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Disneyland Trip Planning Guide
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Brian Bennett

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Forward  |  Why Travel to Disneyland?  |  My Favorite Things at Disneyland


Disneyland Trip Planning Phone List  |  Critique of Published Disneyland Trip Guide Books  |  Other Disneyland Resources on the Web

Planning Ahead

Planning Your Trip  |  What Time of Year You Should go to Disneyland  |  How Many Days Do You Need to "See It All?"  |  Other Attractions in Southern California  |  Estimating What Your Trip Will Cost  |  Rental Car Considerations  |  What You Should Pack to Take on Your Trip


Should You Stay On or Off Site?  |  Off Site Accommodations  |  Disneyland Area Campgrounds  |  Disneyland's "Good Neighbor Hotels"  |  On Site Hotels  |  Grand Californian  Hotel  |  Disneyland Hotel  |  Disney's Paradise Pier Hotel

Disneyland Resort Primer
A Disneyland / WDW Comparison  |  The Ins and Outs of Disneyland Reservations  |  How to Use Disneyland's Transportation System  |  Developing a Daily "Game Plan"  |  The Daily Afternoon Break Touring the Parks With Kids  |  Touring the Parks With an Infant  |  Touring the Parks with Disabled Guests

The Parks
General Issues
  |  All About Admission Media (i.e. Tickets)  |  General Park Operating Hours  |  "Magic Mornings", the Disneyland Resort's Version of Early Entry  |  Fastpass -- Disney's New "Virtual Queue"  |  Disneyland  |  Details-at-a-Glance  |  Touring the Park  |  Attractions  |  Shopping  |  Disneyland Shows and Entertainment  |  Parade of Stars  |  Believe: There's Magic in the Sky  |  Fantasmic!  |  Disney's California Adventure  |  Details-at-a-Glance  |  Touring the Park  |  Attractions  | Shopping  |  Eureka! The California Adventure Parade

Everything Else
Downtown Disney  |  Guided Tours of Disneyland

Disneyland Restaurant Resource

First, if you couldn't find it here, I would appreciate it if you would click on this link and send me a message to tell me what's missing.  I'll do my best to "fill in the blanks" as soon as possible.

What Time of Year You Should go to Disneyland?

As with a trip to WDW, there are four major considerations when determining when you should go: the crowds, park hours, special events, and the weather.


The number of tourists in Southern California, and specifically at the Disneyland Resort, vary greatly throughout the year. In general the busiest times of the year are holidays, including Thanksgiving and Christmas, the summer weeks. Remember, though, that Disney has a habit, a good one, of adding shows and parades and other such entertainment during busy seasons. The additional activities thin the lines down a bit (because some people are busy with the other entertainment) and are intended to "pay you back" for the busy conditions.

Park Hours

When the crowds are greater, the parks generally stay open longer. The trade off is that attraction lines are longer too. Since Disney changes the hours of operation of the parks depending on the anticipated crowd levels, the parks will generally be open earlier and stay open later when the place is packed out than those times of year when the crowds are thinner.

The Resort is beautiful at night time. The beautifully lit Sleeping Beauty's castle and Main Street, Fantasmic!, and Paradise Pier are all spectacular sights to behold. The thing to remember is that the park closes before dark when it's not "busy season."

Early Entry is offered to guests staying at Disneyland Resort Hotels and to holders of the passports that include the Early Entry add on.

Evening Spectaculars

Fantasmic!, whatever nighttime parade is being run at the time (currently the 45th Anniversary Parade is being run in the afternoons and nights), and the incredible new firework show (also new for the 45th Anniversary) do not run on nights when the park closes early. That means that these shows are typically run only on Friday and Saturday nights during the less busy times of the year.

Special Events

Grad night, which actually covers several nights in late May and early June, causes the park to close early for those special events. After closing, the park re-opens for local high school seniors to celebrate their graduation in an all-night party.  Other such are scheduled by Disney throughout the year, and may be open to the public, but at additional cost.


The weather of Southern California is fairly stable throughout the year. Of course, extreme heat (temperatures often topping 90 degrees) characterizes the summer months. During the Spring and Fall, temperatures moderate somewhat. During our trips in September, we often find temperatures in the mid-80's during the day, dipping into the lower 60's at night. In the later part of the year, and into January and February, it's very likely that you'll come across temperatures that reach down into the 40's at night. Daily highs at that time of year may still poke up into the high 60's or low 70's, but you might catch a week when highs stay in the 40's or 50's.

There isn't a strong rainy season in California as there is in Florida. There is more precipitation in the Fall and Winter than in the Summer, but the torrential downpours that are typical of Summer and Fall in Florida aren't common in California.

The Bottom Line

The bottom line for visiting Disneyland is much the same as for Walt Disney World. Fall and early Spring visits are most likely to have the best weather and the smallest crowds, but the visitor runs the risk of shorter park hours and perhaps even missing the night time spectacular shows.


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