Disneyland in January: Tips for Maximizing Time and Rise of the Resistance

Disneyland in January is typically considered one of the ‘off-season' months at the parks with lower crowd levels making it a favorite time for many groups to visit!

Everyone has personal preferences to consider when planning the date of their Disneyland trip- each season will have its pros and cons and guests' choices will vary based on those. Make sure to read our Disneyland crowd calendar to get an idea of what to expect when picking a date to visit Disneyland.

Keep reading for everything you need to know about visiting Disneyland in January including current events, what weather to expect, crowd level predictions, and what to pack!

Disneyland Events in JanuaryStar Wars: Rise of the Resistance

Here are all the current events to know about impacting Disneyland in January!

Festive Holidays & Christmas Celebration

The holiday season runs from November 8th and runs until January 6th. If you are visiting that first week of January you will catch the tail end of the holiday season which includes seasonal overlays for beloved rides, a Christmas themed parade and firework show, holiday World of Color show, and plenty of amazing holiday decor.

Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge- NEW Ride Opening Date

Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge second much anticipated ride opens on January 17th! Rise of the Resistance is a trackless ride that takes place during an epic battle between the First Order and Resistance with massive real-life sets and Audio-Animatronics setting the scene. Guests will feel like they are hurtling through a massive Star Destroyer as they are being pursued by the First Order. Images were shared of the incredible scale of the attraction. In one scene riders will face massive two story tall AT-AT figures and dodge through their legs below. In another scene, guests will come face to face with Kylo Ren in an interrogation.

Disneyland will utilize a virtual queue for accessing the new ride that will allow guests that guests can book through their Disneyland app or at kiosks inside the park. The virtual system works in a very similar way to FastPass. Once your boarding group is called you will have two hours to go get in line. We recommend arriving at least an hour before the parks open for a good chance a securing a boarding pass because there are no guarantees! Make sure to read our guide to Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge for land reviews, tips and tracks, and everything you need to know.

Disneyland After Dark: 80s Nite

Disneyland After Dark are specially themed events that take place after park hours at Disneyland all featuring entertainment, food, photo ops, merchandise, and more all pertaining to their perspective theme. On January 29th guests can look forward to 80s Nite is an 80s themed era evening featuring special merchandise, themed food, entertainment, and more.

Lunar New Year

Starting at the end of the month will be the Lunar New Year celebration at Disneyland. Located in Paradise Gardens in Disney California Adventure guests will find music, shows, activities, and delicious Asian-themed delicacies.

Refurbishments

Starting January 7th, Disneyland will end all the holiday celebrations and begin taking down the decor. During this time the Haunted Mansion and it's a small world will be closed as Disneyland transforms them back to their original designs. Haunted Mansion is expected to undergo a lengthier refurbishment in order to maintain the ride in its pristine condition. Two other rides that commonly go under refurbishment in January are Grizzly River Run and Splash Mountain.

Since January is considered a slower time of year at Disneyland this is a time that the resort likes to undergo any seasonal refurbishments on rides so it's common to see some rides go down during this time. You can check Disneyland's calendar before your visit to prepare yourself for which rides may not be open.

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Disneyland January Crowd CalendarPirate cellmates try to lure a dog with cell keys in its mouth over to their locked cell

Visiting Disneyland in January this year will be a bit different to predict because of the opening of Rise of the Resistance on January 17th. This past summer the large crowds we all expected with the opening of Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge didn't materialize. Many folks decided to postpone their trips until both rides were open and others stayed away for fear of the crowds. So this January might be a bit of a wild card- we just don't know what to expect now! The ride may draw larger than usual crowds or it might not.

If you want to avoid any projected crowds in January, you can always visit before the ride opens on January 17th. But then you will also be missing the highly anticipated Rise of the Resistance ride which is said to be one of the most impressive attractions that Disney has ever built! You may also want to avoid Martin Luther King Jr. Day and weekend which is notorious for bringing large crowds.

The Disneyland locals always have an impact of crowds and it's likely many will come out to see the new Rise of the Resistance ride when it opens. It's always helpful to take a look at the blockout date calendar on Disney's website. But January is the time of year that Disney typically allows all their Annual Passholders in the park with limited block out dates for lower tier passes such as weekends. Some locals may also decide to stay away right after Rise of the Resistance opens and wait until the excitement dies down.

This month at Disneyland is going to be unpredictable but we recommend picking the date that best works for you and not worrying too much about crowds. January is typically a slower time of the year to visit and we still expect that to be the case for the month despite the new ride opening.

Disneyland Weather in January

Visiting Disneyland in January comes with typical California weather which often means rain! January is one of the months in Southern California that sees the most rain so it's best to be prepared for that reality. Disneyland won't close because of rain but rides with outdoor tracks often will close during rain. One good thing about experiencing rain at Disneyland is it tends to empty out the parks as many guests dash back to their hotels. This is a great time to throw on a rain poncho and experience low wait ride times.

The average temperature for Anaheim in January is a high of 66 degrees and a low of 28 degrees. The weather can be unpredictable this time of year. There might be some days that feel so warm in the sun that it feels like spring or days with rainfall so hard that it's a downpour.

Disneyland's operating hours will also be shorter this time of year with the parks averaging an opening schedule of 10 hours a day on weekdays with limited entertainment and weekends with longer hours ranging up to 16 hours a day and more entertainment options.

Tips for Visiting Disneyland in January

When it comes to visiting Disneyland in January, we have some tried and true hacks for having a magical time on your vacation.

What to Wear 

One of the most frequently asked guest questions is: what should I wear to Disneyland? Always check the weather leading up to your trip. I always recommend guests wear layers when visiting during the winter in Southern California. You just never know what the weather might do- it could feel so sunny one day you'd want to be in shorts or be so chilly another day you want a winter coat! The good news is that you can rent lockers at Disneyland to store any light jackets or extra layers in. If rain is projected during your trip then dress for rain with warm layers and a rain jacket. The nights will feel really chilly and it's not uncommon to see folks wearing light winter jackets.

What to Pack 

Pack clothes for warm and cold weather so you're prepared for any weather change. Hands down the most important item you cannot forget for at trip to Disneyland in January is a rain poncho. You don't want to clear out when it starts raining because that's when the ride times are the lowest! Carry a poncho with you so you can throw it on easily. Wear comfortable shoes that will work well in rainy weather and bring plenty of extra socks.

You can read our giant packing list here to make sure you show up prepared for literally anything you need while you're visiting Disneyland.

What to Expect

There are a few things you should expect when choosing January as your month to visit Disneyland:

  • Plan for Rain- like we've said a few times already, you will likely encounter rain on your visit so be prepared! Set your expectations to not be disappointed if it does rain- this just means that you'll get to ride more rides with lower wait times. Be prepared with the clothes you wear, bring a rain poncho, and know that the outdoor track rides may close for inclement weather.
  • Rise of the Resistance New Ride- don't forget that the new Rise of the Resistance opens on January 17th so you will see high crowds on that day even if they don't materialize for the rest of the month. If that date is one of your trip dates then make sure you arrive early and use MaxPass to maximize your time.
  • Tips for Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge- if you're planning on visiting Batuu, then make sure to read our guide on the Star Wars themed land! There are a few experiences that have been extremely popular aside from the Millennium Falcon ride and it's good to show up prepared so you know where to go first. If you have your heart set on meeting DJ Rex then go straight to Oga's Cantina in the morning. Or are you ready to become a Jedi and build a lightsaber? Then head right for Savi's Workshop! If you're not too interested in Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge, the good news is that it does ‘eat up crowds' so to speak for the rest of the park. But still make the time to at least walk through, you won't be disappointed. Disneyland has done an amazing job on this newest addition to the parks that even the most casual Star Wars fan will appreciate.

But most of all, remember to enjoy your time at the happiest place on earth!

Plan Your Disneyland Vacation!

Keep reading our blog to keep you updated on everything you need to know to prepare for a Disney Parks vacation! We have a team of writers working hard to keep you updated weekly on events in the parks and tips for navigating the magic. Subscribe to our free deals newsletter to receive helpful planning information, exclusive Disney deals, and access to the lowest priced Disney tickets anywhere. You can find more information on planning your vacation here:

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