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?
- Will there be any attractions shut down for maintenance or refurbishment while I’m at Disneyland?
- How can I make our Disneyland vacation extra special?
- When will new Disneyland vacation package deals or room discounts become available?
- When will Disneyland ticket prices go up?
- What is a “Good Neighbor” hotel?
- Why don’t you 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?
WHEN you choose to visit can make a substantial difference! It’s not as big a difference as it used to be, as Disney has done a lot of work on spreading attendance across the year. They put special events, parties, festivals and promotions to fill up the hotels and parks during the traditional off season, making the slow seasons not as slow as they once were. That said, paying attention to dates is still worth it. Even if you have very limited times you can go, choosing the best possible options for arrival and departure date might reduce the average attendance across your trip by 10% or more if you can just avoid one super busy day, and that’s absolutely worth it.
The majority of Disneyland visitors are locals. So think about when you would go to Disneyland if you lived nearby (evenings, weekends and holidays, mostly), 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 (April 22, 2018 and November 4, 2018). 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! May have an effect on crowds, but a fun event. Visit DapperDay.com for info.
- Bats Day – May (2018 dates: May 5-6). This is an unofficial gathering of Goths, so Disneyland will be filled with cool, offbeat people wearing black. Usually has little effect on crowds. Visit BatsDay.net for info.
- Grad Nites – Mid-May through mid-June (2018 dates: May 4, 5, 11, 12, 15, 16, 18, 19, 22, 23, 30; June 1, 2, 5, 6, 8, 9). 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, we strongly recommend AVOIDING the parks on these dates!
- Gay Days. First weekend of October (2018 dates: October 5-7). Visit GayDaysAnaheim.com for details. In our experience, this event has minimal effect on crowds.
- Utah Education Association Convention – October (2018 dates: October 18-19). 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. 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.
If you can only travel during your children’s school breaks:
- If your school district has an unusual break that is not commonly observed by other districts, that’s a good time to consider.
- If your spring break is very early or very late compared to most schools, that may be a decent time to go. As a broad rule of thumb, the week just before Easter Sunday and the week just after will be the peaks of the spring break season, so if you have a break that is earlier or later than that, it may be slightly less busy. If your spring break is just before or after Easter, our advice is to wait until summer if you can.
- If you don’t have any unusual school breaks, summer vacation will usually be the best bet. Go very late in the summer, or very early. The best summer period is the last two weeks in August, which will usually have low-medium crowds, especially on weekdays. The next best time is the first two weeks in June, which will usually be moderately crowded, but not crazy. But even mid-summer will typically not reach the peaks seen right around Easter and Christmas.
- Christmas break will have the absolute worst crowds, but the parks will be open from very early in the morning to very late at night, and there will be a lot of decorations, parades and shows. If you go during this time, add an extra day or two to your stay if you can.
You can look up historical weather patterns on Weather Underground’s Travel Planner; enter 92802 (the Disneyland zip code) and the dates of your planned trip.
Disneyland does have to shut down rides and attractions throughout the year to do inspection, maintenance, and refurbishment. Most rides get shut down for at least a few days each year. When they can, Disney will schedule their refurbishments in the off-season to minimize the number of guests affected. They also avoid scheduling multiple popular attractions for refurbishment at the same time. Generally, during peak seasons (Spring Break, June and July, and Christmas break) Disney will do their best to have every attraction running. To give themselves a little cushion, they actually want everything running before the crowds arrive, so if you visit a week or so before a peak season, chances are most rides will be running. Conversely, right after a peak season is when the largest number of attractions are scheduled for maintenance, so if you visit in early September or January there may be several rides closed.
No matter what time of year you go, there is always a chance that they will need to shut down a ride for mechanical or other issues. Sometimes these unscheduled shutdowns last a few minutes, and sometimes the whole day. For example, Radiator Springs Racers at Disney’s California Adventure must be shut down when there is heavy rain, largely because traveling in an open-top car in the rain is an unpleasant experience for guests. Rides that get you wet, like Grizzly River Run, are sometimes closed if there is especially cold weather. For the most up-to-date information, check the printed daily park schedule or the tip board when you arrive, or ask at the concierge desk if you’re staying at a Disney hotel.
Disneyland usually puts rides on their refurbishment schedule about 2-3 months in advance, but this schedule is always subject to change. Occasionally a ride will get added last-minute or shut down with no warning, or a refurbishment will get rescheduled.
The folks at TouringPlans.com maintain a FREE regularly-updated chart of planned refurbishment of rides, shows, and other attractions at Disneyland. You do not need to have a subscription to TouringPlans.com to use the chart, but TouringPlans.com offers lots of useful information for anyone planning a Disneyland vacation, and a subscription is worth every penny. They offer an exclusive discount to MouseSavers readers, so be sure to use our discount link if you choose to subscribe.
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, we do have some ideas for you.
- Click here 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.
- Want romantic ideas for a Disneyland vacation? Click here to visit our Romance page.
Only Disney knows when (or if) the next ones will come out. We have no crystal ball — we 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.
Historical Discounts at Disneyland Resort
- 2018 Discounts and Offers
- 2017 Discounts and Offers
- 2016 Discounts and Offers
- 2015 Discounts and Offers
- 2014 Discounts and Offers
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: May 18, 2014; February 22, 2015; February 28, 2016; February 12, 2017; February 11, 2018.
Many years we’ve been able to find out the dates of the ticket price increases at least a day or two in advance, and have announced those increases through a MouseSavers.com Hot Deals email so that our 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 for our newsletter 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 monthly newsletter subscriber, you can add the Hot Deals announcements to your subscription.
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, we 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 we receive any Disneyland discounts, updates and news, we 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 4 golf courses; 2 water parks; 2 mini-golf courses; numerous lakes offering water sports, boating and fishing; 2 dinner shows and the BoardWalk entertainment district. 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. We 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 the “Offers & Discounts” section of Disneyland’s Canadian site 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 we recommend, Small World Vacations, gladly works with clients around the globe. They have many clients from Canada.