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Planning a trip to the Disneyland Resort

When thinking about visiting the Disneyland Resort most guests fall into one of three categories. The first is the out of town once in a lifetime or a decade guest. The second is the local who visits annually or when relatives come to town. And the third are us disneygeeks who visit as often as we can. For all your Walt Disney World veterans finally making the trip West, welcome! Planning a trip to Disneyland is much very different from planning a trip to Walt Disney World. I have a section that compares Walt Disney World with Disneyland that you may find interesting/helpful.

When to go: The most asked question is when is the best time to visit the Disneyland Resort? I typically reply with a question, how do you define best? Do you mean most interesting? Best chance of an attraction being open? Least crowded? Warmest weather? Most pleasant weather? There are a lot of factors.

Best time of year: I think the parks really shine for the Christmas season. This usually runs from mid November through the first weekend of January. The parks are decked out for the season with decorations, entertainment, and just an extra boost of energy in the air usually. Also unlike Walt Disney World Christmas offerings are still included in regular park admission, no need to go to a hard ticketed event (yet). Last note on the holidays, if you are a Candlelight Fan, the Disneyland version is much grander in my opinion, but it only runs two nights a year, usually the first weekend of December.

In the fall, usually from mid September through the end of October the Halloween festivities are underway. In addition to the Haunted Mansion Holiday and Space Mountain Ghost Galaxy, this typically includes decorations, pumpkin carving, and special character meet and greets for all guests. Then an after hours/ticketed Halloween Party that features trick or treating, a small parade, and fireworks.

Throughout the year the resort celebrates other seasons/holidays too with various offerings, so be sure to check and see what is happening in the window you are looking at.

How to avoid the crowds: Crowds and Disneyland go hand and hand most of the time. It has become harder and harder to find a true off season. With the large number of annual passholders as well as events throughout the year there seems to be more off days than a season now a days. Also keep in mind that some slow periods may be counter intuitive because of the large number of local annual passes. You should be sensitive to block out days for annual passes. Recently days when most passes are blocked out have become very pleasant and days right before a block out period or right after have become very crowded. In general though the weekend and evenings are most crowded. Mid week and mornings are generally lighter.

Weather considerations: Los Angeles averages over 280 sunny days a year and less than 30 days of rain. It is a very mild climate and can vary by time of day and day to day quite a bit. The climate is a desert which means the days can get hot with low humidity usually and the evenings typically cool down substantially. It is not atypical to be in the mid 80s for the afternoon but by the fireworks its in the 60s. Fog/Marine Layer is also fairly common in the mornings and it will burn off by the afternoon and then roll back in as the sun sets. The worst month for this is June which locals refer to as June Gloom. The raining season officially runs October through April but your greatest chance of a day or rain seems to be January or February. The hottest months are typically August through October. If you happen to visit during a rainy day a couple things to note. First is since it does not rain that often Los Angeles in general does not function well. This means expect heavier traffic and poor drainage. Disneyland on rainy days can be an adventure since many of the queues and attractions are outside. Most attractions continue to run in the rain. There are a couple of exceptions so be sure to check with the park before entering if that is a concern for you. They do not issue rain checks so once you use your ticket you are in. Also note the rain here in Los Angeles is typically cold and we rarely have lightning. It is almost the opposite of Orlando in this area.

Earthquakes: As you probably know Southern California is a fairly "active" earthquake area. Most you cannot feel but from time to time there is one centered near a populated area or large. Disneyland has procedures in place and has been built with this in mind. If one was to occur on your visit a couple things to keep in mind. Once you feel the ground start to move be sure to glance around your surroundings. Is there anything that could cause you a problem, move away from windows and other items that could fall and hurt you. If there is a safe place to duck and cover that is the recommended procedure, but you will rarely find this in a theme park. The general procedure with Disney is they close attractions, merchandise locations, etc.. and do a safety inspection then they reopen as soon as the facility is cleared. This can be a time consuming process to evacuate an attraction, check it, then restart, so be patient if you are in the park. The odds of being in the park during a noticeable earthquake are fairly small. I visit the parks very frequently and have only been through one of any real note. Most are small and you do not realize it till you get home and watch the news. Here are some thoughts and observations from a 5.1 quake that struck nearby on March 28, 2014 while I was at Disneyland.

 

To help you out with planning we have created 5

Understanding the Resort: In this section I will try to explain how the Disneyland resort is setup and a little bit about getting to it.

Planning your trip: In this section we will go over a couple itineraries and not to be missed Disney attractions.

Other Southern California Experiences: There is a lot more to California than just Disney and here we will hit a few highlights for you.

Trip Reports: Hear from fellow Disneyland travelers on what they did on their trips to give you ideas. I also highly recommend our Disneyland Resort pictorial updates which feature my pictures from the parks on my frequent visits and trip logs. I also post regular thoughts and observations from trips in the Geekspeaks section of the site.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) : Here is where we will try to answer your questions. So email us any/all questions you have.