Disney California Adventure Tips for First Timers

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FIRST TIMER'S GUIDE Disney California Adventure Tips for Newbies

I couldn’t begin to count the number of times I have been to Disney California Adventure (DCA). As the mother of Disney-loving twins growing up in Orange County, visits to the park have become a way of life. My years of experience have resulted in me becoming a  Disney expert. I am constantly asked to share my Disney California Adventure tips so I decided to put them down all in one place. I hope this guide will help thousands of Trekaroo families get the most out of every visit to DCA.

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Ultimate Vacation Guide to Disney Parks for Families

Disney California Adventure Tips for First Timers & Newbies

Decide When To Go

silly symphony swings are a fun option at Disney California Adventure with kids

The best time to visit Disney California Adventure is mid-week during the off-season. If your kids can take a couple days off from school, I highly recommend going that route. Make every effort to avoid peak travel times. Your family will spend much less time fighting crowds, standing in long lines and on peak days, one-day admission prices rise 20% over regular day admission. Peak dates include the Christmas season, Spring Break, and peak summer. If you visit the parks on “value” days, the price is reduced by 4%. Visit the Disneyland pricing calendar for updated information.

Here are my four favorite times of year to visit the DCA:

1. The week after Labor Day in September through the first two weeks in October: Kids are back in school so the parks are not crowded. Both parks are decked out for Halloween during the entire month of October.

Good to know: September is typically one of the warmest months in Orange County so be sure to make time for a beach day or some pool time back at the hotel.

2. January and February: While most of the country is freezing, Orange County is typically enjoying daytime temperatures between 55 and 75. If you have to choose a 3-day weekend, crowds are more manageable on the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend than President’s Day.

3. The first two weeks in May: Spring Break crowds are gone, the weather is nice, and kids are still in school.

4. The first two weeks in December: This is probably my favorite time to visit because all of the holiday decorations are up but most of the holiday visitors are still doing their Christmas shopping. Park attendance is low but the wow factor is high.

Avoid: Mid-March through mid-April due to Spring Break, Thanksgiving week, the weeks before and after Christmas, most of June and August, and all of July. If you do have to go during the summer months, try to visit either the first week in June (when most Southern California schools are still in session) or the last week in August (when most schools are back in session). 

Click next for tips on making reservations.

About the author

Sharlene Earnshaw is Trekaroo’s Editor in Chief. She lives in sunny Orange County, CA, with her husband and 13-year-old son and daughter (twins!). She is a self-proclaimed National Park junkie and has the goal of visiting each and every one with her kids. When she isn't traveling to places like Norway, Peru, Disney World, and Hawaii with her family, she enjoys hiking, beach days, obsessively rooting for the San Francisco 49ers, and planning her brood's next trip.

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