Our free 2021 Disneyland crowd calendars help you choose the best and worst days & weeks to visit. Higher attendance means longer waits, and this provides tips for saving time at Disney California Adventure and Disneyland. These monthly guides cover info & tips about special events weather, prices, reservations, and more. (Updated June 12, 2021.)
We’ll preface this an important disclaimer: Disneyland crowds are going to be a veritable roller coaster in Summer 2021. As part of the phased reopening, Disneyland and Disney California Adventure are requiring all guests book theme park reservations before visiting.
Right now, every day is booking up in advance, meaning that every day is equally busy. In theory. In reality, Disney is gradually increasing attendance limits and also gradually restoring substantive offerings like rides, restaurants, shops, and more. The end result is inconsistency.
Going forward, there are still a ton of unsettled variables that will influence attendance between now and around Labor Day 2021, and a lot of unknowns. In our Summer 2021 Disneyland Crowd Predictions, we detail all of these so readers can assess the factors yourself and draw your own semi-informed conclusions about crowds at Disneyland.
Essentially, what you need to know is that attendance is limited, which is nice–but not as nice as it sounds. In addition to the caps on guest numbers, attractions, dining, and shopping are also limited. In other words, Disneyland is not firing on all cylinders, but gets closer to normal with each passing week.
Accordingly, these 2021 Disneyland crowd calendars are going to be 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. The latter simply will not be accurate for 2021.
The big addition of 2021 is Avengers Campus, which is now open at Disney California Adventure. This new land is very small, and in the era of physical distancing, that presents more problems than normal. Consequently, the Marvel land’s new attraction is using a boarding pass system similar to Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance. Read our Virtual Queue Guide to WEB Slingers Spider-Man Adventure for tips on how to score a spot on the new ride. There’s also a physical line, which is sometimes multiple hours long just to enter Avengers Campus.
Then there’s infrastructure both inside and outside Disneyland and Disney California Adventure. Fortunately, this was all upgraded thanks to Project Stardust and other ambitious plans. Nevertheless, it still is insufficient on busy days and not exactly conducive to physically-distanced lines and seating areas. Before even getting into the parks, you could encounter congestion on streets leading into the parks, longer waits at security, and lines at the turnstiles.
Now, let’s discuss more specifics on when to visit California and offer some 2021 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 Annual Passes (including multiple trips per week when we were locals), we’ve noticed trends in crowds. With this knowledge, we felt it would make sense to put together Disneyland crowd calendars.
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.
The relatively new tiered ticket system also 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. Click here to read all of our Disneyland ticket recommendations and see how you can save money on advance purchase tickets!
You can access our Disneyland crowd calendars via the links below, each of which will open in a new browser tab:
Around the Diamond Celebration, we rolled out crowd calendars for Disneyland that offer a day-by-day look at crowds with red, yellow, and green dates for heavy, moderate, and low attendance, respectively. Unfortunately, in the intervening years, a lot has changed.
This started a couple of years ago with yet another Main Street Electrical Parade Farewell Run during the off-season. To make a long story short, we (and literally everyone else) had our crowd calendars woefully under-predicting crowds for its return. Seasonal events also saw spikes in crowds, as did other seemingly random dates.
The last straw for us was last summer with the debut of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. Again, literally everyone was predicting a “crowdpocalypse” with Disneyland crowd calendars at 10/10 for pretty much the entire summer. In reality, the parks were dead.
A lot has been written about the opening of Star Wars Land crowds. If you’re curious about this (and how we and everyone else got it so wrong) read our Why Are Star Wars Land Crowds So Low? post. While you might find that interesting, it’s not relevant anymore–Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge crowds are no longer low. In short, those low crowds were an unforeseeable anomaly–a perfect storm of circumstances that blindsided even Disney management.
However, there have been several of those anomalies in the last few years, to the point that it’s very difficult, if not impossible, to offer daily crowd calendar predictions, either via a numerical score or color-coded stoplight system. While we think it’s still possible to ascertain trends in crowds, especially relative to other dates, we’re not comfortable with that level of specificity–especially if guests are relying on our crowd calendars to plan their dream vacations.
If you’re an out-of-town tourist with a wide open calendar for choosing when to visit Disneyland & Disney California Adventure, you can sidestep a lot of this by consulting our Best & Worst Months to Visit Disneyland. In that, we rank the months and also choose our 3 favorite weeks of for tourists taking ~4-5 day trips to the parks.
General Attendance Trends
Don’t want to wait for our more specific 2021 Disneyland crowd calendars to be updated with the best and worst dates or weeks later in the year? We have you covered with these generalized attendance trends, which are pretty consistent from year to year and present an overarching picture of relative crowds at Disneyland.
Disneyland attendance and wait times are largely dependent upon tourist vacationing habits (which are largely dependent upon school breaks and California travel trends), local visitor habits (which are largely dependent upon holidays, weekends, Los Angeles & Orange County School District Calendars), park hours (historical data exists for that), Anaheim Convention Center events (there’s a calendar for that) and a few other variables.
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:
- Martin Luther King Day weekend
- Easter Week
- Late March through mid-April (Spring Break season)
- Thanksgiving week
- Christmas and New Year’s weeks
- Most of January and February, except holidays
- Early March
- Mid to late May
- Late June through mid-August
- Third week of November
- Late April
- Early through mid-May
- Late August through mid-September
- First week of November
Expect crowds to spike as a result of Avengers Campus. Whether that’s a sustained spike, confined to the new Marvel Land, or primarily impacts crowds on weekends remains to be seen. Unfortunately, it’s truly impossible to know what demand will look like in the medium and long term.
Overall, we are expecting Disneyland crowds to be heavier throughout 2021 at Disneyland. The entirety of Summer 2021 will almost certainly be busy, with pent-up demand potentially fizzling out in mid-August 2021. If you’re planning for October through December 2021–the Halloween and Christmas seasons–you should likewise plan for insane crowds levels.
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).
On a personal note, our absolute favorite time to visit is during Christmas-time at Disneyland. The parks look gorgeous, there are special attraction-overlays, and lots of seasonal foods available. You can read more about Christmas-time at Disneyland in our in-depth guide.
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.
NOTE: Disneyland ended the Annual Passholder program and cancelled all outstanding APs prior to the reopening of the parks. Conseqently, none of this is relevant in Summer 2021. A new “membership program” (likely similar to the Disney Flex AP) will debut later this year. As such, the following will likely be relevant again starting around Halloween or Thanksgiving.
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 general, there are some things you can glean about crowds by studying the AP blockout schedules provided at Disneyland.com. (This is a bit more challenging thanks to the Disney Flex AP, unfortunately.)
There are so many Southern California APs 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.”
If you’re heading to Disneyland, we have tons of posts to help you plan, including our Tips for Saving Money on Disneyland Tickets, a look at Disneyland Area Hotel Reviews & Rankings, our Unique Packing List for Disney Trips, an index of our Disneyland Resort Restaurant Reviews, and a number of other things in our comprehensive Disneyland Trip Planning Guide!
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!