Planning a family trip to Disneyland is a big undertaking and can be stressful. But our TravelingMoms have been there. We’ve got the low-down on choosing the best time to visit Disneyland to avoid crowds. Schedule your visit for mid-week and off-season and you’ll enjoy shorter lines and maybe even better weather!

Disneyland vacation planning

Family vacation at Disneyland.
Photo credit: Diana Rowe / Traveling Grandmom

When Is the Best Time to Visit Disneyland to Avoid Crowds?

A TravelingMom reader writes: “I’m hoping to get your advice. I’m a bit nervous. I was wondering when it’s best to go to Disneyland for the least crowds. It will be our first family vacation. I was thinking March or April. May I have your opinion?”

It’s natural to be nervous about planning something as big as a Disneyland vacation! There are definitely times when there are fewer crowds and shorter ride lines. According to Traveling Grandmom Diana Rowe, the answer is to travel when most kids are in school – skip spring break and summer vacation, which is the high season. Travel in the fall, after kids return to school.

“Personally, I’d pick September or October,” says Diana (check out why Halloween time is a treat!). “It’s not as hot, and crowds are less. Late winter (January – February) can still be chilly (high 69).”

California native and Frequent Flyer TravelingMom Leslie Harvey points out that crowds will be smaller mid-week at Disneyland. “Choosing a midweek day is important because the effect of local crowds is much bigger at Disneyland than at Disney World.  March and April could be quite tough with spring break.”

Disneyland California Adventure

Photo credit: Leslie Harvey / Frequent Flyer TravelingMom

“Historically we’ve had good luck with early September, the first two weeks of December, February, and May (but not during spring break),” says Day Trips TravelingMom Julie Bigboy. “I second that mid-week is going to be better crowd-wise. If your vacation includes a weekend, opt to stay out of the parks that day and stay at the pool or tour elsewhere. Always double-check that there isn’t an official (or un-official) event happening during your trip – things like a runDisney event or Gay Days can brings thousands of additional guests into what would normally be a slower period.”

What if you want to enjoy the holiday season at Disneyland? The decorations and holiday events can make your visit even more magical. Desert TravelingMom Karen Heffren says, “The best time to visit during the holidays is starting the week after Thanksgiving through the first 2 weeks in December. We’ve always had good luck then.”

Several TravelingMoms in the know suggest checking the crowd calendars at TouringPlans.com (for Disneyland) or Undercover Tourist (for Disney World). TravelingMom also has these 8 Tips for Disneyland Rookies.

Visiting Disney World? Check out this comprehensive post on choosing the most affordable times to stay at a Disney World resort.