First Timer, July Crowds, how bad is it really?

Hi everyone, so our family is going for it’s first trip to Disneyland this summer. I would have preferred the off-season but this is just when it worked out for us to go. We’ll be there July 11th-14th, crowds are predicted to be about an 8. Our youngest has autism and we’ll be getting the DAS card so I’m not too worried about lines but just wondering if anyone with experience can tell me what it’s like to go in July, thanks

Hello & welcome to planning your first trip!! Disneyland has been fun for me in all seasons and I have found as long as you set your expectations and plan to avoid major cluster areas you will have a great time no matter what!

If the operating hours go back to normal after Shanghai debuts then you should see the long park operating hours which means you can beat crowds on both ends of the day by showing up early & staying late. The earlier park opening is, the less crowded it will be and I always recommend showing up in advance of opening to ready to roll at opening. The best way we have found to utilize both ends of that is take a midday break. Usually leaving the parks around 1-2pm when crowds & heat both are at their peak for the day.

It allows us to spend some time in our dark, air-conditioned hotel room to recharge for a long night. We usually nap, but sometimes it’s just going back to get lunch and sit down and relax. Pool time is great at this point in the day too. We head back around 4-6pm depending on what evening shows/FPs we have.

As for some tips to help you plan on what to expect, here’s what we found in our trips during peak season:

It will be hard to maneuver in Fantasyland, Tomorrowland and Main Street as nighttime shows start to clog up those walkways so if you want to avoid being stuck in the traffic jam of people you can escape to DCA or the West side of DL (Critter Country/New Orleans Square/Forntierland).

If your crew can stay up for the later hour and is interested in seeing the Paint the Night parade, wait until the 2nd later showing of it. Spots will be easy to find and you will wait less time with people trying to cram around you.

If WOC has multiple showings then the later showing is also less crowded. WOC does have a FP and we usually like to get a FP for the blue viewing section for the first show and return to the viewing section about 45-50 minutes before and watch from one of the back railings in the blue section and eat a picnic dinner while we wait. FP for WOC are distributed at Grizzly River Run kiosks right across from the park entrance into the Grand Californian hotel.

Build room in your day to take a breather and a break. You’ll need to eat at some point and if you want to stay in the parks, then there’s plenty of counter service and seating; however, during peak times having a reservation can be a very nice way to have a built-in time to sit down and take a timeout. Carnation Cafe & Cafe Orleans are two of my faves, but Blue Bayou is amazing as well, but I feel a little more expensive than I want to be paying.

Some attractions you can escape to for a breather are: Tiki Room, Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln, Main Street Cinema, Winnie the Pooh ride, Star Wars Launch Bay, Animation Building (which has Turtle Talk with Crush, the Animation Academy & Sorcerer’s Workshop, also Anna & Elsa meet & greet). Ariel’s Undersea Adventure & Monsters Inc ride are also usually short waits that allow you a chance to cool down as you ride. The Fantasyland theater also has a very cute Mickey & the Magical Map show that you can almost always get a spot for without too much waiting and it’s covered so it’s out of the heat.

If your kids are younger, they may love diversion playgrounds like Goofy’s Playhouse & Redwood Creek Challenge trail. Both are great areas to let them run around, blow off some steam while we sit and take a breather on a bench. Also, Mickey’s house in ToonTown can be walked through at anytime and you can exit without waiting in the line to meet him. There’s AC and plenty for the younger kids (or kids at heart) to explore and enjoy. Mickey’s house will be less a place you can sit down, but still a great way to get some AC on a hot day.

Lastly, we always take cooling cloths for the heat and go ready to enjoy our favorite place no matter what! Even though it can be stressful, as with anything in life, it is what you make of it so if you go with a great attitude and some preparation on your part for what you’ll be doing, it will be a very wonderful, magical time.

Best of luck planning and any questions you have, please do!


Thank you SO much for your detailed reply and great tips! I’m planning on getting the WOC package at Ariel’s Grotto for our second day and our first day we’re doing Magic Morning so hopefully we can get Space Mountain and Fantasy land rides done early.

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My favorite mornings in Disneyland are Magic Mornings in July in Fantasyland! That’s a great plan and a wonderful start. You could also plan to get a FP for Space for anytime during the day if you find that there’s so much you want to do in Fantasyland!