Sunday, August 26, 2007

Best time to visit Disneyland

Figuring out when to visit a park that's open every single day of the year can be overwhelming. Most people consider the obvious, the crowd conditions, but fail to recognize other factors: Events held around Anaheim, the schedules of local school districts and even events occurring in the park itself.

Summer is one of the busiest times of the year, making entering the park a challenge itself. My picture, 2007.

It is widely assumed that summer is the busiest time at Disneyland, which is only partly true. Many estimates, including the Disneyland Linkage, place the weeks surrounding Christmas and New Years at the top of the list for most crowded.

New Year's Eve is infamous for the amount of people it attracts, and it is often reported that Disneyland simply begins refusing entrance to new guests. The maximum capacity for the park is around 85,000, and if you think of how small the walkways are in "normal" conditions, imagine it with 25, 30 thousand more people!

No matter how unbelievable it sounds, there are plenty of benefits to visiting Disneyland during the peak season. In spirit of the holidays, the park is given a complete makeover during the winter season, a main factor in drawing crowds. Even if you can't sneak onto Indiana Jones Adventure or the Matterhorn Bobsleds, it's worth a visit simply to witness the "snow" fall around Sleeping Beauty Castle and warm holiday tunes playing in the background.

The castle gets all decorated for the holiday season. s0nginmyheart on, 2006.

You simply can't say the same for July and August, however. These months are also noted as some of the busiest, often ranking in at 55,000 visitors. Pair that with the beating California sun (average temperatures for the summer season range from 70-100 degrees Fahrenheit), and you've got both long lines and cranky guests surrounding you. It's also more common for groups to "cut" in front of you while waiting in summer's infamous lines: During my trip in early August, a group of around 20 managed to cut in front of my family while in the queue area for the Hollywood Tower of Terror.

Hour long waiting times and soaring temperatures are two things you have to be willing to accept if you visit in summer; they're both not going to change anytime soon. If you think past the rude people and sweat rolling down your face, you can have a pretty nice time. Just remember to ride some of the more popular rides, like Indiana Jones and Splash Mountain, in the wee hours of the morning and late at night. And don't even bother with Finding Nemo unless you've got a spare two hours on your hands.

You may be wondering about the so-called "off seasons" often mentioned with Disneyland fans. This phrase simply refers to the quieter, less crowded periods of time at the park, generally during the following: January, early and mid-February, September through October (excluding Columbus Day), November (also excluding the days around Thanksgiving, which are very busy), and the first two weeks of December.

If you visit during the off season, chances are you'll get a view similar to this. Arrowfanman on, 2007.

In short: January, February, September, October and early December are best for visiting. March, April, June, July, August, November and late December are worst when it comes to crowds. May would probably be categorized in "worst" if anything, but most of the time it's sort of a neutral month.

Take this guide with a grain of salt as there are always exceptions, such as various school holidays, events taking place around the park and sudden changes in Disneyland's schedule. For the best trip possible, always make reservations months ahead of time and pay attention to what's going on in terms of events. And of course, consult the Disneyland Expert if you've got other burning questions!


Anonymous said...

Wow, good info! I can't believe it is so busy during the Christmas season! Is the park actually open on Christmas day? Standing in line is not what I would want to be doing on that day.

Stephanie said...

I think one of the reason why I love fall is because it's the time of year that I practically go to Disneyland every week. There's hardly anyone there, and the weather is nice and cool. No sun, no people, just me and my favorite place in the world.

Jen said...

I once went the day after memorial day and it was dead as a door nail. We even asked a parking attendent about visting the day after a holiday and he said that the days following major holiday's tend to be really slow. We even got a picture on main street with the castle in the background and no one else in the picture as we were leaving the park at closing. it was great!

Anonymous said...

I was planing to go January 6th for my b-day I take it this will be an ok time to go?

Lauren said...

I have been almost every time of the year. I used to go for a week in October and this is a great time to go. I have been at Xmas and though busy it is all worth it. I have been in the summer and it was a little too busy for my taste. I am going next week April 8-10, and have been at this time before and the waits were not too bad, even though this is considered "peak" season.

Justin said...

Early May tends to be the best time of year if you are caught wanting to go towards then end of spring. Look at it this way, all the schools that were on Spring Break in April are now back in session for the last 6 weeks or so, although some schools do get out towards the end of may. For example, I am going on Wednesday, May 9th, right in the middle of the week, so it shouldn't be too bad. January is a very good time to go, as well as the weeks between after Thanksgiving but before Christmas.

Unknown said...

Thanks for the info! I was just wondering if October would be a bad time to go, but it sounds like it will be perfect!