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.
Disneyland Crowd Trends:
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
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 likethe fireworks.
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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 calendar detailing all of the different pros and cons of the different months of the year when visiting. The information included in the calendar is 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.
Disneyland Calendar 2017 Crowds and Special Events
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 on your 2017 vacation. All of these openings and special events will greatly affect the Disneyland crowd index.
A new parking structure is being built behind the Harbor Boulevard hotels with thousands of new parking spots and a bigger entrance area on the Eastern side of Disneyland. There is no confirmed opening date yet.
The Main Street Electrical Parade returns from January 19 and will run until an extended date of August 20.
The “Remember…Dreams Come True” fireworks show will return to Disneyland on February 3. This is the extremely popular fireworks show that was presented at Disneyland from 2005-2015. The show is back by popular demand.
The Rivers of America and Disneyland Railroad will reopen July 29th. This includes the reopening of the Mark Twain Riverboat, Sailing Ship Columbia, Davy Crockett Explorer Canoes, and all of the Disneyland trains.
Fantasmic! will reopen July 17th with new segments including a Pirates of the Caribbean sequence that will replace the older Peter Pan scene using the Sailing Ship Columbia. The show will also include new scenes featuring Aladdin and Tangled.
Tower of Terror will reopen as Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission Breakout on May 27. This new attraction will use the same drop technology, but will feature the story of Guardians of the Galaxy.
Star Wars Land is being built behind Frontierland using land taken from backstage areas, the old Big Thunder Ranch Barbeque, and some Rivers of America space. This new land is not expected to open until somewhere between 2018 and 2020. After the Rivers of America and Big Thunder Trail reopen this summer, the Star Wars Land construction should be basically hidden from guest view.
Disneyland 2017 Crowd Calendar Events January
The Star Wars Half Marathon Weekend will take place January 12-15 featuring the half marathon, 10k race, 5k race, and kids races.
The Main Street Electrical Parade will return to Disneyland from January 19 until June 18. This is a fan favorite that has been performing in Walt Disney World for the last couple of years.
Disney California Adventure celebrates Lunar New Year from January 20 to February 5. This is a large cultural festival that will include special entertainment and dining options.
Disneyland 2017 Crowd Calendar Events February
The “Remember…Dreams Come True” Fireworks will return on February 3 of this month with regular weekend performances. The fireworks feature audio sequences from classic Disneyland attractions. This is a must see! There is no end date currently announced for this fireworks show.
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.
Disneyland 2017 Crowd Calendar Events March
March marks the beginning of the more crowded Spring Break season.
The Disneyland Food and Wine Festival will run from March 10 until April 16 featuring special festival food booths, cooking demonstrations, and lifestyle presentations. This festival takes place in Disney California Adventure park.
Disney has an Easter egg hunt throughout both theme parks. Purchase a scavenger hunt packet from participating shops throughout the resort, find all the eggs, turn in your packet, and receive a prize.
Disneyland 2017 Crowd Calendar Events April
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 from March 10 until April 16 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.
Dapper Day at Disneyland is on April 22nd and 23rd. 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.
Disneyland 2017 Crowd Calendar Events May
The Tinker Bell Half Marathon Weekend is May 11-14 and includes a Half Marathon, 10k race, 5k, race, and kids races.
Grad Nites at Disneyland are scheduled for May 5, 6, 10, 17, 19, 20, 24, 30, 31. 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 Disneyland crowds especially later in the evening.
The Pixar Play Parade will return to Disney California Adventure park May 17th for an extended run throughout the entire summer. This parade features all the Pixar characters mixed with popular music.
“Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission Breakout!”, the new replacement for Tower of Terror, will open on May 27th. This will kick off the special “Summer of Heroes” event that will be celebrated throughout Disneyland.
Disneyland 2017 Crowd Calendar Events June
The Rivers of America including the Mark Twain Riverboat, Sailing Ship Columbia, and Davy Crockett Explorer Canoes should reopen sometime this month. The official time quote is that the experiences will reopen this summer. Update: The Disneyland Railroad and all of the ships on the Rivers of America will reopen on July 29th. The rafts to Tom Sawyer Island are already open again.
Disneyland Grad Nites are scheduled for June 2, 3, 6, 7, 9, 10, 14, 16, 17. 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.
Disneyland 2017 Crowd Calendar Events July
The nighttime spectacular, “Fantasmic!”, will reopen on July 17th with new show scenes featuring Pirates of the Caribbean, Aladdin, Tangled, and other new show scenes. This show will be a fantastic addition to the entertainment lineup.
The annual Disney D23 Expo will be held at the Anaheim Convention center on July 14, 15, 16. This event is the equivalent to Comic Con for Disney fans.
Disneyland opened on July 17th in 1955. On smaller birthday years–like this year’s 62nd anniversary–the park celebrates with a small ceremony on Main Street with characters and a replay of the original Walt Disney opening day Disneyland dedication speech.
The Disneyland Railroad and all boats on the Rivers of America will reopen to guests on July 29th.
Disneyland 2017 Crowd Calendar Events August
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.
Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend typically happens over Labor Day Weekend. This event will include a half marathon race, 10k race, 5k race, and kids races.
The Main Street Electrical Parade will have the last run down the parade route on August 20.
Disneyland 2017 Crowd Calendar Events September
Disneyland Halloween will begin about halfway through September and runs through the end of October.
The first nights of Disneyland Mickey’s Halloween Party 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.
Disneyland 2017 Crowd Calendar Events October
Disneyland Halloween time continues with special attraction overlays and decorations throughout both theme parks.
Every October, the fan-created Disneyland Gay Days are held. This year the event will take place October 6-8. You can expect quite a few people in the parks wearing red to demonstrate they are members of the event.
Disneyland 2017 Crowd Calendar Events November
There is another Dapper Day event on November 4 and 5. This day is a celebration of the classic clothing that used to be worn to Disneyland.
The Marvel Super Heroes Half Marathon Weekend will happen November 9-12. The runDisney race weekend includes a 10k Race, 5k Race, Half Marathon, and kids races.
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.
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.
Disneyland Through the Seasons
Throughout the year there are a few huge special events that make the parks extra magical.
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.”
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 three weeks of December or the second week of January.
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.
Mickey’s Halloween Party
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.
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.
Who to Book With
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>