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 annual and one-time events that may just be the cherry on top. Our Frog Family gets an extra leap of excitement during these special events. 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 2020, we've included a few of the more popular "unofficial" events, as well, since they impact crowd levels.
Full Schedule of Disneyland Events in 2020
Holidays at the Disneyland Resort - Nov. 8, 2019 - Jan. 6, 2020
Like Halloween, Disneyland goes all out during Christmas. The parks transform 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 décor. Jack Skellington's takeover continues at Haunted Mansion Holiday. The "it's a small world" overlay is the merriest cruise that ever set sail. Once the sun goes down, the façade turns into one of the most beautiful holiday lights displays you'll ever see … be sure to catch the ceremonial lighting and projection show each evening! You'll definitely want to stay for A Christmas Fantasy Parade and the Believe…in Holiday Magic fireworks show, too! 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.
Across the way at Disney California Adventure, Buena Vista Street and Cars Land are decorated for Disney's 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. You’ll want to join Mickey, Minnie and the Three Caballeros at the Disney Viva Navidad! Street Party. Two Cars Land rides receive holiday overlays: Mater’s Jingle Jamboree and Luigi’s Joy to the Whirl have exciting holiday songs. The celebration wraps up with Three Kings' Day from Jan. 3-6, 2020.
Three Kings' Day - Jan. 3-6, 2020
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.
Opening of Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance - Jan. 17, 2020
This new, long-awaited ride opens in Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge on Jan. 17, 2020. Join the Resistance in battle against the First Order!
Disneyland After Dark: 80s Nite - Jan. 29, 2020
The first of five Disneyland After Dark events kicks off on Jan. 29, 2020, sending us back to the 80s! Grab your hairspray, Sony Walkman, leg warmers and jean jackets. This separately ticketed event inside Disneyland takes place after the park closes, with access to the park at 6 p.m. Tickets went on sale to the public Dec. 4, 2019 (Dec. 3 for Annual Passholders). We expect tickets to sell out, so purchase early! Events include:
- "Flashback to Videopolis" takeover of Fantasyland Theatre with a live VJ, music videos and dancing to hits of the 80s
- "Awesome After Dark - Fireworks to the Max!" with fireworks and musical entertainment
- "Throwback" encounters with Disney friends from the 80s
- Decade-inspired food, décor, beverages and merchandise
Lunar New Year - Jan. 17 - Feb. 9, 2020
The Lunar New Year Celebration is a multi-cultural event that includes food, authentic performances and your favorite Disney characters. This event takes place at Paradise Gardens inside Disney California Adventure. Colorful lanterns and other décor 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 and purchase some traditional Lunar New Year treats. You can find delectable Asian meals at Paradise Garden Grill, or try a sampling of Asian cuisine from the Lunar New Year festival marketplace kiosks.
Most years, 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 to meet characters (such as Mickey, Minnie, The Three Little Pigs, Mulan or Mushu) dressed in their Lunar New Year’s best. There are several showings of Mulan's Lunar New Year Procession throughout the day that celebrate with colorfully-costumed dancers, a dragon and drummers. The year 2020 is the Year of the Mouse, so Mickey and Minnie join the Procession!
FEBRUARY, MARCH AND APRIL
Super Bowl and the Day After - Feb. 2-3, 2020
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, 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 there is usually an announcement right after the big game. If you are in town the day after the Super Bowl, you might want to take these factors into consideration when planning your itinerary.
>Valentine’s Celebrations - The weeks leading up to Valentine's Day
In 2019, Disneyland introduced Valentine's Month as part of the Mickey and Minnie celebration. We fell in love with the Valentine scavenger hunt and hope they bring it back someday. In other years, during the weeks leading up to Valentine's Day, you can usually find Valentine’s Day balloons and Valentine-themed food in both parks. Starting late Jan. and early Feb., you might meet a different Disney sweetheart couple each day. We've spotted a few rarely-seen couples out strolling and greeting guests together. Snow White has had The Prince on her arm, Hercules and Megara emerged, and Clarabelle Cow and Horace Horsecollar met fans in Toontown!
The week of Valentines Day, be sure to pose with your loved ones in front of the heart photo backdrop on Main Street U.S.A. Love is definitely in the air at Disneyland!
Disneyland After Dark: Sweethearts' Nite - Feb. 12 and 13, 2020 (Sold Out!)
The second theme of four Disneyland After Dark events brings a popular returning theme from 2019, making Disneyland the most romantic place on earth for two separate nights! Grab your sweetheart and make a date at Disneyland. This separately ticketed event inside Disneyland Park takes place after the park closes, with access to the park as of 6 p.m. Tickets are on sale to the public Dec. 4, 2019 (Dec. 3 for Annual Passholders). Tickets are likely to sell out, so purchase early! Events include:
- Love song-themed dance parties throughout the park
- A glitzy royal ball
- Opportunities to meet darling Disney couples, including Cinderella and Prince Charming, Aladdin and Jasmine, and, of course, Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse
- Romantic photo-ops themed after sweet scenes from iconic Disney films
- Valentine's-inspired décor, food, beverages and merchandise offerings
Villains Day: Stalk Around the Park - Feb. 22, 2020
This unofficial fashion theme day is one in which fans of villains show off their villain-themed attire (all following the Disneyland guidelines for costumes and attire of course). So polish your apple and sharpen your horns to join their flock for group photos rides and other dark fun. This is not put on by Disney but by other park goers.
Magic Happens Parade - Beginning Feb. 28, 2020
An all-new parade will make its way down the Disneyland parade route in spring 2020. Mickey and pals kick off the daytime parade. You can expect colorful floats and costumes themed after both new ("Moana," "Coco" and "Frozen II") and classic ("Sleeping Beauty") Disney characters.
This magical daytime spectacular will include nine new floats and beautiful costumes. Anna and Elsa will explore the mysteries of an enchanted forest with Olaf, while Kristoff pushes a cart with his pal Sven.
Many more colorful floats and characters from "Peter Pan," "Cinderella," "Aladdin," "Pinocchio," "The Princess & the Frog" and "The Sword in the Stone" will join in the magic, along with high-energy music that combines the new song with classic Disney tunes. One magical float includes "Sleeping Beauty" characters such as fairy godmothers Flora, Fauna and Merryweather, with Aurora in her shimmering gown caught between hues of pinks and blues. The parade's grand finale float will be joined by smaller floats depicting magical moments from several classic Disney stories.
Disney California Adventure Food & Wine Festival - Feb. 28 - April 21, 2020
This is a California foodie's paradise, and one of the top Disneyland events in 2020! Taking place each year during March and April, Disney California Adventure Food & Wine Festival offers guests the chance to partake in delicious food and wine offerings every day, plus special workshops, classes and experiences on the weekends. Tad and Lily love participating in Jr. Chef with Goofy, and we all love the free treat that comes with the free experience. Guests can visit Festival Marketplaces, themed around different tastes and drinks of California, and reserve their seats at premium experiences with famous chefs. You’ll also encounter musical entertainment and special character meet-and-greets, including opportunities to meet some rarely-seen characters. You can do some shopping in 2020, with a new line of festival-themed headwear, apparel, décor and cooking gadgets. The Sip and Savor Pass returns for all guests in 2020!
New Orleans Square Mardi Gras - Feb. 25, 2020
While it's always festive inside New Orleans Square at Disneyland Park, the attraction gets decorated even more for Mardi Gras. New Orleans Square gets festooned with beads and masks, and the restaurants offer themed foods and free beads for guests to wear. The real party is happening at Ralph Brennan’s Jazz Kitchen in Downtown Disney, where you can enjoy Mardi Gras decorations and a special menu that includes Fat Tuesday specials, including colorful Mardi Gras Bread Pudding and some discounted drinks.
You can always put on your Mardi Gras Minnie Mouse ear headband and celebrate Mardi Gras year-round by eating the New Orleans-inspired foods inside Disneyland and trying to catch beads when the bands play in New Orleans Square. You can also hop aboard the Mark Twain and maybe even meet or dance with characters from "The Princess and the Frog!" Look for special menu items at Cafe Orleans. This is not a big event at Disneyland.
Disneyland After Dark: PIXAR Nite - March 5, 2020
Things are looking up in spring! The third theme of four Disneyland After Dark events in 2020 puts you right in the middle of your favorite Pixar stories at Disney California Adventure. Put on your Pixar best and party after the park closes with access to the park as of 5 p.m. Tickets are on sale to the public Dec. 4, 2019 (Dec. 3 for Annual Passholders). Tickets will likely sell out, so purchase early! Here are the incredible details on what you can expect at PIXAR Nite:
- Interactive dance parties that are themed to favorite Pixar stories, including the retro-cool Incredibles family and scare-tastic gang from Monsters, Inc.
- Encounters with Pixar pals, such as Russell and Carl from “Up” and Joy and Sadness from “Inside Out”
- Fun photo-ops
- Whimsical décor, food, beverages and merchandise
Mini Gay Day - March 7, 2020
Gay Days at Disneyland are traditionally held in the fall around the first Saturday in October, but there is a mini Gay Day casual meet-up in March. This is not an official Disney event, but it can affect crowds, and you’ll see a number of rainbow-colored Disneyland treats. Expect to see folks wearing red shirts in celebration!
Egg-stravaganza - TBD (usually held the few weeks leading up to Easter)
Hop over to the Disneyland Resort for the biggest Easter egg hunt around! Egg-stravaganza is a fun (but low-key) scavenger hunt that sends guests scurrying around the Disneyland Resort to find hidden eggs during April. Guests can 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. Keep your eye out for Easter Bunny meet-and-greets during this season!
Dapper Day - April 19, 2020
Some of the "unofficial" Disneyland events 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. The Dapper Day Expo is at the Disneyland Hotel on April 18 and 19, 2020, but the official day in Disneyland Park is April 19.
Disneyland After Dark: Villains Night - April 30, 2020
The fourth theme for the Disneyland After Dark events in 2020 allows you to unleash your inner villain! This sinister soiree takes place at Disney California Adventure after the park closes, but you can enter the park as early as 6 p.m. It's time to start scaring up that perfect DisneyBound outfit or costume inspired by your favorite Disney Villain. Tickets are on sale to the public Dec. 4, 2019 (Dec. 3 for Annual Passholders). They will likely sell out, so be sure purchase early or you'll be dead out of luck! Here's what you can expect:
- Villains Cabaret with a cast of outlaws singing and dancing their way through a riff-raff-lovin’ revue
- Spellbinding DJ-hosted dance parties and singalongs throughout the park
- Encounters with Disney’s famous fiends or their henchmen
- Photo-ops themed to popular villain lairs and thrones
- Dastardly décor, food, beverages and merchandise
MAY AND JUNE
May 1, 2020 - Star Wars Day, Light vs. Dark
This unofficial event is organized by fans. So prepare your Star Wars Bound in sync with Disneyland's clothing and costume guidelines, grab your lightsaber and meet (or do battle with) other Star Wars fans. Look for a parade of lightsabers, a group photo and more! Which side do you choose?
Bats Day Fun in the Park - May 3, 2020
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 usually takes place in May. This event always makes me long for my frog goth phase. There have been rumors that Bats Day organizers may be ending Bats Day, but it's still happening in the park. (The events that occur outside the park are canceled). You bet this frog squad will show up all in black!
Grad Nites - May and June 2020
Throughout May and June, you may see daytime crowds surge with high school seniors in both parks for local high school Grad Nite 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 host Grad Nites in 2020.
Grad Nite dates for 2020 are:
May 8, 9, 15, 16, 20, 26, 27, 29 and 30
June 2, 3, 5, 6, 10, 12 and 13
Opening of Avengers Campus at Disney California Adventure - Beginning of Summer 2020
While we do not have the exact date yet, we are hoppy to announce that the MARVEL-themed Avengers Campus will be opening at the beginning of summer! The land takes over the former A Bug's Land space and features Spider-Man and other MARVEL characters. You can expect a new immersive ride, in which you can sling webs like Spider-Man. The Pym Test Kitchen will be the exciting eatery in the new land. Avengers Headquarters is set to open at a later date. Hop over to What's Coming to Disneyland to get the full scoop on this new land and its MARVEL-ous entertainment.
Fourth 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. Disney California Adventure also has some fireworks in a patriotic salute before World of Color.
Disneyland’s Birthday - July 17, 2020
"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. We'll be celebrating 65 years of Disneyland in 2020! There are special souvenirs available on that day, and some people choose to dress dapper for the occasion. You may expect a birthday cavalcade or other form of entertainment with many Disney characters at points throughout the day. You may be able to take pictures holding birthday signs. Some people try to attend every year despite the crowds. Even though Disneyland does not actively promote this day (except on large anniversary years), 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 typical summer crowds.
Disneyland After Dark: Star Wars Nite - Aug. 27, 2020
The fifth theme for the Disneyland After Dark events in 2020 allows you to use the Force after Disneyland Park closes. This separately ticketed event happens to fall on opening night of the Star Wars Celebration, a fan convention taking place at the Anaheim Convention Center Aug. 27-30, 2020.
Fans may access the park beginning at 6 p.m. The event will likely kick off at 9 p.m. Entertainment includes a special Star Wars–themed fireworks spectacular, galactic dance parties, character encounters and more. Guests can enjoy enhanced decor, event merchandise, and inspired food and beverages. Grab your lightsaber and prepare to pose for Star Wars–themed photo opportunities. Unlimited PhotoPass downloads are included with your ticket. A limited number of tickets will be available soon!
SEPTEMBER AND OCTOBER
CHOC Walk in the Park - Sept. 13, 2020
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. The event 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). The 30th anniversary walk will be on Sept. 13, 2020!
Halloween Time at the Disneyland Resort - Sept. 6 - Oct. 31, 2019 (2020 dates TBD)
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 in New Orleans Square. After they leave for the day, you can meet characters from the Haunted Mansion. Cruella de Vil and the Queen of Hearts stalk about Main Street and near the park entrance. We've spotted Maleficent and the Evil Queen near the castle, too.
Guests 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. The Halloween Screams show is now a projection and special effects show that will light up Disneyland park most nights of the Halloween season. The show is enhanced with fireworks on select nights.
Disney California Adventure has gotten into the spirit, too. Haul-O-Ween in Cars Land has the residents of Radiator Springs dressing in silly costumes and decorating their homes and shops. Luigi’s Honkin’ Haul-O-Ween and Mater’s Graveyard JamBOOree are two ride overlays in Cars Land. Guardians of the Galaxy — Mission Breakout! also gets a Halloween overlay, becoming Guardians of the Galaxy — Monsters after Dark after 5 p.m. (4 p.m. on party days).
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!
Oogie Boogie Bash - Select Dates During Halloween Time
On select nights during Halloween Time, Disney California Adventure plays host to the new Halloween Party — Oogie Boogie Bash. The whole family is invited to dress up in costumes and trick-or-treat throughout the park. Some of the treat trails are themed after villains and have a live villain to entertain you as you gather candy. The magical Villains Grove is a delight. The party takes place on select nights in September and October. You'll enjoy character encounters with Disney villains and photo-ops with rare Disney characters and Pixar pals. You can dance the night away at dance parties and take in the new World of Color — "Villainous!" show. Hop over to our post on Oogie Boogie Bash for more screaming details.
Plaza de la Familia - Sept. 6 - Oct. 31, 2019 (2020 dates TBD)
Plaza de la Familia celebrates the Disney-Pixar film “Coco” and the bonds of family at Disney California Adventure. Taking place at Paradise Gardens, this celebration features Mariachi music, delicious Mexican foods, a Tree of Life interactive photo exhibit, wing photo walls, free coloring and crafts and the chance to meet Miguel. The highlight is “A Musical Celebration of Coco” — a show that features dance, storytellers and original songs from “Coco,” along with an amazing puppet performance from Miguel and some dancing skeletons.
Gay Days - Oct. 2-4, 2020
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 when 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 Outing - Nov. 15, 2020
The second Dapper Day event of 2020 usually takes place early to mid November. 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 usually on Sunday.
Thanks for reading our guide to Disneyland Events in 2020. 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!
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