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Get ready for more Disneyland crowds: Monday might be the busiest day yet at California Adventure

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Published: August 15, 2012 at 4:39 PM

Planning a visit to the Disneyland Resort soon?

Whatever you do, try to avoid visit Disneyland or Disney California Adventure next Monday, Aug. 20. That's likely going to be the busiest day of the year at California Adventure, and might end up being the most-crowded day in that park's history.

Lines outside Radiator Springs Racers at Cars Land
Let's get ready to… wait!

How do we know? The answer lies in the most important webpage anyone should consult before planning a trip to Disneyland - the Annual Passport Blockout Calendar. Monday's the first day that "Southern California Select" annual passholders can visit the parks using their passes since before Cars Land and Buena Vista Street opened back in June. That means Monday will be the first chance to see these new lands for the hundreds of thousands of locals who hold those passes.

"Southern California" passholders got a few days to visit Cars Land before their summer blockouts kicked in, but they've been unable to visit using their passes since late June. Monday will be their first day back, too.

The Disneyland Resort lifts its summer blockouts in mid- to late-August despite the fact that many local school districts remain on vacation. The state's largest district, Los Angeles Unified, went back to class yesterday, but many of the other large districts in Los Angeles and Orange counties won't go back until after Aug. 20:

  • Santa Ana - Aug. 22
  • Anaheim - Aug. 27
  • Long Beach and Capistrano - Sept. 5
  • Garden Grove - Sept. 6

Visitors should always try to avoid days with the Disneyland Double-Whammy: No APs blocked out, and local kids out of school. That's what Disney visitors will be facing between Monday and the second week of September.

Disneyland has two other, more expensive AP levels that have been able to access the parks for most, if not all of the summer. "Premium" passholders are never blocked out, and "Deluxe" passholders are blocked only on Saturdays during the summer and some holiday periods. The Deluxe blockouts mean that if you do want to visit Disneyland within the next few weeks, this Saturday, Aug. 20 18, is probably your best best.

Typical theme park advice is to go to the parks on days when local schools are in session. And while those days at Disneyland are definitely preferable to "Double Whammy" days, visiting Disneyland during weekends or vacation periods when two or three levels of annual passholders are blocked out can be good choices, as well.

The visiting dynamic here is much different than at Walt Disney World in Florida, where the number of local visitors is relatively insignificant. At Disneyland, with its hundreds of thousands of annual passholders, the best days to visit are the ones when most of the locals are somewhere else.

Monday update (8/20): Weather to the rescue! It's freakin' hot in SoCal. Way too hot for many people to choose to visit Disneyland, or go out at all to anything other than an air-conditioned theater, or maybe the beach. That should hold down crowds a bit, and early reports from readers have said that the crowds today haven't surged above normal summer levels for the daytime.

Readers' Opinions

From 184.156.109.177 on August 15, 2012 at 5:15 PM
Excellent advice. I would add that, historically, the second Saturday in August is the busiest day of the year for visitors so, if it is not too late to change, wait until after the California schools have all started and go on a weekday in September. Also, after checking the AP blackout, check the list of attractions closed for refurbishment as they are starting annual maintenance periods for several major attractions as well as the Haunted Mansion closing for Holiday decorations.
From Dominick D on August 15, 2012 at 5:25 PM
I'd love to see a video of this on You Tube, which will probably happen. Good luck to all who go.
From Jay R. on August 15, 2012 at 5:33 PM
I went before the AP cutoff sate in June, so I'm going to wait until September to go again.
From M. Ryan Traylor on August 16, 2012 at 11:01 AM
and yet, I'll be one of those APers that will still attempt Monday's crowds. I'll go ahead and say "you're welcome" to all those enjoy my GWS Ears.
From Doug Jenkins on August 16, 2012 at 11:30 AM
Good advice. A good rule of thumb for locals is always stay away from the parks during blackout periods and the 2 weeks before and after, if possible. Universal and WDW know when they are the busiest. Also keep an eye on when the on property hotel rates drop. That attitude has served me well, and saved many a headache, for the past 15 years as a AP holder to Universal Orlando and WDW.
From Jill Harrington on August 17, 2012 at 8:50 AM
Interesting... I hadn't thought of this. As an 'East Coast Mouse' person, we are traveling out for the DL Half Marathon the last week in August/Labor Day weekend, and were avoiding the parks that weekend due to the crowds from the race (because that is what you'd do in Florida - during the week the crowd would likely be a tick less, before the main race crowds get there, plus the locals that'll go on the weekend). Hadn't considered the effect of the AP's. Hmmm... May need to rethink strategy - we were planning on DL Wed, Thurs, and Sunday post race - Knott's on Saturday. What to do, what to do??

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