I grew up in California and my parents love Disneyland. By default we went to Disneyland every year for our family vacation, which I loved. Since I grew up going to Disneyland as a kid I love going there as an adult as well.
Although, I also am not a huge fan of crowds; I will do a lot to avoid a huge crowd of people, so a trip to Disneyland needs to be well planned. My favorite time to go is September because it is still sunny and warm but the crowds from the Summer have dissipated (with the exception of Labor Day weekend of course).
Although, not everyone tries to avoid crowds like I do, because by avoiding the crowds I also don't get to see as many shows and occasionally a ride is closed for maintenance. This is because when their aren't as many people in the park Disneyland will take time to do maintenance on rides and not show as many performances each day of each of their shows like Fantasmic!
Depending on what your family is looking forward to enjoying while at Disneyland will depend what time of year you should go, which is what the below chart can hopefully help you decide.
I do want to point out some great tips and some caveats to the above diagram though, which are:
- Don't go during the holidays, any three day weekend is going to be insane. For example, on the above chart a month like September shows as being a slow time to go and that you should go to Disneyland during that month. That is with the exception of Labor Day weekend. This applies to all holidays during all months listed above. The chart is meant to be general information for the majority of the month, but it won't apply to holiday weeks or weekends. The week of Thanksgiving and the week of Christmas and New Years are especially bad. These are not called out on the diagram but are generally crazy crowded.
- There is a great website titled "Is It Packed?" that you can check to see good days to visit the park in terms of the number of people. Check it out. They have a live tracker showing how busy the park is right now. They also have a calendar predictor that shows how busy the park usually is on that day each year.
- As a heads up, going to Disneyland during slower times of the year often causes you to miss a ride or two because they are closed for maintenance or they are closed to set up upcoming holiday decorations. If you want to check what rides are closed in advance you can do that here.
- Going to Disneyland during slower times of the year can also cause you to miss a show or two (such as Fantasmic! or a parade) that you might want to see. They don't do all shows every day during the slow times of the year and some shows might not be performing at all.
- In terms of the weather: Disneyland weather is usually great, which is a benefit of putting a theme park is Southern California. But, it can rain or be exceptionally hot at unexpected times of the year. Check the weather before going on your trip. The weather information I put in the above diagram is common, but isn't always a sure bet.
- The difference between Shortened Hours and Long Hours on the above diagram can be things like California Adventure will close at 8 PM instead of 10 PM and Disneyland will close at 10 PM instead of Midnight. During the slower times of the year the park shortens its hours.
I hope you love your Disneyland vacation! Have a great time and take a ton of pictures!