Experience magic and excitement with a visit to Disneyland in Anaheim, California. Avoid crowds and extensively long lines at Disneyland during the start and end of holiday seasons, so you can easily enjoy special shows and decorations throughout the park. Book a stay at an Anaheim vacation rental today. Each season brings its own special charms to Disneyland. Take a look at the pros and cons of visiting Disneyland during the winter, spring, summer, and fall.

Visiting Disneyland in the Summer

If you’re heading to Disneyland during the summer months, be aware that you’re not the only ones who had that idea. When you head to the Happiest Place on Earth during the busiest time of year, you need to plan ahead to avoid long lines in the heat. Book a vacation rental near the park so you can arrive well before the gates open. Doing this lets you enter the park before tens of thousands of people descend so you can get to your favorite rides right away. Check for Magic Morning options on your tickets, and take advantage of this opportunity to get a head start. Tech can help you have a great day; look apps like the Lines app at TouringPlans.org, and do a little research to plan your day ahead of time.

During summer, you’ll also face significant heat, which means your “what to pack” list should definitely include water bottles and sunscreen. It’s tempting to head to the water attractions, like Splash Mountain, during the hot hours of the day, but avoid the massive lines by getting a FastPass for these attractions, or just head for inside (and air-conditioned) attractions like Haunted Mansion, It’s a Small World, and Pirates of the Caribbean. To truly enjoy your summer day at Disneyland, give yourself permission to relax on a bench and do some people-watching while you enjoy some delicious, frozen Dole Whip from the cart in front of the Tiki Lounge.

Visiting Disneyland in the Fall

The fall is prime time for visiting Disneyland. Because school is in session, crowds are down, and the summer heat starts to dissipate, making daytime temperatures pleasant. Even as holiday decorations go up for Halloween and then for Christmas, you’re likely to find wait times short at rides and restaurants.

Plan ahead if you want to visit Mickey’s Halloween Party, which only lasts a couple of weeks and starts taking reservations well in advance. This delightful Halloween-themed event is fun for the whole family, unlike the ultra scary Halloween festivals that some other theme parks host. It’s also the only time adults can wear costumes (including Disney character costumes) in the park, so pull out that adult-size princess dress and get ready for some fun. Don’t miss the rides that get makeovers during the lead-up to Halloween, especially the Haunted Mansion, which pulls out all the stops celebrating “The Nightmare Before Christmas.” In addition, Frontierland celebrates the Day of the Dead. And if you’re always in the mood for Christmas, you’ll be happy to know that it starts early here in Disneyland so you can start enjoying the feeling of a winter wonderland while the crowds are still skimpy.

Visiting Disneyland in the Winter

Disneyland takes on two different personalities during winter: before Christmas and after. During the holidays, the park gets ultra busy again, about as busy as during summer. However, for many, this is the best time of the year to visit because of the amazing holiday festivities. Look for a holiday-themed parade, inventive and beautiful decorations everywhere, special fireworks shows, and rides that are transformed for the holiday. This is the one time of year you should race to get in line at It’s a Small World — when it transforms into a Christmas extravaganza with hundreds of thousands of extra lights added and Christmas songs being sung around the world instead of the usual theme song. Head to the castle after dark for the lighting ceremony to watch the magic come alive, and don’t miss the life-sized gingerbread house.

After the Christmas decorations come down, Disneyland gets quiet for a couple of months — and this can be one of the best times to visit. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself walking on to your favorite attractions and riding them multiple times. While a few rides may be closed for maintenance this time of year, it’s the favorite season for many locals, especially because the park usually offers substantial discounts to those living in nearby zip codes. Don’t be afraid to go on a rainy day — every store will sell umbrellas and rain ponchos if you didn’t have them on your list of what to pack, and lines will be at their shortest.

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Visiting Disneyland in the Spring

A visit to Disneyland in the spring also has a bit of a wintertime feel, but not because of any holiday. This time of year, it’s spring break that crowds the park. However, because different schools spread their spring breaks out over all of March and April, the effect isn’t as profound. Still, it’s best to aim for early March, late April or May to beat the lines. Springtime in Disneyland is especially beautiful, with gardeners going all out to show off. Instead of rushing to the next line, stroll through the park to enjoy the real beauty of the landscaping and to enjoy what’s likely to be absolutely perfect weather. Pay attention to special events that pop up at this time of year, including the Egg-stravaganza Easter Egg Hunt, which is like a gigantic scavenger hunt through the park, and the Tinker Bell Half Marathon.

When Is The Best Time to Visit Disneyland?

So when is the best time to visit Disneyland? If you’re able to head to the park the first two weeks of December, after Thanksgiving weekend but before kids are let loose from school, you can enjoy all the magic of a Disney Christmas without the crowds, and because you’re in Southern California, you can expect some pretty spectacular weather as well, with highs in the low 70s. May is also a delightful time to visit — again, you’ll experience near-perfect weather as the park gears up for summer, without having to deal with summer crowds.

If you do have to travel during the more crowded seasons, take advantage of touring plans available online, and use an app that gives you wait times in real time. Arriving early and planning ahead can make all the difference, saving you literally hours of waiting each day. Disneyland is always the Happiest Place on Earth, but it’s even happier when you minimize time spent in line.

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