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Best time to Visit Disneyland California

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Disneyland Railroad  The Main Street station for the Disneyland Railroad lit up at night.
harshlight/Flickr/CC BY 2.0
For most of us, who don't live close to Orlando or Anaheim, a Disney vacation is a major trip and we want to plan carefully to have the best possible vacation.

In choosing a time to visit a theme park, you want to balance four factors:
  • crowds
  • weather
  • park hours
  • special events
Crowds: The busiest times of year are Thanksgiving, Christmas, and summer months; yet these peak seasons have advantages too. The park stays open late, perhaps until midnight (or later), and Disneyland is lovely at night; you can take an afternoon break from the heat and leave the park, maybe spend some time at your hotel pool, or coax the youngsters to take a nap; then return to the park in the late afternoon, and stay to enjoy the night-time. If you visit during October, however, the park will probably close at 8 p.m.

Another plus about peak periods is that extra shows and parades are staged when the parks are open late. Check the calendar at the Disneyland site for park closing times and special shows.

As for weather: during summer days, the heat can reach the nineties. Fortunately, the trend in theme parks has been to move line-ups into shaded areas. Fall and spring temperatures will probably be just right; in January and February, daytime temperatures might reach the high sixties, though cooler days are possible. Meanwhile, rain is unpredictable, in spring and fall....

Still, a bit of rain isn't the end of the world. We experienced a drenching at Disneyland in May: but once we bought poncho's and the rain lightened to a sprinkle, we enjoyed the lack of crowds -- no lineup for Splash Mountain!

Best Bet: If your kids are preschoolers, or you're willing to take them out of school for a few days, September is a fine time to visit: the park is still open until midnight on weekends*, the show schedule is still rich, and the weather will be cooler than in summertime.

Another recommended time is right after Thanksgiving: the crowds are gone, the Christmas decorations are up, and the park is often open late in the evenings (--but be sure to check the park hours for your specific dates.)

More about When To Visit Disneyland:

  • About.com's Guide for California Travel has tips about when to visit Disneyland, including special events and less-busy days of the week

continue to best times to visit Walt Disney World

Buy Direct tickets for Disneyland

*Always check for updates!

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