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Is Disneyland Busy In December? Best Days To Visit (2023)

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Want to have the best time at Disneyland Resort this December? Between school holidays and the Christmas and New Years holidays, you might want to know if Disneyland is busy in December. And, well, yeah. It is! But you can still have a great time at Disneyland Park and Disney’s California Adventure if you know a bit about the crowd levels you can expect. While Disneyland is busy in December, there are some days that might be better than others! Here are the holiday season tips you need.

radiator-springs rte 66 christmas time at disneyland

Disneyland In December: The Best Month?

We say it is one of the best months- so, YES!

As Disneyland Park lovers, we can’t really say there’s a bad time to go. But early December is truly one of our favorites.

Especially if you are looking to experience sunny days and the Christmas season. Santa Claus visits, the Christmas tree on Main Street, USA, and holiday magic- oh my!

mater in a santa hat disneyland in december

Disneyland in December has a lot going for it: generally mild weather, awesome Christmas decorations, and a fabulous Christmas Fantasy parade.

The average high temperature in December is usually in the high 60s and doesn’t get colder than mid-40s. It is actually the coldest month in Anaheim.

But December falls into the rainy season in Anaheim, so your rain chances may increase through the entire month.

The large crowds from Halloween are gone but the big Christmas lovers don’t show up usually around mid-December.

We really think Disneyland is best in the fall months from early September when you can experience Halloween Time to mid-December.

If you know when to visit Disneyland in December it can be a good time of year to plan a trip to avoid long lines.

And you’ll never forget your December Disneyland vacation!

Is Disneyland busy in december? crowds love its a small world holiday at disneyland park
During the Holidays at the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, Calif., among the merriment, ‘it’s a small world’ Holiday at Disneyland Park takes guests around the world as dolls and toys representing children enjoy the distinctive holiday traditions of their respective countries. (Christian Thompson/Disneyland Resort)

What Factors Impact Disneyland’s Wait Times In December?

Trying to figure out the Disneyland crowd calendar for December may feel like a challenge, but we’re breaking it down for you.

If you’re going to brave the holiday crowds, here are 5 tips for surviving Disneyland at Christmas.

Disneyland Holidays: When Does Disneyland Decorate For Christmas?

Christmas is definitely a draw for people visiting Disneyland in December. Ask any Cast Member and they’ll tell you!

Seeing ‘it’s a small world’ Holiday, Haunted Mansion Holiday, and the Fab 5 dressed in their Christmas costumes is top on many people’s lists!

Disneyland’s Holiday Time starts November 10 and runs through January 7, 2024.

Disneyland begins to get decorated for Christmas starting at the stroke of midnight on November 1. It is completely decorated for Christmas by the official kickoff date of November 10.

So everything will be up by the time you head to Disneyland in December.

Don’t forget to check out Christmas in Radiator Springs and ride Mater’s Jingle Jamboree & Luigi’s Joy to the Whirl over in Disney California Adventure Park.

disneyland christmas parade

Are There Any Special Events For Christmas At Disneyland In December?

There is not an official Christmas party event in 2023.

There was a special event party in 2021 called Disney Merriest Nights After Hours Party.

But it will not be taking place in 2023.

Candlelight Processional – Dates TBD

Is it like Walt Disney World? Not exactly.

The basic premise and story/songs are the same, but the availability and location are drastically different.

Disneyland only holds its Candlelight Processional 2 nights a year, typically in early December.

The narrators are not announced in advance, though you can usually spy them during rehearsals early in the day.

Is Christmas Busy at Disneyland? Christmas Fantasy Parade at Disneyland Park
Among the merriment taking place during the Holidays at the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, Calif., Anna, Elsa and Olaf from Walt Disney Animation StudiosÕ ÒFrozen,Ó along with Mickey, Minnie, Santa and many other friends celebrate the season in ÒA Christmas FantasyÓ Parade at Disneyland Park. This daily musical procession features floats, marching toy soldiers, dancing gingerbread cookies and more. Disney characters greet guests in their finest holiday attire. (Richard Harbaugh/Disneyland Resort)

2023 Candlelight will happen in the first week of December. The 2023 dates haven’t been announced just yet. The shows will run two times a night at 5:30 pm and 7:45 p.m.

Invited guests will have seating, but regular theme park guests are able to see the show from Main Street.

This event will bring in the local crowd and will make these two days busy at Disneyland in December.

Know When You Can Go: Are The Kids Out Of School?

Two things to consider for any trip to the Happiest Place On Earth:

  1. Is it a major US holiday weekend when you plan to visit?
  2. Are local kids off school for any reason?

Both of those issues drive wait times and the feeling of Disneyland being busy in December.

And to answer the questions above: YES to both.

  • Christmas Eve, Christmas and New Year’s Eve are all big US holidays, and both happen to land in December. December 24, 25 and 31st are going to be busy days at Disneyland every year.
  • School holidays usually cover a two-week period toward the end of the month across the country. This means families are planning their Disneyland vacations during this large time out of school. Many start their 2 weeks off beginning December 15th.
Holidays at the Disneyland Resort. december can be busy at Disneyland
During the Holidays at the Disneyland Resort, Disney California Adventure Park sparkles with holiday dŽcor throughout, highlighted by a 50-foot-tall Christmas tree in Buena Vista Street. During the holiday season, the Happiest Place on Earth transforms with festive fun and joyful dŽcor. During this magical time of year, friends and family will make merry memories together with treasured traditions and distinctly Disney experiences, such as seasonal nighttime spectaculars, transformations of favorite attractions, special food and beverages and more. (Christian Thompson/Disneyland Resort)

The Disneyland Annual Passholder Effect

While Walt Disney World has a lot of Annual Passholders, they don’t have anywhere near the levels Disneyland does.

Annual Passholders (called Magic Key passholders) make up a large percentage of daily Disneyland visitors- hey, locals need to get away today, too!

But please note: Disneyland truly has a bigger percentage of locals visiting than Disney World does. Recognizing this will help you figure out the best day to visit.

Magic Key passholders at Disneyland tend to pop in and out of the parks for a few hours, which can make Disneyland busy in December in weird ways.

It may feel busy in the mornings at Disneyland but empty out a bit just before lunch. This is a Magic Keyholder effect as many locals pop in for a few hours but head out early in the day.

Conversely, Disneyland may also feel busy in the evenings once the locals get off work. They’ll visit Main Street USA for a parade or fireworks, and then head home soon after, especially on Friday nights. Using those annual passes to visit Disneyland in short bursts is definitely a local perk!

“Believe…in Holiday Magic” at Disneyland Park
“Believe … In Holiday Magic” fireworks is a dazzling nighttime display that brings a medley of heartwarming holiday music and culminates with a magical snowfall in several areas of the Disneyland park including Main Street, U.S.A., near the Rivers of America and in front of “it’s a small world.” (Joshua Sudock/Disneyland Resort)

How Do You Find The Lower Crowds In December At Disneyland? Check The Magic Key Blackout Calendar

All magic comes with a price, as they say.

And beating those ticket prices with an annual pass comes with a cost: blackout days.

If you’re looking for the best time of the year for your first time at Disneyland, be sure to take a peek at the Magic Key Blackout Calendars.

Some locals are blocked out on Saturdays only in December, some for the whole weekend, and some for weeks at a time. Knowing when they cannot be in the parks will make Disneyland feel less crowded for you.

its a small world holiday christmas at disneyland

Disneyland’s Best Days To Visit In December (2023)

We did some looking and have come up with some of the best days to visit Disneyland in December 2022.

  • Avoid Disneyland Park on December 2 & 3. Unless you have your heart set on seeing the Candlelight Processional, we’d avoid Disneyland Park on these days as they are the likely dates for the show. Disney California Adventure should not be as impacted by the interest in the special event.
  • Skip the week of December 20-31. That’s the most crowded time at Disneyland all year, even with the MagicKey blackouts accounted for. If you do plan to go during this week, your best bet is to arrive early and to stay at one of the Disneyland Resort hotels for early park access.

What does that leave us with? The most wiggle room in December is early on.

We have some good news. There are some low-crowd days projected for the beginning of December.

Magic Keys are blocked out on the following days:

  • Inspire- December 21-31
  • Believe- 3, 10, 17, 21-31
  • Enchant- 3, 4, 10, 11, 17-31
  • Imagine- 2-4, 9-11, 16-31

Using this information, we think the best days to visit Disneyland in December 2023 will be December 1-2, and 4-15th.

After the 15th, out-of-state vacationers will be pouring in.

Early January may be another good time to visit as well if you can have some wiggle room.

And please don’t forget to make those theme park reservations ASAP!

disneyland castle holiday overlay. Is Disneyland busy in November?

Is Disneyland Busy On Christmas Day?

In terms of crowds, if you are a rope dropper or early riser, you’ll have a pretty empty park to explore early in the day.

At least until folks have finished their Christmas celebrations and presents have been opened.

Once the Santa business is all done, you’ll see crowd levels swell like Spring Break or summer vacation. So Disneyland usually gets busy on Christmas Day.

But in a normal year, Christmas morning is a sweet spot to head into New Orleans Square for some beignets and enjoy less time in lines.

Is Disneyland Busy On New Year’s Eve?

In a word: YES.

Avoid unless you truly do not mind crushing crowds and have a lot of patience!

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