Our August 2018 preview covers crowds at Disneyland and Disney California and what to expect from the end of vacations and tourist season. In terms of crowds, August is all over the place. Schools are back in session mid-month in Los Angeles and Orange Counties. However, Annual Passholder blockouts are lifted towards the end of the month, leading to pure anarchy (eh, more or less). Along with our free crowd calendar, we’ll offer predictions for August crowd levels at Disneyland Resort. (Last updated January 2, 2018.)
Before that, let’s start with a look at weather. Although August is one of the hottest months of the year in Southern California, it’s really not that bad. Humidity remains low even as high temperatures break 80º every single day of August. At the other end of the spectrum, expect lows of around 65º every day.
Even though the temperature will creep into the mid-80s and could peak at 90º some days, August in Anaheim is still fairly comfortable, as shown by these graphs. The chances of mugginess are 9 or 10% every day of the month, which is not bad. This is why a common refrain among Californians is “but it’s a dry heat.” It’s the truth–90º and little humidity is much more pleasant than 80º and muggy weather. It might seem counterintuitive, but it’s wise to pack a light sweater or a long sleeve shirt for evenings at Disneyland. Next, let’s take a look at Disneyland and Disney California Adventure crowds during the month of August…
We’ll start with some “instructions” for the crowd calendar. These are identical to the notes above our July Disneyland Crowd Calendar, so if you’ve already read that, skip down to the calendar itself and the notes below it, which are different for August…
Crowd Calendar “Instructions” – This is a simplistic Disneyland crowd calendar with a “stop light” system. Our methodology is based upon historic wait time information, anecdotal observations, special events, school schedules, dynamic ticket prices, and more. Second, expect Disney California Adventure crowds to almost always track Disneyland crowds–with a few exceptions–albeit with a proportionately lower number of guests.
Note that this Disneyland crowd calendar has not yet been updated for 2018. Disneyland crowds for specific dates cannot be predicted with a high degree of certainty more than a couple of months in advance. General crowd trends and patterns are a bit easier, and the below calendar for last year can be used as an approximation for patterns in 2018. While other sites might offer crowd calendars for specific dates months (or a year!) in advance, we’d be weary of putting too much reliance in those.
Finally, we do not recommend using this as a proxy for crowds at other Los Angeles attractions or theme parks, like Universal Studios Hollywood, Knott’s Berry Farm, or Six Flags Magic Mountain. Disneyland Resort crowds are unique; they are artificially manipulated by Disney and also impacted by extraneous variables that do not impact the aforementioned theme parks to nearly the same degree.
Now some notes about the above predictions. The first half of the month is fairly predictable, with a pattern dictated by summer vacations, ticket prices, and Annual Passholder blockouts.
Things become murkier beginning the third week. This is when Los Angeles County schools go back into session, which explains the lighter crowds at that point. Even though we’ve only given it two ‘green’ days, consider this week the sweet spot for August visits to Disneyland. The following week, Orange County schools also go back into session.
Unfortunately, that will not have the huge impact on crowds that you might expect, as the summer Annual Passholder blockouts for the lowest tiers of passes end on August 20, 2018. There will be a lot of pent-up demand for locals who have been blocked out for ~2 months, and they will return in droves that week.
With that said, most of these locals have jobs, so the worst of these crowds will be in the afternoon and, especially, evening hours. If you arrive at rope drop and leave by 2 p.m., your perspective on crowds will be dramatically different from someone who arrives at 4 p.m. and focuses their attention on the Rivers of America attractions and Fantasmic. That area of Disneyland, in particular, will be a nightmare for the first week that the AP blockouts are lifted.
Crowds should once again die down the following week, once locals get their visits in. Unlike in previous years, there will be no spike the following weekend. This is because runDisney has cancelled the 2018 Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend. (And all future events until at least 2019.)
On the plus side, the following week (early September, post-Labor Day) should see a significant drop-off in crowds. If you’re debating between a late August and early September visit, we’d strongly suggest early September.
You’ll notice that dynamic ticket prices and aggressive Annual Passholder blockouts start to end in mid to late August. This is because summer visitors to Southern California are starting to head home by this point. While there will still be lingering spikes from Fantasmic 2.0 and Rivers of America, tourist season is ending in August.
While this will not always be reflected in overall crowds, it will be reflected in hotel prices. You should expect to see decreases and a rise in last minute deals come mid-August, with the very notable exception of Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend, which is one of the most expensive times of the year in terms of hotel rates (since runDisney travels well, and even many locals opt for hotel rooms this weekend due to the early start times of the races).
If you’re visiting between August 13 and mid-September 2018, and have not yet booked a hotel room, your best option might be to wait until the last minute if prices do not look favorable at the moment.
In both Disneyland and Disney California Adventure, early August is a time when park hours are typically longer. Both parks regularly open at 8 a.m., with Extra Magic Hours and/or Magic Mornings as early as 7 a.m. for on-site resort guests.
Disneyland closes at midnight for the first half of the month, with Disney California Adventure regularly closing at 10 p.m. These are the “maximum” operating hours for each park–the longest either are open any day of the year, aside from New Year’s Eve and other outliers. Expect earlier closing times later in the month, but you should still be able to enjoy a fairly late night in the parks.
Special offers for Disneyland Resort on-site hotels are usually weak for summer, with few (if any) discounts available. There are also no ticket promotions for Southern California Residents, which is good news for out-of-town tourists. The last of the resident ticket offers expired in May.
In terms of pricing, August has fairly normal rates. One-day park tickets are most are at “regular” season prices the first half of the month, with the exception of the first weekend being “peak” season. The end of the month then turns to “value” season Monday through Thursdays. Read our Tips for Saving Money on Disneyland Tickets post for multi-day ticket recommendations to avoid having to deal with seasonal pricing. On the plus side, there are some multi-day ticket discounts currently available for all guests.
Even with below-average crowds, you’ll still want a solid itinerary for touring the parks. The downside to visiting during a more touristy season is that guests are more likely to arrive early in the day, and prioritize attractions. By contrast, locals tend to spend more time hanging out, and focus on attractions to a lesser degree. This can mean higher wait times despite the parks “feeling” less crowded.
Overall, we consider August a fairly average month in terms of our Best and Worst Months to Visit Disneyland. If you can schedule a visit during that third week of the month right when Los Angeles County schools go back into session, but before AP blockouts are lifted, that’s your best bet. Not only will you have lower crowd levels, but you’re also going to have lower hotel prices, and fewer tourists than earlier in the month. There are also unique wrinkles in 2018, including the return of the Paint the Night parade (and Pixar Festival). If you can avoid the “bad” dates in August and can deal with some hotter weather (“IT’S A DRY HEAT!”), August can be a surprisingly good time to visit.
If you’re preparing for a Disneyland trip, check out our other planning posts, including how to save money on Disneyland tickets, our Disney packing tips, tips for booking a hotel (off-site or on-site), where to dine, and a number of other things, check out our comprehensive Disneyland Vacation Planning Guide!
If you’ve visited Disneyland during the month of August, what did you think of the experience? Did you find the crowd levels to be manageable? What about the weather? Did you notice a decrease or increase in crowds towards the end of the month? Are you visiting this August? Participating in the Disneyland Half Marathon? If you’ve visited in August, do you have any tips to add? Share any questions, tips, or additional thoughts you have in the comments!