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Crowded Disneyland Day? Top Tips on What to Do!

Disney Parks are very popular destinations. And that means more often than not it’s going to be crowded at Disneyland! Even the “off-season” can be crowded with guests. Sometimes you can’t help planning your Disneyland vacation when the Park will be packed. It’s never ideal to visit the Parks when it’s crowded but often work or school schedules predict your vacation time. Being prepared for the crowds is helpful so you’ll know what to expect and can make a game plan for your day.

These are my top tips on what to do when you visit on a crowded Disneyland day!

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Considering a Disneyland vacation but worried about crowds? Here are the tips you need to know even if the parks at Disneyland are crowded! #Disneyland

Ideal Disneyland conditions…free and clear!

1. A Crowded Day at Disneyland – Know What to Expect

How crowded is crowded at Disneyland? While some areas are more congested on busy days than other areas, on a very crowded day at Disneyland it can be a challenge to find a bench to rest on, a table to eat at or shade to stand under!

There are people…everywhere! Ride queues are long and attractions are jam-packed. If the thought of this sends prickles up your spine, consider rescheduling your vacation for a less busy time!

A Disneyland crowd predictor will tell you that any day kids are out of school (like during summer, winter & spring breaks or the week before and after a national holiday), the Parks are going to be crowded.

Crowded Disneyland Day? Top tips on what to do! Saving Up for Disney

I don’t wanna go when it’s crowded!!


2. Planning Ahead for an Optimal Vacation Time

  • First off, order the Disneyland vacation planning video pre-trip to familiarize yourself with the parks (click the image above).
  • Read the Dates to Avoid Disneyland When Planning a Vacation. This way you’ll know if you’ll be facing large crowds during your visit.
  • Check the Disneyland Resort Parks calendar on their website in advance so you can schedule your day.
  • Know what time the Parks open and close and figure out what shows are must-see.
  • Consider subscribing to Touring Plans. You can see the forecast with Crowd Calendar and for a small subscription fee, they will design a “touring plan” that coordinates with the expected busyness of the day.
  • Always purchase your tickets ahead of time so you don’t waste precious time waiting in line to buy them at the gate when you could already be in the Park. I recommend my partner Get Away Today for discounted Disneyland tickets.

Considering a Disneyland vacation but worried about crowds? Here are the tips you need to know even if the parks at Disneyland are crowded! #Disneyland

3. Always Arrive Early 

Extra Magic Hour is a fantastic way to get in some early morning park time with lighter crowds.

On a non-Extra Magic Hour, you should aim to be at the Park entrance 45 minutes before the official opening. On busy days, the gates will open early and a select amount of those at the front of the lines will be admitted onto Main Street U.S.A. where you can shop, visit the restrooms or stop in at City Hall.

The official “rope drop” (when the rest of the Park opens) will happen on time, if not a few minutes early and you’ll be steps ahead of everyone else who is still lingering at the gate, waiting to be let in. For more details on how to take advantage of those first few hours after Rope Drop, read my post about how to Make the Most of Your First Two Hours at Disneyland.

Arriving early also holds true when you want to attend parades, fireworks or other shows/attractions. If you want a decent viewing area, you’ll need to get there early and stake out your spot.

Considering a Disneyland vacation but worried about crowds? Here are the tips you need to know even if the parks at Disneyland are crowded! #Disneyland

4. Stay Late 

A large amount of Guests, in particular those with small children, will immediately pour out of the Park after the Fireworks show. Stay as late as you can to take advantage of the emptying Park and subsequent shorter queues.

5. Don’t Leave Disneyland…or You Might Get Shut Out!

Disneyland Parks limit the number of Guests that are allowed into their Parks at any one time. This means that on extremely busy days, if you leave the Park for any reason, you may not be allowed entrance back in if the Park has met its capacity. Think Christmas season, Fourth of July and New Years Eve. Plan to arrive quite early and stay all day or risk not being allowed back inside if you leave.

6. Use Disneyland FastPass and MaxPass

Take advantage of the free FastPass service which essentially gives you a ticket for a return time with a shorter wait in line. Only certain attractions have this service but it can be invaluable on a busy day.

Pay attention to the posted return time before you get your ticket though because once you have a FastPass, you are locked into it until the time on the pass expires. Therefore if it’s 10:00 am and you get a FastPass for Radiator Springs Racers but the return time is 8:00 pm, you won’t be able to get another FastPass until after eight!

MaxPass is another great way to maximize your Disneyland vacation time. Purchase MaxPass via the Disneyland Parks app and the daily cost will allow you to book your FastPass using your smart device. You won’t need to be at the actual attraction, you can book FastPass from anywhere inside the parks. This is an incredible time saver!

7. Ride the Fast Loaders

Some rides in the Parks are “Fast Loaders”. These rides at the Parks are fast loading or have a large capacity. So even if the lines appear quite long, the speed at which Guests are moving through the queue can be quicker than others.

  • Mark Twain Riverboat
  • Haunted Mansion
  • “it’s a small world”
  • The Little Mermaid – Ariel’s Undersea Adventure
  • Pirates of the Caribbean
Crowded Disneyland Day? Top tips on what to do! Saving Up for Disney

The Mark Twain Riverboat can hold a large capacity of Guests

8. Stay Out of the Parks

If your trip involves multiple days at the Resort, skip what is forecast to be the busiest day and don’t go into the Parks.

  • Go to a Character meal at one of the Resort hotels instead (book an Advanced Dining Reservation ahead of your trip).
  • Lounge poolside.
  • Wander through the Downtown Disney District to shop or see a movie.
  • Check out this post on Spending an Off-Day at the Disneyland Resort for more ideas!

9. Just Relax and Go with the Flow

If the Park is wall-to-wall people, you may have trouble sticking to your touring plan. It’s important that you do whatever you can to keep your family relaxed and happy. These are a few things you can do:

There are pros and cons to visiting Disneyland when it’s peak season. Yes, you’ll be dealing with more people and possible frustration when waiting in line for everything from a corn dog to the restroom. However Park hours are longer (opens earlier and stays open later) and more rides will be operational. Disney Parks often refurbish rides during slow season so they’ll be up and running during peak season.

It’s a personal choice for sure when scheduling your vacation during peak season. Just remember to relax, have fun and even when the Parks are busy, you can still have a magical time!


Considering a Disneyland vacation but worried about crowds? Here are the tips you need to know even if the parks at Disneyland are crowded! #Disneyland

Here is the map of our Magical Blogorail Red |Managing the Crowds at the Disney Parks and Beyond Loop:

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12 replies
  1. Leslie H (tripswithtykes)
    Leslie H (tripswithtykes) says:

    I live in fear of being shut out of the parks due to crowds because my family almost always takes a break for mid-day naptime! Luckily, it has not happened yet, but long lines at the entrances on busy days have slowed us down. It’s hard to park hop when you have to wait 30+ minutes at an entrance!

    • Julie Bigboy
      Julie Bigboy says:

      It hasn’t happened to me before either Leslie but I do tend to avoid the wildly busy days like New Years Eve or the Fourth of July! Not to say that I wouldn’t like to try it once in my life though…but you definitely have to hang out in the Park all day, which can be hard with little ones!

  2. Rosanne @ The Disney Point
    Rosanne @ The Disney Point says:

    Great tips! It was pretty crowded during our trip last year to Disneyland and we managed it well. The best part about Disneyland crowds versus Walt Disney World crowds is the weather! I don’t mind waiting in lines outside when it’s 80 and sunny rather than 90 with the Orlando humidity! 🙂

    • Julie Bigboy
      Julie Bigboy says:

      That’s a interesting spin on it Rosanne, I hadn’t thought it about it like that. I always wondered about the crowds at WDW. Since the entire place is the size of San Francisco I would think it would be less congested than Disneyland, which is literally the size of a few city blocks!

  3. Kimberly
    Kimberly says:

    Great tips! While I haven’t been to Disneyland, I am a big fan of arriving early and staying late at WDW. It’s a great way to beat the crowds and get more time in the parks!

    • Julie Bigboy
      Julie Bigboy says:

      It can be a challenge with little ones but it really does make the difference in your day to try at least one or the other if you can’t do both.

  4. Heidi
    Heidi says:

    Great tips! I would suggest many of the same for those visiting Walt Disney World. However, for myself, I prefer to visit during the slow times. I know when those are at WDW, but when would you say are the slower times at Disneyland? I am determined to visit there one of these days!

    • Julie Bigboy
      Julie Bigboy says:

      I prefer that too Heidi! It’s getting harder and harder to predict the “slow” periods at Disneyland. January & February (but avoid any of the “race” weekend dates) though you might be dealing with rainy weather. I would say that early September is still great. First two weeks of December are still good and mid May (after all the spring break stuff and before summer break). Hope to see you in California one of these days!

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