Our guide to January 2020 at Disneyland and Disney California Adventure offers a free crowd calendar, days to visit & avoid, weather, seasonal events, and new attraction openings & closures. We’ll discuss the opening of Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, and make a recommendation as to whether you should visit. (Updated January 8, 2020.)
In a normal year, January and February are the slowest months of the year at Disneyland. It’s a bit of a chilly time in Southern California and the state’s “rainy season” (which means like 2 rainy days per month), and also a time when Disneyland focuses on refurbishments.
This results in a pronouncedoff-season vibe at Disneyland, one that has been tough to find at Walt Disney World in the last decade. There was one notable exception to this in the last several years, and January 2020 will probably be the second such exception for reasons we’ll cover in this info and crowd calendar post…
Before we get to that, let’s quickly recap what happened last time–as it feels like a similar scenario is about to play out. First came the announcement of Main Street Electrical Parade making its homecoming at Disneyland in a limited time engagement before it’d be retired. Then came the nostalgia-drenched parade ad plus billboards plastered all over–it was quite the marketing blitz in the Los Angeles and Orange County markets.
To no one’s surprise, Main Street Electrical Parade debuted to monster crowds, and those remained steady pretty much until the summer months when the Annual Passholder blockout began. Disneyland locals love anything new, returning, limited time, and nostalgic–this made for a perfect storm. This was exacerbated by cheaper tickets for Southern California residents, coupled with a surplus of attraction refurbishments that reduced park capacity.
As you might know, Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance opens on January 17, 2020. This is the blockbuster attraction of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, and there’s intense speculation that many locals have held off on their first visits to the new land until its flagship ride debuted.
The question for January 2020 is what (if any) lessons Disneyland learned from the Main Street Electrical Parade fiasco, and how the debut of Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance is handled. We already know that there’s an atypically aggressive slate of refurbishments.
It’s likely that there will be another spring ticket deal for locals–there always is–but it’s possible (probable?) Disneyland management will have the sense to blockout dates around the opening of Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, major holidays, and other busy dates.
With that backdrop set, here’s what you can expect in January 2020 at Disneyland & Disney California Adventure in terms of the crowd calendar, weather, refurbishment, special events, closures and new attractions…
January Weather at Disneyland
January is a great time to visit Southern California from a weather perspective. Temperatures are usually in the 50s and 60s, with the average high being 67°F and the average low being 47°F.
If you’re from a cold weather state, this might seem like t-shirt and shorts weather, but most locals bundle up. This is especially true in the evening, when California’s crisp air makes it feel even colder. We’d recommend packing (at least) jeans and hooded sweatshirts, plus a light jacket.
January is also Southern California’s rainy season–to the extent that it has one. On the rare occasions when it does rain, it’s typically not just a brief or isolated shower. Nevertheless, SoCal normally sees less than 3 inches of rain in January, so days of downpours are unlikely.
It’s more likely you’ll experience near-constant sunshine, with the marine layer being less of a problem during the winter months, and most days seeing plenty of sunlight. All in all, January is a good time to visit California (and by extension, Disneyland), so long as you don’t plan on sunbathing on the beach or swimming in the ocean!
Although it had another limited run last fall, it’s reasonably safe to say Main Street Electrical Parade won’t make an encore this year. While we have no doubts that it’ll return again at some point (Disney just cannot resist trotting this parade out for “farewell” runs every so often), but it’ll be too soon since the last “farewell” run for another.
In terms of January 2020 closures, there’s a fairly long list in addition to the normal ones like Haunted Mansion and it’s a small world. Consult our 2020 Disneyland Refurbishment Calendarfor opening and closing dates. On the ‘new attractions’ front, there’s Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, which we’ve covered above and will discuss again below in our January 2020 Disneyland crowd calendar section.
January 2020 Disneyland Crowd Calendar
We’ll preface this by noting that Disneyland crowd calendars for specific dates are no longer highly reliable due to changes in attendance trends, the new Disney Flex Annual Pass, 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–which is why we’ve eliminated our color-coded Disneyland crowd calendars.
As such, our crowd calendar exists of some best & worst date ranges that should be used as an approximation for patterns–not something you rely heavily upon when booking a trip to Disneyland. While other sites offer numerical crowd calendars for specific dates months (or a year!) in advance, we’d be weary of putting too much weight on those. There are simply too many inconsistent variables for Disneyland crowd calendars to be reliable so far in advance.
With that said, our methodology is based upon historic wait time information, anecdotal observations, special events, school schedules, dynamic ticket prices, and more. Second, expect Disney California Adventure crowds to almost always track Disneyland crowds–with a few exceptions–albeit with a proportionately lower number of guests.
While there’s the perception that holiday crowds die down after New Year’s Eve, this is only true to a degree. Post-holiday crowds will remain heavy through January 5, 2020, after which they are supplanted by local Annual Passholders who are no longer blocked out but are still on holiday break from work or school.
Due to a combination Los Angeles and Orange County School District winter breaks and the AP blockouts, we actually expect a slight spike on the crowd calendar from January 5-12, 2020. Weekend days will be worse than weekdays, but both will be fairly busy.
January 17-20, 2020 will likely be very, very busy. On that Friday, Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance opens. January 16-19, 2020 is the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) Show at the Anaheim Convention Center, which is a huge event. January 20, 2020 is MLK Day. All of this is a perfect storm for a very busy long weekend that’ll spill over into the days around it, as well.
The following weekend, January 21-23, 2020 should also see more moderate crowds. Same goes for January 27-30, 2020. Fridays through Sundays will be worse, particularly because Deluxe Annual Passes are not blocked out any of those days. (Thankfully, SoCal Select APs are blocked out.)
The wildcard with dates later in the month is Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance. This attraction’s debut could spike crowds from January 17, 2020 on, with high crowds thereafter. That’s what crowd calendars predicted with the opening of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge…and it didn’t happen.
We tend to think Rise of the Resistance will have more of an impact, but won’t by itself make crowd calendars go from 2/10 (a normal January weekday) to 10/10. Crowds will definitely be higher, especially in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, though. Our best guess right now is that average weekdays will move to the 6/10 range and weekends will be in the 8/10 neighborhood. Actual numbers will vary as reflected above.
Nevertheless, we’d recommend hedging your bets. If you’re looking at the crowd calendar for the best week in January 2020 to visit Disneyland, we’d recommend January 13-17, 2020. This week gets you far enough outside the holiday season, with the post-blockout crowd wave having subsided, and local schools being back in session. You’ll also be able to do Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance your last day, should you so desire.
It’s important to underscore that these crowd calendar predictions are our best guesses, and lean heavily on the above assumptions. One of the greatest difficulties with forecasting Disneyland crowds is that so much of the audience lives in Los Angeles and Orange Counties, meaning they are not planning their trips to Disneyland months in advance. Many people are visiting on a whim, and can make last-minute trips if enticed by marketing, deals, or special entertainment.
With all of that said, there are a few sure things for January at Disneyland. Already mentioned are the chilly (but pleasant) weather and refurbishments. The other is that it’s still Southern California’s off-season in terms of tourism. Even if Disneyland and Disney California Adventure end up being busy, they’ll be busy with locals.
Overall, there’s a reason January and February 2020 have fallen from the #3 and #4 month slots that they previously occupied on our Best and Worst Months to Visit Disneyland. Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance is a huge wildcard, and it’s going to spike crowds for at least some dates–potentially more dates, and potentially very significantly.
If you’re a local or can wait longer to book a trip, we’d advise taking a wait-and-see approach with the first few months of the year at Disneyland. Once Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance is up and running for a couple weeks, we should have a better idea what Spring 2020 will bring in terms of crowds at Disneyland.
Have you visited Disneyland in January? Any predictions of your own to offer in terms of crowds in winter/spring 2020 at Disneyland? Any questions? Hearing feedback about your experiences is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts or questions below in the comments!