Let's dive into when to visit Disneyland and how to avoid the Disneyland crowds.
Below see the complete Disneyland 2020-2021 calendar with crowds, holiday celebrations, and new attraction offerings to help you decide when to visit Disneyland.
Disneyland has over 18 million visitors per year and you will have the most pleasant vacation if you avoid as many of the crowds those visitors create as possible.
Disneyland Crowd Tracker
Two things affecting Disneyland crowd levels are the events happening throughout the resort and school holidays. These are the two most important Disneyland crowd indicators. So, let's dive into the question: “when will it be crowded at Disneyland?”
Most weekends will be busy no matter when you visit the resort. Disneyland has over 1 million annual pass holders who frequent the resort after school or work.
Take a look at our discount Disneyland tickets page for information on how to save money and info on how long you should visit.
Because Disneyland is both a vacation destination and a local hangout, it can be difficult to judge when there will be the most crowds. In the sections below we have taken into consideration the schedule from the nearby convention center and the previous year's crowd trends to create a calendar that will help you to avoid the crowds at Disneyland.
See my overview video of when to visit Disneyland in this guide to Disneyland video.
When to Visit Disneyland in 2020-2021
- The weeks before and after Easter: mid-March through mid-April, or Spring Break Season
- The week before Christmas through the first couple of weeks of January, Christmas Day and New Years Eve bring in some of the largest crowds the park sees all year long.
- July through early August, during the time that schools have summer break
- During June, most annual passholders are not blocked out yet (they are blocked for many peak summer days)
- If July 4th falls close to a weekend, then it will be extremely busy
- Check the Anaheim Convention Center website for large conferences. Busy in the late afternoon during these time periods.
Busy, But Not Overrun
- End of August through Labor Day
- The month of December, leading up to Christmas week
- Weekends throughout October and beginning of November while the theme parks are decorated for Halloween
- Labor Day through Thanksgiving, except avoid weekends
- Late January through February
- Late April unless Easter falls at that time
January through the beginning of May is what many call the “off season.” These weeks have the least amount of crowds, but a lot of the shows will not be running like the fireworks. This is important to consider in the debate of when to visit Disneyland.
If you are considering visiting Walt Disney World in Florida, be sure to look at our guide to when to visit Disney World.
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If your Disneyland hotel prices are coming up high during a time period that we list as not crowded, be sure to check out the Anaheim Convention Center schedule. During large conventions, the prices for hotels can skyrocket.
This time of year is a blessing and a curse. Many Disneyland rides are closed for refurbishment during the first two months of the year. Check the refurbishment calendar on the official Disneyland website, released 60 days in advance, for closures.
I spent some time putting together a Disneyland attendance calendar detailing all of the different pros and cons of the different months of the year when visiting. The information included in our best time to go to Disneyland calendar is basic Disneyland crowd levels, park hours, and weather.
Be sure to check the Disneyland calendar on the official Disneyland website for more info on closures, entertainment schedules, and other info. This will help you to decide when to visit Disneyland.
Disneyland Crowd Calendar and Special Events in 2021
Below I have compiled a listing of Disneyland events and special calendar items to be aware of when deciding the best time to go to Disneyland during 2021. All of these openings and special events will greatly affect the Disneyland crowd index.
Disneyland Resort and California Adventure currently do not have a reopening date and will not be able to propose a reopening timeline until Orange County moves into the less restrictive yellow tier in the California 4-phase COVID reopening plan. Read all the info in our guide to Disneyland's reopening process.
- Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge opened Summer 2019 and has added an entire new land to the park.
- Rise of the Resistance opened January 17th 2020. This is said to be the ‘best ride' Disneyland has ever done. We still expect this new land to be a large draw for guests in 2021.
- The new parade Magic Happens debuted at Disneyland on February 28th 2020 right before the extended closure in March 2020. We expect this parade to be one of the first entertainment options to return once Disneyland can officially run entertainment again in 2021.
- Halloween season takes place September 6th through October 31st at the Disneyland Resort.
- The Halloween party, Oogie Boogie Bash, will take place on select nights Sept. 17th- Oct. 31st at Disney's California Adventure Park.
- The Holiday/Christmas season takes place November through January at the Disneyland Resort.
- Avengers Campus- the BRAND NEW Marvel Inspired land is coming to California Adventure! Phase one of this new land was meant to open on July 18th but with the unexpected impact of COVID-19 a new opening date hasn't been announced yet. It is like that the new reopening date will fall sometime in 2021.
Our monthly lists below break down events each month during the year at Disneyland to help you plan your vacation and anticipate any crowd levels or events you want to see!
January Disneyland Crowd Calendar and Events in 2021
- Three Kings Day is celebrate in Disney California Adventure each year immediately following the ending of the Disneyland Christmas celebration.
- Disney California Adventure celebrates Lunar New Year from January to February. This is a large cultural festival that will include special entertainment and dining options.
- Valentine’s Month kicks off in late January- a celebration of the love of Mickey and Minnie Mouse. Disneyland park will feature lovely, festive Valentine’s décor, including a new Mickey Mouse flower “portrait” on Main Street, U.S.A. Guests may also choose to partake in Minnie’s Valentine Surprise, a special scavenger hunt experience in Disneyland park.
- Be sure to read our guide Visiting Disneyland in January to get a detailed description of what to expect, what to pack, what to wear, and what current events are planned.
February Disneyland Crowd Calendar and Events in 2021
- Disneyland Lunar New Year Celebration continues until the middle of February.
- Valentine’s Month continues until the middle of February- a celebration of the love of Mickey and Minnie Mouse. Disneyland park will feature lovely, festive Valentine’s décor, including a new Mickey Mouse flower “portrait” on Main Street, U.S.A. Guests may also choose to partake in Minnie’s Valentine Surprise, a special scavenger hunt experience in Disneyland park.
- There are special menus at some of the table service restaurants for Valentine's Day. You will also find lots of holiday-specific desserts and special treats all throughout the resort.
- Be sure to read our guide Visiting Disneyland in February to get a detailed description of what to expect, what to pack, what to wear, and what current events are planned.
March Disneyland Crowd Calendar and Events in 2021
- March marks the beginning of the more crowded Spring Break season and the end of the renovation season where more of Disneyland's attractions are schedule for maintenance.
- The Disneyland Food and Wine Festival will return this month. The Food and Wine Festival features special festival food booths, cooking demonstrations, and lifestyle presentations. This festival takes place in Disney California Adventure park.
- Be sure to read our guide Visiting Disneyland in March to get a detailed description of what to expect, what to pack, what to wear, and what current events are planned.
April Disneyland Crowd Calendar and Events in 2021
- Spring Break season continues in Disneyland with lots of crowds expected every day. Follow our Disneyland crowd calendar tips seen below for help avoiding the crowds.
- The Disneyland Food and Wine Festival runs into April in Disney California Adventure park. This event includes special cooking demonstrations, unique food booths, and special menu items throughout the resort. There are also special ticketed events with celebrity chefs. The Soarin' Over California limited run has no final date announced, but we do know it will run through the entirety of the Food and Wine Festival.
- Disney has an Easter egg hunt throughout both theme parks. You can purchase a scavenger hunt packet from participating shops throughout the resort, find all the eggs, turn in your packet, and then receive a prize. Disneyland's Easter Eggstravaganza will return in April.
- Dapper Day at Disneyland occurs at the end of the month. This is a celebration of the vintage style clothing that used to be worn to Disneyland and that was featured heavily in early concept artwork. About 1/10 of the park usually participates. It is lots of fun to be in the parks during the events. The Disneyland crowds in attendance are usually bearable as those who come out for the event are typically in the parks to take photos more than they are to experience attractions.
- Be sure to read our guide Visiting Disneyland in April to get a detailed description of what to expect, what to pack, what to wear, and what current events are planned.
May Disneyland Crowd Calendar and Events in 2021
- Grad Nites at Disneyland are scheduled for May 14,15,19,21,22,26,27 and select nights in June. These evenings will have certain sections of the theme parks shut down specifically for recent high school graduates. The students visiting the parks will also have access to Disneyland throughout the day. Expect big Disney California Adventure crowds especially later in the evening.
- Enjoy Star Wars celebrations on May 4th in Tomorrowland like the transformation of Space Mountain into Hyperspace Mountain, Captain Phasma and her storm troopers along with Star Wars themed souvenirs and food options.
- Be sure to read our guide Visiting Disneyland in May to get a detailed description of what to expect, what to pack, what to wear, and what current events are planned.
June Disneyland Crowd Calendar and Events in 2021
- Disneyland Grad Nites are scheduled for nights in May and June 1,2,4,5,8,9,11,12,18. These events are extremely popular for recently graduated high school seniors and includes special private access to certain areas of Disneyland later in the evening. These dates mean that you'll want to avoid Disney California Adventure at night where a majority of the event takes place.
- Be sure to read our guide Visiting Disneyland in June to get a detailed description of what to expect, what to pack, what to wear, and what current events are planned.
July Disneyland Crowd Calendar and Events in 2021
- Disneyland is a fantastic place to celebrate the 4th of July. The fireworks show is massive and actually consists of all of the fireworks from the preceding six months that were not fired off due to wind cancellations.
- Disneyland 4th of July can be very crowded due to the popularity of the fireworks show.
- Tickets for the popular Halloween Party usually go on sale in July. If you have a preference for which date you attend the party you should be ready to book.
- Be sure to read our guide Visiting Disneyland in July to get a detailed description of what to expect, what to pack, what to wear, and what current events are planned.
August Disneyland Crowd Calendar and Events in 2021
- This month will not likely introduce anything new to the parks. The crowds will be big especially towards the end of the month when many of the Disneyland Annual Passports are unblocked. This will be a peak crowd season for buying one day Disneyland tickets.
- The annual D23 Expo will take place at the end of August at the Anaheim Convention Center. The D23 Expo can have an impact on crowd levels at the park. The D23 is on hiatus until 2022.
- Be sure to read our guide Visiting Disneyland in August to get a detailed description of what to expect, what to pack, what to wear, and what current events are planned.
September Disneyland Crowd Calendar and Events in 2021
- Disneyland Halloween will begin about halfway through September and runs through the end of October.
- The first nights of Disneyland Oogie Boogie's Bash after hours event occur during this month. The event consists of a special Halloween entertainment, an opportunity to wear costumes in the parks, and lots of meet and greets.
- Universal Studios Hollywood, another extremely popular theme park featuring the new Wizarding World of Harry Potter kicks off their Halloween Horror Nights mid September. You can read more about visiting Universal in our Universal Studios Hollywood guide and more about Halloween Horror Nights in our guide here.
- The yearly fundraiser for kids in Southern California, the CHOC Walk, will be a virtual event this year.
- Read our detailed monthly guide for visiting Disneyland in September to find our more details about crowd patterns, events, weather, and more.
October Disneyland Crowd Calendar and Events in 2021
- Disneyland Halloween time continues with special attraction overlays and decorations throughout both theme parks.
- The popular Oogie Boogie's Bash continues on select nights throughout October in Disneyland.
- Every October, the fan-created Disneyland Gay Days are held. You can expect quite a few people in the parks wearing red to demonstrate they are members of the event. Disneyland offers rainbow merchandise and food offerings throughout the park in recognition of the celebration. The event usually takes place the first weekend of October.
- In October, the state of Utah has holiday breaks for their schools. The Utah Education Association has a large convention in Anaheim and it can sometimes feel like the entire state of Utah is in Anaheim. Be aware of this seemingly innocent Thursday and Friday in October as they can be some of the busiest days of the year in Disneyland.
- Universal Studios Hollywood continues their Halloween Horror Nights through the first week of November.
- Read our detailed monthly guide for visiting Disneyland in October to find our more details about crowd patterns, events, weather, and more.
November Disneyland Crowd Calendar and Events in 2020
- There is another Dapper Day event each year in early November. This day is a celebration of the classic clothing that used to be worn to Disneyland. Sometimes you can find discounted rates at the Disney property hotels for the event by looking on the Dapper Day official website.
- The Disneyland Christmas celebration begins and runs until the first week of January (you can see my top
- favorite Disneyland Christmas offerings here).
- Beginning Thanksgiving weekend, the parks are quite crowded all the way through the Christmas season.
- There are a wide variety of food offerings for Thanksgiving throughout the resort. The Disneyland Hotel has a large Thanksgiving buffet with characters and all of the classic Thanksgiving fixings. See our Disneyland restaurant review article for information on booking dining.
- Universal Studios Hollywood celebrates Christmas with a fantastic Christmas in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter featuring beautiful decorations, live entertainment, and a breathtaking new nighttime spectacular. They also have their Grinchmas celebration featuring characters from the Dr. Suess classic.
- Be sure to read our guide Visiting Disneyland in November to get a detailed description of what to expect, what to pack, what to wear, and what current events are planned.
December Disneyland Crowd Calendar and Events 2020
- The Disneyland Christmas celebration continues and runs through the first week of January.
- Universal Studios Hollywood also has fantastic Christmas offerings with their Christmas in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter and Dr. Seuss Grinchmas. Both of these are fantastic additions to any vacation and warrant a drive up to Universal Studios. (You can see information on discount Universal Studios Hollywood tickets here).
- The crowds are typically very heavy during this month, but there is lots of entertainment and special offerings that makes visiting totally worth it!
- Disneyland Candlelight Ceremony on Main Street in Disneyland during the first weekend of December. This is the retelling of the birth of Jesus with hundreds of choir singers and a celebrity narrator. You can see video from last year here.
- The two college football teams competing in the Rose Bowl visit Disneyland in the couple of days before the Rose Bowl Game in Pasadena, California. The bands from both schools usually also play either marching in the parade or in Town Square in front of the Train Station.
- Disneyland is always crowded on New Year's Eve, but there are lots of special entertainment offerings including bands and the largest Disneyland fireworks celebration of the year. This fireworks show is made up of all of the fireworks shells that were not shot off during the preceding six months due to wind cancellation.
- Be sure to read our guide Visiting Disneyland in December to get a detailed description of what to expect, what to pack, what to wear, and what current events are planned.
Disneyland Through the Seasons
Throughout the year there are a few huge special events that make the parks extra magical! The two main holiday seasons, Halloween and Christmas, both bring special entertainment, decorations, and food to the parks. You can also find smaller themed events throughout the year. In addition to holidays, the summer months are also a popular time for guests to visit as this is when Disneyland will typically introduce new additions to the park.
Christmas in Disneyland
At Christmas time you will find Sleeping Beauty Castle lit up with icicles, Main Street laden with decorations, and the rest of the parks beautifully decorated to celebrate the season. Regular shows and experiences are altered to match the holiday theme.
The Haunted Mansion and it’s a small world each receive holiday overlays that transform both attractions. The Haunted Mansion becomes the Haunted Mansion Holiday, which is themed to the “Nightmare Before Christmas.” it's a small world becomes “it's a small world Holiday” adorned with thousands of beautiful lights and the tune of the song inside changes to Jingle Bells.
I highly recommend visiting during Christmas, but expect to be joined by lots of crowds if you are there the week of Christmas through the first week of January. The best time to visit and see the Christmas decorations is the first two weeks of December or the second week of January. You can expect to see busy weekends in December as the locals turn out in droves to see the new holiday decor.
Halloween at Disneyland
During Halloween time, the parks are decorated with jack-o-lanterns and the feeling of fall and Halloween is in the air. See all of the information on Disneyland Halloween in our huge guide.
Disney turns Space Mountain into Space Mountain: Ghost Galaxy. Space ghosts are added throughout this classic indoor roller coaster and also the soundtrack is switched to one a bit spookier. The Haunted Mansion is also transformed to be themed to Nightmare Before Christmas. This Haunted Mansion conversion runs from the end of September until the beginning of January.
Oogie Boogie Bash at Disney's California Adventure
This year Disneyland's California Adventure will be hosting the coveted Halloween Party! The Oogie Boogie Bash will take place on select dates through September-October at Disney's California Adventure. This party will run in conjunction with the Disneyland Halloween season.
The party consists of fun entertainment, attractions, and candy, all while you wear your Halloween costume inside California Adventure at the Disneyland Resort.
Mickey’s Halloween Party
NEW: Mickey's Halloween Party has taken a break for the Halloween season as the party moves to California Adventure with the new ticketed event- Oogie Boogie's Bash.
Disneyland hosts a separately ticketed party on select nights throughout September and October that features a special Halloween theme with extra entertainment, costumes, and Halloween decorations.
During Mickey's Halloween Party, Disney characters are out in full force with the classic characters like Mickey Mouse and the gang donning their own Halloween costumes and rarely seen villains creeping out. During the event you can find characters in meet and greets scattered throughout the park and in a special character cavalcade parade twice a night. Regular park guests get to join in the fun by wearing their own costumes to the event. This is the only time that adults are allowed to wear costumes of any sort to Disneyland. In almost every land of the park, kids and adults alike can receive candy on the trick or treat trails. To finish off the night, the spookiest fireworks show of the year brings the castle to life.
Disneyland in Summertime
In Summertime, Disney often opens new experiences and attractions. This is the best time to “get em while they are hot,” but be careful because that is the same mindset of every visitor and new attractions often have long lines.
The rest of the year Disney has shorter weekend events going on that celebrate certain cultures or smaller holidays like the Lunar New Year, high school graduation, or the 4th of July. In the past they have also held 24 hour days where the parks operate around the clock.
Recommended Length of Stay
The recommended length for a trip is anything between one and a half days and three full days. Anything more than three days isn’t quite necessary. When we do a trip to Disneyland, it is usually about 2 and a half days over a weekend.
Now that you know when you want to visit Disneyland, it is time to figure out the logistics of where and how you will book your trip. The benefit of staying longer is being able to see and do everything you want at a more leisurely pace. You would also have time to return to your favorite experiences.
Disneyland Crowds Specialists
Now that you have decided when you want to visit Disneyland, it is time to book your trip. We highly recommend a Disneyland package to have the best experience and save the most money while planning your Disneyland vacation. More info here>
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