October 2021 Disneyland Crowd Calendar

This guide to October 2021 at Disneyland features a free crowd calendar for choosing best & worst days to visit during Halloween season, weather, new attraction openings & closures, and more. We also cover info & tips for what’s happening in Disney California Adventure, Disneyland, and beyond. (Updated September 19, 2021.)

The bad news is that October is a really crowded month. The big draw for October is Halloween, which you can read about in our Guide to Halloween Time at Disneyland. This annual fall event is one of the big reasons crowds have spiked during the month of October in recent years.

With new Halloween decorations and attraction overlays in Disney California, crowds should be (slightly) better distributed between the two parks, but both will still be busy. These new Nightmare Before Christmas decorations and Cars Land overlays will also draw more people to the parks. Locals and tourists alike love the Halloween season at Disneyland Resort…

October Weather at Disneyland

Steadily improving weather also plays a role, as October is a really pleasant month, with little fairly comfortable temperatures and not much precipitation. While it’s pretty much pleasant year-round in Anaheim, October is one of the “sweet spot” months when (generally speaking) it’s not too hot during the middle of the day and not too chilly at night.

For October, you can expect humidity to remain low even as high temperatures rarely top 80º most of the month. Low temperatures are likewise comfortable, starting at around 60º early in the month, dropping to around 55º by the end of October. This means daytime temperatures that are in the 70s, which is pretty much ideal.

Due to the drop in temperatures once the sun goes down, we recommend packing a light sweater or a long sleeve shirt. Most people overlook this, assuming California equals sunshine and palm trees, but the nights can get chilly.

Next, let’s take a look at the Disneyland and Disney California Adventure crowd calendar for the month of October…

October 2021 DISNEYLAND CROWD CALENDAR

Before consulting this or any crowd calendars for Disneyland, it’s worth reading our main 2021-2022 Disneyland Crowd Calendars: Best Times to Visit & When to Avoid. That goes into extensive detail about why Disneyland crowd calendars are currently unreliable, which is why there’s no color-coded calendar or numerical scores for each day of the month here.

Essentially, this is due to two things. First, the post-reopening roller coaster as Americans bounce back and forth between travel trepidations and pent-up demand. That’s largely driven by health mandates and case numbers in California and beyond; as the situation improves or worsens, so too does travel volume and, by extension, visitors to Disneyland and DCA.

Second, and more notably, Disneyland just launched the Magic Key program, which is its replacement for Annual Passes. Magic Keys already have dramatically changed the crowd dynamic at Disneyland and Disney California Adventure during that time. Thus far, it has made weekends significantly busier, driven largely by pent-up demand among Disneyland diehards who have been waiting for the return of APs.

It’s unclear how this will continue to play out. Pent-up demand among locals could fizzle out, but that could be offset by more people purchasing Magic Keys. If you’re planning a last minute visit, consult Disneyland’s Magic Key Access Calendar. This shows blockout dates and reservation availability all in one handy location. Similarly, there’s the Disneyland Theme Park Reservation Calendar for single and multiple-day tickets. (Those are unreliable on short notice–dates only fill up a couple weeks in advance, at most.)

With that said, here are the best and worst times to visit Disneyland in October 2021…

For October, there are two things you should expect: heavy crowds and the unexpected. Let’s first discuss the heavy crowds. As mentioned, this might be a surprise to anyone who has not visited Disneyland the last few Octobers. The month used to be relatively quiet, aside from weekends leading up to Halloween.

That is no longer the case. Due to Oogie Boogie Bash, cheaper price seasons for 1-day park tickets, fall breaks for schools in the West (Utah and Nevada in addition to California), typically pleasant weather, and the growing popularity of the Halloween Time at Disneyland seasonal overlays, October is now one of the busier months of the year in terms of sustained crowds at Disneyland.

No, you won’t see any dates as bad as New Year’s Eve or Easter week in October, but generally speaking, the entire month is busier. However, holidays like Nevada Day, Columbus Day, and more cause spikes to crowds. Other fall breaks in school districts in the region cause similar swells in attendance.

As a general rule, crowds get progressively worse throughout October. Earlier in the month is better than later in the month, and weekdays are all better than weekends. However, it is worth noting that sometimes even weekday crowds unexpectedly spike–but usually there’s a reason (fall break somewhere) for this.

Oogie Boogie Bash – A Disney Halloween Party does not help either, as it artificially manipulates attendance patterns. This event at Disney California Adventure replaced Mickey’s Halloween Party at Disneyland as the resort’s annual Halloween Party. Moving across the Esplanade to DCA has made crowds more predictable and eases the burden on Disneyland.

Nevertheless, because of fluctuating attendance trends during the day, we highly recommend getting Park Hopper tickets and starting your day out at Disney California Adventure on Oogie Boogie Bash party nights before hopping over to Disneyland in the evening. Crowds will be lower in the morning at DCA on party dates, so you’ll really benefit there.

Beyond that, you have some of the normal trends. Friday night during Halloween season is the worst evening of the week to visit. Saturdays and Sundays will be the two busiest days of the week despite the lower tier Magic Key passholders being blocked out.

For the most part, Mondays and Wednesdays, followed by Tuesdays and Thursdays (in that order) are going to be the best overall days of the week to visit in October 2021. Crowds will be below average on weekdays, and well above average on Saturday and Sunday. Since Halloween Screams includes fireworks on Friday nights, that’s also worse, but the lack of included parking in most Magic Keys means many locals no longer show up after work.

When it comes to specific dates to avoid, there are a couple of big red flags. First and most obvious: holiday weekends. This means the long weekend around Columbus Day or Indigenous Peoples’ Day (October 8-11, 2021) and Halloween weekend (October 28-31, 2021) should be avoided if at all possible.

Second, school breaks. Los Angeles doesn’t have its fall break in October, but various districts in Orange County have breaks on October 1, 12-13, and 27. Perhaps more significantly, most Utah districts have a long weekend October 14-17, 2021. Nevada Day on October 29, 2021 will result in another long weekend coinciding with Halloween. If at all possible, avoid these dates.

In terms of new offerings that could impact crowds, the major thing is Halloween Time at Disneyland–in particular Oogie Boogie Bash and nights when Halloween Screams features fireworks (mostly Friday through Sunday nights, but see the official entertainment schedule to confirm).

Note that overall crowd levels have increased at Disney California Adventure by a slight amount as a result of Avengers Campus, which opened over the summer. This new land is very small, which presents its own unique problems. 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.

Even though Disneyland and Disney California Adventure have been packed the last two Octobers, dynamic prices for 1-day tickets are lower for most of October. This doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, and is likely exacerbating the problem of higher crowds in October.

Read our Tips for Saving Money on Disneyland Tickets post for multi-day ticket recommendations to avoid having to deal with seasonal pricing. On the plus side, there are some multi-day ticket discounts currently available for all guests.

The one bit of good news in all of this is that October is still Southern California’s off-season in terms of tourism. Even though the parks are busy (primarily with Californians), the hotels are not. Off-season occupancy rates will be reflected in hotel prices. Check out discounted hotel + ticket vacation packages on Get Away Today to save money on off-site hotels.

In terms of attractions, the big draws for October will be all things Halloween. In Cars Land at Disney California Adventure, Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree becomes Mater’s Graveyard JamBOOree and Luigi’s Rollickin’ Roadsters transforms into Luigi’s Honkin’ Haul-O-Ween.

Given the likelihood of moderate to high crowds for pretty much the entire month of October, we recommend an efficient itinerary for touring Disneyland and Disney California Adventure. Another great option is the Park Hopper ticket. We always recommend these, but even more so than normal in October due to Mickey’s Halloween Party. Failing that, arrive at rope drop and try to get as much done as possible before 4 p.m.

Overall, there’s a reason October 2021 is #9 on our Best and Worst Months to Visit Disneyland (despite September being #2!). It’s all about the crowds. The weather is perfect, the Halloween seasonal entertainment is exceptional, and hotel prices are attractive. If we were making this crowd calendar ~5 years ago, a good case could be made for putting October #1. For a variety of reasons, that has changed, and high/unpredictable crowds are a huge reason why. You can still have a great time at Disneyland in October, but just have reasonable expectations and a good plan. October is most definitely not off-season at Disneyland.

If you’re preparing for a Disneyland trip, check out our other planning posts, including how to save money on Disneyland tickets, our Disney packing tips, tips for booking a hotel (off-site or on-site), where to dine, and a number of other things, check out our comprehensive Disneyland Vacation Planning Guide!

YOUR THOUGHTS

If you’ve visited Disneyland during the month of October, what did you think of the experience? Did you visit in the last two years, or before in the “good ole days” when October was not as busy? What are your thoughts on Halloween Time at Disneyland? If you’ve visited in October, do you have any tips to add? Share any questions, tips, or additional thoughts you have in the comments!

26 Responses to “October 2021 Disneyland Crowd Calendar”
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