Our free Disneyland crowd calendars cover best & worst dates to visit in 2023. This resource will help you choose when to go and days to avoid, since higher attendance means longer lines & wait times at Disney California Adventure and Disneyland. These monthly guides offer info & tips about special events weather, prices, reservations, and more to help you save time…and your sanity!
These 2023 Disneyland and DCA crowd calendars will help you choose when to go to the parks, based on a variety of variables: school schedules, holiday breaks, typical travel times to Southern California, and more. That “and more” part is the biggest key, as there are a lot of little changes have an impact on attendance at Disneyland throughout 2023.
First, it’s impossible to overstate how bad crowds have been at Disneyland and Disney California Adventure the last two years. Not every day has been busy, but attendance and wait times have been high by historical standards. As compared to 2019–the last “normal” year at Disneyland–the average wait time was up by 8 minutes per ride. That may not seem like much, but it adds up over the course of the day. On top of that, congestion has been worse. With that said, there is a silver lining that’s starting to emerge…
After a roller coaster couple of years, Disneyland crowds are starting to normalize. Pent-up demand has started to exhaust itself, and with that, crowd levels are now down as compared to the same dates last year. There have been a few spikes, including for the start of the Disney100 Celebration, but all of those have cooled quickly–average crowd levels and wait times have decreased year over year.
This means that even busier weeks–such as February’s “Ski Week” or Presidents’ Day, Los Angeles and Orange County school district spring breaks and Easter week–have not been as bad as they were last year. To be sure, all of those time frames saw elevated and above-average crowds. That’s to be expected. What’s noteworthy is that only one of those weeks was as busy in 2023 as its counterpart last year. Otherwise and across the board, 2023 crowd levels are down at Disneyland.
This trend has only accelerated after Easter. From mid-April through late May, each week had fairly consistent 3/10 crowds, on average. Wait times rose gradually between the week before Memorial Day and mid-June, before dropping again. Even the summer peak in June was not busy, with 7/10 crowd levels across all of Disneyland Resort and only a few days of 8/10 or 9/10 crowds and zero 10/10 days.
Currently, crowd levels are largely in the 3/10 to 5/10 range. That could change with a last hurrah for summer crowds later this month or in early August. However, even if it does happen, there’s no way it’ll be as bad as last year when the same dates saw 9/10 crowd levels.
That may not seem all that significant, but this is the first time in the last couple of years that we’ve observed a pronounced downturn in wait time averages at Disneyland. Perhaps equally as important, it’s coming after Magic Key AP sales resumed and as park reservation availability improves.
We recap recent numerical crowd levels, average wait times, and congestion in Summer 2023 Crowd Slowdown at Disneyland. This dynamic is likely to continue throughout the early fall off-season at Disneyland, with our expectation now being low to moderate crowds once school goes back into session throughout the first two-thirds of September 2023.
While all of this is great news, one very important thing to keep in mind is that crowd levels are relative. They are based on aggregate posted wait times, and calculated as compared to the prior 365 days. This means that the current comparison is very tough, to a time when pent-up demand was off the charts. This summer’s 3/10 to 5/10 days are still pretty good, but they’re as compared to a very busy 2022. If they were compared to 2018 or 2019, the ‘scores’ would be much different. (Relative to those two years, Disneyland is back in average territory.)
That context about what “slowdown” at Disneyland means is important. The parks are not going to be dead or ghost towns, or even on par with the emptiness seen in recent weeks at Walt Disney World. It’s just going to be less busy–by 20% to 30%–as compared to last year. Even as there’s been a crowd slowdown at Disneyland, party tickets for Oogie Boogie Bash sold out in record time. So it’s not like demand has totally fallen off a cliff.
The other good news is that our 2023 Disneyland crowd calendars are becoming more accurate with each passing month. Some of the reasons for this are mentioned above–attendance normalizing, more slack in the reservations system, plus fewer capacity constraints and staffing shortages. Disneyland is still not totally back to normal and probably won’t be until 2024, but the monkey wrenches thrown into attendance dynamics over the last couple of years have largely worked their way out of the system.
Going forward, the monkeys might start throwing new wrenches that could disrupt crowd dynamics–everything from the economy to gas prices to geopolitical risk to household balance sheets and more. Again, much of this is discussed above. Suffice to say, if oil prices spike again or fears of a recession in 2024 grow, attendance will drop. But even economists can’t agree on what’ll happen, so don’t expect Disneyland crowd forecasters to know. (As such, the further out the Disneyland crowd calendars go, the less accurate they are.)
Guest demographics also make a big difference. Magic Key Annual Passes have gone back on sale a few times in recent months, and California resident ticket deals have returned (twice). These two groups are both locals, but utilize the parks in different ways.
As discussed above, pent-up demand is already fizzling out and “revenge travel” among tourists is declining. As this continues to happen, the balance of attendance in the parks will shift away from tourists and towards locals. With the guest distribution skewed towards locals, a common scenario is that congestion is worse but wait times are lower. Tourists prioritize rides, whereas locals and Magic Keyholders do more eating, wandering, and shopping.
(Although the name suggests otherwise, crowd calendars measure wait times and not congestion; only one of those two things is easily quantifiable. We’re able to compile wait time data, whereas ‘feels like’ crowds are anecdotal guesswork that are impossible to measure credibly.)
Suffice to say, there are unique and evolving variables that influence attendance and crowds at Disneyland and Disney California Adventure. We’ll be blunt with you: we cannot perfectly predict crowds for 2023…and no one can. Any other Disneyland crowd calendar that claims clairvoyance is lying. Many of them don’t even try–they’re simply automated calendars based on school schedules and years-old historical data that is not even remotely relevant anymore.
By contrast, we are on the ground in Disneyland and Disney California Adventure every single week. We pair our observations and knowledge of surrounding circumstances with things like Los Angeles and Orange County school schedules, holidays, airport travel stats, Disney’s reservation calendars, and more. With that, we have a better–but still incomplete–understanding of when Disneyland will be more and less crowded.
While we cannot quantify ‘feels like’ crowd levels, our recommendation for those who want to look at the general ‘crowd contours’ or base their decision on “vibes” and other qualitative factors, instead consult our Best & Worst Months to Visit Disneyland in 2023. That will help you choose the right dates to visit; all of that takes wait time data into account, but isn’t as beholden to it as these crowd calendars.
Now, let’s discuss more specifics on when to visit California and offer some 2023 Disneyland crowd calendar advice. For more on this, and some of the less-intuitive times that might be busy, consult our resources and tips below…
Dates to Avoid Disneyland in Early Fall 2023
With that in mind–and given that I’ve subjected you to a long and rambling preface–I want to “reward” you with a few quick-hit predictions for the near-term. If you simply want a list of dates between now and September 2023 that are likely to have the worst crowds, here’s when we’d avoid visiting Disneyland:
Between now and mid-September 2023, those are the biggest red flags. Actually, they’d be more like ‘light yellow flags’ if we were using the stoplight system for crowd forecasting. Even the dates listed above are nothing as compared to the peak of spring break, or dates in October through December 2023.
Note that Labor Day weekend (also the start of Halloween Time) is not an oversight. It’s not a busy holiday weekend to begin with due to school being back in session throughout the West Coast, but there are also aggressive ticket and Magic Key blockouts September 1-4, 2023. As a result, crowd levels will be average at worst.
Many of the highlighted dates above will still only see crowd levels of around 5/10–they’re only listed because they’re likely to be worse than the days and weeks around them. (It’s all relative!)
Outside of those dates, we’re expecting a quiet end of summer and early fall off-season at Disneyland. If you’re looking for the least crowded dates in the next couple of months, one thing we do know is that all Fridays through Sundays are likely to be less busy than Mondays through Thursdays.
This is a relatively recent dynamic, and is almost entirely the result of blockouts for Magic Key Annual Passes and the Discounted California Resident Tickets. Disneyland’s expectation is that tourists and locals buying regular tickets would offset those blockouts, but that often is not the case–and hasn’t been even during the summer vacation season.
This will become even more pronounced once school starts going back into session, meaning weekends at Disneyland should get progressively slower. This will be true until August 20; starting on that date, Sundays are not blocked out for the Enchant tier of Magic Key APs (minus Labor Day weekend).
Before that, Sundays are a safe bet–will be the best day of the week to visit Disneyland between now and then. After that, we’d recommend choosing Saturdays until the end of September. With that said, all bets are off starting September 28, 2023. That’s the date the current California resident ticket deal ends–after that, weekends will likely go back to being largely busier than weekdays.
Monthly 2023 Crowd Calendars for Disneyland
As we’ve gained experience visiting Disneyland and Disney California Adventure throughout the years as Annual Passholders–and now Magic Keyholders–including multiple trips per week now as locals, we’ve noticed trends in crowds and analyzed patterns in wait time data.
Disneyland crowd calendars change regularly due to a variety of factors, including marketing, discounts, park hours, new attraction openings, special events, Anaheim Convention Center events, and even weather (good or bad). We strive to keep our Disneyland crowd calendars updated to reflect changes in attendance trends.
Note that Disneyland crowd calendars are most accurate inside 3 months. Beyond that, generalized predictions can be made on the basis of holidays, school breaks, special events, and past precedent. However, Disneyland park hours are only released a few months in advance, park reservation availability is unknown further out, and other variables like promotions, discounts, conventions, etc. all are not (fully) known far in advance.
You can access our Disneyland crowd calendars and monthly guides via the links below, each of which will open in a new browser tab:
Each month is updated with final forecasts approximately 30 to 60 days before the start of that month. Predictions prior to then are less accurate, and don’t include current trends, park reservations, and recent wait time data.
Below is additional advice about avoiding crowds at Disneyland, as well as days to visit and avoid. These general attendance trends for Disneyland can make ‘at a glance’ trip planning and choosing your dates to visit easier…
Attendance Trends for Disneyland
Disneyland attendance and wait times are largely dependent upon tourist vacationing habits (which are largely dependent upon school breaks and California travel trends), park hours (historical data exists for that), Anaheim Convention Center events, Los Angeles & Orange County School District calendars, and a few other variables.
With that said, the biggest factor of all is local visitor habits. Historically, Disneyland and Disney California Adventure crowds are usually worse on weekends. However, even that is not always the case for the reasons discussed above–and definitely has not been true for summer. We’ll see if the trend changes in Fall 2023 and beyond!
There are definitely other wildcards that make it more difficult for Disneyland crowd calendars to predict attendance or wait times on specific dates with accuracy far in advance. However, the variables above are knowable fairly far in advance, and make forecasting general seasonal trends much easier. As such, that’s what we’re presenting here:
School schedules, weather, special events, park hours, and more may all affect when you want to visit Disneyland. 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.
Specifically, here are the school districts that have the biggest impact on Disneyland attendance:
Los Angeles Unified (CA)
Orange County – All Districts (CA)
San Diego Unified (CA)
Clark County (NV)
Long Beach Unified (CA)
Riverside Unified (CA)
San Bernardino City Unified (CA)
Fresno Unified (CA)
Elk Grove (CA)
San Francisco Unified (CA)
Phoenix Unified – All Districts (AZ)
Mesa Unified (AZ)
Washoe County (NV)
Tuscon Unified (AZ)
Our crowd calendars take all of these districts into account, as their academic breaks and school schedules can have a significant impact on Disneyland attendance. There’s typically overlap among the top 3 districts in Southern California, which means their breaks are very bad, but confined to a small portion of the overall calendar.
Major districts in Northern California, Nevada, Utah, and Arizona all can have a noticeable impact on crowds, as well. (For example, most districts in Utah share a common fall break, and that long weekend gets really bad.) By contrast, we’ve never observed much of an impact from Oregon, Washington, or any other states. Texas and anything east of it are all pretty much Walt Disney World’s market.
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 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. Mid-March through mid-April are 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 $70 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 days have shorter park hours and busier days 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 peak season. With good plans for touring the parks or strategic use of Genie+ and Lightning Lanes, 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 or early fall), 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 closed for refurbishments and other construction to be occurring. 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. See our 2023 Disneyland Refurbishment Calendar for specific dates that attractions will be closed.
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 of year to visit Disneyland? Which special events do you think are best? Do you agree or disagree with our advice about Disneyland crowd calendars, California weather, special events, school schedules, or anything else here? Any questions we can help you answer? Hearing your feedback–even when you disagree with us–is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!