It’s Packed! How to Deal with Crowds at Disneyland

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We’re approaching big crowds at Disneyland and today we’re talking about how to deal with maximum crowd levels at The Disneyland Resort when it’s super packed.

Disneyland Tips | Disneyland Planning | Crowds at Disneyland
It’s Packed! How to deal with Disneyland crowds.

Disney doesn’t release official crowd and capacity numbers but various sources put the cap at around 80,000 for Disneyland Park alone. Let’s put that into perspective for a minute. During an October visit with fall break crowds in full force, my sister waited in the FASTPASS line for Buzz Lightyear’s Astro Blasters for 35 minutes.

She said the park was packed! When she asked a Cast Member about the crowds he gave her the inside scoop: a typical Tuesday has about 15,000 guests and that day there were 48,000 guests.

48,000 guests feels packed to a frequent park visitor and the capacity is around 80,000? Yikes!

Crowds at Disneyland: Predictions

Looking into Madame Leota’s crystal ball gives us a quick glimpse into the spring break, summer and holiday crowd forecasts at Disneyland. It’s packed!

Over spring break in March and April expect large crowds during the week and on weekends. Summer is crowded but the crowds don’t all come at once (except maybe during the D23 Expo). And the two weeks during the holiday season that every school has its break is bound to push Disneyland into capacity-crowd range.

Christmas day in 2015 and the days following in 2017, Disneyland temporarily shut the gates to new visitors because the park had become too full. Days like that happen mostly in the two week window leading up to Christmas and New Years Day, or on other super packed days like the 4th of July and during 24-hour celebrations.

Crowds at Disneyland: Solutions

1. Download the official Disneyland Resort app for free wait time and other awesome insights for your trip. Then check out some of our ready-to-go itineraries or book a VIP Custom Park Plan for major time-saving tricks.

  Disneyland Classics Touring Plan at Disneyland Park

 Princess Touring Plan at Disneyland Park

2. Get up early to enjoy lower crowds at Disneyland, then retreat to your hotel bed, pool or spa during the mid-day madness. Head to the parks at rope drop to enjoy less Disneyland crowds and more rides, then take a break just as everyone else is making their way to the Resort. Typically the most crowded time of day is between 1:00 and 4:00 pm. The exception to leaving mid-day: do not leave the parks when crowds are expected to reach capacity like on Christmas Day or other peak holidays or events. Thanks to reader Rena for pointing that out! 🙂

3. Accept that your pace isn’t everyone else’s pace. The sooner I realized that my husband doesn’t enjoy big crowds at Disneyland or waiting in line, the sooner we had more fun together at Disneyland. When he would rather sit on a park bench and people watch, that was cool with me. When he wanted to ride the Disneyland Railroad around the park just to relax, we rode the train together.

Slow down the pace, pick a spot to people watch or unwind while the rest of your group goes on a ride or two. Allow yourself that option.

One of my favorite spots to rest my feet in the shade is the bottom level of Hungry Bear Restaurant. It sits right on the Rivers of America and has plenty of seating during non-peak meal hours. Head all the way to the back and unwind. Here’s my view last time I stopped there.

The Happiest Blog on Earth

Note this area is open but under construction during the Star Wars land expansion.

4. Waiting in line doesn’t have to be boring. We bring this awesome R2 D2 Bop It. It fits in the palm of your hand and makes authentic Star Wars sounds to the classic Bop It game you know. Play solo or as a group. Hidden Mickey books, Mad Libs and playing cards are all things you can easily pack and play in line.

5. Just because you don’t like crowds at Disneyland, doesn’t mean you don’t like rides and shows. Here are a few of my favorite attractions with less wait times than most and a laid back atmosphere at Disneyland:

  • The Disney Gallery (on Main Street)
  • Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln (on Main Street)
  • Disneyland Railroad (head to the Main Street station as the park opens to secure a return time for a seat in the coveted Lilly Belle train car)
  • Enchanted Tiki Room
  • Main Street Cinema
  • Main Street Vehicles
  • Sleeping Beauty Castle Walkthrough
  • Pirates of the Caribbean
  • Jungle Cruise
  • Mark Twain Riverboat
  • Sailing Ship Columbia
  • Pirate’s Lair on Tom Sawyer Island (let the kids run around while you chill out)

California Adventure

Frozen — Live at the Hyperion. Seating, tickets and more.

  • Red Car Trolley
  • Animation Academy
  • Sorcerer’s Workshop
  • Turtle Talk with Crush
  • Frozen – Live at the Hyperion
  • The Bakery Tour
  • The Little Mermaid ~ Ariel’s Undersea Adventure

6. Consider a Tour. For an additional fee, you can enjoy a variety of tours offered by the Disneyland Resort. Tours start at about $50 and go up from there, but can give you an inside look at the park’s history, special details about Walt Disney and more. Tours are a great option to see the parks in a new way and learn about all the details that makes Disneyland magical. Some tours include FASTPASSES to select attractions and a meal. Reservations are encouraged, and walk up spots may be available. Call 714-781-TOUR for more details.

Get your Disneyland discount tickets from our partner, Get Away Today before heading over to Disneyland Resort.

Plus, enjoy an extra $10 off when booking a hotel stay of two nights or more along with your discount Disneyland tickets! Use promo code Happiest10 at checkout.

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Crowds at Disneyland aren’t dying down any time soon—what are your favorite things to do to avoid the crowds, even when it’s super busy?

6 thoughts on “It’s Packed! How to Deal with Crowds at Disneyland

  • Rena

    Hi Jessica!
    I found your amazing blog while looking for information about Disneyland online. Thank you for providing so much valuable information and sharing tips!
    We are going to be in Disneyland on Christmas Day 2017, first time and arriving out of country.
    I wanted to ask you if your strategy to stay until 1 pm and come back at 4 pm will be good for Christmas, considering that the park may reach full capacity? I am afraid we will not be able to get in again.

    Thank you 🙂

    • Hi Rena! Great point and I’m glad you mentioned that. On Christmas Day and even the day after I wouldn’t recommend leaving since the parks could reach capacity. However, if you must leave I would do so only with an evening dining reservation in place as they may let you re-enter but it’s always a possibility you could be turned away. I’m so glad you found my website and have found helpful information for your trip. Please let me know how else I can help. Safe travels and enjoy!

      • Rena

        Hm, yes, that’s what I thought too – it wouldn’t be wise to leave. Our kids are small (6 years old and 20 months) so I think we will go early and leave early. I am thinking of taking a walk in downtown Disney after we leave, I hope it won’t be as crowded 🙂

        • I think that’s a great plan. You can just go with the flow until you feel your littles are ready for a break and of course if it’s not too crazy you could go back in after a rest. Downtown Disney is a lot of fun and there are so many fabulous restaurants. You might want to make a dinner reservation there. Here’s some of my reviews of Downtown Disney dining.

  • Crowds are the worst!! I love all your great tips, especially accepting that your pace may not be everyone else’s. That’s something I really need to learn to accept myself, I’m always go go go!

    • Thanks Rebecca! I hope this helps for your next Disneyland trip. Appreciate the kind words. Always working to help people have their best Disneyland trip ever and knowing how to deal with crowds is a big task!

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