Planning a trip to Disneyland and trying to determine the best month to visit in 2022? 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 April 7, 2022.)
It’s been a wild ride since Disneyland and DCA reopened. There have been waves of pent-up demand made for a busy summer, followed by attendance fizzling out, and that process repeating itself multiple times. The debut of Magic Key Annual Passes has further complicated crowd predictions, as have ticket deals for Southern California residents.
Suffice to say, it has been exceedingly difficult to predict wait times and congestion at Disneyland in the last year-plus. If you’re visiting Disneyland between now and Summer 2022, it’s safe to expect the parks to be some degree of crowded. Weekends tend to be more pronounced, but even weekdays can be fairly bad during school breaks or tourism times.
That’s the bad news. The good news is that this problem will hopefully start to resolve itself later in 2022 as Disneyland brings back more entertainment including stage shows, parades, and nighttime spectaculars. This happens in earnest on April 22, 2022, when the Disneyland Forever Fireworks, Main Street Electrical Parade, and World of Color all return.
The immediate impact of all that will be higher crowds, not lower. All of those nighttime spectaculars will induce demand, rather than helping absorb existing attendance levels. However, over time, the returning entertainment plus scaling up dining options, operating hours, and more should help increase capacity so the parks can soak up more crowds.
On top of that, pent-up demand among local fans and Magic Key Annual Passholders should start to fizzle out as everyone gets their Disneyland “fix” by this summer. Of course, then the whole process begins anew, as kids will be out of school and California’s summer tourist season will get into full swing.
Accordingly, we’re ranking all months of the year. Even if our expectations about crowds are slightly off, weather, seasonal events, and other factors are consistent from year to year, making this resource equally useful for planning a trip to Disneyland in 2022 or 2023.
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 2022 Disneyland Crowd Calendars: When to Visit & Avoid. 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. July 2022 – Between this being the peak of California’s summer tourist season and more narrowly-tailored Magic Key blockouts, it’s safe to expect July 2022 to be crowded. We could end up being “wrong” and misjudging the new crowd dynamic, but for now, we’d pick a different month if visiting Disneyland as tourists. At best, July 2022 will rank 9/12 on this list. There’s too much downside and not enough potential upside.
In general, July is not as bad at Disneyland as Walt Disney World. You still have the potential for hot weather, but it’s not nearly as humid. There’s also an influx of summer tourists, but far fewer than Florida. 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.
11. April 2022 – Easter will be April 17, 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. 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 during the first half of the month. Consequently, April will be busier than normal in 2022.
This makes for the couple weeks 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.
Normally, there would be two silver linings. First, that the last two weeks of April should be quieter as Spring Break winds down. That point is not valid this year, at least, not for the very last week (see below). 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. May 2022 – In our latest re-ranking, this month drops the most. Normally, May 2022 would be a “sweet spot” for Disneyland. May is before schools are out for summer and also before Magic Key passholders who are blocked out for the summer start making their “last visits.” As such, May normally sees a lull in demand before the arrival of summer tourist season, and everything that brings with it.
May 2022 will likely be anything but normal. As noted above, the Disneyland Forever Fireworks, Main Street Electrical Parade, and World of Color all return in late April. Any one of these things alone would skip crowds. All three, including a brand new finale for Main Street Electrical Parade? That’s a recipe for a huge surge of attendance among locals.
If you’re a tourist, the saving grace here will likely be weekdays before around 4 pm. However, the evenings will be pure chaos, and with parking excluded from most Magic Keys, we expect more locals will take days off work for Disneyland visits to get the most bang for their buck. Hopefully we’re wrong, and May 2022 is a pleasantly normal month…but don’t count on 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.
9. June 2022 – It’s a very similar story to July, with the added wrinkle that lower tier Magic Key passholders are not blocked out earlier in the month, causing them to descend upon the park. All of the aforementioned nighttime spectaculars will also still be fresh (and Fantasmic will have returned by then, too).
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. Click here to view our June Disneyland Crowd Calendar.
8. August 2022 – 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 Magic Key passholder blockouts. Strongly consider this week if you’re thinking of doing a late Summer 2022 vacation at Disneyland. Click here to view our August Disneyland Crowd Calendar.
7. October 2022 – After years of chaos in October, the situation has 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 2022 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.
6. December 2022 – 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 2022 at Disneylandfor 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 Magic Key passholders prioritize visiting in December, as do locals who are not 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 blockouts take effect–but before Christmas vacation crowds arrive–and any day that it rains. Click here to view our December Disneyland Crowd Calendar.
5. March 2023 – This month actually “springs forward” considerably, as Los Angeles and Orange Counties won’t have their Spring Breaks in April, making March much more attractive. Other Spring Breaks for out of state schools will be scattered throughout the month, but they shouldn’t be too bad.
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 usually runs through April. 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.
4. January 2023 – The first two months of the year rank highly and are once again the winter doldrums, filled with refurbishments and low crowds. While that wasn’t the case pre-closure (or at Walt Disney World this year), things did largely return to normal this year at Disneyland in January. We expect the same in January 2023.
There’s best window of low crowds in January is after Los Angeles and Orange County schools are back in session following their winter breaks. This week has low crowds and might feel like the true off-season at Disneyland. The second half of the month after the holiday long weekend should also be relatively quiet in January 2023.
3. February 2023 – This month has pretty much the same upsides and downsides as January 2023. We give February 2023 a slight edge, because it’s further removed from the start of the SoCal resident ticket deal. However, there is the week of Presidents’ Day, which will significantly spike crowds (avoid that entire week). Even outside of that, you start to see a slight uptick in crowds later in February.
It’s also worth noting that DCA’s Food & Wine Festival usually debuts at the end of February or beginning of March, which is a fun event but also a big draw for locals–especially on weekends. That’s the downside. The upside is fewer refurbishments and warmer weather. Click here to view our February Disneyland Crowd Calendar.
2. September 2022 – Disneyland in September shares the same low crowd levels as Walt Disney World, but what it doesn’t share is humidity and hot weather. Halloween Time is expected to start on September 2, 2022, which will see a modest bump in otherwise off-season crowds. Another spike will occur September 9-11, 2022, which is the highly-anticipated (and delayed) D23 Expo.
Aside from those two significant exceptions, the seasonal crowds shouldn’t show up in full force until October. September is reliably off-season, as school has just gone back into session and California’s summer tourist season has come to an end. Weekends can still see higher crowds, but weekdays tend to be great. We expect the same for September 2022.
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 2022 – Christmas is the absolute best time of the year at Disneyland from a qualitative perspective. 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.
With that said, it’s important to note that from a quantitative perspective, November 2022 is not #1. To the contrary, the month probably wouldn’t crack the top 5. However, the increase is not that pronounced until Thanksgiving week, and early November (minus Veterans Day weekend) can be relatively relaxed.
Unlike the Florida parks, the holiday season all starts in Disneyland and Disney California Adventure on the same day, so there’s no disadvantage in going early. This entertainment is exceptional, and makes the higher crowd levels totally worth it. The festive atmosphere, attraction overlays, decorations, and seasonal foods–plus typically good weather make mid-November an unbeatable time to visit, even with only so-so crowds. 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 (November 13-18, 2022)
First or third week of September (August 28-September 3 or September 12-16, 2022)
Late May (May 15-20, 2022)
Our first (and favorite) week to visit is the week before Thanksgiving week. 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 2022 is trickier because we’re trying to work around the 2022 D23 Expo, which will draw a lot of diehard Disney fans to Anaheim. We’d probably opt for the earlier window here, so long as Halloween Time at Disneyland has fully kicked off by then.
Otherwise, go for the later dates, which are after the D23 Expo and school is back in session and also falls within the Halloween Time at Disneyland. This is a good option because these dates are 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, we’d roll the dice on late May 2022. After the madness of Spring Break and Easter, but before Summer tourist season. It’s also 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.
However, this is really tricky. As noted above, the return of nighttime spectaculars will still be relatively fresh, having debuted less than one month ago at this point. Additionally, it is one week before the SoCal resident ticket deal ends. Nevertheless, we’re hoping that Fantasmic debuting the following weekend sidelines many locals, who wait for that before making their next visit.
All in all, this should be a useful guide to strategically plan your visit (or visits) to Disneyland Resort in 2022 or even 2023. Even if you only follow this guide loosely, we think you’re bound to choose a good time to head to Disneyland!
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!