Planning a trip to Disneyland and trying to determine the best month to visit in 2020? We analyze crowds, weather, seasonal events, park hours, and other factors to rank every month of the year for Disneyland in this post, plus our 3 favorite weeks to visit. (Updated January 8, 2020.)
A lot of resources already exist to help planners choose the best time to visit Disneyland, but they do so from an objective, statistical perspective. While crowd calendars are a great resource, we believe in a more holistic approach to planning a Disneyland visit.
To be sure, everyone loves low crowds, but those low crowds don’t tell the whole story. When it comes to Disneyland, low crowd levels are sometimes accompanied by shorter operating hours, poor weather, additional refurbishments, and a lack of seasonal events. Few people evaluate their vacation’s success by some statistical ‘fun quotient’, so we feel it only makes sense to approach the best months to visit Disneyland from a similar qualitative approach.
That’s our belief, at least, and one that has proven popular with readers of our When to Visit Disneyland post. We’ve had a lot of questions for greater guidance in that post, so we thought we’d provide that here. In this, we provide the pros & cons of every month at Disneyland and rank the best and worst times to visit accordingly.
As such, the point of this post is to rank every month of the year for visiting Disneyland in light of all relevant considerations. After ranking each month with accompanying analysis (so you can determine whether you’d weigh the factors differently) we also cut to the chase and choose our 3 favorite weeks of the year for visiting Disneyland.
In order of worst to best, here’s how every month of the year at Disneyland ranks…
12. June – There are two unique wrinkles when it comes to visiting Disneyland that causes it to deviate from Walt Disney World, and both are evidenced in June. The first is Annual Passholders; Disneyland has a lot more of them. By virtue of blocking out some tiers of Annual Passholders, Disneyland can manipulate crowds and turn what would otherwise be a crowded time into a less-crowded one.
The other is weather; while it can get hot in Southern California, the region does not have the same issue with unbearable humidity that plagues the Florida parks. While June is one of the hottest months of the year in California, it wouldn’t rank poorly on that basis alone.
It’s the lack of Deluxe AP blockouts in the first half of June that really causes it to rank poorly, and you can expect a deluge of locals trying to get in their last visits before they are blocked out for the entire months of July and August. If you visit later in June, you’re likely to find that the parks will be quite pleasant–certainly better than this 12 out of 12 ranking would suggest! Click here to view our June Disneyland Crowd Calendar.
11. April – Easter will be April 12, 2020, and the week leading up to that will be Spring Break for Los Angeles County School District. The week before that is Spring Break for Orange County School District. This means that the first half of April will be busier than normal in 2020. That plus Spring Break season in California and other western states means you’ll have a mix of locals and tourists who are on vacation descending upon the parks towards the beginning of the month.
This makes for the first-half of April the busiest time of year, and also most expensive dates of the year at hotels near Disneyland Resort. This is especially frustrating at Disneyland, a park that was simply not built to accommodate as many guests as cram into the parks during the month of April.
However, there are two silver linings. First, that all of this is confined to the first half of the month, with the last two weeks being significantly quieter. Second, April weather in Southern California is great, with little precipitation and warmer temperatures–but not too warm. Click here to view our April Disneyland Crowd Calendar.
10. January – For 2020, this will be a “tale of two months” at Disneyland. Basically, there’s a narrow window of low crowds after Los Angeles and Orange County schools are back in session following their winter breaks. This week or so will have gloriously low crowds and feel like the true off-season at Disneyland.
That all changes come January 17, 2020–the opening date of Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance. While pretty much everyone (us included) totally missed the mark with predicting crowds for the debut of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge last summer, this should be very different. Even if crowds don’t show up in full force for Rise of the Resistance, the large conventions, MLK holiday weekend, and SoCal ticket specials should make sure that crowds are at least above-average.
To add insult to injury, the 2020 Disneyland Refurbishment Calendar is heavier than normal this year for January. The upside is the start of the Lunar New Year Celebration at Disney California Adventure on the same date that Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance opens, so at least you can experience that entertainment if you want to avoid the crowds! Click here to view our January Disneyland Crowd Calendar.
9. October – After three years of chaos in October, the situation last year actually improved slightly. In large part, this can be attributed to Oogie Boogie Bash – A Disney Halloween Party at DCA replacing Mickey’s Halloween Party at Disneyland. That alone made crowds more predictable and eased up the burden on the castle park during non-party nights.
However, October still has a surplus of crazy holidays–half of which I think Utah and Nevada are making up just to mess with Disneyland crowd levels. Nevada, you don’t get your own holiday. I’ll sooner recognize “Whacking Day” as an official holiday. Aside from this nonsense Utah and Nevada are celebrating, you also have Columbus Day and Rosh Hashanah.
Then there’s Halloween, and everyone knows that those heathens in California celebrate by taking 13 days off work. 😉 Seriously, though, October has become a really busy month at Disneyland. The weather and seasonal entertainment are both great (just check out our Ultimate Guide to Halloween at Disneyland), but crowds are too unpredictable and heavy. Click here to view our October Disneyland Crowd Calendar.
8. February – Due to the debut of Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, the mid-January into early-February segment of dates having the same downsides. If forced to choose, we are inclined to give February a slight edge, primarily it’s further removed from the opening of this blockbuster attraction.
Unfortunately, there’s ample reason to believe February 2020 will see a similar spike in crowds for the same reasons. Add to that Super Bowl weekend and the week of Presidents’ Day, both of which will spike crowds. Even outside of that, you start to see a slight uptick in crowds.
It’s also worth noting that both the Magic Happens daytime parade and DCA’s Food & Wine Festival debut on February 28, 2020. Given that both begin at the very end of the month, these will have more of an impact on March 2020 crowds, especially on weekends. That’s the downside. The upside is fewer refurbishments and warmer weather. Click here to view our February Disneyland Crowd Calendar.
7. March – This month actually “springs forward” considerably, as Los Angeles and Orange Counties won’t have their Spring Breaks April (aside from the last two days of the month), making March more attractive. Other Spring Breaks for out of state schools will be scattered throughout the month, but they shouldn’t be too bad.
As with January and February before it, the wildcard here is the drawing power of Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance. Will it continue to draw huge crowds two months after its opening? If so, there’s ample reason to believe it’ll continue to draw huge crowds for the rest of the year, and since these rankings are relative, March is still in the middle of the pack. March also has the added wrinkle of the Magic Happens parade, but given that this is daytime entertainment, we don’t anticipate a huge spike in crowds because of it–at least not on weekdays.
Then there’s weather, which is starting to improve in March. It’s also the first full month of Disney California Adventure’s Food & Wine Festival, which runs through April 21, 2020. It’s an enjoyable event that does not really draw crowds, but provides a nice way to get a taste of California’s diverse cuisine.
6. July – It might be surprising to see the Florida parks’ worst month near the middle of this list. Thanks to the lack of humidity and summer blockouts that lower the number of Annual Passholders at Disneyland, July is not that bad in the California parks.
You still have the potential for hot weather and an influx of summer tourists, but the latter is at least partially offset by far fewer locals than normal. The days around Independence Day are an exception, as they are exceptionally busy despite the blockouts. The upside to July 4th at Disneyland is added entertainment and special fireworks. Click here to view our July Disneyland Crowd Calendar.
5. August – Pretty much the same story for August as July. There’s the potential for really hot weather, but you still have that reprieve from locals. The additional upside to August is that you don’t have the Independence Day spike, and also that around mid-month, schools start going back into session.
While it didn’t make the cut for our best weeks of the year, there’s a fourth “sweet spot” in the exact middle of the month that has long operating hours, reduced crowds, and Annual Pass blockouts. Strongly consider this week if you’re thinking of doing a summer vacation at Disneyland. Click here to view our August Disneyland Crowd Calendar.
4. December – One of our best months of the year for the Florida parks, December slips a bit for our Disneyland rankings. This is for one reason and one only: crowds. Even the beginning of December is pretty crowded at Disneyland. Everything else about December at Disneyland is great: cool weather, beautiful decorations, wonderful entertainment, and great food. (See our Ultimate Guide to Christmas at Disneyland for more on why this is the greatest time of year at the parks.)
That ‘confluence of greatness’ at Disneyland in December means that a lot of Annual Passholders prioritize visiting in December, as do locals who are not Annual Passholders but visit once or twice per year. Add to that tourists, who are drawn to the parks this time of year, and it’s a recipe for heavy attendance. About the only times that are not chaotic are the couple of days after most Annual Passholder blockouts take effect–but before Christmas vacation crowds arrive–and any day that it rains. Click here to view our December Disneyland Crowd Calendar.
3. May – For 2020, early to mid May becomes another “sweet spot” for us. May is before schools are out for summer and also before Annual Passholders who are blocked out for the summer start making their “last visits.” It’s also reasonably far removed from the opening of Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, the Magic Happens parade, and should be before Avengers Campus debuts at Disney California Adventure.
As such, May 2020 should have the lull in demand after all of those new things debut, but before the arrival of summer tourist season, and everything that brings with it. May is also usually a strong month weather-wise, with mild temperatures. The downside is that crowds are already starting to pick up by this point, and Grad Nites can throw a wrench into crowd levels on any particular evening. Click here to view our May Disneyland Crowd Calendar.
2. September – Disneyland in September shares the same low crowd levels as Walt Disney World, but what it doesn’t share is humidity and hot weather. This year, Halloween Time is expected to start on September 4, 2020, but aside from a first-weekend spike in crowds, the seasonal crowds won’t show up in full force until October.
As an added bonus, September is typically warm but totally bearable in Anaheim. On top of the crowds and pleasant weather, you have the Halloween entertainment, special food, and attraction overlays, which we highly recommend seeing. Click here to view our September Disneyland Crowd Calendar.
1. November – Christmas is the absolute best time of the year at Disneyland. However, as noted above, there is no early December lull in crowds like you’ll find at WDW. Instead, the sweet spot for enjoying the holiday season entertainment is the beginning of November and right after the popular Veterans Day holiday in mid-November until Thanksgiving.
Unlike the Florida parks, it all starts in Disneyland and Disney California Adventure on the same day, so there’s no “compromise” in going early. Between the entertainment, lighter crowds (relative to the rest of the Christmas season), and typically good weather, mid-November is an unbeatable time to visit. Click here to view our November Disneyland Crowd Calendar.
Want to cut past all of those rankings and simply looking for a point-blank recommendation as to when you should visit Disneyland? Here are our 3 favorite weeks of the year, followed by some explanation:
- Week before Thanksgiving Week
- Second week of September
- First week or two of May
Our first (and favorite) week to visit is the week before Thanksgiving week, or November 16-20, 2020. Typically, Christmas season at Disneyland starts the weekend before this, meaning you have a week gap between the start of Disneyland’s holiday season and the start of actual holiday travel. This is a ‘sweet spot’ for low crowds, perfect weather, and seasonal entertainment.
September’s second full week (September 14-18, 2020) ranks highly because it’s after school is back in session and also falls within the Halloween Time at Disneyland, but is not so late during the Halloween season that you have to contend with the crowds that show up in full force to see the special offerings and overlays. Southern California weather is typically pretty good at this time of the year, too.
Finally, early May 2020. This replaces late January into early February, which used to be our recommendation. Unfortunately, the unpredictability surrounding the opening of Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance no longer makes the very beginning of the year as attractive.
Instead, we’d recommend the beginning of May 2020, which is far removed from the debuts of that plus the Magic Happens parade, and is also after the madness of Spring Break and Easter. However, it’s before locals try to take advantage of the end of the SoCal resident ticket deal or get their last visits in before the summer blockouts. It should also be before Avengers Campus debuts, which is currently set for “Summer 2020.”
All in all, this should be a useful guide to strategically plan your visit (or visits) to Disneyland Resort in 2020. Even if you only follow this guide loosely, we think you’re bound to choose a good time to head to Disneyland. As for figuring out the other details of your trip, we highly recommend reading our Disneyland Vacation Planning Guide, which offers comprehensive advice.
What do you think about the best and worst months to visit Disneyland and Disney California Adventure? Any specific ideal months/weeks of your own that you’d recommend people visit Disneyland? Do you think weather plays any factor when it comes to the SoCal parks? Do you think crowds have increased over the last couple of years, across the board? Any questions? Hearing from you is half the fun, so please share your thoughts in the comments below!