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Planning a visit to the Happiest Place on Earth? You may want to consider picking your dates based on specific Disneyland events! While the parks are delights unto themselves and reason enough to visit, the Disneyland Resort offers a ton of fun year-round events that may just be the cherry on top. It's also good to know what events are hoppening when you visit, because they can influence Disneyland crowd levels. In this guide to Disneyland events in 2018, we've included a few of the more popular "unofficial" events as well, since they impact crowd levels.
Guide to Disneyland Events in 2018
Three Kings Day - 2019 Dates TBD
When Christmas season has come to a close, there is still more to celebrate in the new year. The 12th day of Christmas is celebrated in Mexico and South America. At Disney California Adventure, you can celebrate Three Kings Day with decorations, coloring, creating a custom jeweled crown, listening to stories or trying traditional treats such as Rosca de Reyes cake.
Star Wars Half Marathon Weekend - The Light Side - Jan. 11-14, 2018 - CANCELED
RunDisney has canceled this event along with all other Disneyland races in 2018 due to a number of construction projects happening at the resort since race routes typically wind through and around the parks.
Lunar New Year- 2019 Dates TBD
The Lunar New Year Celebration was expanded in 2017 and had just as much to offer in 2018. This multi-cultural event includes food, authentic performances and your favorite Disney characters. This event takes place at Paradise Gardens inside Disney California Adventure. Colorful lanterns and other decor welcome you, while hanging banners written in English, Chinese, Korean and Vietnamese wish you a Happy Lunar New Year. You can join the time-honored tradition of writing wishes of good fortune and happiness for your friends and family; receive customized Chinese calligraphy and brush art; color; do free crafts; receive free face painting and purchase some traditional Lunar New Years treats.
There is a six-minute nighttime water show before World of Color each night — Hurry Home — Lunar New Year Celebration, featuring Mulan and Mushu.
Lunar New Year is a well-attended event. The lines to greet characters can get quite long, so hop in line early (by 11 a.m.) for the shortest wait in meeting characters (such as Mickey, Minnie, Chip, Dale, Mulan or Mushu) dressed in their Lunar New Year’s best. You do not want to miss the New Years procession, led by Mulan and Mushu. There are several shows throughout the day. The best place to watch is right in front of the Jumpin’ Jellyfish attraction. This shady spot will offer you a front and center view of the colorfully costumed dancers, dragon, drummers and characters.
Super Bowl and the Day After - Feb. 3-4, 2019
There are no special Disneyland events for Super Bowl Sunday, but it tends to be a significantly more crowded day. Depending on the location of the Super Bowl and the team that wins, there can be a Super Bowl Parade the day after the Super Bowl (sometimes they go to Disney World). When Peyton Manning announced he was going to Disneyland to celebrate the Denver Broncos' victory in Super Bowl 50, many thousands of fans flocked to the park to celebrate too. The day after the Super Bowl may affect crowd levels and park entertainment for the day … or not. There is no way to plan for this, but if you are in town the day after the Super Bowl, you might want to take these factors into consideration when planning your itinerary.
New Orleans Square Mardi Gras - Feb. 13, 2018
While it's always festive inside New Orleans Square at Disneyland Park, for the last several years, Disneyland has celebrated Mardi Gras. In the past, Princess Tiana, Prince Naveen, Mickey, Minnie and others come out dressed to party with special performances and meet-and-greets. Special eats, drinks and entertainment are available. Dates vary for these festivities, and there are not always events posted well ahead of time. You can always celebrate Mardi Gras year-round by eating the New Orleans-inspired foods and trying to catch beads when the bands play in New Orleans Square. You can also hop aboard the Mark Twin to listen to live music, color and meet characters from "The Princess and the Frog!"
MARCH, APRIL AND MAY
Mini Gay Day — March 3, 2018
Gay Days at Disneyland are traditionally held in the fall, but they have a mini Gay Day casual meet up in March. This is not an official Disney event, but it can affect crowds. You'll see folks wearing red shirts in celebration!
Disney California Adventure Food & Wine Festival - 2019 Dates TBD
This is a California foodie's paradise and one of the top Disneyland events in 2018! Taking place each year during March and April, the event offers guests the chance to partake in delicious food and wine offerings every day, plus special workshops, classes and experiences on the weekends. Guests can visit Festival Marketplaces, themed around different tastes and drinks of California, and reserve their seats at premium experiences with famous chefs.
Egg-stravaganza - 2019 dates TBA
Hop over to the Disneyland Resort for the biggest Easter egg hunt around! Egg-stravaganza is a fun scavenger hunt that sends guests scurrying around the Disneyland Resort to find hidden eggs during April. Guests purchase a map and stickers and record their finds by placing the corresponding egg sticker on their map to represent that location. Returning your map to a redemption location is a rewarding experience.
Pixar Fest - April 13-Sept. 3, 2018
This limited-time celebration of friendship will bring a ton of new entertainment and experiences starting in April 2018. There will also be special merchandise, a short film festival, special meet-and-greets, and more.
"Together Forever - A Pixar Nighttime Spectacular" at Disneyland Park
Disneyland will have a new nighttime spectacular — "Together Forever - A Pixar Nighttime Spectacular." It will take place through fireworks, music and projections taking place at Sleeping Beauty Castle, the water screens of Rivers of America, it's a small world and the buildings of Main Street U.S.A. It even includes a special flyover from none other than Buzz Lightyear at Sleeping Beauty Castle!
"Paint the Night" parade at Disney California Adventure
This very popular, super colorful parade returns to Disneyland Resort. It includes characters from "Toy Story," "Monsters, Inc." and "Cars." Plus, a brand new Pixar story will join the parade in 2018!
Pixar Play Parade at Disneyland Park
This parade makes its debut at Disneyland park. It includes characters from "Up" and "Inside Out."
Dapper Day - April 22, 2018
Some of the "unofficial" Disneyland events in 2018 and beyond are the best. There are two Dapper Days each year at Disneyland. Guests dress up in their vintage, “Disneybound” and Sunday best to pay homage to the way guests used to dress when Disneyland first opened in the 1950s. These events are unofficial and independently organized, but they do affect crowds. Read our coverage of Dapper Day from a few years ago.
Bats Day - May 5-6, 2018
You can expect to see guests dressed in goth, steampunk, Halloween, rockabilly and more for Bats Day. Bats Day, like Dapper Day, is independently organized and takes place usually in May. This event aways makes me long for my frog goth phase.
Tinker Bell Half Marathon Weekend - CANCELED in 2018
All RunDisney events at Disneyland have been canceled in 2018.
Summer of Heroes - TBD if it returns in 2018
New for Disneyland events last year was the Summer of Heroes. The opening day of the Guardians of the Galaxy - Mission: Breakout attraction kicked off Summer of Heroes at Disney California Adventure. Super Hero Encounters featured meet-and-greets with Groot, Captain America and Spider-Man. The Guardians of the Galaxy: Awesome Dance Off dance party let you get in touch with your inner Star-Lord. The limited-time Heroes of Summer experiences featured Hawkeye and Black Widow in the Avengers Training Initiative, Back Willow meet-and-greet, as well as Marvel-themed merchandise and food.
Throughout May and June you may see daytime crowds surge with celebrating high school seniors in both parks for local high school grad night celebrations. After 9 p.m. the parties move to a location in California Adventure, but Grad Nite celebrators may be in either park during the morning and throughout the day. You can check the Disneyland Calendar up to six weeks in advance to find out which days have Grad Nites in 2018.
4th of July
Disneyland Park celebrates America's independence during July 4th with red, white and blue decorations, special eats and drinks, and "Disney's Celebrate America! A Fourth of July Concert in the Sky." This can be one of the busiest days of the year.
Disneyland’s Birthday - July 17, 2018
"To all who come to this happy place; welcome." Disneyland opened on July 17, 1955. Every year on this anniversary the park celebrates Disneyland’s Birthday. There are special souvenirs available on that day, and some people choose to dress dapper for the occasion. Some people try to attend every year despite the crowds. Even though Disneyland does not actively promote this day, everyone seems to be hopping in droves to the park to join this birthday party. If you plan to attend this day, arrive early and expect high crowds. The park usually reaches capacity, as it is one of the most popular days to visit.
AUGUST, SEPTEMBER AND OCTOBER
CHOC Walk in the Park - Aug. 26, 2018
The CHOC Walk is a fundraiser for Children’s Hospital of Orange County. It takes place at Disneyland and greatly affects crowds, especially for morning arrivals. It can even switch up the early entry park order for the weekend. It includes free parking for participants, plus the ability to buy discount park tickets (5 tickets per wristband). For more information visit the CHOC Walk in the Park site.
Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend - CANCELED in 2018
All RunDisney events at Disneyland have been canceled in 2018.
Plaza de la Familia - Unknown if it will return in 2018
New for Disneyland events last year was a festivity celebrating the upcoming Disney-Pixar film “Coco” and the bonds of family will debut at Disney California Adventure. Taking place at Paradise Gardens, this celebration featured Mariachi music, delicious Mexican foods, a Tree of Life interactive photo exhibit and The World of Coco exhibit. The highlight is “A Musical Celebration of Coco” — a show that features dance, storytellers and original songs from “Coco.”
We're sure hoping it returns as a Disneyland event in 2018, because it was one of Tad and Lily's favorite movies of 2017!
Halloween Time at the Disneyland Resort - Sept. 7-Oct. 31, 2018
Halloween is a big-time affair at Disneyland Park, with plenty of decorations, entertainment and other goodies that typically take place mid-September through Oct. 31. Main Street U.S.A. is turned into a pumpkin festival with hundreds of hand-carved pumpkins on display. You can gather with some of Disney's biggest villains along with other favorite Disney characters for meet-and-greets — in costumes, of course! Jack Skellington and Sally are popular over by the Haunted Mansion, and Cruella De Ville stalks about Main Street and the near the park entrance. The kids will enjoy free face painting in Frontierland, and moms and dads can enjoy the seasonal entertainment plus special eats and drinks. There are also seasonal overlays to some of the resort's very best rides, including the Haunted Mansion Holiday hosted by Jack Skellington and Space Mountain Ghost Galaxy.
For the first time last year, Disney California Adventure got into the spirit. Haul-O-Ween in Cars Land will see the residents of Radiator Springs dressing in silly costumes and decorating their homes and shops. The new Guardians of the Galaxy — Mission Breakout! will get a Halloween overlay, becoming Guardians of the Galaxy — Monsters after Dark.
Disneyland Halloween Time festivities are included with regular park admission! We've got a full guide to Halloween Time, so be sure to check it out!
Mickey's Halloween Party - Sept. 19, 21, 24, 26 and 28; Oct. 2, 5, 9, 12, 16, 19, 23, 26, 29 and 31
On select nights during Halloween Time, Disneyland Park plays host to Mickey's Halloween Party. In the past, the whole family was invited to dress up in costumes and trick-or-treat throughout the park. The party takes place this on select nights in September and October. There are also character encounters with Disney villains and photo-ops with other Disney characters and Pixar pals. You can dance some of the night away at the Monsters U Dance Party and take in Halloween Screams, the Halloween fireworks spectacular. Main Street and Sleeping Beauty Castle are festively lit up with spooky projection throughout the night. Our guide to Halloween Time includes tips for Mickey's Halloween Party.
Gay Days - Oct. 5-7, 2018
Gay Days is an independently organized, multi-day event that typically takes place in the fall. There are off-site events and parties associated with Gay Days Anaheim, but there are also days attendees hit the parks. Participants wear red shirts. This independently organized event can affect crowd levels. You can read all about Gay Days here.
NOVEMBER AND DECEMBER
Dapper Day Fall Soiree - Nov. 3-4, 2018
The second Dapper Day event of 2018 takes place Nov. 3-4, 2018. The Saturday event includes an Expo at the Disneyland Hotel, where you can find all your dapper duds. The actual Dapper Day in the park is Nov. 4, 2018.
Avengers Super Heroes Half Marathon Weekend - CANCELED in 2018
All RunDisney events at Disneyland have been canceled in 2018.
Holidays at the Disneyland Resort — 2018 dates TBA
Like Halloween, Disneyland goes all out during the Christmas holidays, with the parks transformed into a winter wonderland from mid-November until early January. This is one of the biggest Disneyland events. Sleeping Beauty Castle is alight in sparkling icicles and thousands of shimmering lights. Snow falls nightly. Beautiful Main Street U.S.A. is decked out in fabulous holiday decor. Across the way at Disney California Adventure, Buena Vista Street, "a bug's land" and Cars Land are decorated as well for the festival of holidays, which offers many festival booths with tasty treats and musical selections representing several cultures. There is a nightly Christmas tree lighting on Buena Vista Street, as well as a special holiday World of Color.
Back at Disneyland, Jack Skellington's takeover continues at Haunted Mansion Holiday. The Jungle Cruise lands some fruitcake jokes during its Jingle Cruise overlay. Once the sun goes down, "it's a small world" turns into one of the most beautiful holiday lights displays you'll ever see. You'll definitely want to stay for A Christmas Fantasy Parade! Santa Claus greets guests in both parks. There is no hard-ticket Christmas Party like Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party at Magic Kingdom, and all of the Christmas festivities are included with regular admission. You can read more about it in our guide to Holidays at Disneyland.
New Year's Eve at the Disneyland Resort
The Christmas festivities continue through early January. If you're planning to visit around the New Year, you definitely want to stay for the "Ring in the New Year" fireworks spectacular! There are usually two fireworks shows (at 9 p.m. and midnight). California Adventure offers a dance party, fireworks and a New Years Eve countdown. New Year's Eve is one of Disneyland’s most popular days to visit either park, so follow these tips for spending New Year’s Eve at Disneyland to get the most out of your visit.
Our guide to Disneyland Events in 2018 is never really complete. As new events are announced and others receive official dates, we'll add them here. Check back often to see what's hopping all year round. We're a pretty lucky Frog Family in that we're able to visit the Disneyland Resort often. Visiting is never routine, but knowing that there are outstanding special events throughout the year means that there is always a new experience waiting for us.
Thanks for reading our guide to Disneyland Events in 2018. It's always a great time to visit the parks, but especially with so many terrific Disneyland events. Have you visited during any of these events? Share your memories in comments below. Have a question about any of the events? Ask away!
Related: Best Time To Visit Disneyland