December 2024 Disneyland Crowd Calendar

Our guide to December 2024 at Disneyland offers a free crowd calendar for picking best days to visit & avoiding the busiest ones during Christmas at Disney California Adventure and Disneyland. Plus, what’s new, ride closures, what you should expect from a winter visit to Southern California, and more.

As with November, December features highs and lows, with some of the absolute worst crowds of the year, along with weekdays earlier in the month that are not nearly as bad. This is a result of mostly-light tourist numbers earlier in the month, coupled with Christmas vacation and school breaks in Los Angeles and Orange Counties (and around the country) later in the month.

Then there’s the the big reason so many people descend upon Disneyland in December: Christmas. It’s the most wonderful time of the year at the Happiest Place on Earth! Truly–not just in the cliched sense. Disneyland Resort is normally a magical place, but during the holiday season, it just oozes magic.

For more on what makes this season our favorite time of the year in the parks, read our Ultimate Guide to Christmas at Disneyland. We aren’t the only ones who think this is the most wonderful time of the year at Disneyland, and the crowds bear that out.

Fortunately, this has improved a bit in recent years, and that trend should continue this year. As with this Halloween season, Disneyland Resort has gradually increased the Christmas offerings at Disney California Adventure to better distribute crowds between the two parks.

To accomplish this, Festival of the Holidays–which includes both a foodie event and more entertainment–has been added to the slate of seasonal offerings at DCA. You can read our Guide to Festival of the Holidays at Disney California Adventure for tips on the best way to experience that.

December Weather at Disneyland

Weather is a bit of a mixed bag. First, it’s Southern California’s rainy season. This is almost meaningless, as average rainfall during the month is only around 2″, but that’s still much more than the norm. The average high in Anaheim during December is around 70º and the average low is around 47º.

Personally, we like these cooler daytime temperatures, as this type of weather is perfect for racing around a theme park, especially if you’re carrying a backpack or have kids in tow. However, once the sun goes down, it can be a bit too cold, especially if you stay past 9 p.m. or watch World of Color.

Due to the potential for rain and frigid temperatures in the evening (or even during the day if it gets unseasonably cold), we recommend consulting our What to Pack for Disney in Winter post. Some of that might seem like overkill for Southern California, but it’s better to be over-prepared than under-prepared. Trust me, I’ve made that mistake before.

December 2024 Disneyland Crowd Calendar

Before consulting this or any December 2024 crowd calendars for Disneyland, it’s worth understanding the limitations of projecting attendance, wait times, crowds or congestion. Our main post: 2024 Disneyland Crowd Calendars: Best Times to Visit & When to Avoid goes into extensive detail about why Disneyland crowd calendars are currently unreliable, which is why there’s no color-coded calendar or numerical scores for each day of the month.

Suffice to say, this is due to changes in attendance trends, reservation availability for Magic Key passholders, staffing shortages, ticket promotions, and other factors. General trends are a bit easier, but it’s difficult to say a particular day will have low, moderate, or heavy crowds–or how one day of the week will compare to days around it.

What happens going forward with Magic Keymaster demand is an unknown. Pent-up demand among locals could fizzle out, but that could be offset by more reservation availability. If you’re planning a last minute visit, consult Disneyland’s Magic Key Access Calendar. This shows blockout dates and reservation availability all in one handy location—both offer insight into crowd forecasting. Similarly, there’s the Disneyland Theme Park Reservation Calendar for single and multiple-day tickets. (Those are only useful on short notice—dates fill up a couple weeks in advance, at most.)

With that said, here are the best and worst times to visit Disneyland in December 2024…

We’ll start predictions here with high-level advice and narrow it from there. As a general matter, earlier in December 2024 is better than later in the month, which is probably patently obvious given the school breaks for Christmas and New Year’s the last two weeks. However, we still encounter people who are surprised the holiday season is busy because they expect everyone to be at home with their families.

Second, weekdays are mostly better than weekends. Wednesdays and Thursdays followed by Tuesdays will probably be the best overall full days of the week to visit in December 2024. Other times we really like are Friday mornings and Sunday evenings (before the locals arrive and after they leave). Monday has been the busiest day of the week for a while, and we don’t expect that to change.

Saturdays and Sundays will busy despite the lower tier Magic Key passholders being blocked out. Trends changed last year and that was not the case, which is reflected in Best & Worst Days of the Week to Visit Disneyland & DCA. A lot could happen between now and December 2024, but we’re once again expecting Saturdays and Sundays to be busier.

In past years, evenings were busier as many local Annual Passholders would visit Disneyland and Disney California Adventure after work to get their Christmas fix, and for the holiday season entertainment. Consequently, even “light” days on the crowd calendar would be much busier at night.

That’s still true to some extent, but less so given that only the highest tier of Magic Key passes includes free parking. Now, more locals start earlier in the day, often taking a half-day off work to get more bang for buck from their visit. The most popular day for doing this, without question, is Friday. Even other days of the week, it’s common to see crowd levels spike in the mid-afternoon.

This is why we’re big fans of Friday morning. You beat the late-arriving locals and get to enjoy low crowds and short waits for rides. Of course, if you stay the whole day, you also have to deal with the heavy crowds at night, so there’s that.

Digging into specific dates, the first week of December 2024 is our #1 week of the entire year to visit Disneyland. On the crowd calendar, this will be the week for the lowest crowds of the month, and is unquestionably the best week of December to visit. The dates we recommend are November 30 (arrival) to December 8, 2024. The beginning is immediately after Thanksgiving, but crowds fall fast after the holiday as people there for that week head home.

The underrated reason why this week is so good is because of Magic Key Annual Pass blockout dates. The three lowest tiers of APs all have very aggressive blockouts for the weekend after Thanksgiving. The lowest tier is also blocked out for the entirety of December 2024. Between a lot of locals being unable to visit and tourists heading home, this first week is blissfully uncrowded.

Last year, both of the two weeks after Thanksgiving had an average wait time of 25 minutes, which is very low. Due to Thanksgiving falling later than normal and Christmas season starting later, we wouldn’t expect both of those weeks to be so slow. Accordingly, the best week to visit is the one ending December 8, 2024.

With that said, if that week won’t work, December 9-15, 2024 should still be below average. Those dates would be moderately crowded in a normal year, but there’s always a bit of variance–they can be slightly above or slightly below average. Either way, you’re not looking at high crowd levels.

The following week is where things get tricky. The two lowest tiers of Magic Keys are blocked out for the entirety of that week, but the Believe Key is open December 15-16, 2024. As such, we’d expect the parks to be busy as those locals sneak in their final visits before Christmas. The top-tier Inspire Key is blocked out starting December 20, 2024–after that, all Magic Keys are blocked out until (at least) January 4, 2025.

In the past few years, there has been a bit of a lull after Magic Keys are blocked out but before tourist crowds arrive. However, that had been happening mid-week with Christmas falling over the weekend. In 2024, the blockouts hit on the weekend with Christmas arriving on Wednesday, December 25, 2024.

With Christmas Day and New Year’s Day both falling on Wednesdays in 2024, it’s a bit more difficult to predict how bad that week will be, as this is something we haven’t seen since 2019. All years since, Christmas has fallen over a weekend or long weekend (Friday or Monday). As a result of that dynamic, crowds were mostly consolidated into the week between Christmas and New Year’s Eve.

In 2024, we’re expecting crowds to be more spread out between the two weeks. That’ll mean the peak week (always Christmas to New Year’s Eve) isn’t quite as bad and the week leading up to Christmas is much worse. That’s how it was way back in 2019…and every year before that.

With that said, every single day from December 22, 2024 should see peak attendance and high numbers on the crowd calendar–you’re looking at a solid string of 10/10 dates. The last 10 days of December 2024 will likely be the busiest stretch of the year at Disneyland. This is one of the worst times of the year to visit unless you know what you’re doing.

The weeks around Christmas and New Year’s Eve are busy with tourists. The days before those blockouts will be bonkers with locals trying to get their last visits prior to Christmas. Accordingly, expect December 15-19, 2024 to be particularly busy, too. Various lower tier passes have blockouts within that time frame (particularly Saturday), but it’ll still likely be a 9/10 crowd level.

The biggest wildcard is the days of December 20-21, 2024. That’s right after the blockout starts, but before tourists arrive in full force. To be sure, those days won’t be uncrowded; they will be some degree of ‘very busy’ regardless. Los Angeles and Orange County school districts are on break, and those weeks are tremendously popular with tourists.

It’s simply a question of whether they’ll be 10/10 days or maybe there will be a bit of drop-off and they’re “only” 8/10 or 9/10 days. Or 10/10 days, but with slightly lower wait times. That’s a big difference this time of year.

During the height of Christmas season, we recommend Park Hopper tickets. Tourists with these should strongly consider mornings at Disneyland before Park Hopping to DCA. Locals from Los Angeles and Orange County who arrive after work tend to make Disneyland more crowded in the evenings.

For most of the month, 1-day tickets have Peak Season pricing. 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.

If there is rain in the forecast, we highly recommend visiting Disneyland on that day. Locals tend to avoid rainy days at Disneyland and DCA, making the parks considerably less busy than normal. This leads to a surge in attendance the day following the rain (avoid those days, or visit DCA the day after a rainy day). This might sound a bit odd or extreme, but (Southern) Californians are not used to rain, and tend to stay inside when it’s raining. We are not even kidding or exaggerating.

Early December is Southern California’s off-season in terms of tourism. Even though Disneyland and Disney California Adventure can be busy in early December, it’s primarily with Californians. As such, off-season occupancy rates will be reflected in hotel prices the first couple weeks of December. With almost zero transition, the week before Christmas through New Year’s is peak season, with exorbitant rates reflecting that.

You can find deals on off-site hotels, the first couple of weeks, but don’t expect the same for closer to the holidays. We rank our favorite (and least favorite) hotels in the area in our Disneyland Area Hotel Rankings & Reviews post. Check out discounted hotel + ticket vacation packages on Get Away Today to save money on off-site hotels.

Overall, December tends to be busier, colder, and wetter than November, which is why it falls a bit on our Best and Worst Months to Visit Disneyland. With that said, it’s still a wonderful month to visit. Even if you’re traveling during a time with yellow or red crowds, there are ways to beat the hordes of other tourists–namely by rope dropping the parks, having an efficient itinerary, and efficiently using Genie+ and Lightning Lanes (it’s worth the money). Beyond that, Disneyland Resort’s Christmas season is incredible, with holiday entertainment that makes the hassle of any crowds worthwhile.

Planning a Southern California vacation? For park admission deals, read Tips for Saving Money on Disneyland Tickets. Learn about on-site and off-site hotels in our Anaheim Hotel Reviews & Rankings. For where to eat, check out our Disneyland Restaurant Reviews. For unique ideas of things that’ll improve your trip, check out What to Pack for Disney. For comprehensive advice, consult our Disneyland Vacation Planning Guide. Finally, for guides beyond Disney, check out our Southern California Itineraries for day trips to Los Angeles, Laguna Beach, and tons of other places!


If you’ve visited Disneyland during December, what did you think of the experience? Have you braved the crowds during Christmas or New Year’s weeks? Did the holiday entertainment make the insane crowds ‘worth it’ for you? What are your thoughts on Holiday Time at Disneyland? Do you agree or disagree with our December 2024 crowd calendar for Disneyland and DCA? If you’ve visited Southern California in December, do you have any tips to add? Share any questions, tips, or additional thoughts you have in the comments!

22 Responses to “December 2024 Disneyland Crowd Calendar”
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