Our November 2017 Disneyland preview offers a free crowd calendar for picking the best days to visit, and avoiding the busiest ones during the start of Christmas season at Disney California Adventure and Disneyland. The holiday season is really a ‘tale of two seasons,’ with some quiet periods followed by really intense stretches of crowds.
There are two main reasons you can expect heavy crowds during November. The official start of Disneyland’s Christmas season on November 10, 2017, and school breaks in Los Angeles and Orange Counties that also coincide with Thanksgiving week, which is always a big draw for out-of-town tourists.
You can read more about what to expect during the holidays in our Ultimate Guide to Christmas at Disneyland. This two-month seasonal event is one of the biggest draws for locals and Annual Passholders, which causes an annual spike in crowds starting in mid-November…
To better distribute crowds between Disneyland and Disney California Adventure, Festival of the Holidays was added to DCA last year, and it will return again for 2017, as will other Christmas entertainment, including World of Color – Season of Light. With that said, it will still be really busy in both parks. Locals and tourists alike love spending time at Disneyland Resort during the holiday season.
Mild weather also plays a role, as November is one of the mildest, most pleasant months of the year in Southern California. As we mention in all of our Disneyland crowd calendar posts, it’s pleasant year-round in Anaheim as humidity tends to be low and there’s not much precipitation, but November is one of the best of the best months in terms of weather. If anything, it’s too cold in November.
Due to the potential for frigid temperatures in the evening (or even during the day if it gets unseasonably cold), we recommend consulting our What to Pack for Disney in Winter post. That might seem like overkill since this is California, land of eternal sunshine and endless summer, but it gets surprisingly chilly during the winter months, especially at night. Better to be over-prepared than under-prepared. Trust me, I’ve dropped a ton of money on gift shop sweatshirts on past visits when under-estimating the potential for cold weather.
With that said, let’s take a look at the Disneyland crowd calendar for November…
We’ll start with some “instructions” for the crowd calendar. These are identical to the notes above our October 2017 Disneyland Crowd Calendar, so if you’ve already read that, skip down to the calendar itself and the notes below it, which are different for November 2017…
Crowd Calendar “Instructions” – This is a simplistic Disneyland crowd calendar with a “stop light” system. Our methodology is based upon historic wait time information, anecdotal observations, special events, school schedules, dynamic ticket prices, and more. Second, expect Disney California Adventure crowds to almost always track Disneyland crowds–with a few exceptions–albeit with a proportionately lower number of guests.
Finally, we do not recommend using this as a proxy for crowds at other Los Angeles attractions or theme parks, like Universal Studios Hollywood, Knott’s Berry Farm, or Six Flags Magic Mountain. Disneyland Resort crowds are unique; they are artificially manipulated by Disney and also impacted by extraneous variables that do not impact the aforementioned theme parks to nearly the same degree.
We’ll start with some notes about the above crowd predictions for November 2017. This calendar was created after Disneyland released its Holiday Time at Disneyland schedule for November and December 2017. Although Disneyland has only released park hours for part of November, we can surmise what crowd trends will look like based on historical data and other information that is available.
Now, you might think that outside of Thanksgiving week, the crowds don’t look too bad. Historically, outside of Fridays through Sundays during early November (and again after Thanksgiving), that has been the case. In the past, November has been a fairly ‘moderate’ month in terms of crowds outside of those dates.
The emphasis there is on “historically” and “in the past.” In terms of what will occur in November 2017, we are not entirely sure. The 2017 Halloween Time season has been busier than expected through September, and we expect things to get really bad during October.
However, a difference with Halloween is that Disney California Adventure has added a ton of new entertainment, including Haul-O-Ween in Cars Land. Anything new is always popular with locals, who have shown up in droves to see everything. Beyond that, Halloween is already being advertised heavily on Los Angeles television stations (we literally cannot turn on broadcast television for a half-hour without seeing a commercial).
In light of that, it remains to be seen whether this spike in Halloween crowds is a trend that will continue with Christmas crowds, and is just the “new normal” for September through December, or if it’s due to the added Halloween offerings.
Our expectation is on the latter, and we are reasonably confident in that prediction. This is why we have a fairly optimistic outlook with all of the yellow and green days in our Disneyland crowd calendar above. Just keep in mind that we might be under-estimating crowds. (There is almost zero chance that we are over-estimating them on any of these days.)
You’ll notice for the first half of November, Mondays through Thursdays have Value Season pricing for 1-day park tickets. Normally, this induces more visits from locals, but for November, we do not anticipate it causing a large spike in crowds.
Most locals will delay their visits until the heart of the Christmas season later in the month (around Thanksgiving) or just prior to Christmas. One-day ticket pricing should have a negligible impact on crowds during both November and December.
Read our Tips for Saving Money on Disneyland Tickets post for multi-day ticket recommendations to avoid having to deal with seasonal pricing. On the plus side, there are some multi-day ticket discounts currently available for all guests.
Beyond that, you have some of the normal trends. Friday night during Christmas season is the worst evening of the week to visit, and Saturdays will be busy despite the lower tier Annual Passes being blocked out. For the most part, Mondays through Thursdays are going to be the best overall days of any week to visit.
Tourists with Park Hopper tickets should strongly consider mornings at Disneyland before Park Hopping to DCA. Locals from Los Angeles and Orange County who arrive after work tend to make Disneyland more crowded in the evenings.
It is worth noting that there is no hard ticket party like Mickey’s Halloween Party during the Christmas season at Disneyland. This is great news in terms of crowds, as those events tend to create pent-up demand on non-party nights and lead to surges at Disney California Adventure. So, there’s at least one positive if you’re visiting in November rather than October. (Well, two. November should have lower crowds overall than October.)
The other bit of good news if you’re visiting anytime in November outside of Thanksgiving week is that it’s still Southern California’s off-season in terms of tourism. Even though Disneyland and Disney California Adventure can be busy, it’s primarily with Californians. In other words, people who drive home from the parks and don’t need hotels. As such, off-season occupancy rates will be reflected in hotel prices.
If you check out our Current Disneyland Discounts (Fall/Winter 2017) post, you’ll see that there are some good discounts for Disneyland Hotel and Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa for November. You can also find deals on off-site hotels, too. We rank our favorite (and least favorite) hotels in the area in our Disneyland Area Hotel Rankings & Reviews post. Check out discounted hotel + ticket vacation packages on Get Away Today to save money on off-site hotels.
Even if our moderate crowd predictions for November turn out to be accurate, we still recommend an efficient itinerary for touring Disneyland and Disney California Adventure. Another great option is the Park Hopper ticket. Failing that, arrive at rope drop and try to get as much done as possible before 4 p.m.
Overall, there’s a reason November is #1 on our Best and Worst Months to Visit Disneyland. Even though we’re a little apprehensive that crowds will spike beyond our predictions, our current belief is that they will be fairly manageable. That, plus perfect weather, reasonable hotel prices, and Disneyland Resort’s incredible Christmas season makes November our absolute favorite month of the year at Disneyland. Holiday entertainment plus the low crowds of one of those ‘sweet spot’ days in mid-November is pure perfection!
If you’re preparing for a Disneyland trip, check out our other planning posts, including how to save money on Disneyland tickets, our Disney packing tips, tips for booking a hotel (off-site or on-site), where to dine, and a number of other things, check out our comprehensive Disneyland Vacation Planning Guide!
If you’ve visited Disneyland during the month of November, what did you think of the experience? Did you experience Festival of the Holidays at DCA or the Christmas attraction overlays? What are your thoughts on Holiday Time at Disneyland? If you’ve visited Southern California in November, do you have any tips to add? Share any questions, tips, or additional thoughts you have in the comments!