If you go to Disneyland on the week before Christmas, you will probably regret it.
When it comes to big crowds and long lines at Disneyland, it doesn’t get any worse than the holiday season. Attendance swells to the highest levels of the year and the “Happiest Place on Earth” becomes the “Most Ridiculously Crowded Place on Earth.”
It’s no secret that the Holidays at the Disneyland Resort is the most popular time of the year to go. The parks are decked out for Christmas, holiday shows and parades are in full swing, and attractions are boasting their seasonal overlays. For many people, it’s the perfect time to visit Disneyland — and the absolute worst time to visit if you’re looking for a little bit of breathing room.
The holiday season is indeed the busiest time of the year at Disneyland. Still, that doesn’t mean a trip to the parks during Christmastime has to be a miserably crowded experience. If you go the right day, it’s possible to enjoy all the holiday festivities Disney has to offer without the endless lines and massive crowds.
The Best and Worst Days to Go to Disneyland Holidays 2018:
- November 12-15
- November 26-29
- December 3-6
If you must go closer to Christmas, try to go on:
- December 10-14
Otherwise, go on:
- December 24 (Christmas Eve)
- January 1 (New Year’s Day)
- November 9 (First day of Holidays)
- November 19-21
- November 23-24
- December 1
- December 8-9
- December 15-23
- December 26-30
Be sure to check out the Disneyland Crowd Calendar for more dates. Keep an eye out for “Best Bet” days, which have a higher chance of being less crowded.
Best & Worst Days in November
When it comes to beating the holiday season crowds at Disneyland, the early bird gets the worm. The best general advice is to go early in the season, with one major exception — Thanksgiving week. The weeks before and after Thanksgiving are historically some of the best days to go during the holiday season. Weekends in November are crowded, but it’s way better than weekends in December, some of the most crowded days of the year.
How is opening weekend?
The holiday season officially starts on the week after Halloween, traditionally on Friday. Opening weekend, especially Friday night, is very popular with locals and annual passholders, so try to avoid it if you can.
The calm before the storm
The first full week of the holiday season (Monday-Thursday) is historically one of the best times to go. We call it the calm before the storm. It’s the week before Thanksgiving, so schools are still in session and most people aren’t in the holiday mood just yet. The result? Manageable crowds and tolerable wait times! It’s an early Christmas miracle!
Thanksgiving Week is kinda crazy
Ok, let’s talk about the week of Thanksgiving. Don’t go. Got it? Good.
Simply put, Thanksgiving week should be avoided at all costs. It’s one of the busiest times at Disneyland year after year, as capacity crowds slam the parks before and after the Thanksgiving holiday. It gets so crowded that it’s not uncommon for Disney to halt ticket sales and suspend admission to the park to relieve attendance levels.
If you’re crazy enough to visit Disneyland this week, we recommend going on Sunday or Thursday (Thanksgiving Day). Those days are historically just a little bit more manageable. Be sure to also arrive early in the morning and before the parks open if at all possible — Disneyland usually reaches capacity by noon.
Is Black Friday crowded?
Is Disneyland crowded on the day after Thanksgiving (Black Friday)? We get asked this question a lot! Surely everyone is out shopping or resting from their turkey hangover, right? Nope! Black Friday is one of the busiest days of the year.
Week after Thanksgiving – “The sweet spot”
After Thanksgiving week, schools go back in session and attendance drops during the week. This is the “sweet spot” of the holiday season at Disneyland — a few days of relatively manageable crowds and bearable lines in between all of the madness. Weekdays in late November through early December are historically less crowded.
Best & Worst Days in December
December is when the holiday season crowds go from bad to worse — and downright ugly around Christmas. Just like in November though, you’re a lot better off the earlier in the month you go. By the week before Christmas, attendance starts to pick up and peaks on the days before and after Christmas Day.
First week of December – Last call!
Weekdays on the first week of December are historically the last dates to experience a somewhat manageable Disneyland before the holiday season crowds really start to pick up.
Week before Christmas
The week before Christmas is when crowds get very noticeably worse. This is the week schools start to get off for winter break, so attendance spikes at Disneyland to some of the highest levels of the year.
Is Christmas Eve crowded?
Is Disneyland usually crowded on Christmas Eve? Yup, but it’s historically one of the better days to go around then. So if you absolutely, positively must visit Disneyland during the worst time of the year, we recommend going on Christmas Eve.
What about Christmas Day?
So, is Disneyland crowded on Christmas Day? It usually is, but it tends to vary every year. Unfortunately, we don’t see a historical trend of Christmas Day being less crowded like Christmas Eve. Disneyland is one of the few places open on Christmas Day, and many other theme parks are closed for the holiday, so attendance can sometimes be higher on December 25.
December 26-30 – Worst days ever?
This is where it gets ugly. The days after Christmas are arguably the worst days of the year to go. In recent years, Disneyland reaching maximum capacity on any of these days is almost a certainty.
We’re talking 100+min wait times here and gridlocked walkways everywhere you go. Yeah, it’s pretty bad. If you must go after Christmas, we highly recommend waiting until New Year’s Eve or early January.
— The Very Unveri-fied Account of Jason Sperling (@jasonsperling__) December 27, 2017
New Year’s Eve is… actually ok?
New Year’s Eve at Disneyland can actually be manageable if you go during the day. Crowds do, however, tend to pick up substantially in the evening for the New Year’s countdown festivities and fireworks.
What about January?
The holiday season at Disneyland doesn’t end after December — it extends through the first week of the new year.
Here’s the bad news: it’s still crowded. Schools are still out of session and families are still on winter vacation, so the big holiday season crowds are still around. The good news? It’s not as bad as the last weeks of December. Disneyland usually doesn’t reach capacity after New Year’s, so we think it’s definitely worth waiting until at least January 1 to enjoy the last few days of the holiday season.
Is New Year’s Day crowded?
So, just how crowded is Disneyland on New Year’s Day? The first day of the year is surprisingly one of the better days to go during the holiday chaos. New Year’s Day is often marked as a “Best Bet” on the Disneyland Crowd Calendar, which means it has the highest chance of being one of the least crowded days of the week. Granted, it’s still the holiday season, so expect long lines for many rides — but if you must go around then, we think New Year’s Day isn’t such a bad idea.
Last days of Holidays
After New Year’s Day, crowds pick up again on January 2 through the last day of the holiday season. Again though, it tends to be more manageable than the days before and after Christmas.
The holiday season at Disneyland can be a magical time to visit, but picking the right day to go will help you maximize your experience to the parks. Be sure to keep an eye on the Disneyland Crowd Calendar for any updates and try to follow these steps when planning your trip:
- Go early in the holiday season (preferably on a weekday)
- Avoid Thanksgiving week
- Avoid the week before Christmas
- Avoid the week of Christmas
- Don’t even think about going December 26-30
Have you been to Disneyland during the holidays? What was your experience like and when do you think is the best or worst time to go? Be sure to let us know in the comments below!