Although Southern California’s beautiful summer weather makes it a popular destination for families planning vacations from the end of May through the beginning of September, it also means it’s the busiest time for visitors at Disneyland Resort and California Adventure.

Those who are planning to visit the parks during July should know a few things. 

Weather

Warm weather is one of the main draws for out-of-towners. With low humidity and cool evenings, even the warmest days, which can get into the upper 90’s, will still be comfortable. Planning a visit to one of the water-themed rides, such as Splash Mountain in Disneyland Resort, or Grizzly River Run in California Adventure can offer some relief during the hottest time of the day, but it can also mean long wait times if others have the same idea. 

It’s a good idea to plan your day around one of these rides if you think you’re going to want to get drenched on the rapids of Grizzly River Run, or soaked from Splash Mountain’s big plunge. 

Alternatively, you can plan to visit rides that are mainly indoors to enjoy the air-conditioning while you wait. Soarin’ over the World in California Adventure, and Hyperspace Mountain in Disneyland Resort, are great options for this strategy. Either way, it’s wise to bring a light jacket or sweater with you if you’re planning to stay in the parks past dark. The wind usually picks up and the temperature cools down at least into the 70’s.

Crowds

Undoubtedly, June, July, and August are the busiest times at Disneyland and California Adventure. Although on average, California Adventure tends to be less crowded, visitors should still expect high wait times for rides and attractions. 

The new Disneyland App is an excellent way to stay up-to-date with wait times for all of your favorite rides, and will allow you to check FASTPASS entitlement distribution right from your phone. If you purchase the available MaxPass feature, you will not only be able to make a FASTPASS reservation without a ticket, but you will be able to make selections for attractions and entertainment in both theme parks if you’re a Park Hopper ticket holder. 

MaxPass is available for under $20.00 and includes PhotoPass, an in-park service that offers a way to store and purchase photos taken throughout the day by PhotoPass photographers located around various attractions.

Although July is one of the busiest months for Disneyland Resort and California Adventure, the end of the month tends to be less busy than the beginning since 4th of July celebrations bring crowds who want to spend the extended weekend at the parks. But if you’re planning to be there for the nation’s birthday, you’ll experience smaller crowds in the morning since most people will be staying in the park well into the evening for fireworks and parades. 

Aside from Independence Day, July is mostly free of major events that draw higher volumes of visitors. Grad Nite is over at the end of June, and the only other significant day in July is Disneyland’s own birthday. Disneyland opened on July 17th, 1955. It’s not deemed a special ‘event’, but the day inadvertently turns into a celebration every year. Many unique souvenirs are available and you may even see people dressed up for the occasion.  

As with any busy time at the parks, mid-week days, such as Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday will always be a little less crowded than the weekends. If you can plan your trip during these days, you’re likely to have a little more elbowroom when walking around. Crowd calendars are a good tool to use when figuring out the specifics of your visit, since many offer predicted wait times broken down by ride, but expect lines to be longer throughout the day. 

One good thing about visiting during the summer is that the parks operate on extended hours and give guests more time to enjoy rides and nighttime shows. Typically, Disneyland Park is open from 8:00 a.m. to midnight, and California Adventure Park is open from 8:00 a.m. until 11:00 p.m.

That said, July 2019 is going to be an anomaly. Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, which opens in June 2019, is set to bring an unprecedented number of visitors who want to see this new 14-acre theme land in the Disneyland Resort. Not even Disney is able to predict how this will upend the usual July crowds. 

If Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge is your reason for visiting, expect a very long wait to get in. A Virtual Boarding Pass system will be used to regulate the flow of people in and out. Notifications of a two-hour window to enter will be pushed through the Disneyland App. 

Best Strategies to Beat the Crowds

If July is the only month you’re able to visit Disneyland Resort of California Adventure, don’t worry! There are some strategies you can use to minimize the impact of large crowds. Even incorporating one of these ideas will help you get more out of your visit so your vacation can be remembered as the best Disneyland trip. 

FASTPASS – Undoubtedly, FASTPASS is one of Disneyland’s most effective ways to help visitors get the most out of their time in the park. Designed to minimize wait times for specific rides, FASTPASS offers a ‘window’ (usually an hour) for you to return. FASTPASS lines are much shorter than stand-by lines and FASTPASS riders are given priority when boarding the ride.

The only downside to the FASTPASS system is that you may only hold one at a time per ticket and sometimes the windows for FASTPASS fill up so quickly, it’s no longer available in the afternoon. Also, you have to physically get a paper ticket from a kiosk near the rider by scanning your park ticket. Still, a FASTPASS for your favorite ride will almost always ensure a short wait time.

If you purchase MaxPass, you will not only be able to make FASTPASS reservations from your phone (no paper ticket will be needed), you will also be able to hold one for each park if you’re a Park Hopper Ticket holder. 

FASTPASS is available for the following rides:

Disneyland Park

  • Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
  • Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters
  • Fantasmic!
  • Haunted Mansion
  • Hyperspace Mountain
  • Indiana Jones Adventure
  • It’s a Small World
  • Matterhorn Bobsleds
  • Roger Rabbit’s Car Toon Spin
  • Splash Mountain
  • Star Tours – The Adventures Continue

Disney California Adventure Park

  • Goofy’s Sky School
  • Grizzly River Run
  • Guardians of the Galaxy
  • Incredicoaster
  • Radiator Springs Racer
  • Soarin’ Around the World
  • Toy Story Midway Mania!
  • World of Color

Single Rider – Although most people go to Disneyland with friends and family, Single Rider is a great option for cutting the wait time for popular rides. Although parties will be split up and you won’t be seated next to your partner, you will usually ride during the same cycle. Even when there is a delay the person who finishes first will rarely wait more than a few minutes for the other rider to exit. The best part is that there is no limit to how many times you use Single Rider, whereas with FASTPASS you’re limited to one use per ticket, per return timeframe.  

Single Rider is available for the following rides:

Disneyland Park

  • Matterhorn Bobsleds
  • Splash Mountain
  • Indiana Jones Adventure
  • Hyperspace Mountain
  • Star Tours – The Adventures Continue

Disney California Adventure Park

  • Grizzly River Run
  • Incredicoaster
  • Goofy’s Sky School
  • Radiator Springs Racers

Mobile Food Orders – One of the new features of the Disneyland App is the ability to order food from your phone. This is a great strategy to avoid standing in lines. If you time it right, and order just before you board your ride, you’ll be able to walk right over after you’re done and pick up your meal.

With most of the food venues offering this service, you can order anything from an Asian Rice Bowl at the Lucky Fortune Cookery in California Adventure Park to a scrumptious Grey Stuff Gateau at the Red Rose Tavern in Disneyland Park.  

Parade and Show Times – If rides are your priority during your visit, try to schedule some of the traditionally busier rides (such as Radiator Springs Racers in California Adventure Park, or Hyperspace Mountain in Disneyland Park) during Parade times and other large venue shows, such as World of Color at Disney California Adventure Park. 

Shop for Souvenirs Outside the Park – Although the temptation to buy a souvenir at one of the many amazing shops inside the park is hard to resist, the large World of Disney store located in Downtown Disney carries all the same merchandise and will not only free you up from having to carry your purchases around all day, there are more registers, which usually means you can find an empty one with a short line.

The exception to this rule, of course, is Mickey ears. Find the ones you love, buy them, and wear them proudly for the day! 

Visit Less Popular Rides During the Afternoon – Even Olympic Athletes get tired during a long day at Disneyland. Most people take a rest during the afternoons, by either going back to their hotel for a few hours, or taking an extended meal at one of the sit-down restaurants.

Take advantage of this time by going to some of the rides and attractions that will not only be less crowded, but will likely offer you the chance to sit down. Some of these rides include:

Disneyland Park

  • Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln
  • Mark Twain Riverboat
  • Enchanted Tiki Room
  • Star Wars Launch Bay
  • Tarzan’s Tree House
  • Sleeping Beauty Castle

Disney California Adventure Park

  • Turtle Talk with Crush
  • Animation Academy
  • Boudin Bakery Tour
  • Redwood Creek Challenge Trail

Hotels

Unfortunately, because of the high demand during the summer months, hotels are less likely to offer discounts or good deals on park packages. Reservations need to be made early, and it’s likely you’ll incur a fee for last minute cancellations (this might be a good reason to purchase vacation insurance).

But there are still some advantages to Disneyland hotels, even during peak season. 

Extra Magic Hour

Extra Magic Hour is an early admission option for registered Disneyland Resort Hotel Guests to enjoy every day of their hotel stay. It allows early admission to select attractions, stores, entertainment and dining locations in Disneyland Park or Disney California Adventure park one full hour before the parks open to the general public on select days.

There are some restrictions, however. Magic hour is only available for Disneyland Park on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. And for Disneyland California Adventure Park, you can only use this benefit on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays. But when you consider the less crowded days in July tend to be mid-week days, this can add up to a significant amount of time saved. At the very least, it will guarantee you a short wait time for your favorite ride. 

Character Dining

If visiting Mickey Mouse, or getting an autograph from Minnie Mouse and posing for a picture with Goofy is a must-do, Character Dining is a great way to combine dining with meeting your favorite Disney characters. 

Skip standing in line inside the park and consider making reservations for one of these events instead. While reservations may be hard to get, the restaurant will be no more crowded during the summer than it would be any other time of the year. 

Available Venues:

  • Minnie & Friends – Breakfast in the Park (Plaza Inn, Disneyland Park)
  • Disney Princess Breakfast Adventures (Napa Rose, Disneyland’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa)
  • Donald Duck’s Seaside Breakfast (Disney’s PCH Grill, Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel)
  • Breakfast and dinner at Goofy’s Kitchen (Goofy’s Kitchen, Disneyland Hotel)
  • Mickey’s Tales of Adventure Breakfast Buffet (Storytellers Café, Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa)

Conclusion

While July is one of the busiest times to visit Disneyland, it’s still worth the journey to enjoy the magic and wonder of the parks. Summer offers excellent weather, guaranteed fun, and a few extra hours at the parks. 

Don’t let big crowds keep you from taking a great trip. With the right planning ahead of time, your visit will be as fulfilling as it can be. Just make sure to pack plenty of sunscreen!

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