a much more enjoyable Disneyland trip. 

Winter days spent in the park are fun but can be too chilly at times. The ideal times to visit Disneyland for the best weather are in February-May.

Be aware of spring break crowds in the springtime. You will want to avoid Disneyland around Easter because the park will be packed.

When to Visit Disneyland for Cheap Prices

The author and her brother posing for a photo with a Star Wars Storm Trooper
My brother and I posing with an infamous Star Wars Storm Trooper

A trip to Disneyland Park doesn’t have to break the bank. The admission price has gone up in recent years but there are still ways to find cheap tickets.

Look online to find the best ticket options. You will be able to view the Disneyland calendar to see the ticket fees for each day. 

Disneyland tickets are the cheapest for Southern California residents. You can also save on your Disneyland Resort trip by buying multi-day tickets. 

Keep in mind that a park hopper ticket is more expensive than only Disneyland tickets – so you may have to omit Disney California Adventure Park from your trip if you are budgeting. 

Food and beverage prices are standard every day, so bring your own food into the parks to save money.

When to Visit Disneyland to Avoid Crowds

View of the entrance to Disney’s California Adventure Park
(photo: Zane Vergara / Shutterstock)

Because Disneyland is one of the best and most popular things to do in California, peak Disneyland seasons are usually when there are school breaks or around the holidays. The parks experience high crowd levels around Christmas break, summer break, Labor Day weekend, and other major school breaks.

Although Disneyland is spectacular during the holidays, you will want to avoid the park at this time if your goal is to avoid crowds. Thanksgiving week and New Year’s Eve also receive an insane amount of visitors and ride times usually exceed 120 minutes during this time.

Fewer crowds mean shorter wait times for the thrill-seeking Disneyland rides and a more memorable experience. You will want to visit this magical theme park during the off-shoulder months of February to mid-April and July to September.

👉 Pro Tip: Consult the Disneyland Crowd Calendar to stay up-to-date with the best times to visit Disneyland.

When to Visit Disneyland for Special Events

Musical marching soldiers during a Disney Christmas Parade
Musical marching soldiers during the Disney Christmas Parade on Main Street

Like Disney World in Florida, Disneyland Park celebrates the holidays with festive fireworks shows complete with music, shimmering lights, and a snowfall finale from mid-November to mid-January.

The Christmas season at Disneyland is one of the most popular times of the year at the park. The park is coated with jolly decor and guests can enjoy the traditional Disneyland Christmas parade. 

Halloween time is another special season at Disneyland Resort. The park is decorated with festive Halloween ornamentation and even hosts a trick-or-treat party for young ones throughout the theme park.

Enjoy the nightly firework spectacular during the summer months in the park. Weather permitting, this fireworks show lights up the summer sky behind the castle every night at 10 pm.

🚗 Where to Rent a Car: Pick up your rental car with Discover Cars when you fly into Los Angeles International Airport so you can easily transport to and from Disneyland.

 When to Visit Disneyland for Foodies

A hand holding a Dole Whip ice cream from Adventureland
The famous Dole Whip ice cream from Adventureland

Food lovers congregate at Disneyland from around the world. Grown adults sprint to fun-themed restaurants and food booths to snag their favorite Disneyland dishes.

There are more than 160 restaurants and other quick dining options to choose from, each as delicious as the last. Eat your way through the parks to find the best of the best. With all the walking that’s required at the theme park, you’ll be sure to indulge yourself.

Some fan favorites include the Dole Whip pineapple ice cream at the Tiki Room, a famous salted Mickey pretzel from a street cart, jambalaya in the New Orleans Square, and cheese enchiladas from Rancho del Zocalo Restaurante in Adventureland. 

Be sure to also check out the Disney California Adventure Food and Wine festival every spring.

👉 Pro Tip: You can now pre-order food from the Disneyland app and skip the lines to satisfy your appetite.

Disneyland Travel Seasons 

January through March

The Small World ride decorated with Christmas lights during the holidays
It’s a Small World ride is elaborately decorated during the holidays
  • 🌟 New Year’s Day at Disneyland is an elaborate event to be celebrated. Thousands of guests ring in the new year with a fireworks show on Main Street. The park is extremely crowded during this time but you will experience the epitome of Disneyland holiday cheer on New Year’s Day.
  • 🐉 Disney California Adventure Park celebrates the multicultural Lunar New Year from late January to early February. Participate in Mulan’s New Year Procession, appearances of Disney characters in traditional garments, and innovative menus with Asian cuisine during this festive event.

April through May

Rafiki on the Lion King float during a Disney Parade
The Lion King float during a Disney parade (photo: KeongDaGreat / Shutterstock)
  • 🍷 Disney California Adventure Park hosts its annual Food and Wine Festival from late February-early April each year. There is no extra admission fee to attend this delicious event and you will be surprised by the array of California-inspired delicacies. 
  • 🐣 Eggstravaganza is an annual Disneyland Easter egg hunt that is hosted at Disneyland Resort, Downtown Disney, and Disney California Adventure from late March to early April. Find Easter eggs scattered throughout the park for a Disneyland experience you will never forget.

June through August

Colorful fireworks up in the sky of Disneyland
  • 🎆 Enjoy the Fourth of July fireworks spectacular at Disneyland Park to celebrate the country’s independence day. Patriotic-themed fireworks illuminate the sky above Disneyland Resort. It is one of the busiest days in the summer so get to the fireworks show early to snag a spot. 

September through December

A micky mouse pumpkin decoration during Disney's Halloween Time
Halloween Time decorations in Disneyland Park
  • 💀 Dia de Los Muertos events take place in the park from early September to early November each year. This is one of the park’s newest festivities and shouldn’t be missed. Meet the cast members from Disney’s Coco movie or take photos of the cultural display to commemorate this Latino celebration.
  • 🎃 Trick-or-treat with your little ones around Halloween time at Disneyland. Disney character villains come to life around the park at this time and you can find regular characters in Halloween costumes as well. Attend the Oogie Boogie Bash or Mickey’s Halloween Party for prime holiday entertainment including costume contests, mazes, and more.
  • 🎄 Disneyland Holidays commemorate joyous Christmas decorations and traditions throughout the park. Christmas is perhaps the busiest time at Disneyland Park because guests love the themed entertainment, the sparkling decorations, the Christmas Disney Parade, and so much more.

Disneyland Weather and Climate

The author with her family posing for a photo at the entrance of Disneyland
My family striking a pose at the entrance of Disneyland

Disneyland is located in Anaheim, Southern California, one of the best California cities to visit. This area is considered a semi-arid or desert climate. As a result, summers at Disneyland can be extremely hot, especially among large crowds on a busy day.

While summers can exceed 100 degrees, Southern California winters rarely fall below 30 degrees Fahrenheit. This is considered extremely cold for Southern California locals who are used to year-round sunshine but it’s typically agreeable weather for visitors. 

Fall and spring are considered perfect weather in Southern California. Because the golden state has been experiencing a severe drought for the past few years, there is hardly any rain in Southern California. 

Late spring rains typically only last for only one or two days at a time, which is good news if you are visiting Disneyland Park for multiple days.

🛎️ Need a Hotel?  This Courtyard by Marriott Anaheim Hotel is one of the closest hotels to Disneyland if you don’t want to stay inside the park. 

Tips for Visiting Disneyland

For more tips, see my full list of 75 tips for visiting Disneyland. Here’s a summary of the most important ones:

Make a Reservation Ahead of Time

One of the seven dwarfs, named Grumpy on Disney Parade
Grumpy during a Disney parade (photo: Jarva Jar / Shutterstock)

A few things have changed at Disneyland Park since the COVID-19 pandemic. The most important change to the parks is a required reservation in addition to your ticket entry.

You need a valid ticket and reservation for each day you plan to enter the park. Those can be made up to 120 days in advance at the official Disneyland website. 

Get There Early to Avoid the Crowds

Disneyland’s maximum capacity is around 85,000 people per day. As you can imagine, that means the wait times will likely be over an hour and the park will be shoulder-to-shoulder with other visitors.

For an enjoyable Disneyland vacation, get to the park as soon as it opens at 8 am to enjoy empty rides and no wait times. You may even want to arrive before opening park hours to be one of the first people in the park.

You can also snag an early reservation for dinner at one of your favorite restaurants in Disneyland Park.

Pack Your Own Food

One of the most important Disney things to pack is food. You will want to pack your own food to save money when you go to Disneyland, Disney California Adventure Park, or even Walt Disney World in Florida. Although the Walt Disney Company supplies delicious food throughout the parks, the prices are less than appetizing.

You are at full liberty to pack and eat your own food at Disneyland Park. You will save a ton of money this way and can snack throughout the whole day without waiting in long food lines.

Wear Your Most Comfortable Shoes

The Fantasyland carousel with lights at night
The Fantasyland carousel after dark

Many Disneyland visitors end up walking a few miles around the park during their trip to Disneyland. Don’t make the mistake of wearing uncomfortable shoes, that may ruin your Disneyland experience.

These are my go-to shoes whenever I go to Disneyland. Wear your most comfortable sneakers or walking sandals to the parks because you are likely to spend hours walking around. 

Your trip may be limited if you have sore feet and need to go home early.

Rent a Locker

View of people in Disneyland and the Disneyland Resort signage
Disneyland crowds during a summer day (photo: The Image Party/ Shutterstock)

Get to the Disneyland theme parks early to rent a locker. No one wants to lug around their extra layers and snacks all day if they don’t have to. 

There are lockers both inside and outside Disneyland. I recommend renting a locker inside of the park so you avoid the hassle of exiting and re-entering the park each time you need something from storage. 

Park lockers inside Disneyland fill up, however, so you will want to get to the park around opening time to snag a locker while you can.

Stay at Disneyland Resort Hotels

Staying close to the park allows you the earliest possible entry time. There are 3 convenient on-site Disneyland hotels to choose from – Disneyland Hotel, Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel, and Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel.

Disneyland hotel guests have an earlier security check at the park entrance than any other Disney visitor, allowing hotel guests the earliest possible entry into the parks.

See my full guide to the best places to stay at Disneyland for more information.

Go as a Solo Rider to Beat Wait Times

The author's brother in the new Galaxy’s Edge Star Wars land
My brother imitating a grumpy Storm Trooper in the new Galaxy’s Edge Star Wars land

Few people know that you can opt for a solo rider position for all rides in Disneyland and California Adventure. This allows you to bypass a majority of the wait times. 

Single riders are placed in empty seats as placeholders. The lines for single riders are usually more than half the wait time so you can optimize your stay at Disneyland by getting on as many rides as possible.

Shop for Souvenirs at the End of the Day

A Mickey Mouse ear hat from Disneyland
The iconic Mickey Mouse ears hat (photo: ItzaVU / Shutterstock)

Get the most out of your Disney experience by prioritizing rides and shows over shopping. There is so much to do in Disneyland and you will need as much time as possible to do everything you planned.

Most of the shops on Main Street stay open 1 hour after the park closes for guest convenience. The stores are usually less crowded at this time and there will be almost no checkout lines. Take home a sparkling set of Mickey ears to commemorate your perfect Disney day.

Go on Rides During Parades and Shows

If it’s your first time in Disneyland then you should see at least one parade. Visitors staying multiple days, however, should go on rides during the parades for shorter wait times.

While most people are busy trying to score an ideal seat to view the parade, many rides remain either empty or with very short wait times. Take advantage of the distractions to enjoy your favorite Disney rides.

FAQs About the Best Time to Visit Disneyland

When is the best weather to visit Disneyland?

The best time to visit Disneyland is from March through May and September through October when the weather is the driest and the warmest. 

What is the busiest time of the day at Disneyland?

10 am-11 am is the busiest time to enter Disneyland. The lines reach their longest length from 12 pm-3 pm.

What time of year is Disneyland least crowded?

Disneyland is the least crowded during the coldest and wettest days of the year. This is usually around February-May. The weather may not be agreeable at these times but the wait times will be short so you can go on more rides.

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I hope my guide on the best time to visit Disneyland answered all your Disney questions. After you experience California’s Disneyland, check out these 49 Disney World Tips for even more Disney magic.

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