Is Disneyland Busy on Thanksgiving? (2024 Guide)

Many people travel across state lines to visit family and friends over the Thanksgiving period and choose to visit theme parks such as Disneyland California during this time. However, while Disneyland may seem like the happiest place on earth, this isn’t always the case over Thanksgiving.

Disneyland California is open on Thanksgiving and operates normal opening hours. However, the park can be incredibly busy on the days before and after Thanksgiving and frequently hits capacity on Thanksgiving Day.

As such visiting Disneyland over Thanksgiving might not be the best experience – especially if it’s your first visit to the park. That being said, if you’re adamant about experiencing Disneyland over Thanksgiving then there are some things you need to know to maximise your wait times and experiences inside the parks.

Is Disneyland Open On Thanksgiving?

Disneyland is open as normal on Thanksgiving. This includes the Disneyland Park, Disney California Adventure Park, Downtown Disney District and all the Disney hotels.

Disneyland Thanksgiving Opening Times

The Disneyland opening times on Thanksgiving are;

  • Disneyland Park – 8:00am to 12:00am (Early Entry from 7.30am)
  • Disneyland California Adventure – 8:00am to 10:00pm (Early Entry from 7.30am)
  • Downtown Disney District – 7:00am to 1:00am

Is Disneyland Busy On Thanksgiving?

Both the days before and after Thanksgiving as well as Thanksgiving Day specifically are some of the busiest days of the year at Disneyland (second to Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve and selected dates over Spring Break).

Over the past decade (excluding 2020 when the park was closed) both Disneyland Park and Disneyland California Adventure have reached maximum capacity on Thanksgiving by midday.

Given the recent introduction of the Disneyland theme park reservation system (in addition to regular ticket purchases), it’s essential that you reserve a place at the theme park as far in advance as possible if you’re looking to visit either on Thanksgiving or on the days around Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving Special Attractions & Decorations

Disneyland does not decorate specifically for Thanksgiving, nor are there any special events within the park on this day. Instead, if you visit the Disneyland Resort over Thanksgiving (or in early November) then you’ll find the park is decorated for the holiday season.

This includes Christmas decorations throughout the park, the incredible Christmas Fantasy Parade, extended park hours, festive food, holiday merchandise and of course, large crowds and long lines.

What’s Disneyland Like On Thanksgiving Day?

Thanksgiving day is one of the busiest times of the year to visit the Disneyland California Resort. Mandatory park reservations for any of the Disneyland Resort parks sell out well in advance, and queues at the entrance to any of the theme parks (especially the Disneyland Park) begin earlier than usual – roughly one and a half hours before opening.

Given the parks are at full capacity, researching which rides you’re wanting to go on during your trip, and which of them have the longest wait times is imperative to know where to go first. Meanwhile, if you have the budget then we recommend purchasing Disney Genie+ which allows you to skip the lines on selected rides of your choosing throughout the day.

Once the ‘rope drops’ and the park opens fast pace walk to the ride of your choosing because from there, the crowds are only going to get bigger. By 11:00am, expect the park to have reached capacity and the average standby wait time for the most popular rides inside the park to be averaging around 120 to 180 minutes.

Grabbing food inside the parks can also be difficult when it’s this busy so make sure you’ve read the menus of most of the restaurants in advance and decided where you want to eat. If you’re planning on having a table service meal either for lunch or dinner you’ll want to make sure you reserve a table as far in advance as possible to avoid disappointment.

Alternatively, if you’re looking for a quick service meal then consider downloading the My Disney Experience mobile app so you can place a mobile food order for pick-up rather than having to wait in line.

Meanwhile, if you’re looking to purchase any Disney souvenirs make sure you do that prior to getting your space for the show since a large majority will wait to grab souvenirs as they exit which can make browsing the store incredibly difficult.

Remember if you’re staying on-site you can have all your souvenirs dropped off at the front desk of your hotel for free to leave you free to enjoy the park for the remainder of the day.

If this is your first time at Disneyland California, make sure it’s not your last. I think it’s incredibly difficult to experience the true Disney magic here when the crowd levels are so high.

What’s Disneyland Like On The Week Of Thanksgiving?

How busy the Disneyland Resort is on the week of Thanksgiving really depends on the day of the week specifically.

Given the long weekend, you’ll often find that Disneyland is often as busy on Thanksgiving weekend as it is on Thanksgiving Day specifically. As such if you’re visiting on either Black Friday, Saturday or Sunday I’d reference my notes from Thanksgiving above.

Alternatively, if you’re visiting Monday to Wednesday on the run-up to Thanksgiving or the Monday to Wednesday following Thanksgiving then you’ll generally find that the crowds are beginning to subside and peak season normality at Disneyland is resuming.

This also means that ticket prices, Disneyland Resort hotels and other hotels within Anaheim and the rest of LA will be slightly cheaper when compared to those peak Thanksgiving holiday dates.

These two things combined make Monday to Wednesday the best time to visit Disneyland if you’re looking to incorporate a trip here into a Thanksgiving getaway.

If you can avoid the week of Thanksgiving or weeks following Thanksgiving then generally November is the best time of year to visit Disneyland California – with early September being the second best option.

The heat isn’t as intense as you’d experience in the summer months, for most of the month the park is decorated for the Christmas season and the long wait times that you experience from Thanksgiving and beyond haven’t yet arrived.

What’s The Weather Like At Disneyland Over Thanksgiving?

When it comes to the weather, November is a great time for a Disneyland vacation. At this time of year, you’ll generally find that the cold weather has just started in LA with highs of 23° and lows of 12°.

You’ll have plenty of sunny days and likely be fine with a T-shirt in the daytime – however, you may want a light jacket for the early evenings. The city generally only experiences an average of two days of rain throughout the month of November so you should stay dry during your visit.

Where To Stay When Visiting Disneyland Over Thanksgiving

Regardless of when you’re visiting the Disneyland Resort in California, we always recommend staying as close as possible. This allows you to arrive at the theme park early and stay late without significant extra effort on your part.

There are several fantastic hotels all within walking distance of Disneyland California, including three on-site Disneyland hotels. However, all hotels over the Thanksgiving period will cost more than usual, and availability will be limited given the demand.

As such I highly recommend booking your accommodation as far in advance as you can. This way you’re able to lock in the hotels and resorts offering the best value for money.

Thanksgiving Food At Disneyland

Depending on your preferences (and your budget) there’s a range of food options available on Thanksgiving from large buffets to table-service restaurants or even quick-service turkey dinners.

Much like the parks themselves, dining reservations for some of the most popular locations will fill up incredibly quickly over the Thanksgiving period.

As such if you’re looking to have a delicious Thanksgiving meal at a table-service restaurant or buffet during your trip to Disneyland then it’s essential you reserve a table online in advance – if tables are sold out be sure to keep checking back in case of cancellations!

Napa Rose – Disney’s Grand California Hotel & Spa

The upscale restaurant Napa Rose located inside Disney’s Grand California Hotel & Spa is offering an incredible 4-Course Wine Country Feast on Thanksgiving Day only.

The exquisite prix fixe menu features delicious dishes replete with the Golden State’s finest flavours. Meanwhile, children are able to pick either the turkey dinner or items from the standard children’s menu.

Dinner is served between 4:00pm and 8:00pm and costs $140 plus tax for adults (aged 10+) and $35 for children plus tax (ages 3 to 9) with an additional wine pairing available for $55 plus tax per person (for adults aged 21 plus).

Goofy’s Kitchen – Disneyland Hotel

Goofy’s Kitchen located inside the Disneyland Hotel is offering both a brunch buffet and dinner buffet on Thanksgiving. This is ideal for those who are looking for a traditional Thanksgiving meal with a Disney twist since this restaurant offers character dining.

Brunch is served from 7:00am through to 1:00pm and includes a range of hot and cold dishes including Danish pastries, biscuits and gravy, waffles, sausages and french toast at a cost of $60 plus tax for adults (aged 10+) and $32 for children (aged 3 – 9).

Meanwhile, Thanksgiving Dinner is served from 1.30pm through to 9:00pm and includes turkey with all the quintessential Thanksgiving sides, prime ribeye, seafood cocktail, and pumpkin and assorted pies.

Dinner is slightly more expensive than brunch at $85 plus tax for adults (aged 10+) and $35 plus tax for children (aged 3 – 9).

Storytellers Cafe – Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa

Storytellers Cafe located inside Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa is another restaurant offering a Thanksgiving buffet complete with Disney characters for Thanksgiving. Much like Goofy’s Kitchen, this includes both a brunch or dinner option depending on your plans (and your budget).

The brunch is served from 7:00am until 2:00pm and includes all the holiday favourites alongside traditional breakfast foods including;

  • Carved turkey
  • Quintessential Thanksgiving sides
  • Pumpkin and assorted pies
  • An array of breakfast options, both hot and cold

Meanwhile, dinner is served from 3:00pm until 9:00pm and includes;

  • Carved turkey
  • Quintessential Thanksgiving sides
  • Roasted ribeye
  • Seafood cocktail
  • Pumpkin and assorted pies
  • An array of classic comfort foods, both hot and cold

Brunch is available at a cost of $60 plus tax for adults (aged 10+) and $32 plus tax for children (aged 3 – 9). Meanwhile, dinner is available at a cost of $85 plus tax for adults (aged 10+) and $35 plus tax for children (aged 3 – 9).

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