The question “When is the best time to visit Disneyland?” will be answered different ways by different people. To determine the best time for you consider your budget, travel party size, tolerance of crowds and the ages of the children in your party. The weather may impact your decision as well; if you are flying, the best time to visit may well be when you can get a discount on airfare.
When you choose a date for your trip, consider the time of year and any holidays that may fall during the time you have chosen. The summer months and holidays tend to be times of very high attendance in Disneyland, so these are also the most expensive times to book a Disney resort room. Winter months (excepting the Christmas holiday) and fall tend to have lower room rates and more special vacation package offerings. Fall and winter are considered “value season” and are priced accordingly. Ticket prices remain constant throughout the year.
If you travel during one of the popular summer months or over a holiday, expect Disneyland to be crowded during your visit. Larger crowds mean more time will be spend waiting in line, though constant loading rides like “It’s a Small World” stay reasonable even during the busy season.
One of the perks of traveling during a crowded time is that Disneyland opens early and stays open late, so you will have more time to explore and enjoy the rides and attractions. You’ll also be treated to more parades, shows and character greeting opportunities, as Disneyland provides plenty of options to keep visitors entertained on busy days. No matter when you visit, take advantage of Disneyland’s Fastpass system to reduce the time you spend waiting in line for some of the land’s busiest rides.
Some rides close seasonally for repairs and upkeep or to get ready for a special event. The Haunted Mansion closes in early fall to get ready to host Disneyland’s Halloween events later in the season. It will close again in January to remove holiday décor. While rides can close at any time for repairs and updates, these are most frequently done during value season in the winter, so plan accordingly.
When is the best time to visit Disneyland? (by party type)
Families with school aged kids: For families traveling with school-aged children, the best time to travel may be the summer months during school vacation. This is also the busiest time, but for most families, it works out well.
If you can take time off from school, have a non-traditional school schedule or home school, then visit Disneyland in the off season. The winter months will still be relatively warm (though it will be somewhat rainy during your visit). While some favorites may be closed to prepare for holiday events, everything else will be easy to see with minimal wait times.
Families with infants or toddlers: If you are traveling with children that are too young to have a school schedule then consider the late spring (except for Spring Break) and early fall. You will be able to visit all the rides and attractions you want to without much waiting — a good bet for families with impatient toddlers in tow. The weather should be mild and comfortable, and less waiting means you can set a more relaxed touring pace in line with your baby’s schedule.
Families with Teens: Your teen’s school schedule may relatively rigid, relegating you to the summer months and long weekends. Disneyland is a great place to give young teens their first dose of freedom, since the parks are so easy to get to from the resorts. Most teens can navigate the parks on their own, and may not mind the waiting. You can also move much more quickly as a family, since you won’t have to worry about strollers and other “little kid” gear. If you do choose to travel during a peak time, head back to your resort for a break each afternoon; Disney resorts offer plenty of fun and recreation activities to occupy everyone in your group.
Singles: Consider traveling during Spring Break, if you want to meet and mingle with other single travelers. Any time of year that suits your schedule will work, as long as you don’t mind crowds. If crowds are a concern, stick to the off-season or moderate times in spring and fall. If you enjoy a workout or are a runner, consider traveling to Disneyland for one of the marathons or running events; quite a few of your fellow runners will be traveling alone and Disney hosts different parties to celebrate the events.
Couples: Anytime you can find a good time to escape work and other obligations is a good time to visit Disneyland. Dining locations and other things designed to appeal to “grown up” couples are open year round, though you should make reservations well in advance if you are traveling during the busy months. Determine what crowd level you can handle being around, and schedule your trip accordingly.
Be a Guest:
No matter what time of year you choose for your visit, plan on staying on one of the three on-site Disney resorts, the Grand Californian, the Disneyland Hotel or Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel. Not only will you be right in the middle of Disney magic, but you’ll also be able to enjoy perks like Magic Mornings, and fun character wake up calls.
Take some time to consider how you feel about crowds and rain, and if you have any “must see” attractions that may be closed during an off season visit. Examine your budget and check airfare rates during different times of year to truly determine when is the best time to visit Disneyland for your family.