Theme Park Insider

Disneyland hits capacity as locals' seasonal ticket deal expires

May 20, 2017, 6:24 PM · Disneyland Park in Anaheim hit capacity and closed its gates to new visitors this afternoon, for the first time since January.

Why is Disneyland hitting a capacity on a non-holiday weekend in May, before most area schools are out for the summer? Remember that Southern California Resident ticket deal that Disneyland offered back in January? This is the final weekend that visitors can use those tickets, before they expire at the end of the day on May 25.

In addition, tonight is a Grad Night at the Disneyland Resort and participants also are allowed to use those tickets in the park before it closes for that after-hours event.

The crowds began swelling at Disneyland yesterday, which was the final Friday that SoCal Select annual passholders could visit the parks before their summer blockout begins. SoCal Select, SoCal, and Deluxe APs are blocked on Saturdays, but the SoCal and Deluxe APs are good tomorrow, so expect another slam-packed day then.

Disney California Adventure has remained open to guests even as Disneyland has closed, but wait times remain longer than usual across both parks, with two-hour waits for Radiator Springs Racers and three-hour waits for Hyperspace Mountain and Splash Mountain at 6pm, according to Disney.

Update: Disneyland reopened at 8:45pm.

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Replies (41)

May 20, 2017 at 6:45 PM · Because the local Disneyland "fans" have ruined this park.
May 20, 2017 at 10:31 PM · I was there. It was the busiest day I've ever seen.
May 20, 2017 at 10:40 PM · I truly feel sorry for any out-of-town visitor or once-a-year visitor who paid for a full-price ticket today, expected a magical Disney day, and was treated to a park filled to capacity and 2-hour waits for Space Mountain or Splash Mountain. Also hour-long waits for overpriced meals, wall-to-wall crowding in both Tomorrowland and Adventureland, and long waits at the Mickey and Friends security screening and for the shuttle back to the parking lot. A special "I'm sorry" for any parents with young children.
May 20, 2017 at 11:26 PM · Today was fun, but brutal towards the latter half of the day. Rides were taking turns going down, grad nite goers were traveling in massive herds and to top it all off, the FP line for Splash Mountain was a sterling 40 minutes (at least it was when I went to redeem my pass). Heck, even the Tiki Room hit capacity! That said, most CMs tried hard to keep things organized and in spite of the craziness, I resolved to have fun. My big critique is how disorganized the process is for getting to the tram. It's a wild free-for-all that makes it nerve-racking for the less aggressive.
May 20, 2017 at 11:40 PM · /\ That's how it is at Disneyland every day.
May 20, 2017 at 11:43 PM · It was absolutely insane today. Why is it OK for Disneyland to think people should pay upwards of 120.00 plus 25 bucks to park, to stand in 2 hour lines? A total ripoff.
May 21, 2017 at 1:37 AM · This unfortunately happened to my family two weeks ago so packed my grandfather couldn't even get through with his wheelchair which he needs because he has no toes. it's sad because we drove 8 hours for me to get engaged at my childhood dreamspot after 10 years of not visiting to have numerous rides closed , park almost at capacity, and horrendous wait times. Not to mention some rude staff this isn't the Disney I remember so sad
May 21, 2017 at 6:48 AM · I feel sorry for the theme parks who think it's ok to allow so many people into their park to make it miserable for everyone inside. That's the choice of the theme park and they deserve the blame, not folks who buy their product (park tickets).
May 21, 2017 at 7:31 AM · At this point, Disneyland's attendance pattern is driven primarily by ticket discounts and annual pass blockouts — not by the school year and holidays, which drive attendance at pretty much every other major theme park. It's a tough lesson for out-of-towners who don't do advance research online.
May 21, 2017 at 8:09 AM · Before all the special tickets, fast pass and AP was around I remember waiting in line for Space Mountain over 3 hours on more than 1 occasion. Even the highest capacity days today are better than back then.
May 21, 2017 at 8:10 AM · It's a bad system that allows out-of-towners to get ripped off because they don't know any better. Just another sign that Disney's Glendale executives live in a pampered world of their own and do not care about their guests or their hard-working theme park employees. The Bob Iger/ Bob Chapek disaster can not end soon enough.
May 21, 2017 at 8:17 AM · As a Castmember I am constantly amazed how many guests arrive at the park with no knowledge of the big events happening in or around the park or what the park hours will be during their stay. I find myself having to repeatedly educate frustrated guests about how events like the Halloween parties can affect park hours, conventions can affect traffic, passholders can affect capacity, and that ride or show closures are fully disclosed on our website.

In this day and age information about the park and what's happening in or around the park is not hard to find; but very few ever seem to think to look. Heck, most guests don't even use the map and times guide that are available in numerous quantities at the entrance gates and are free for the taking.

May 21, 2017 at 9:01 AM · My daughters and I survived yesterday, but I would say even worse than the crowds was the heat! 95 at the parks is brutal (and we came from Arizona!) We were able to use fast passes along with single rider lines and hit screamin', Midway, Fun Wheel, Space, Astro Blasters, Thunder, Pooh, Pirates, and Splash. Would never have thought we would be able to get all that in after the parking structure nightmare of a traffic jam that morning. If I had little ones, I would have skipped it all!
May 21, 2017 at 9:24 AM · Payment plans were the worst thing Disneyland could do to their Disney experience.

May 21, 2017 at 9:37 AM · Making Disneyland not fun at all anymore. Standing around in three hour lines (Disney's cutoff) with grumpy rude entitled people is just not fun. Told the kids I'm "Disney done." Going to Venice and Rome for 23 days this summer for about the same price as a week at the Disneyland Hotel and I bet the lines will be shorter!
May 21, 2017 at 10:03 AM · Disneyland is to expensive but people still go we are a part of six to much money to go that's only to get in it will probably cost me like 600-1000 to have fun
May 21, 2017 at 11:36 AM · I was in the park yesterday. We visit Disneyland at least twice a year, but yesterday was horrible not only was it crowded but rides where breaking down. We go due to my son being Autistic and it being his favorite place but yesterday we were met with meltdown after meltdown. 90% of Disneyland employees being not so nice except for one a woman named Emi that saw use in the middle of a meltdown and reached out gave my son a stuffed Mickey that immediately calmed him down and caused him to stop attacking me. I greatful for her act of kindness that turned a nightmare of day into something I will always remember.
May 21, 2017 at 12:53 PM · Brought the family here this weekend and it was not an enjoyable experience at all. Two hour wait are just not worth it.
May 21, 2017 at 1:27 PM · Very sad. This is not what Walt Disney dreamed of at all. We love Disneyland so we plan our adventure when inclement weather is forecasted at or near Disneyland just to have a fighting chance of getting on more than 2 rides in a 6 hour timeframe. We use phone apps in the parks and fastpass to plan the best use of our time. When its so crowded, planning is the key. We used to take a guided tour in Disneyland because it included immediate access to 2 or 3 of the most popular rides. Cost a bit but WAS worth it... sadly the guided tour cost has skyrocketed and no longer include the ride access. Good luck everyone.
May 21, 2017 at 2:31 PM · I'm wondering if Disneyland could go to a reservation system with a cap. People who travel long distances for their vacation can then reserve the days they will go well in advance. It would prevent locals who decide to go on the spur of the moment. Also, you would be able to see how crowded the park could possibly be for the time you plan to go. I know it might not be popular. I'm just putting the question out there.
May 21, 2017 at 4:36 PM · But. Most the majority of out of towners, come in june and july, a week or two after their kids school ends. It seems like, this pattern (the last few years), means less waits for the majority of out of town families.

I'm thinking, that is Disney's thinking.

May 21, 2017 at 6:49 PM · Yes I too feel for the out of towners, it will be a little less crowded to come, because my whole family has vowed to never go again. We are fed up with the crowds and prices for all the madness. I've been going sence 1958 and as a teen and mother and grandmother my adtendance was usually five eight times a year. Well good by Disney, loved ya once but no more.
May 21, 2017 at 7:10 PM · I heard park was very crowded on Sunday.
May 21, 2017 at 8:17 PM · Flew in from Portland area with a 4 and 6 year old for 2 days with a 2 day park hopper. Lines were so long that we were only able to go on 5 rides each day... not major rides either. Park was so crowded that it was difficult to enjoy anything. Definitely wasted money on park hopper pass as we could not even make it through half of Disneyland park because of lines. Dissapointing.
May 21, 2017 at 8:30 PM · It was disgusting
May 21, 2017 at 9:07 PM · We were at DCA today and had to call it quits at 4pm. My wife and I just couldn't handle the claustrophobic feeling. Walking around in the heat and standing in line for 2.5 hours did it in for us. At least we got to ride everything we wanted at least once. Definitely not worth the price tag though, we had more fun relaxing at the hotel and ordering room service for dinner, haha. We are really hoping Monday tomorrow will be better in Disneyland, that would really save the trip. We drove from Utah :P
May 22, 2017 at 1:13 AM · Pretty disappointed going to the parks today. Maybe it's my fault for not checking but I assumed it wasn't going to be that bad. Didn't realize it was the last weekend before SoCal passes are blacked out. Day was already packed just getting into the parking garage at 7am. Left the park at 12 because it was unbearable at that point and the lines were ridiculous. Not what I expected for a birthday celebration. Lesson learned
May 22, 2017 at 12:45 PM · Sounds like poor planning on their part with the ticket deal and the end of no blackouts the same weekend.
May 22, 2017 at 5:55 PM · My hubby and I left that morning after spending Monday through Friday at the resort. We are AP holders at WDW and have experienced crowds like this and are really glad we did the research and chose to leave on Saturday rather than go to a park. On the bus, we saw the lines and the crowd of people. Seriously, do some research, I'm glad we did.
May 22, 2017 at 7:59 PM · It was the worst experience, I've ever had in any! Theme park! Grandnight was not posted online, I checked 2 days before going! Only hours of Park and amount! Just horrible!
May 22, 2017 at 9:13 PM · How exactly does an out of towner know about SoCal passes in order to know when to plan their visit? I follow a lot of Disney blogs and I haven't seen any warnings about when those passes are going to cause park congestion.
May 23, 2017 at 6:40 AM · I was there on Monday, May 15, my first time at Disneyland and DCA (I'm from Brazil) and it was horrible. Disneyland was super crowded, lines to Hyperspace Mountain were 2h30min long and it broke down twice that day. Haunted Mansion also broke down while we were waiting in the first room, before boarding. And Indiana Jones was closed (I already knew that, but... bummer). I spent like 5 hours in the park, after getting really annoyed because of the crowds, and went to DCA, which was a better experience, although the crowds at Cars Land were insane (got the chance to ride Radiator Springs Racers twice because of the single riders line, though). Didn't know that was the last week of SoCal passes and the ticket deal - would've changed the day of my visit if I had known that before!
May 23, 2017 at 12:08 PM · We were there on Saturday and Sunday. Crowds were bad-really bad. We've been to the parks on New Years Eve several time when the park has reached its capacity, but Sat was a really bad day. Never saw so many strollers, families would love them parked and carry there children rather than to fight through the crowds. I find it rediculous for Disney park managers to give no sensible thought into the health and safety impact of it being the last weekend for use of passes plus allowing "grad night" high school seniors to enter the park for the WHOLE day. It's called Grad night for a reason, The crowds of pushy seniors during the day was an added sour ingredient to the day crowds. This is not the happiest place on earth, it's the most disappointing and inconsiderate place." Btw I was told by the "cast member" that their events are posted on the website- implying that we should have known and "oh well". We were given remission fast pass tickets yet the lines for fast past were 40 minutes long- in one of these rides the ride broke down and were not offered our fast pass ticket back.
May 23, 2017 at 2:19 PM · I was there on Saturday May 21, with my daughter for a mom and daughter belated mothers day weekend. We checked the on-line calendar weeks before and there was nothing on the calendar for that day so we purchased tickets and booked our hotel room. We did look at the calendar again right before we left, and the grad night was showing. We still went, that was a minimal issue. The big issues is Thunder Mountain and Splash Mountain both broke down after waiting 80 mins. Also, Pirates and Haunted Mansion also broke down temp while we were on them...horrible experience. The heat was so bad that there were heat related illnesses happening right in front of us..no water stations were set up. In the 90 minute wait for Haunted Mansion, parents were pouring the only water they had on their children. The Disney Execs need to plan a path for wheels and a path for feet to help tone down the pedestrian traffic. Yes, some of the employees were rude too. Our only escape was two margaritas in Downtown Disney!
May 23, 2017 at 2:59 PM · It sounds like the perfect storm, I think you have to factor in all the rides that are closed for Star Wars Land construction with the ticketing deals and end of blackouts as well. Would it have been that bad if the Railroad, Riverboat, Tom Sawyer Island, Indiana Jones, Fantasmic! had been open? Really, just asking?
May 23, 2017 at 6:39 PM · We flew from Oregon on the 17th, and had three good days before that capacity crowd blew us out! Never seen that in 30 years of visiting the Park! And with the heat on Saturday, wether from too many bodies or the sun, just made it worse. We have NEVER spent the whole weekend there and sure won't again! Sunday to Wednesday had always worked well and we will stick to that from now on. But, SO MANY things down and not running contributes to looong lines at every other attraction! And sad to say, we also noticed that there were cast members that were not AT ALL Disney ?? Seven people FLYING there and all that THAT means-$$$$$- yes, it was disappointing that it looked like a cattle yard??
May 24, 2017 at 5:42 AM · I find it odd that so many unregistered users have come to comment on this specific thread. Seems rather peculiar especially since all the anonymous comments are complaint testimonials.
May 24, 2017 at 9:50 AM · To the staffmember who chides people for not doing better research before they come, you should keep in mind that people book their Disney vacations months in advance, often before Disneyland announces special dates. More than once we have booked in the spring, only to learn months later that the Halloween Party will occur while we're there, which means we will have to pay even more to stay in the park after dark. In short, Disney wants to hornswaggle people, because it means more money in their pockets.

Russell, do you think there's some sort of conspiracy here, or that these testimonials aren't true? Why would anyone lie? They're just happy to have a place to express their complaints because, of course, Disney isn't listening.

May 24, 2017 at 11:03 AM · We were there the evening of May 20th, arriving at Disneyland's gate a little before 6pm.We had to wait until just after 7pm to enter, which was earlier then what was formally tweeted. (Maybe so people didn't overwhelm the gate.) We could have gone into DCA instead, but chose not to. (For that hour, we "were" the people that we watched from inside the Disneyland gates during the last 24 hour party....)

Yes, it was crowded and yes, Disney management needs to rethink having grad nights on weekends. But, to prove there's always exceptions to the rules, we refilled our AP popcorn bucket (and our friend bought hers) with only 2 people ahead of us. Then we WALKED RIGHT IN to Plaza Inn with no one in front of us and short lines inside. This was about 7:30 or so, which would still be prime dinner time.

We noticed that most people eating in the restaurant looked like Grad Night chaperones, so there was no problems finding a table (unlike most evenings in the summer). We had dinner and since the restaurant wasn't crowded, we stayed and chatted, then watched the parade through the window. Eventually, we wandered back down Main Street through the shops, leaving after 10pm.

As local Annual Passholders, we certainly noticed the crowds, but attractions were not a priority that night. We always ride when the park is less hectic. Some of us just love the atmosphere and having dinner in our happy place. The other thing is that those planning a vacation or just popping into the park on a whim, should be able to realize it will seem way more crowded then usual, when there's less attractions open. The StarWars construction and subsequently the attraction closures, aren't being kept secret.

May 24, 2017 at 3:44 PM · While I do research the park hours, show schedules and ride availability, sometimes I am even taken unawares by large crowds at DLR. I had forgotten about the SoCal Resident Tickets and even though the Grad was posted on the web site no where did it say that the Grad Night ticket holders would be allowed into the park during regular park hours. In hindsight it was a good thing I was not feeling well enough to go to DLR to celebrate our anniversary.
I'm just wondering if anyone who has made a comment here about their less than "Disney Day" has actually sent a letter or e-mail to the DLR guest services. Or even stopped at the Town Hall to register a complaint. I have in the past and have actually gotten a response that was not a form letter.
Try it - you may not changes things but it certainly does not hurt to let them know and only cost you a little bit of time.
May 25, 2017 at 1:38 AM · In response to comments by other Disneyland visitors or by Disney employees who are essentially saying that people who visited on the weekend of May 19-21 should have done their homework researching when Grad Nights would take place or when the So Cal discount ticket promotion would expire, I want to bring up a discussion item I submitted in 2015 called Matt Ouimet [Cedar Fair CEO and former Disneyland Resort president] On Having Fun in a (Disney) Theme Park: http://www.themeparkinsider.com/discussion/thread.cfm?page=867.

Here are the questions I have for theme park fans:

At what point are casual visitors expected to have fairly sophisticated insider information (not readily available on the park's own website) in order not to have a terrible day because of overcrowding?

Is the Disney corporation actively encouraging the park to be crowded throughout the former "slow periods" like winter and fall by use of variable ticket pricing that encourages cost-sensitive consumers to visit during traditionally less busy periods?

Does the Disney corporation REALLY care about the visitor experience, or are they maximizing their profits while only paying lip service to the customer experience through advertising and marketing?

When you are paying up to $150+ for a one-day park hopper (I concede most people will buy a multi-day ticket for a cheaper per day cost, but their total ticket price is also greater with a multiday ticket) as an out-of-town or once a year visitor, how much pressure do you feel to maximize your experience and DO as much as you can during your visit (E-ticket rides, headliner shows like parades and fireworks)? And how frustrated will you be if the park is packed to capacity and you can only manage 5 or 6 rides (not many E-tickets among them) during the entire day?

If Disney offers a fabulous deal like 3 days for $150 (one park/day) or $190 (?) (park hopper), how many local residents are going to jump at that chance to enjoy the fabled Disney magic at that low, low price?

When the Disney park experience is so frenzied with pressure to maximize your fun because of the high cost of visiting AND the park is so crowded that you cannot possibly feel like your entertainment dollar was well spent, why do so many people feel compelled to keep visiting a Disney theme park? (My answer to this question is nostalgia from childhood or earlier generation's visits, the best advertising/marketing that a multibillion dollar entertainment conglomerate can buy, and a decreasingly unearned reputation as a premium brand of entertainment.)

Thanks for allowing me this time on my soapbox. :)

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