Courtesy of Disney
Thinking about visiting the “Happiest Place on Earth,” Disneyland? There’s always a reason to plan a vacation to the Southern California theme park destination — especially now, with Disney100 celebrations underway — but deciding on the best time to visit depends on a few factors. Maybe you’re looking for a winter escape to enjoy temperate weather and the resort’s stunning holiday displays, or maybe you’re planning a trip to visit one of their award-winning food festivals. Picking the right time of year can mean fewer crowds (and shorter lines for the best Disneyland rides) or deals on tickets and hotel rooms. Whether you’re planning on visiting with your family or bringing some friends along for the ride, here are the best times to go to Disneyland.
Related: The Best Times to Go to Disney World for Fewer Crowds and Beautiful Weather
Best Times to Go to Disneyland to Avoid the Crowds
The complexities of a Disneyland vacation range from booking accommodations and travel to navigating Disney Genie+ and dining reservations. Tacking heavy crowds onto that list can burst your magical bubble in no time.
Much like Walt Disney World, Disneyland draws crowds 365 days a year, but there are times throughout the year that are typically less crowded. Visiting during limited-time offerings like holiday events and festivals is an absolute must, but to avoid the crowds you may want to steer clear of weekends as those typically draw both tourists and a local crowd. Unlike Walt Disney World, Disneyland has a large number of local guests visiting, so factors like school closures can also come into play in a major way.
Other off-peak times to consider include periods before and after major holidays (like early January after the Christmas and New Year’s rush) as well as back-to-school time, from mid-August to early September.
Best Times to Visit Disneyland for Good Weather
Thanks to Disneyland’s location in Southern California, you can expect moderate weather and sunny days year round, making any time a beautiful time to visit. The hottest month will typically be August, and those visiting then will need to keep in mind that there is not a lot of indoor seating in the park, particularly at quick-service restaurants.
Temperatures will reach their lowest in December and January — typically reaching around 60 degrees — but will fluctuate from morning to night, so it’s best to prepare by layering clothing. While Southern California is typically immune from heavy rain, the wettest months occur at the beginning of the year, from January through March.
Related: 42 Disney World and Disneyland Tips for a Magical Vacation
Best Times to Go to Disneyland to Save Money
The two biggest cost-related factors to keep in mind when planning a Disneyland vacation are theme park tickets and hotel accommodations. Disneyland’s theme park tickets operate on a dynamic pricing system, meaning park tickets are tiered based on demand and date of visit. One-day, one-park tickets start at $104 but can increase significantly, especially surrounding major holidays, including New Year’s and Christmas when prices may peak at $179.
Throughout the year, Disneyland offers discounted on-site accommodations at its three hotels — Disneyland Hotel, Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa, and Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel (which is currently being renovated to become Pixar Place Hotel). These discounts are typically offered during off-peak periods, including weekday stays from January through March when guests may find savings of up to 20 percent.
Unlike Walt Disney World, Disneyland is unique in that in addition to its three on-site resorts, there are dozens of affordable hotels within walking distance of the theme park property. Staying off-site will lose some perks, like early park entry, but could end up offering substantial savings in the long run.
Related: Disneyland vs. Disney World — Everything You Need to Know About Both Theme Park Resorts
Best Times for Adults to Visit Disneyland
Disneyland’s exciting dining options make it a gastronomical destination with plenty to offer adult visitors. One of the best times to visit Disneyland is during one of the award-winning food festivals at Disney California Adventure Park. Its longest-running and largest festival, the springtime Disney California Adventure Food & Wine Festival, brings dozens of outdoor kitchens to the park with inspired bites and cocktails celebrating the state’s vibrant food scene. The celebration also brings interactive culinary and mixology demonstrations, fitting for a group vacation.
Lunar New Year dazzles each year with tasty dishes and standout live entertainment throughout the resort. Disney Festival of Holidays celebrates the season with delicious festival treats honoring a number of winter traditions.
Best Times to Visit Disneyland for Families
From classic attractions like Pirates of the Caribbean to the recently opened Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway, there’s always something to keep families entertained. Those with children of all ages won’t want to miss the Disneyland Resort-exclusive attraction overlays. For over 20 years, the iconic Haunted Mansion has been transforming each fall and winter into Haunted Mansion Holiday, themed to Tim Burton’s “The Nightmare Before Christmas.”
The holidays are a wonderful time to visit the resort as it receives a flurry of festive upgrades in the theme parks, Downtown Disney, and throughout the resorts. During the holiday transformation, It’s a Small World also receives its own festival upgrade as it becomes a wintery waterway with every inch covered in decor. You won’t want to miss catching a glimpse of it in the evening hours as the attraction’s facade becomes illuminated with a stunning light display.
If planning for an afternoon pool break is important to your family, California’s summers make for an ideal time to visit. Both the Disneyland Hotel and Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa offer a welcome respite from the heat with spacious pool complexes that are a hit with both kids and adults thanks to slides and poolside lounges.