How to Avoid Crowds at Disneyland

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The one thing that’s not so magical about Disneyland? Waiting in long lines full of hot, sweaty park-goers. Crowds can make navigating rides and attractions undeniably more difficult, and wait times are only going up. But luckily, devoted park-goers and expert researchers have found some ways around the lines, if you know what you’re doing! Here are some tips to avoid Disneyland crowds and cut down on wait times at attractions. Good luck, and may the force (of Disney magic) be with you.

1. Go midweek.

Studies have shown that Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday are the days with the shortest lines, with Thursday being the best of the three.

2. Get to the park early.

Beat the morning rush by getting the park as soon as it opens. If you stay at a Disneyland Resort Hotel, you also have access to the park even earlier with the Extra Magic Hour perk.

3. Take advantage of Extra Magic Hour.

If you are staying at a Disneyland Resort Hotel, then you are eligible for the Extra Magic Hour, and you should take advantage of this! You can get in to the parks an hour before the crowds start to make their way to all of the popular rides, and you can snag your Fastpasses early on, too.

4. Head straight to the most popular rides first.

When you get to the park (early!), beeline to the rides known to have the longest lines. According to recent data from the LA Times, the busiest rides in both parks between 2015-2017 are:

  • Space Mountain (average wait time 65 minutes)
  • Radiator Springs Racers (average wait time 86 minutes)
  • Soarin’ Around the World (average wait time 49 minutes)
  • Toy Story Mania (average wait time 48 minutes)
  • Matterhorn (average wait time 46 minutes)
  • Indiana Jones Adventure (average wait time 45 minutes)
  • Peter Pan’s Flight (average wait time 41 minutes)
  • Star Tours (average wait time 41 minutes)
  • Grizzly River Run (average wait time 37 minutes)

5. Visit during the off-season.

Visit Disneyland mid-September through mid-November, mid-January through mid-March, or mid-April through mid-May if you want to avoid crowds and experience shorter wait times. Sites like Is It Packed even have crowd forecast calendars with every day color-coded based on expected crowds (from “forget about it” to “ghost town”).

6. Get your Fastpass for popular rides as soon as you enter the parks.

Use the same strategy you use for rides, but with Fastpasses! When you get to the park, head straight to your favorite rides that offer Fastpass services, and get your Fastpass ASAP. Here are the rides where Fastpass is currently available:

  • Big Thunder Mountain Road
  • Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters
  • California Screamin’
  • Goofy’s Sky School
  • Grizzly River Run
  • Guardians of Galaxy — Mission: Breakout!
  • Haunted Mansion
  • Indiana Jones Adventure
  • Matterhorn Bobsleds
  • Radiator Spring Racers
  • Roger Rabbit’s Car Toon Spin
  • Soarin’ Around the World
  • Space Mountain
  • Splash Mountain
  • Star Tours
  • Toy Story Midway Mania!

7. Arrive later on Sundays.

On Sunday evenings, the weekend crowds are sometimes filtering out a bit, and you’ll often find lines for popular rides are shorter than during the rest of the weekend.

8. Go on a rainy day.

Southern California weather is stereotypically sunny, but there are some cloudy and even rainy days every now and then. If the weather isn’t ideal but isn’t actually terrible, then consider heading to the park on that day. The crowds will be scared away by the weather, and you may just get to ride Space Mountain without waiting 45 minutes or more!

9. Opt for single rider.

Many attractions offer the option of “single rider,” which means you can move through the line as one person rather than with a group. This can speed up the line process since many people want to stick with their friends, but if you really want to ride an attraction and don’t mind doing it solo, this can be a great way to beat the wait. Rides that have single rider lines:

  • California Screamin’
  • Goofy’s Sky School
  • Grizzly River Run
  • Indiana Jones Adventure
  • Matterhorn Bobsleds
  • Radiator Springs Racers
  • Splash Mountain

10. Use the Disneyland app.

The Disneyland app is a must have for your park adventure! The app displays wait times for attractions in real time and is very helpful when you’re planning when you want to visit certain rides.