October 28, 2010

When’s the best time to visit Disneyland?

When more than 16 million visitors swing through the gates each year, there’s always going to be crowds. But there are SOME days and seasons that are better than others for visiting Disneyland…

Walt Disney

Bear in mind that this post is for Disneyland in Los Angeles, not Disney World in Orlando – and there is a difference.

In LA’s Anaheim Disneyland employs about 20,000 locals, so it’s a massive employer. It also offers annual passes to locals who snap them up for about what you and I pay for a three-day pass. Consequently the main visitors each day are the locals just dropping in with the kids after school or in the holidays or on the weekend or of an evening.

When is the best time of year to visit Disneyland?

The locals don’t fancy coming out when the weather isn’t great (which is rare to be honest), but that being said, I have visited Disneyland loads of times and the one time I noticed it being a little lighter in the crowd department was the Autumn. Fall. October onwards, pretty much.

I know this because this morning (October when I first wrote this post) I set out of the Grand California Hotel which is literally IN the grounds of the California Adventure park at 9.30am and by lunchtime we had blitzed nine rides!

It’s Halloween at Disneyland

The good thing is that the schools have finished their summer vacation and the inclement autumn weather bodes well for queue-free queuing as apparently “Californians don’t like the rain”. It was only overcast, so we were even happier, and with Halloween looming the entire park was pumpkined.

Here is what the Disneyland site recommends:

  • Mid-January through mid-March (except for President’s Day Weekend)
  • Mid-April through mid-May (except during Spring Break)
  • Mid-September through mid-November (except during Halloween Time)

But note that these off-peak times might also mean some rides undergo maintenance and park opening hours might also be reduced.

What days are best to visit Disneyland?

Mid-week helps. We avoided the weekend just by chance and were rewarded with a few less strollers and mobility scooters. Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday is ideal.

Disneyland or California Adventure?

Lightening McQueen

Lightening McQueen at the new CarsLand

If price is an object (and it’s not cheap!) I am starting to swerve towards California Adventure. I think when Star Wars Land opens at Disneyland sometime in 2017 that might change my mind, but if you’ve been to Disneyland in the last 10 years then nothing much has changed. Your old favourites are still there. But cross the courtyard and head into California Adventure Park, which opened in 2001 but struggled for a long time, and you might be very pleasantly surprised.

Soaring Over California is still one of my favourites and if you get there early, like we did last time, no one was there at all so we whizzed in and were seated in our flying machine within three minutes for an airborne glide over California, which includes the smell of oranges when you get to Orange County.

I was lucky enough to be invited over for the media opening of Cars Land and still this park is one of my favourites with Radiator Springs Racers and a couple of others plus dining. The kids will love this.

You’ll also find oldies like the Tower of Terror with lines up to 80 minutes the last time I rocked up, and the fun film set area which is now part of the grand entrance and is worth visiting if you want to see how they make animated videos, but over at Paradise Pier there’s the breathless California Screamin roller coaster which does the full loop-de-loop and the really fun Toy Story Mania which is a 4D ride where you battle with shooting targets with your laser gun while having air blowing at you and your carriage moving.

There are other rides to keep you entertained for ages here too, but one worth taking your little girls into is definitely The Little Mermaid. Very tame and very cute.

Turtle Talk with Crush from Nemo will also have your kids intrigued as the turtle on screen talks to individual kids.

I also like Grizzly River Run, but prepared to get a little wet!


And when you’ve had enough of the fun and want a posh dinner out, head to Napa Rose Restaurant. No it’s not all kitsch and fatty foods here!

Read my blog post about hanging out at all the great restaurants and shopping at Downtown Disney >>>






About Megan Singleton


Hi, I'm Megan Singleton and I'm the word slinger of this travel blog as well as on radio every week and a few newspapers and mags from time to time. I set off on this travel writing journey 18 years ago and I've pretty much always got a suitcase half packed (or half un-packed!)I'd love you to join me on Facebook or Twitter and sign up for monthly newsletters if you want loads of travel tips, advice and deals!

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