Disneyland Dates to Avoid If You Hate Crowds!

Crowds at Disneyland are a big factor when planning a vacation for many families. So what Disneyland dates to avoid when planning a trip? There are many times of the year that are busier than others and some of these might surprise you. If you want to avoid crowds at Disneyland, you need to read this to plan your dates.

Keep reading for more information on the Disneyland dates to avoid including the worst days of the year to visit.

What is the busiest month at Disneyland?Disneyland dates to avoid- Haunted Mansion Holiday

The answer to this question might surprise you! Many guests assume that the most crowded time of the year is the summer months and Christmas at Disneyland. While both of those times of year, especially those last two weeks in December, can be busy there is still one month that beats it all.

Surprisingly, October has easily outpaced the holiday and summer season to become the busiest month at Disneyland!

Disneyland goes all out for Halloween with a larger-than-life Mickey pumpkin at the front of Main Street, U.S.A., and themed overlays in both parks- plus a special ticketed Halloween party called Oogie Boogie Bash. Many guests love to visit Disneyland for Halloween (myself included!) but may not realize just how popular an October visit is. It’s something that even caught me off guard during our last visit in the third week of October when we experienced crowds that easily outpaced other peak holidays of the year we’ve been in the Disney parks… like Thanksgiving Day, Memorial Day, Christmas Day, etc!

So why is October at Disneyland so crowded? Well, Disneyland now celebrates Halloween on the same scale as they do Christmas so that’s one major reason! The Disneyland Halloween season offers some of the best entertainment and themed holiday decor of the year. This time of year has become a priority to visit for many families plus all these holiday offerings bring out the passholders in droves.

But those two reasons alone aren’t the biggest factor in making October one of the most common Disneyland dates to avoid. Many schools in California, Utah, and Nevada all have Fall breaks during the month of October. This is also becoming more common in general at K-12 schools around the country making it an ideal time to visit Disneyland. You will see the week of Columbus Day/Indigenous Peoples’ Day especially crowded. If you want to visit Disneyland for Halloween but you’re looking for Disneyland dates to avoid, going in September is a great alternative.

Three Day Weekends Disneyland Dates to AvoidDisneyland dates to avoid- Memorial Day

You can read more about the special events that take place throughout the year at Disneyland in our crowd calendar which all impact some of the Disneyland dates to avoid. Three-day weekends are always guaranteed to draw Disneyland crowds which include:

  • Martin Luther King Jr. Day
    • 3rd Monday in January
  • President’s Day
    • 3rd Monday In February
  • Memorial Day
    • Last Monday in May
  • Labor Day
    • First Monday in September
  • Indigenous/Columbus Day
    • 2nd Monday in October
  • Veteran’s Day
    • November 11th each year

Since nearly all of these holidays are three-day weekends (except Veteran’s Day occasionally) these will create Disneyland dates to avoid. Three-day weekends are always extremely crowded at Disneyland as many tourists will take the chance for a short trip to Disneyland and many of the locals/Magic Key holders (that aren’t blocked out) will turn out to spend time at the parks.

Some three-day weekends are more crowded than others though depending on what time of the year they fall. Indigenous People’s Day (also known as Columbus Day in some states) is always an extremely crowded weekend. This is largely because it often coordinates with existing Fall school breaks in the area which contribute to those larger October crowds. In contrast, I have been in the park on Memorial Day and I found this holiday to be easily manageable. It didn’t feel much more crowded to me than a day during the holiday season. In comparison to a week in mid-October, it wasn’t even close. So don’t discount holidays completely, some aren’t always Disneyland dates to avoid.

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When Are the Busiest Times at Disneyland?Disneyland dates to avoid- Matterhorn Disneyland

Aside from nearly the whole month of October and the three-day weekends I listed above, there are other key busy times of the year at Disneyland to be aware of. It’s also helpful to keep in mind that there is truly no “dead time” at Disneyland anymore but there will be times of the year when crowd levels will be higher and for some people that might be a dealbreaker when planning their vacation.

Disneyland Spring Break Crowds

You will see some larger crowd levels during the peak of Spring break which is often the second half of March. Spring breaks vary from school to school so it’s hard to pinpoint the exact timeframe.

Disneyland After Dark is a popular ticketed event with various themes that take place throughout the spring and this will cause larger crowds typically as event goers enter early before it begins and as other guests flock to the opposite park hosting the event.

Disneyland Summer Crowds

Summer is actually a great time to visit Disneyland as the impact of tourists visiting the resort is spread pretty evenly throughout the season. You will see larger crowd levels in July, especially around July 4th, and they will begin to taper off pretty quickly in August.

The biggest crowd indicator in May and June will be the Disneyland Grad Nites which can cause crowds at both parks, especially if California Adventure closes early for the Grad Nite parties. Many guess often stress if their trip coordinates with a Grad Nites celebration but in my experience, I didn’t find the crowds to be that bad nor did it seem like a “wild influx of teens” took over the park. We just saw more teens in the evening than usual and wait times did increase in Disneyland until they began making their way to California Adventure.

Disneyland Christmas Crowds

One of the best times of the year to visit Disneyland is once the holiday season begins which usually starts the first week of November and runs until the first week of January. Disneyland goes all out for its holiday displays! I’m a long time Christmas nerd and I’ve been to both Walt Disney World and Disneyland for Christmas… and I will say I think Disneyland does it best! You will see the two infamous holiday overlay attractions: Haunted Mansion Holiday and it’s a small world Holiday come to life which is my favorite part of the season. Disneyland decorates both parks to the nines with lighted displays along with lights all over Sleeping Beauty’s Castle. The Festival of Holidays takes place at California Adventure bringing with it a variety of entertainment and holiday food marketplace booths around the park. But some of the days that fall in these time frames are Disneyland dates to avoid if you don’t want to deal with crowds.

You can expect the end of Thanksgiving week to be crowded, especially on Thanksgiving Day and the day after, in November. I have to been at Disneyland on Thanksgiving Day and it was pretty crowded, especially in the morning. However, we stayed until close, and once the fireworks ended the parks emptied like usual.

The last two weeks of December along with weekends are also times during the holiday season that draw large crowds. The weekends especially can be more crowded than usual as many Magic Key holders and locals without passes come to see the holiday decor at the parks. I have experienced quite a crowd shift just going from a Thursday to a Friday in December that sometimes took me by surprise because of this. It’s always good to be prepared.

And of course, you can expect Christmas week and New Year’s Eve to be some of the most crowded days of the entire year at Disneyland. These dates easily rival October at Disneyland, especially New Year’s Eve. If you want to enjoy the holiday season at Disneyland but need to avoid crowds, you shouldn’t visit during that week.

Should I Visit Disneyland on a Holiday?Disneyland dates to avoid- its a small world holiday

For people not fans of crowds, holidays are often Disneyland dates to avoid. However, some holidays are more intense than others and it can be a really fun experience to be in the parks on a holiday. I am a frequent Disneyland and Walt Disney World holiday traveler so I have spent many holidays at the parks including Memorial Day, 4th of July, Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, and Christmas Day. While some of these holidays were crazier than others (Thanksgiving!) we created great family memories.

It’s also a nice change, especially for parents, to not have to deal with cooking or cleaning. One of my favorite parts of being in Disneyland on Thanksgiving was that I didn’t have to cook anything or clean the house. It was one of the most relaxing holidays I’ve enjoyed in a while.

We visited during Thanksgiving week and honestly, the worst crowds we saw were Thanksgiving Day and the following day but the days leading up to it were quite manageable. I made sure to plan both lunch and dinner reservations for both these days, knowing they would be crowded, so we didn’t have to worry about food lines. We just took it easy and did not stress about the crowds. An attitude adjustment can make all the difference. We had spent our other three days leading up to the holiday knocking out all our favorite rides, using our Disneyland morning strategy, so we weren’t too worried if we got on less on Thanksgiving Day.

If you are on the fence about a holiday, think about whether you want to do a summer holiday (much less crowded) or a winter holiday (more extravagant park celebrations) and see what your family prioritizes. It can be a lot of fun to mix things up.

If you are looking to find information about more Disneyland dates to avoid and special events, stay up to date on our Disneyland crowd calendar which provides a full 12-month overview of the parks including a monthly breakdown of weather, events, and crowd levels.

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About Lindsay Brookshier

Lindsay is a college English instructor and has years of writing experience through various nonprofits, charities, newspapers, and online magazines. As the content director of Mickey Visit, she oversees article content and leads our fantastic team of writers to meet guest vacation needs. You can still find her writing weekly content to help make your Disney Parks trip fantastic here on Mickey Visit and Disney Dose- you can also view her recently featured posts on Disney Parks travel on Visit Anaheim, Nerd Wallet and SFGate. Lindsay comes from a dedicated Disney family and enjoys taking her son to the Disney parks as often as possible.

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