Help me choose dates- March or Memorial Day weekend

JB Smooth

Earning My Ears
Jan 12, 2017
Hi guys

First time Disneyland traveler here. My wife and two daughters want to go to Disneyland and right now we are debating either March 8-13th or May- Memorial Day weekend because its my 9 year olds birthday

Ive read all the calender's and im getting mixed results. Some say dont even think about going Memorial Day weekend because it can be hot and will be very crowded and it can be grad night. i really want to avoid grad night.

i can lock flights for $188 round trip for that weekend

The other option is March 8-13th which is our spring break. ive read where California doesnt do spring break until late March so its not as bad, but flights are $420 per flight and i just found out that the castle will be closed for renovation. how big of a deal is that?

that bums me out so now im conflicted. we do get the discounted 3rd day pass if we go in March, so there is that.

Im torn, please help me decide as i need to make a decision in the next week


Jul 23, 2012
Whichever dates you choose, you're going to have a great trip! First of all, don't put too much faith in the crowd calendars for DLR. They're notorious around here for being unreliable, especially since DL's 60th anniversary. (They work much better for WDW.) Put more faith in the information you get here (we've got posters who visit the parks on a weekly basis, so the info is fresh!), school and event calendars (there's a current thread on this forum with the dates), and the AP blockout calendars (available on the DLR website). The more APs blocked, the better. Keep in mind, though, that Disney blocks the lower APs when they expect more non-AP crowds, so things even out. But, generally speaking, more AP blocks = a good thing.
Spring Breaks out here are spread out (see the above mentioned School Calendar thread). Since Easter is so late this year and since school districts involved cover CA (north and south), AZ, WA, OR, UT, NV, etc. (and school types include traditional, year round, and home school), breaks will run from March through the end of April, but probably won't center on the actual holiday. Don't worry about Spring Break -- it can actually be a pretty good time to visit DLR. Disney will prepare for crowds by increasing hours and staffing, running rides at full/er capacity, increasing entertainment, etc. The parks will run more smoothly because they will be ready for the crowds.
Dates for Grad Nites have already been published -- you can find them by doing a search on this board. They start in early May and go until sometime around the second week of June.
Now for your May dates, keep these letters in mind: SWGE! Bob Iger just announced that the official opening date will be in June, but that doesn't mean that there won't be previews and media events running earlier than that. No one really knows yet. And no one really knows what SWGE means for crowds -- only that it will be a total game changer. Memorial Day Weekend over the past two years has been good -- the Saturday and Sunday have been good because the lower APs have been blocked (remember what I said above?). The Monday has been busier. (And Mondays in general have now become busy days in the parks.) The week before Memorial Day Weekend has been busier because the Southern CA promo tickets usually expire that week. Keep that in mind. The week after Memorial Day might be better. But, SWGE will be an unknown factor there.
I wouldn't worry too much about the crowd factor. You're already off to a good start by asking here and doing your research. With good planning, good organization, and a positive attitude (for everyone in your family!), you can have a great trip whichever dates you choose.


I admit that in the past I've been a nasty
Jun 2, 2011
Before you give March consideration, make sure you can find a hotel. Those dates are on the tail end if the Natural Products Expo, and the night of the 8th is booked almost everywhere, and what is available is super expensive.
  • sdchickie

    Fan of the Mouse!
    Apr 29, 2009
    The big question is how important is seeing the castle to you. If this is a once in a lifetime trip I think I would want the castle pictures and that feeling you get when you enter main street and see that castle for the first time. For me that would be a deal breaker if I was only able to go once. I've had AP's here for 2 years so I am going in March and will just suck it up, but the fireworks show (if there still is one) will not be the same without the castle projections.


    DIS Veteran
    Feb 22, 2013
    I agree with the prior post - check out hotels for those dates and see what you can get before you make any decisions. Then you know for sure what you are comparing hotel and flights price wise. March books up fast at Disneyland hotel wise and your dates are pretty much 2 months out already.

    I can see your point about the castle - and if you really want the full on Disneyland experience then your May date works better but it will likely be busier - it's all relative though as it's going to be busy regardless of the dates you pick.

    As to the grad nights - I'd not worry about that - they have altered the format of them and I believe people have reported they were less of an interruption last year than prior years. I've not been there on a grad night though since 2013 and we had two - one where it was annoying and one where it wasn't even noticeable but now I have kids in high school myself so I can't really complain.

    If I were you I'd make a list of pros and cons for each date - costs comparisons for tickets, flights, hotel etc. and then any up or downsides you think exists for either dates. Sometimes when you see it on paper it can help you make a logical decision rather than a gut one.

    Have fun planning.


    Jul 23, 2012
    Your May dates should give you a better chance of seeing SLB's castle and having the walk through be open, having F! back from refurb, having WOC back (fingers crossed), and maybe even having PTN back (no guarantee, but possible since Memorial Day Weekend has traditionally been the start of summer entertainment).
    March dates will help you avoid SWGE crowds for sure, will save you money since you won't need to buy dining packages for nighttime entertainment viewing, Food & Wine Festival will be going at DCA -- fun!
    Agree about making a list of pros, cons, and costs so that you can clearly and easily compare dates.


    DIS Veteran
    Jul 14, 2014
    I’d do Memorial because
    -I’ve done it. It’s crowded but it’s not unmanageable and Disney is ready. BUT one trip we drove to the parks over Memorial and parking was a nightmare, book a hotel you can walk from
    -Park hours and entertainment are close to or maxed (2 WOC showings, 8am park openings, 11pm-midnight DL closings)
    -More will be open because Disney aims to have most of the refurbs done in ready to kick off summer at Memorial

    The upside to March is CA Adventure Food & Wine. Appeals to the adult in me but I have no doubt 8 yo me would be bored out of my skull & annoyed at the new food my parents made me keep eating. Imho Memorial will avoid SWL because Iger said June in the infamous interview of last week for Disneyland opening.
  • tarheelalum

    DIS Veteran
    Jan 16, 2013
    Out of those two I'd pick Memorial day. It can be hot then but it usually is not. It usually doesn't get hot in SoCal until July. It will be very crowded but its always crowded at Disneyland. The vast majority of the winter refurbishments will be finished by then. Also the parks will be fully staffed with long operating hours and all shows will more likely be running then. Neither of the dates you listed are ideal, but of those two I would pick Memorial day.


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