Our free 2022 Disneyland crowd calendars cover the best times to visit, and when to avoid. Higher attendance means longer waits, and this will help you save time at Disney California Adventure and Disneyland. These monthly guides offer info & tips about special events weather, prices, reservations, and more. (Updated March 18, 2022.)
We’ll preface this an important disclaimer: Disneyland crowds have been a veritable roller coaster since reopening, and it doesn’t appear that’s going to change in the foreseeable future. Spring 2022 is already shaping up to be busy and it’s impossible to predict the degree to which Summer 2022 will follow suit. This is due in large part to Magic Key and theme park ticket reservations–and unsatisfied demand for both.
Going forward, there are some unknowns and unique variables that will influence attendance at Disneyland and Disney California Adventure. We’ll be blunt with you–we cannot perfectly predict crowds for 2022 and no one can. Any other Disneyland crowd calendar that claims clairvoyance is lying. There are a few reasons why…
The number of Magic Key Passholders has dramatically increased, to the point that the two highest tiers of Magic Keys are sold out (for now). This occurred because Disneyland theme park reservations have been difficult to book, with many expressing buyer’s remorse over Magic Keys because they can’t access the parks. Although things have gotten better in 2022, it’s likely Disneyland won’t resume Magic Key sales until regular ticket reservations also are not filling up regularly.
Speaking of which, reservation availability–or rather, lack thereof–has another huge impact. This is incredibly relevant to the 2022 Disneyland crowd calendar because if reservations keep running out, there won’t be much variance in crowds at all. If every day is fully booked, they’re all equally busy. (More or less–there are some differences in crowd dynamics between tourists and locals, but not significantly.)
Right now, the biggest limiting factor on attendance is not organic demand, but rather, reservation availability. During peak season dates like Easter, organic demand might be double or triple the number of reservations. On a random Wednesday in May 2022, organic demand might only be 2% above reservations. In a normal year, without capacity capped, the former peak season dates would be far busier. In a capacity-constrained environment, both are equally busy. Sold out is sold out–crowd levels are the same for both dates.
Some of these 2022 Disneyland crowd calendar predictions assume a couple of things. First, that Disney will be able to hire more Cast Members and bring back more nighttime spectaculars and other entertainment (much of which returns on April 22, 2022). That will in turn help increase overall capacity, which means higher attendance levels and more available reservations.
Second, that pent-up demand will start to fizzle-out at some point in later 2022. This will occur as local Magic Key passholders “get their fix” and slow down on booking new reservations. It’ll also occur as tourists do the same, spending less money on travel than last year as they’ve already made up for lost time and start refocusing their budgets elsewhere.
Our expectation is that both of these things will occur, meaning Disneyland will start seeing a much larger variance in crowd levels. If either or both of those things don’t occur, all bets are off. Even if they do occur, it really depends upon the degree to which it happens.
If reservations are still filling up to ~90% most days (and we have no way of knowing whether that occurs), there potentially won’t be an appreciable difference in crowd levels throughout the month. Our expectation is that demand will decrease and capacity will increase, thus providing some relief to crowds, but that’s not a sure thing.
Suffice to say, Magic Key and theme park ticket reservation availability is the single biggest variable for crowds at Disneyland in 2022. Any crowd calendar that doesn’t mention Magic Keys or reservation availability is almost certainly inaccurate. Even Disneyland crowd calendars that do factor in the new dynamics due to Magic Keys and park reservations should be taken with a grain of salt (including this one!) because so much is still changing right now.
Beyond that, there are the variables impacting every tourist destination right now. Americans have oscillated between travel trepidations and “revenge” travel, booking or cancelling trips at the last minute. Pent-up demand peaked last summer after mask mandates were lifted and cases bottomed out. Then in the fall, many people have scaled back their plans due to the Delta spike.
Omicron fears didn’t put much of a dent in numbers, so perhaps we’re already seeing stabilization as Americans have largely moved on. Now, indoor mask rules have once again been lifted in time for Spring Break 2022, which is shaping up to be another booming period for Disneyland attendance and crowds. Our expectation is that travel patterns and consumer behavior begin to normalize throughout 2022, but we don’t have a crystal ball.
Suffice to say, these 2022 Disneyland crowd calendars are far less reliable than in normal years. Our recommendation would be to look at the general ‘crowd contours’ for busy months or seasons (or even refer instead to our Best & Worst Months to Visit Disneyland instead of this post) and not day-by-day crowd predictions.
Accordingly, what we’re going to do here is give you the tools to choose the best days to visit Disneyland–and the worst days to avoid. Rather than making bold and definitive proclamations, we’ll cover the underlying variables that impact crowds so you can assess for yourself which dates are likely to be good or bad. If that’s more work than you want to do, we also have plenty of recommendations–with the asterisk that Disneyland crowds are subject to change!
Now, let’s discuss more specifics on when to visit California and offer some 2022 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…
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 while 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.
It’s also worth noting that Disneyland typically does not release park hours more than a few months in advance, which means the reliability of crowd calendars is lower further out from any given month. Same goes for theme park reservations, both for Magic Keyholders and regular guests.
Moreover, the relatively new tiered ticket system gives Disneyland a greater ability to manipulate crowds by simply increasing (or decreasing) the prices of tickets on certain dates that would otherwise be more (or less) popular. This causes some people to visit on less expensive/less popular dates, normalizing crowds to some degree. Nevertheless, there still are better and worse days/weeks/months to visit Disneyland, all of which are covered in our monthly guides.
You can access our Disneyland crowd calendars and monthly guides via the links below, each of which will open in a new browser tab:
A few years ago, we rolled out crowd calendars for Disneyland that offered a day-by-day look at crowds with red, yellow, and green dates for heavy, moderate, and low attendance, respectively. Many readers loved these, and they certainly make it easier to see when Disneyland crowds will be good or bad at a glance.
Unfortunately, that type of crowd calendar is no longer accurate due to the aforementioned variables. Magic Key bookings alone throw a monkey wrench into that, and make it impossible for static color-coded crowd calendars to be truly reliable in the near-term. (We hope to bring these crowd calendars back later in 2022, but won’t do so until clear attendance trends have emerged and reservations are not regularly filling up.)
While we think it’s still possible to ascertain trends in crowds, especially relative to other dates, we’re not comfortable with the level of specificity offered by a numerical score or color-coded stoplight system. This is especially true for planners relying on crowd calendars to choose dates for their dream vacations. This is probably not what you want to hear since everyone loves the clear and easy answer, but we think it’s better to be transparent and honest with you.
With that said, we can offer easy-to-access general attendance trends for Disneyland that can make ‘at a glance’ trip planning and choosing your dates to visit easier…
General Attendance Trends
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. Disneyland and Disney California Adventure crowds are always worse on weekends. The single-biggest and most important piece of advice is avoid weekends if at all possible. If you learn literally nothing else away from our crowd calendars, have it be that. Visit Los Angeles, museums, beaches, or whatever on weekends–traffic will be better, but crowds at those spots will also be worse. (Not as bad as Disneyland, though!)
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:
Overall, we are expecting Disneyland “feels like” crowds to be heavier throughout 2022. If you’re planning to visit in Spring 2022, you should prepare for higher crowd levels. That’ll be especially true for weekends, holidays, and school breaks for local districts and nearby states.
The good news is that a drop-off should occur…at some point in the second quarter as Disneyland is able to scale up capacity, exceeding demand. That in turn should cause even more of a slowdown, as locals won’t feel the same pressure or urgency to make Magic Key reservations if they’re freely available (in other words, current crowds are something of a self-fulfilling prophecy).
Our expectation is that this will occur around May 2022. Weekends will likely remain elevated, but we do not anticipate weekday, non-holiday crowds to be busy until Summer 2022, when schools are out of session and people start taking summer vacations. Speaking of which, school schedules, weather, special events, park hours, and Magic Key bookings may all affect when you want to visit Disneyland. Obviously, these variables will also influence crowds.
The biggest variable for Disneyland attendance trends going forward is reservation availability, both for Magic Key passholders and regular ticket buyers. Above is a look at reservation calendars for the next couple months, absolutely nothing for the remainder of this month and April 2022 is already starting to fill.
The following months are much better, but that should be expected–dates usually don’t start booking up until a few weeks in advance. Accordingly, availability will be wide open for July or December 2022 right now even if those months end up being packed, simply because most people are not making theme park plans that far in advance.
In the near-term, it’s pretty easy just from a glance at the reservation calendar whether certain dates will be busy or not. If there’s no availability, that should answer your question without further analysis being necessary. Suffice to say, the rest of March through mid-April 2022 will be very busy at Disneyland Resort.
Then there are Magic Key reservations. Under Disneyland’s previous Annual Pass system, there were only open-access dates and blockout dates–meaning Disneyland’s million-plus APs either could or couldn’t visit.
Now, there are blockout dates and reservation dates, meaning Magic Key passholders either cannot or maybe can visit, depending upon demand. In addition to that, most levels of Magic Keys do not include free parking, which dramatically cuts back on the after work “pop-in” visits for a few hours that often made evening crowds chaotic even when daytime attendance was light.
We’ve been closely following wait time data since Magic Key Passes went on sale—and have visited Disneyland and Disney California Adventure multiple times thus far in Spring 2022. Prior to the start of spring break season, weekends were the only times consistently booking up in advance, whereas weekdays were not.
Consequently, weekends have been significantly busier than weekdays, with wait times and “feels like” congestion levels twice as high on Saturday and Sunday as during the middle of the week. It’s unclear whether this trend will continue into Summer 2022, as the crowd dynamics are different during peak travel seasons.
These two tools essentially shows real-time demand and bookings, which is something no Disneyland crowd calendar can offer. However, keep in mind that these dynamic calendars have their own limits. First, these calendars only tell you which dates are going to be very busy (fully booked) and which will not be very busy (not fully booked). There’s no nuance beyond that.
Second, most dates don’t book up more than a couple weeks in advance–if you’re looking at Thanksgiving or Christmas week right now, seeing it wide open, and thinking it’ll be uncrowded as a result, you’re in for a rude awakening. In other words, these are useful at the last minute but for choosing travel dates weeks or months in advance, they’re totally worthless. (With that said, we are currently tracking Magic Key and theme park reservation bookings so our 2022 Disneyland crowd calendars can use past reservations for predictive purposes and be more accurate!)
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. 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 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.
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!