Disneyland Frequently Asked Questions
On this page you’ll find answers to some Disneyland frequently asked questions.
- When are the best (and worst) times of year to go to Disneyland in California?
- How’s the weather when I’m planning to go?
- How can I make our Disneyland vacation extra special?
- When will new Disneyland vacation package deals or room discounts become available?
- When will the price of Disneyland tickets go up?
- What is a “Good Neighbor” hotel?
- How come you don’t have more discounts and information for Disneyland?
- I have a disability or health issue and may need special accommodations. How can I get more information?
- Does Disneyland ever offer special discounts for Canadians?
There is no longer a completely uncrowded time of year to visit Disneyland. Due to the large number of Annual Passholders, plus local residents numbering in the tens of millions, Disneyland is popular year-round. So “lower crowd levels” is a relative term.
The majority of Disneyland visitors are locals. So think about when you would go to Disneyland if you lived nearby, and stay away during those times, if at all possible.
For detailed, day-by-day crowd predictions, subscribe to TouringPlans.com and get access to its Crowd Calendar.
The BEST times to go to Disneyland are:
- September-December, except holiday periods. In September kids are back in school, so the crowds drop off. The weather cools off in late October, though it can be crowded on fall weekends. Beginning in early October, you can enjoy Haunted Mansion Holiday. Beginning in early November, the Christmas decorations and it’s a small world Holiday will be up. Decorations stay up until approximately January 3. If you want to visit Disneyland during the Christmas-New Year period, pick whatever day the Rose Parade is held — it siphons off a lot of tourists and locals, especially in the morning.
- Second week of January-March (except holiday weekends). However, often rides will be closed for refurbishment at this time of year. The first week of January can be busy due to extended holiday vacations.
- Any rainy day. Southern Californians think they’ll melt if they get wet. Seriously, the parks are often dead when it rains. A few of the more exposed rides (i.e. Dumbo) may close temporarily if it’s really pelting down, but if the rain stops they’ll open back up.
- Weekdays, especially if you have to go in the summer or holiday seasons.
- During special events that interest you. Bear in mind that events can attract significant crowds, however.
- All summer. Crowds are really bad and it’s HOT.
- Weekends, year-round. For much of the year, the busiest day at Disneyland is Saturday and the busiest day at Disney California Adventure is Sunday, so if you have to go on a weekend, reverse those days! However, during the summer, about two-thirds of all Annual Passholders are blocked out on Saturdays, which makes Sundays at both parks extremely crowded. If you are going in the summer and choosing between Saturday and Sunday, pick Saturday.
- Thanksgiving weekend. Expect it to be horribly crowded (the week leading up to Thanksgiving is busy, too), though the decorations will be up and the weather is normally very pleasant.
- Weekend before Christmas through December 31. This is a very busy time, so forget about riding every attraction. However, it’s a nice time to wander around, enjoy the decorations and the weather, which is usually sunny and cool.
- The week on either side of Easter, and Easter weekend. The parks will be crowded, but the weather will usually be nice.
- Other holidays: Memorial Day weekend, Labor Day weekend, President’s Day, Martin Luther King’s Birthday, Veteran’s Day (November 11) will all be crowded.
- During special events. Some don’t create a lot of crowds, but some do.
Some less-known events that may affect crowds, park hours/experiences and/or traffic at Disneyland:
- Dapper Day – date varies, but usually Spring and Fall (2013 date: February 24). This is an unofficial gathering of people who like to dress up (often in vintage clothing) and go to Disneyland. You’ll see some great outfits! Little effect on crowds, but a fun event. Visit DapperDay.com for info.
- Bats Day – May and November (2013 dates: May 3-5). This is an unofficial gathering of Goths, so Disneyland will be filled with offbeat people wearing black. Usually has little effect on crowds. Visit BatsDay.net for info.
- Grad Nites – Mid-May through mid-June (2013 dates: May 9-11, May 15-18, May 22-24, May 29-31; June 5-7, June 12-14, June 19-21). A private nighttime event for high school kids (ages 14-18) is held at Disney California Adventure. It runs from after (early) park closing until early the next morning. The students also get Park Hopper tickets to visit both parks during the day, so expect crowded conditions and unsupervised teens in the parks all day long. In short, I strongly recommend AVOIDING the parks on these dates!
- D23 “Destination D” Event – Late summer (2013 dates: August 9-11). This Disney fan convention does not affect the park crowds very much during the day because attendees are busy with events at the Convention Center, but it has an effect at night. This event also affects availability at local hotels, because they are filled with fans.
- Gay Days. First weekend of October (2013 dates: October 4-6). Visit GayDaysAnaheim.com for details. In my experience, this event has almost no effect on crowds.
- Utah Education Association Convention – October (2013 dates: October 17-18.) Because of this teachers’ convention each year, most schools in the state of Utah have a 4-day or 5-day weekend. Many Utah residents take that opportunity to travel to Disneyland (some people call it Utah Escapes to Anaheim week), so that long weekend can be surprisingly crowded. Thanks to Heather W for info.
- ABC’s Very Merry Christmas Day Parade footage is taped at Disneyland, usually on the first or second weekend in November. (In 2012 it was November 3-4.) The exact dates aren’t officially released, and they often aren’t even “leaked” until 2-3 weeks prior. Unless you want to watch the production process, you may want to avoid Disneyland that weekend, because it can create crowd problems. The Christmas Day Parade is broadcast on ABC on December 25 each year.
Click on this link and enter 92802 (the Disneyland zip code) and the dates of your planned trip, to see historical weather patterns.
While every Disneyland vacation should be a blast, if you’re celebrating a special occasion, want to inject a little romance, or just plain want to do something extra, I do have some ideas for you.
- To learn more about what Disney can offer for your special occasion (birthday, anniversary, etc), click here.
- For info on special events and festivals that may be taking place during your visit, click here.
- Want romantic ideas for a Disneyland vacation? Visit the Romance page.
Only Disney knows when (or if) the next ones will come out. I have no crystal ball — I can’t predict what Disney may decide to do. However, to assist you in planning future trips for which discounts have not yet been released, a chart is shown below, so you can see what has been offered in the past.
Be aware that while they have great marketing appeal, Disneyland packages are not usually a great deal. Sometimes the promo packages are okay, but you really have to run the numbers.
Even when promo packages are offered, often you can do better by putting together your own “package” with a discounted room reservation and discounted tickets. “Room-only” discounts usually become available at around the same time as package offers for the same period.
Became Available / Expired
|1/5/10-4/29/10||5-night/5-day package for price of a 3-night/5-day package (2 nights free) at a Disneyland Resort Hotel (select arrival dates only), with discounted promotional tickets included||11/9/09-4/1/10|
|5/1/10-9/26/10||5-night/5-day package for price of a 3-night/3-day package (2 nights & 2 days free) at a Disneyland Resort Hotel||3/16/10-9/1/10|
|10/1/10-12/16/10||Save $300 on a 4-Day/4-Night Disneyland Resort vacation package||8/17/10-12/1/10|
Became Available / Expired
|1/4/11-4/11/11||4-night package for price of a 3-night package (1 night free) at a Disneyland Resort Hotel||11/23/10-2/19/11|
|2/21/11-4/30/11||Discounted room rate (up to 30%) off on room-only (any length of stay) or 2-night or longer package at a Disneyland Resort Hotel||2/21/11-3/19/11|
|4/17/11-6/18/11||Discounted room rate (up to 25%) off on room-only (any length of stay) or 2-night or longer package at a Disneyland Resort Hotel||3/21/11-5/28/11|
|6/1/11-8/31/11||Ultimate Southern California Vacation Package with Disneyland stay, San Diego stay, CityPASS, Alamo car rental||5/1/11-8/28/11|
|6/19/11-8/13/11||Discounted room rate (up to 25%) off on room-only or package (any length of stay) at a Disneyland Resort Hotel||6/1/11-6/18/11|
|7/17/11-8/13/11||Discounted room rate (up to 25%) off on room-only or package (any length of stay) at a Disneyland Resort Hotel||6/19/11-7/23/11|
|8/14/11-9/28/11||Save up to $450 on a 4-night package at a Disneyland Resort Hotel and get free Character meal||7/26/11-9/24/11|
|8/14/11-10/1/11||Save up to 30% most Sunday-Thursday nights and 15% most Friday and Saturday nights at Disneyland Resort Hotels (room-only offer, any length of stay)||7/26/11-9/24/11|
|10/2/11-12/24/11||Save up to 30% most nights at Disneyland Resort Hotels (room-only offer, any length of stay)||9/14/11-10/15/11|
Became Available / Expired
|1/2/12-2/29/12||Save up to 30% most nights at Disneyland Resort Hotels (room-only offer, any length of stay)||11/1/11-2/29/12|
|1/2/12-2/26/12||Save $500 on a 4-Day/4-Night Disneyland Resort vacation package||11/1/11-2/26/12|
|2/26/12-3/10/12||One More Disney Day package offer (1 night/day free w/full price 3-night/3-day package)||12/31/11, exp 1/31/12|
|3/1/12-4/14/12||Disney’s Visa cardholders save 15%-25% on select nights at Disneyland Resort Hotels (room-only offer, any length of stay)||1/10/12, exp 3/11/12|
|3/1/12-4/14/12||Save 15%-25% on select nights at Disneyland Resort Hotels (room-only offer, any length of stay)||1/17/12, exp 3/11/12|
|4/16/12-6/9/12||Save 15%-25% on select nights at Disneyland Resort Hotels (room-only offer, any length of stay)||3/13/12, exp 5/26/12|
Became Available / Expired
|4/7/13-5/22/13||Save 15%-20% on select nights at Disneyland Resort Hotels (room-only and package offer, 2-night minimum)||3/12/13, exp 4/27/13|
Only Disney can say for sure, but typically the prices of regular tickets and Annual Passports tend to go up at least once a year, usually on a Sunday.
Past dates when prices went up: August 3, 2008; August 2, 2009; August 5, 2010; June 12, 2011; May 20, 2012.
For the past several years I’ve been able to find out the dates of the ticket price increases at least a day or two in advance, and I’ve announced those increases through a MouseSavers.com Hot Deals email so that my readers could buy their tickets before the prices went up. If you would like to receive those notifications and you are not currently a subscriber to the FREE MouseSavers Newsletter, sign up here and be sure to select the option “I would also like to receive occasional MouseSavers last-minute ‘hot deals’ by email.” If you are already a newsletter subscriber and want to receive the Hot Deals announcements, click here for help.
It’s a hotel that has paid Disney a marketing fee in order to display that designation.
A Good Neighbor hotel usually has a ticket shop in the lobby that sells full price Disney tickets. The Good Neighbor hotels also participate in certain Disneyland vacation packages.
Other than that, the Good Neighbor designation means nothing for the consumer. It does not guarantee quality. Some Good Neighbor hotels really aren’t very nice, while others are excellent. Some are close to Disneyland, while others are quite far away.
Basically, I would advise you to ignore the Good Neighbor designation, as it doesn’t guarantee you anything at all.
Sometimes people compare the Walt Disney World section of this site (or the MouseSavers Newsletter) with the Disneyland section, and wonder why the Disney World section is so much bigger.
When I receive any Disneyland discounts, updates and news, I do publish them. However, there is just plain a lot less information for Disneyland.
For one thing, Walt Disney World is massively larger and more complex than Disneyland!
- Disneyland is roughly 1 square mile in size. Disney World is about 47 square miles in size.
- Disneyland has 2 theme parks. Disney World has 4 theme parks, one of which (Epcot) is effectively 2 parks.
- Disneyland has 3 hotels. Disney World has over 20 large resorts.
- In addition, Disney World has 5 golf courses; 2 water parks; 2 mini-golf courses; numerous lakes offering water sports, boating and fishing; 2 dinner shows; the BoardWalk entertainment district and DisneyQuest (a “virtual theme park”). Disneyland has none of those.
Also, deep discounts are much harder to find at Disneyland than deals at Walt Disney World. Why? Because the two regions have very different economies.
Disneyland has not been affected by the economic downturn nearly as seriously as Orlando. The number of hotel rooms in Anaheim is limited because the area has been fully developed for about 50 years, making it difficult to build new hotels. Most Disneyland visitors are relatively local: more than 20 million people live within easy driving distance of Disneyland. So even when times are tough, plenty of locals will scrape together enough money for 2 or 3 days’ Disneyland admission and a night or two in a nearby hotel. In fact, it’s even conceivable that Disneyland could benefit from an economic downturn, because West Coast inhabitants who might normally vacation in more expensive locations (i.e., Hawaii) may decide to substitute a long weekend at Disneyland instead.
Walt Disney World, on the other hand, gets most of its visitors from outside Central Florida. The local population is relatively small and the economy is extremely dependent on tourism. The Orlando area only has around a million inhabitants and about 1 in 20 of them work for Disney. In addition, the availability of huge swaths of undeveloped land around Walt Disney World has made it easy for developers to overbuild, adding many thousands of new hotel rooms. The net result? Orlando hotels are hungry for business and they are rolling out fantastic deals.
So if you’re torn between a visit to Walt Disney World and a visit to Disneyland, Florida almost certainly should be your choice. In most cases you’ll get a lot more for your money at Walt Disney World.
There will never be as much coverage of Disneyland on MouseSavers.com, in the MouseSavers Newsletter or in MouseSavers Hot Deals as there is of Disney World. I can’t publish what doesn’t exist!
I have a disability or health issue and may need special accommodations. How can I get more information?
Here are two useful resources for anyone with a disability or special need who plans to visit one of the Disney theme parks:
- Teri’s Disney Travelers’ Disability FAQ – a wonderful FREE resource for those with disabilities (and their friends and family) who are planning a trip to Disneyland. Lots of great links to additional information, too.
- Disney’s official information about help for those with disabilities at Disneyland.
Not often, but occasionally. In the past, when the exchange rate was much less favorable for Canadians, Disneyland occasionally offered “at par” specials on vacation packages, hotel rooms and tickets, particularly in the off-season.
You can visit Disney.ca and click on the Special Offers tab to see any current deals specific to Canadians, but 99% of the time the offers are the same as those distributed in the US. Sometimes the Canadian offer will have a different discount code, but otherwise it will be identical to the US offer.
Canadians can book the US offers. The Disney specialist travel agency I recommend, Small World Vacations, gladly works with clients around the globe. They have many clients from Canada.