Our free Disneyland crowd calendars help you choose the best and worst times to visit in 2019. Higher crowds mean longer waits, and this post provides our tips for saving time at Disney California Adventure and Disneyland, our free monthly crowd calendars, and how to have a more pleasant experience in the parks by visiting at the ideal times in terms of crowds, weather, prices, and wait times. (Last updated January 6, 2019.)
In June 2019, Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge will have its grand opening, and its impact will be far-reaching. This blockbuster new land is located in the back corner of Disneyland, which will obviously see a sharp spike in crowds. Star Wars land will have a ripple effect on crowds that will extend beyond the gates of Disneyland, however.
Annual Passholder blockouts for the entire summer at Disneyland plus the potential for more phased closures at Disneyland will push guests to Disney California Adventure. Before even getting into the parks, guests can expect more demand for hotel rooms in Anaheim, congestion on streets leading into the parking structures, and longer lines at security. Suffice to say, if you’re trying to avoid crowds, start by visiting Disneyland before Summer 2019, or waiting until 2020…
We anticipate this trend will continue through late May 2019 (the last few days of that ticket special will see a spike in attendance as locals scramble to use their remaining days of the discounted tickets they bought), with early through mid-June 2019 being lighter than normal–but still summer season. Basically, right now is the calm before the storm of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge.
Now, let’s discuss more specifics on when to visit Disneyland and offer some crowd calendar advice. For more on this, and some of the less-intuitive times that might be busy , consult our resources and tips below…
Disneyland crowds and wait times are largely dependent upon tourist vacationing habits (which are largely dependent upon school breaks) and Annual Passholder habits (which are largely dependent upon blockout dates and weekends).
Unlike at Walt Disney World, Disneyland has the luxury of blocking out large groups of Annual Passholders during times that it anticipates tourists descending upon Disneyland. As a result of this, during busy tourist seasons, like the summer, many Annual Passholders are blocked out from visiting the parks.
This, in effect, is Disneyland’s way of “neutralizing” some of the heavy tourist seasons. This means there is often little difference between the Busiest and Moderately Busy times. In fact, specific dates within the “Busiest” and “Least Busy” ranges actually fall within the moderately busy range, but creating a calendar of specific crowd conditions is beyond my expertise. In general, there are some things you can glean about crowds by studying the AP blockout schedules provided at Disneyland.com.
As Disney California Adventure has substantially changed Disneyland Resort crowds recently, please note that these crowd patterns have been updated for 2019. So if you previously consulted them, look again, as some things have changed.
Mid-March through mid-April (Spring Break season)
Late June (grand opening of Star Wars Land) through mid-August
Early through mid-June (before Southern California Annual Passes are blocked out)
Late August through Labor Day
Labor Day until the start of Disneyland’s “official” Halloween season
Early November through the the official start of Christmas season (mid-November).
Most of January and February, except holidays
Early through mid-May
As for Summer 2019, expect crowds to spike to astronomical levels once Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge opens. That debut will roughly coincide with the start of peak summer tourist season, which should “tail off” in mid-August. This will be pretty much offset by a spike in Annual Passholders beginning at the end of the month who were blocked out for the summer. Unfortunately, it’s truly impossible to know what demand for Star Wars land will look like in the medium and long term.
We are still expecting Disneyland to be very busy through the remainder of 2019, just not as oppressively busy as in Summer 2019. If you’re planning for October through December 2019–the Halloween and Christmas seasons–you should likewise plan for insane crowds levels. The first real lull in crowds after Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge opens likely won’t be until January 2020.
As we’ve gained experience visiting Disneyland and Disney California Adventure throughout the year as locals with Annual Passes, we’ve begun to notice trends in crowds. With this knowledge, we felt it would make sense to put together rudimentary crowd calendars for Disneyland that offer a day-by-day look at crowds.
While you can consult our crowd calendars from last year for an approximation of general crowd trends, please keep in mind that their reliability for specific days of the week is fairly low right now–and that’s true of other Disneyland crowd calendars you might find online, whether those sites want to admit it or not.
You can access our Disneyland crowd calendars via the links below, each of which will open in a new browser tab:
Disneyland crowd patterns change regularly due to a variety of factors, including marketing and discount offers. We will update our crowd calendars regularly to reflect changes in crowd trends.
Note: we are not creating new crowd calendars for 2019. Due to the significant changes that Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge will bring in crowd patterns, it is simply impossible to predict how that will impact attendance and congestion. We would caution against relying on any specific prognostications when planning a 2019 or even 2020 Disneyland trip, as this new land is something totally unprecedented.
All we can really say is that after late June 2019, Disneyland is going to be very busy every single day. Some days might be less “very busy” than others, but that’s impossible to predict with any degree of certainty.
AP Blockout Schedules
In general, if the Deluxe Annual Pass (the highest tier of AP that has block outs) is blocked out, Disneyland is expecting it to otherwise be busy. Since Deluxe Annual Passholders don’t number that high, their absence isn’t significant-enough to offset the “other” gains in crowds. Thus, expect these specific dates to be the absolute most busy. Consult Disneyland’s blockout calendar for an up-to-date list of the dates of these blockouts.
Conversely, when the Southern California Annual Passes are not blocked out on weekends, expect these Annual Passholders to inundate the parks. When these Annual Passes aren’t blocked out on weekends, it’s because Disneyland doesn’t expect heavy tourist crowds.
However, there are so many SoCal Annual Passholders that they more than offset the lack of tourists. Since these Passholders are blocked out most of the summer, Disneyland in the summer isn’t as crowded as Walt Disney World in the summer–but it’s still busy. (Although it’s still rather busy!) Disneyland is primarily a locals’ park (although that is shifting, especially since Cars Land opened).
Similarly, when any Passholder group is going to be, or has been, blocked out for several consecutive days, expect the day before and the day after the blockout to be busy as Passholders attempt to have “one last hurrah” or “return quickly for another dose of the magic.”
Crowds should not be the only consideration on when you take a Disneyland vacation. School schedules, weather, special events, and park hours may all affect when you want to visit. Obviously, these variables will also influence crowds.
If school schedules are something around which you must plan, chances are you’re going to go during one of the busier (or at least not one of the least busy) times of the year, as that’s the paramount consideration for many other families planning trips, too. It may seem like a convenient time to visit during one of the ‘holidays’ your kids have off from school, but it’s important to consider whether other schools have these same times off, as well.
Of the traditional school holidays, summer break is probably the best time to visit, as it is the longest school break so you don’t have the concentration of guests all visiting during the same week of other holidays. Since summer break is largely blocked out to SoCal passholders, you can expect to see more tourists in the parks at this time of year.
Most schools have the week before Christmas until the shortly after New Year’s off, making this week-plus an especially busy time. The same is true for President’s Day weekend, Easter week, Memorial Day weekend, the Fourth of July holiday, and Thanksgiving week. Although schools do vary their Spring Break schedules, don’t expect the parks to be any less busy because of somewhat-staggered Spring Breaks. March and April are also busy times at Disneyland.
This isn’t to say you shouldn’t visit during these times, as some people don’t have many other options, but if you do go, at least bring your patience with you, or at least a good plan for touring the parks!
Unlike Florida, Southern California has a pretty temperate climate. The typical hot seasons are hot, but humidity isn’t nearly as bad as it is in Florida. It can get colder at night, and in the winter months, but the weather isn’t nearly as much of a roller coaster ride like it is in Florida. Blue skies and puffy clouds are more rare in California, but overall the weather is much more favorable for vacationing than it is in Walt Disney World.
Rain isn’t as common in Disneyland as it is in Walt Disney World. It does rain in the fall months at Disneyland, but torrential downpours in SoCal aren’t too common. In fact, if you’re a Southern Californian trying to plan the best time to schedule a 1-day visit to the park, the absolute best time to go is while it’s raining.
The parks generally clear out (there are usually long lines at City Hall of people requesting refunds), and significantly shorter waits are common. So, if you have a poncho or umbrella and want lower than normal crowds, a rainy day is the perfect time to go. (By contrast, the day after it rains will be considerably worse than normal, as locals will postpone their visits.)
Make sure to pack some jeans, sweatshirts, and maybe even coats if traveling during the months of October through March. It won’t necessarily be cold during your trip, but the weather can drop below 50 degrees during these months. Consider your tolerance to cold, and weather you’re willing to purchase countless $60 Mickey Mouse sweatshirts during your trip when, inevitably, members of your family get cold!
Not considering park hours when planning your trip is a huge mistake. Usually less busy times of year have shorter park hours and busier times of year have longer park hours. Thus, many feel they can basically get the same amount done in a shorter day during a less busy time of year than they could during a busier time of year. Due to FastPass and good plans for touring the parks, this isn’t true. By strategizing well, you can accomplish more during a busy day with longer hours than during a shorter day with light crowds.
Also important to note is that on days with longer hours, Disneyland will have more entertainment scheduled. Even during short days and slow times of the year, Fantasmic and World of Color play to packed houses. However, on days that offer multiple showings of these entertainment offerings, the later showings are almost always less crowded. If you want to avoid waiting multiple hours for a good view of Fantasmic, go on a longer day with multiple showings!
Similarly, your sleep habits make a difference here. If you’re a night owl, days with shorter hours may be a bad idea, as by the time you roll out of bed, you may find that you only have a few hours to enjoy the parks. Conversely, if you rise early and generally want to leave the parks by 7 pm or so, the shorter/less busy days are great times for you to visit. Make sure you check Disneyland’s park hours calendar when planning your trip. While this calendar is subject to change, it doesn’t change nearly as much as Walt Disney World’s calendar, which is almost never accurate when first posted.
Disneyland doesn’t have nearly as many special events as Walt Disney World, but there are some events worth planning for or around. Basically, these events are the D23 Expo (every other year, towards the end of summer), Gay Days (fall), HalloweenTime at Disneyland (late summer and fall), CHOC walk (fall), Holidays at Disneyland (fall and winter), and Grad Nites (spring).
During Disneyland’s slower seasons, expect a lot of attractions to be down. Not only is maintenance and upkeep better at Disneyland than Walt Disney World, but Disneyland also has a few seasonal attraction overlays, which lead to popular attractions like it’s a small world, Haunted Mansion, and Space Mountain being closed for a few weeks each in the fall (and late-winter in the case of it’s a small world and Haunted Mansion).
Traditionally, January and February have been the biggest months for attraction downtime, as those are the low-season for crowds. However, it’s always smart to consult refurbishment calendars to make sure your favorite attractions are operational no matter when you visit.
If you must visit Disneyland when it’s busy (as is the case for many with kids in school), it’s important to have a good plan of attack when you visit the parks. Determine which attractions are best and the ones to experience, figure out where you want to eat in advance and dine at hours when the parks are busiest, and most importantly, arrive at the park before it opens and get as much done as you can in the first few hours of operation when lines are much shorter than they will be later in the day.
Do you have any favorite times to visit Disneyland? Which special events do you think are best? If you have any questions or other tips about the best and worst days to visit Disneyland, please share them in the comments!