Want to plan a trip to Disneyland? Us too! After visiting Disneyland for decades, we’ve been able to come up with a helpful way to not only plan our own vacations but also help our Inside the Magic readers plan their Disney trips, too.
Inside the Magic has put together a Disneyland Crowd Calendar, our guide to the best times to go to Disneyland in 2021, as well as some tips and tricks to visiting during the busy times of the year, the holidays and special events, and even the least expensive times to go. As the Disney Parks continue to navigate operating in these unprecedented times, it is super helpful to have a Crowd Calendar to guide you in your upcoming visit in 2021 amid all of the changes that have occurred.
Our crowd calendar is a super helpful tool when planning a trip to Disneyland, but there’s truly nothing like enlisting the help of an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner. While you can use our Disneyland Crowd Calendar to help you decide when to book your trip, an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner at Academy Travel can help you with so much more. They can help determine when you should visit Disneyland Resort based on your interests, schedule, budget, and more. And best of all — their services come at no extra cost to you! Click here for a free, no-obligation vacation quote from Academy Travel.
Now let’s dive into the Crowd Calendar, how to use it, and what to consider when planning a Disneyland vacation!
What is the Disneyland Crowd Calendar?
Disneyland is the classic southern California resort. It’s absolutely breathtaking and full of detail, but planning a trip to any Disney destination — whether you want to visit for one day or one week — can be overwhelming. Disneyland isn’t as massive as Walt Disney World, but it’s definitely worth doing some research before visiting.
With two theme parks (Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure Park), a shopping and dining district (Downtown Disney), and three on-site hotels that you can visit even if you’re not staying on property (the Disneyland Hotel, Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel, and Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa), it can be a lot of pressure when you’re trying to plan the perfect vacation. When is the best time to go? When is the least crowded time to go? When is the cheapest time to go? We’ll answer all those questions and more!
The Inside the Magic Walt Disney World Crowd Calendar is a calendar that shows the low, moderate, and high crowd levels at the Disneyland Resort throughout the year. It allows anyone the ability to take a look at the predicted crowd levels at the Disney Parks in order to help determine which time of year to visit. While we always say that there’s never a wrong time to take a Disney vacation, often a crowd calendar can help you narrow down your travel dates.
Our crowd calendar is organized by green, yellow, and red colors: green indicates the lowest crowds, yellow indicates moderate crowds, and red indicates the highest crowds. Keep in mind that while we adjust our crowd calendar throughout the year to make our predictions as accurate as possible, there is no crowd calendar that is 100% correct, as they are all meant to be helpful predictions of crowd levels.
If you’re unfamiliar with Disneyland Resort, here’s a bit of background information when it comes to what you can expect in terms of crowds. Disneyland Resort is often considered a “locals resort.” A vast majority of the people who visit Disneyland are Annual Passholders and locals, meaning they are people who know they will be coming back to the park several times a year (or even several times a week or month). This differs significantly from Walt Disney World, a resort that many people come to vacation at only once a year, once a decade, or even once in a lifetime.
Because Disneyland Resort has Guests that are mostly locals and Annual Passholders, crowds are generally steady year-round. Weekends tend to be crowded, with weekdays (particularly the middle of the week) tending to be a breeze with very low crowds. The times of the year when school is out of session — like spring break, summer break, and winter break — tend to bring the highest number of crowds and tourists to the park.
And of course, with crowds comes a harder-to-navigate resort and harder-to-book experiences. This can add some stress to your vacation, since Disneyland does not allow Guests the ability to book their dining reservations more than 60 days in advance or even book FASTPASSes before they arrive.
During a low season (or really, less-crowded days of the week), you will find shorter queues and lower wait times, restaurants aren’t nearly as packed, FastPasses are much easier to snag, watching parades and shows is a breeze since Main Street, U.S.A., and the area around Paradise Bay isn’t crowded whatsoever, and everyone visiting the park is generally in a less stressed, more laid-back mood.
And of course, during an in-between or moderate season, crowds are more unpredictable each day but generally aren’t nearly as packed as the busier times of year or week.
What to consider when planning a visit to Disneyland Resort in 2021?
If you are planning to visit the Disneyland Resort this year, there is a lot you need to keep in mind because so much has changed. For the first four months of 2021, the theme parks of the Disneyland Resort were closed. Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure Park only reopened to the public on April 30. And now, the theme park resort in Southern California is continuing a phased reopening process, but not everything is open.
We will continue to update this page and our website as more information is released. We have created an entire guide to visiting the reopened Disneyland Resort, which you can read here.
For now, here’s a shortlist of what is unavailable:
- Traditional character meet and greets, parades, stage shows, and nighttime spectaculars.
- FASTPASS, MaxPass, and Single Rider
- Extra Magic Hour and Magic Morning
- Select dining locations — read more here.
- Select attractions — read more here.
So, what are the good things we can expect at Disneyland in 2021? Below is a list of the seasonal events as well as what’s coming to Disneyland in 2021.
What’s Happening at Disneyland Resort in 2021?
- Avengers Campus: An All-New Land at Disney California Adventure Park—opening June 4, 2021! Team Up with the Avengers—Explore a Campus Created for the Next Generation of Super Heroes! Read our full guide here.
- Jungle Cruise: Jungle Cruise will be reimagined with all-new scenes, and the attraction will reopen in summer 2021. Get the details here.
- Halloween Time: In past years, Guests could look forward to celebrating the Halloween festivities at both Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure Park. It is unclear what we can expect for Halloween Time in 2021, but we will update Inside the Magic when more information becomes available.
- Holidays at the Disneyland Resort: Since the Disneyland Resort theme parks were closed in 2020, it has been quite a while since Guests have experienced the magical Holiday season at the California Disney Parks. We expect there to be some sort of holiday celebration this year, but we will update this page when Disneyland holiday news is announced.
To give you an idea of what has occurred in the past…
Disneyland Seasonal Events
- Lunar New Year at Disney California Adventure: Ring in the Year of the Mouse with one-of-a-kind festivities, culinary delights and Character Greetings—January 17 to February 9, 2020.
- Disney California Adventure Food & Wine Festival: Sip and savor your way through this can’t-miss celebration packed with entertainment, cooking demos, celeb chef sightings and more—February 28 to April 21, 2020.
- Oogie Boogie Bash at Disney California Adventure: Hang with Oogie Boogie and his band of baddies at a howliday spellebration—select nights during Halloween Time at the Disneyland Resort!
- Holidays at the Disneyland Resort, including Festival of Holidays at Disney California Adventure: From November through January (dates TBD) the Happiest Place on Earth gets a whole lot Merrier! Guests can enjoy special offerings at Disneyland park like A Christmas Fantasy Parade and ride overlays like it’s a small world Holiday and Haunted Mansion Holiday, and Disney California Adventure hosts the Festival of Holidays with outdoor food kiosks and special entertainment.
What is the cheapest time to go to Disneyland?
While there is no definitive answer for the absolutely cheapest time of year to go to Disneyland, there are some tips we can offer in order to help you decide when to go and how to save money. Remember: At this time, reservations are required to visit the Disneyland theme parks. You will need a valid theme park ticket as well as a valid theme park reservation to enter. Click here for our guide to making a reservation to Disneyland and Disney California Adventure.
First, know that the price of Disneyland and Disney California Adventure tickets fluctuates depending on whether Disney anticipates that that day will be highly busy or much slower. The resort uses a tiered pricing model. Below are some examples of prices:
- One day, Tier 1, One park ticket: $104 (Adult), $98 (Child)
- One day, Tier 2, One Park ticket: $114 (Adult), $108 (Child)
- One day, Tier 3, One park ticket: $124 (Adult), $117 (Child)
- One day, Tier 4, One park ticket: $139 (Adult), $132 (Child)
- One day, Tier 5, One park ticket: $154 (Adult), $146 (Child)
The Disneyland Resort website calendar also shows which dates are considered Tier 5 vs. Tier 1 and how much it would cost to visit on any given day. Click here to take a look at the ticket price calendar so you can see how the cost of your visit will vary depending on the day and time of year.
On any given day, you can pay around $50 more to upgrade your ticket to a Park Hopper so you can visit both Disneyland and Disney California Adventure in one day. If you want to visit Disneyland Resort for two days or more, the price per day will decrease. Visit the official Disneyland website to explore ticket options. Multi-day tickets are automatically considered Tier 5 tickets, and you can use them on any day of the year (as long as you completely use them within a two-week window).
Also keep in mind that hotel prices for on-property hotels (the Disneyland Hotel, Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel, and Disney’s Grand California Hotel & Spa) as well as the prices for offsite hotels and Good Neighbor hotels in the area will fluctuate throughout the year. So you can find much lower prices for your hotel during some seasons that are considered less busy than others.
Disneyland Resort also releases park ticket, hotel, and vacation offers all throughout the year, We suggest checking the Disneyland website for special offers periodically, or enlisting the help of an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner at Academy Travel who can be on the lookout for the best deals to save you the most money possible on your vacation.
Disneyland 2020 vacation special offers
- Give the Gift of a Magical Escape: This holiday season, treat your loved ones to an early 2020 retreat to the Disneyland Resort. With this special offer, you can enjoy 25% off select rooms with a 4-night or longer stay at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa or the Disneyland Hotel. Savings based on the non-discounted price for the same room at the same hotel for most nights January 5 through April 16, 2020. To take advantage of this special offer, be sure to book through March 14, 2020; travel must be completed by April 17, 2020.
- Save Up to 25% on Select Stays at a Disneyland Resort Hotel This Spring: Fresh fun is in bloom at the Disneyland Resort. Take advantage of this offer to stay in the middle of the magic during one of the most delightful times of year. You’ll save more when you book early! Explore room savings available at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa, the Disneyland Hotel and Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel—valid for stays most Sunday to Thursday nights from April 19 through June 18, 2020.
- Give the Gift of a Getaway in the New Year: Surprise loved ones with an unforgettable present underneath the tree—a fun escape near new and exciting experiences at both theme parks! Explore savings on select rooms available at all 3 Disneyland Resort hotels—valid for stays most Sunday through Thursday nights from January 5 through April 16, 2020.
What is the best overall time to go to Disneyland?
Overall, the best times to go to Disneyland in 2021 — considering crowd levels, seasonal events, new attractions and shows, and possible money-saving deals — are…
- Most weekdays in May: May at the Disneyland theme parks is beautiful. Southern California schools are still in session so you can enjoy the parks without the summer crowds. Now that Disneyland has officially reopened, we can see that weekends in May tend to be booked up rather quickly, but weekdays prove to be quite enjoyable times to visit the theme parks.
- Weekdays in June: Yes, it is right in the middle of summer, but if you want to be among the first to visit Avengers Campus when it opens on June 4, then we recommend making your way to Disney California Adventure Park on a weekday in June to experience WEB-SLINGERS: A Spider-Man Adventure, Sanctum, Pym Test Kitchen, and more.
- Late August through the first half of September: After a bulk of tourists visit throughout the summer, you can plan your trip to the parks for late August through the first few weeks of September. By this time, Avengers Campus will be open, too! Brave those early Halloween season crowds if you book a trip for the latter half of September, though, and be sure to buy a ticket to Oogie Boogie Bash to make it worth it, if the event comes back in 2021.
- Weekdays in early November: The first week of November is the transitional time from Halloween to Christmas, and this is when the park is not nearly as crowded as it is when those two holiday seasons are in full swing.
- Weekdays in early December: If the holiday season in 2021 will be pretty similar to that of past years, then you can enjoy everything that the holiday season brings to the Disneyland Resort, from attraction overlays to the Festival of Holidays. Keep in mind that the holidays at Disney Parks are considered to be the busiest time of year. So while this time isn’t slow by any means, the earlier in December, the better in terms of crowd levels.
Disneyland 2021 Crowd Calendar
Disneyland Trip Planning FAQs
What are Extra Magic Hours and Magic Morning?
Note that at the moment, Extra Magic Hour and Magic Morning are suspended during the phased reopening of the Disneyland Resort. We will update this page when these services return.
If you are staying on property at a Disneyland hotel — including the Disneyland Hotel, Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel, and Disney’s Grand California Hotel & Spa — you have the option of taking advantage of some extra time in the Disney theme parks. This is called the Extra Magic Hour. Every day at either Disneyland park or Disney California Adventure park, guests at the three Disney-owned hotels can experience an Extra Magic Hour, during which the park is open one hour earlier than it is to the public. You can read more about Extra Magic Hours online on the official Disneyland website.
There is also a magical offering called the Magic Morning. Magic Morning allows guests with a three-day ticket (or more) to enter Disneyland park one hour early on one day of their visit to the Disneyland Resort. This is available to anyone who purchases a ticket for three days or more, regardless of which hotel they are staying at. You can read more about Magic Morning online on the official Disneyland website.
What are FASTPASS and MaxPass?
Note that at the moment, FASTPASS and MaxPass are suspended during the phased reopening of the Disneyland Resort. We will update this page when these services return.
The Disney FASTPASS service allows Guests to spend less time waiting in line for their favorite attractions. FASTPASS holds your place in line so you can enjoy other offerings throughout the theme park and then return to the attraction when it’s your turn to ride. You can utilize the Disney FASTPASS system the “old-fashioned way” by visiting the in-park distribution points. Disneyland outlines the process on the official website, and we have shared their how-to’s below:
- Look for the Disney FASTPASS Distribution sign near participating attractions or entertainment.
- Check the return time displayed on this sign.
- If the return time works for you, insert your valid theme park admission ticket or Annual Passport into the FASTPASS machine.
- The machine will generate a FASTPASS reminder with your arrival window.
- When you arrive at the FASTPASS entrance, make sure to scan the same theme park admission ticket or Annual Passport used to make the FASTPASS selection.
- Access attractions with minimal wait times and enjoy entertainment within a reserved viewing area.
Another way Guests can take advantage of FASTPASS at Disneyland is by purchasing MaxPass. MaxPass is a paid experience that allows you to book FASTPASSes directly to your phone as soon as you enter Disneyland or Disney California Adventure. Keep in mind that while it costs $15 per person, per day, it is a great option if you want to be able to book FASTPASSes without visiting the distribution point at each attraction. Disneyland outlines the process on the official website, and we have shared their how-to’s below:
- Link your tickets to your Disney account.
- After entering Disneyland Park or Disney California Adventure Park, select “Get FASTPASS with Disney MaxPass” in the action menu (+) to make your FASTPASS selections (availability is limited and not guaranteed). You may make FASTPASS selections only for the tickets in your Disney account that have the Disney MaxPass feature.
- When it’s time to enjoy the attraction or entertainment, head to the FASTPASS entrance and hold your mobile device up to the scanner so it can read your Disney FASTPASS redemption code.
Planning a Disneyland vacation? Have questions? Let us know in the comments!