By the co-author of The easy Guide to Your Walt Disney World Visit 2017, from the best-reviewed Disney World guidebook series ever. Paperback available on Amazon here. Kindle version available on Amazon here. PDF version available on Gumroad here.—Disney World Instructions for the First-Time Visitor

Suggestions for Your First Trip to the Disneyland Resort

By Dave Shute


Unlike this site’s instructions for Walt Disney World (and for Harry Potter), the thoughts that follow for a first family visit to the Disneyland Resort in California are suggestions.

What that means is that they aren’t yet as backed up by analysis and experience as they will become.

These suggestions will evolve over time—especially based on your feedback, so use the comment form below to add your ideas!

Supplement these suggestions with the insights of two great guidebooks:


Times when kids are on vacation are the worst time to go, and so the best and worst times to go to the Disneyland resort are generally similar to the best and worst times to visit Walt Disney World.

However, Disneyland is more of a weekend resort than Walt Disney World. As a result, parks are most crowded on Saturdays, and stupendously crowded on the weekends during kids’ vacation and holiday periods.

During the off-season, however, key fun stuff like Fantasmic and the fireworks may not be shown on weeknights at all.

The trick, therefore, is that if you are going during the busier seasons, avoid Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, but if you are going during the slower season, include either Friday or Sunday evening in your time on site.

As at Walt Disney World, the period beginning the Sunday after Thanksgiving and ending the week before Christmas is a very special time to go.  This period can be cool and wet, but crowds and prices are low, and Christmas decorations are spectacular.

Because southern California does not have a hurricane season, another wonderful option for a Disneyland visit begins the week after Labor Day weekend and ends before the Columbus Day weekend.  There’s no holiday decorations, but the weather is perfect and crowds and prices are low.


You can see all the best of the Disneyland Resort in three full hard days or five easy ones.

If you can afford it, book four full days plus two partial travel days. This translates into five hotel nights.

This will give you time to relax as well as to tour the parks, and gives you enough evenings and early mornings that you should be able to catch the evening shows and sleep in a day or two.

  • During the low season, aim for something like a Monday arrival and a Saturday departure, giving you Friday evening for Fantasmic and such
  • During busier times, aim for a Sunday arrival and a Friday departure, to map your full days to the less crowded days of the week.


Kids of any age can have a ball at the Disneyland Resort. However, as at Disney World, if this may be your kids’ only childhood visit to Disneyland, wait until your youngest is around 8.

Minimum height requirements on certain rides suggest that your kids be at least 48” tall to enjoy the best of Disneyland.


This material continues here.

PAGES:  1 |  2  | 3  |  Next



1 Joann { 06.09.11 at 11:53 pm }

We are planning to stay November 16-30. It is wise not to spend time at the parks on Thanksgiving day and Friday and Saturday and go to one of the water parks? What are the busiest days Thanksgiving week. Do you suggest we go December 1-11 instead?

2 Dave { 06.10.11 at 6:25 am }

Hi Joann! Everything, including the water parks, is mobbed Thanksgiving week, particularly Weds-Sat. I’d strongly advise your December week instead!

Leave a Comment | Ask a Question | Note a Problem

My response to questions and comments will be on the same page as the original comment, likely within 24-36 hours . . . I reserve the right to edit and delete comments as I choose . . . All rights reserved. Copyright 2008-2017 . . . Unless otherwise noted, all photos are by me--even the ones in focus--except for half a dozen from my niecelets . . . This site is entirely unofficial and not authorized by any organizations written about in it . . . All references to Disney and other copyrighted characters, trademarks, marks, etc., are made solely for editorial purposes. The author makes no commercial claim to their use . . . Nobody's perfect, so follow any advice here at your own risk.