When is the Best Time to Visit Disneyland?

January 2016 – Family Reunion at Disneyland!

I hate crowds. I mean, I ABSOLUTELY HATE crowds. We live in a smallish Utah town. I always wait two weeks to see the best movies because I know there will only be a handful of people in the theater with us. I really don’t like crowds.

With that being said, I love – ABSOLUTELY LOVE theme parks! And most of the time, that means Disneyland in Anaheim, California, and Universal Studios in Orlando, Florida – all places that are the biggest crowd magnets for vacation fun.

Today, let’s talk Disneyland and what I’ve found to be the lowest crowd days.

January 2016 – Warm Enough for This Little Granddaughter!

No matter how you do it, Disneyland will cost money, so I want to make the most of my time once I have saved up for the experience. The first thing I do is plan on when to go to the theme park. I know from past experience when the most likely lowest crowds will be. To double check, I use the crowd calendar at Touring Plans and have found them to be very knowledgeable when it comes to projected crowd levels. I started using them when we first planned our Disney World in Orlando vacation and have been with them ever since. The only times we’ve found them “off” in a big way were the times when Disney had special events planned such as the big push for Star Wars. When these big events become more regular, Touring Plans makes adjustments for future dates.

First rule for low crowds: Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays are your lowest crowd days, with Mondays and Fridays next. Don’t ever go on the weekend if you want low crowds.

Second: What month does Disneyland have the lowest crowds?

The entire month of September has very low crowds – but, having grown up in San Diego, I know that September is usually hit with incredible heat from the Santa Ana winds. Usually, there will be some measure of cooling breeze coming off of the ocean, but when the Santa Ana hits, it is all desert hot – super hot and miserable! So, I avoid September and the beginning of October as much as possible so my vacation will be more enjoyable. Standing in any line, walking around any park, in dry desert heat is exhausting and horrible as far as I am concerned – and I currently live in a mountain desert area!

February immediately following Super Bowl Sunday is usually very low for a week – I don’t understand the correlation, but it is consistent.

The last week of August – but, oh the heat!

November is decent enough for a visit. There are good days (right after Halloween) and there are crowded days (Thanksgiving week.) The weather is nice for spending the day in the park, and the evenings are usually nice as well, although you might need a windbreaker or a sweatshirt at night. Again, Touring Plans is important to make your best guess for a November visit. 


Even the youngest grandchild was comfortable in January

The Best Time for the Lowest Crowds Without Sweltering Heat – The middle to the end of January has very low crowds. It is also the time when various rides will close for upkeep, and when special events are planned to draw in more people during this low time. The weather is cool enough that you might want a sweatshirt at night. And you can get pretty cold following Splash Mountain and Grizzly River Run. It rarely rains – but if it does, the park will be particularly empty. I love January visits because the crowds are so low, but we’ve also had some big surprises with unexpected crowds because Disney also knows that this is a low attendance time and they are constantly finding way to draw people in. This is my 2nd choice of vacation time at Disneyland – even though the crowd projections are beautiful an occasional level 1 (10 being highest), usually 2s and some 3s, the surprise crowd-drawing events, having fewer open attractions, and no Christmas lights, keep it from being my first choice.

A November Vacation to Disneyland with our three youngest daughters. The weather was colder than usual, so we wore sweatshirts in the late afternoon. We got totally drenched from Splash Mountain! (See the very comfortable guests in t-shirts – they are not wet.) Tip: If you are around my size and don’t want to drown – do not sit in the very front row! Neil, zooming back to his prankster childhood, thought it would be funny to sit in the front with me, and then duck down, so the water would spray over our heads to our children. Instead, with our generous, combined weight, the front end nearly buried us in the water and we were soaked through! After that, I always opt for a back seat.

For the very best time for the lowest crowds matching decent weather AND Christmas decorations with all (or nearly all) the attractions running – The week following Thanksgiving, starting that Monday is the best overall. On Touring Plans, these days are usually a level 2 or 3 (10 being the highest expected crowds) There you have it. It is impossible to perfectly guess what a crowd will be like on any given day, but your very best chance of standing in the shortest lines while avoiding the heat. It is always my first choice for visiting Disneyland, with January being my 2nd, and early November my 3rd.

Two more things about crowds – Watch for yearly, consistent events such as Christmas and Halloween Parties, UEA (Utah Education Association) – Utah schools have a small break, usually in October, so many of families use the time to visit Disneyland – but it you have to be in a crowded place, these families are usually quite friendly, Holiday weekends extends the busy time to Friday and sometimes Monday, any day that is a Block Out Day for year passes – it is blocked out because Disney expects big crowds. Touring Plans will usually give information about when these special days happen.

Secondly, even on a low crowd day, you might see the park swell with people once the local schools let out. Southern California residents get year passes, and they know it is a waste of their time to visit on the weekend, so they bring their children to the park for a few hours of play after school. We once sat down for a meal in a relatively empty park, and came out to what felt like a mass of wall-to-wall people – afterschool invasion! So – to avoid this, spend the morning and early afternoon on the rides, leave for your hotel and relax, then come back after dinner for a beautiful evening of sparkling lights and less people!

Of course, our family is based in Utah, so January gets pretty cold. That might be why we were so happy with our January Vacation. Still – it is a great time to visit!

I love “My” Disneyland – and I love it even more when I have space to breathe!


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