What You Should Know About Off-Season at DLR

HydroGuy

A Pirate's Life For Me
Joined
Jun 5, 2005
The entertainment offerings at DLR are significantly reduced during off-season. WDW vets in particular may get tripped up by this as WDW works differently in this regard. Non-regular DLR visitors planning a multi-day trip may not be aware of this either.

Compounding things further, DLR does not post their entertainment schedule until 1-3 months ahead of time. So if you plan an off-season trip far in advance, you may find out too late that you will not be able to see some of the excellent shows and parades at DLR. This is different from WDW where park hours, EMH, and entertainment are posted at least 6 months in advance. WDW vets can confidently plan a WDW trip for any week of the year and be comfortable they will have access to all of the entertainment offerings. Thinking that DLR works similarly is a mistake.

During high season this is not a concern because entertainment schedules are maxed out every day. During off-season a full entertainment schedule will be available on weekends (Fri/Sat/Sun). On weekdays there will be reduced entertainment. Typically that means no fireworks show at DL, no Fantasmic at DL, perhaps only one parade at DL, and no parade at DCA.

If off-season visitors want to be able to see some of these excellent shows, they will need to overlap some of their days over a weekend. However, with so many locals visiting DLR the difference between weekend and weekday crowds is significant, much more so than at WDW. Weekend crowds at DLR are pretty much comparable to high season year round. This means Friday nights, and Saturday and Sunday all day.

If you plan to visit DLR during high season, then the full entertainment schedule every day means it is a no-brainer to avoid weekends whenever possible.

Also be aware that DLR takes rides down for refurb and/or seasonal changeovers (HM and IASW) in off-season so you will be much more likely to miss some rides. See "HydroGuy's High Season/Off Season Tradeoff Rule" www.disboards.com/showthread.php?t=1199852

During the lowest season DL and DCA will close at 8PM. If you see such hours on the DLR calendar this usually means there will be no entertainment that evening. The only exception I can think of would be short hours in early December where the Christmas parade and fireworks still are shown nightly. But Fantasmic is not.

The best way to predict park hours and entertainment is to look at what happened in recent years. Things do not change that much year to year. Check the links in this thread:

"Historical DLR Park Hours, Entertainment and Refurbs" - www.disboards.com/showthread.php?t=2291124

Also see "Choosing When To Visit DLR: Summary of High and Low Season and When Each Happens " http://www.disboards.com/showthread.php?p=36509602



Which Days Should You Visit DLR In Off-Season?

My personal opinion is...


1. Three Day Trip and you do not care about entertainment offerings

Go Tuesday-Thursday.


2. Three Day Trip and you do care about entertainment offerings

Go Thursday-Saturday. On Thursday all day and Friday morning focus on rides. You will have Friday and Saturday night (usually) for full entertainment. If you want to see fireworks do that Friday night - HydroGuy's Fireworks Rule.


3. Four Day Trip and you do not care about entertainment offerings

Go Monday-Thursday.


4. Four Day Trip and you do care about entertainment offerings

Go Wednesday-Saturday. On Wednesday and Thursday all day and Friday morning focus on rides. You will have Friday and Saturday night (usually) for full entertainment. If you want to see fireworks do that Friday night - HydroGuy's Fireworks Rule.
 

tinkerbelt

DIS Veteran
Joined
Feb 16, 2007
I'd still much rather go during off season, because the weekend crowds during the off season are nothing compared to the high season crowds. As an example, during high season, it would not be uncommon to wait in line for an hour for a ride, but if you went on that same ride on a weekend during the off season, the same line would still only be about 30 minutes. And on a weekday during off season, that line would be 5 to 15 minutes.

Since most people spend more than one day in the parks, the best bet would be to do a combination of weekdays/weekends. Even with shorter park hours, off season crowds are usually light enough that you can do a lot of things in a short day. And then that leaves the evenings for dinner, Downtown Disney, or relaxing by the pool (and the weather is usually warm enough that you can swim in the evenings for most of the year).

So if someone were planning on spending, say, 3 days in the parks during off season, they could do Wednesday-Friday in the parks. Really the only shows not available on Wednesday and Thursday would be the Electric Light Parade, the fireworks, Fantasmic, and the Block Party Bash, and all of those could easily be done on Friday (and yes, it is possible to catch both the DEP and the fireworks on a Friday night).

All of the other shows are up and running during the week - Jedi Training, Golden Horseshoe, Aladdin and Jasmine (the one at DCA and the one at DL), Princess Fantasy Faire, Turtle Talk, etc. So really all of the stuff that is closed down could be done in one evening.

Another thing about peak season, is that with more people there, rides always seem to break down more often. So while you may have to deal with one or two rides being down for refurb during the off season, you're just as likely to deal with broken rides during peak season. It's a trade-off, IMO.

Also, the crowds mean that hotels are more expensive, and everything is more crowded - not only the parks, but the hotel pools, the restaurants, the shops, transportation, and everything else. So not only are you facing longer wait times for rides, but for everything else as well.
 

HydroGuy

A Pirate's Life For Me
Joined
Jun 5, 2005
I'd still much rather go during off season, because the weekend crowds during the off season are nothing compared to the high season crowds.
FWIW, I was not advocating avoiding off-season. I just have seen a lot of posts lately asking about off-season entertainment (or lack thereof).

I think the choice of off-season vs. high season is multi-faceted, and depends a lot on how often you visit DLR, how many days you stay, and age of any children in the family.

For us with high schoolers now, off-season is just not an option. And since we get to DLR for a multi-day family trip about once every two years, then when we go we want to be able to ride every ride and see every show. People who visit more than once a year will not care as much if they miss a show or ride. So for us there are multiple reasons to visit during high season.

And while there are one hour lines during high season, we never wait in them. Our max is about 20 minutes.

It just depends on your circumstances. If you can go off-season and it works for you, go for it. The post was more intended for folks who have no idea that entertainment will be reduced off-season and that DLR differs from WDW in this regard. :)
 
  • mermaidwannabe

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jun 8, 2004
    What is off-season for DL? We were planning on going late April/early May next year, and I don't want to miss any attractions. Thanks!
     

    HydroGuy

    A Pirate's Life For Me
    Joined
    Jun 5, 2005
    What is off-season for DL? We were planning on going late April/early May next year, and I don't want to miss any attractions. Thanks!
    That is off-season, or at least not high season. For example, if you went late April/early May this year (i.e., right now), here is the short list of what you would miss:

    Splash Mtn
    Fantasmic
    Tom Sawyer Island
    Mark Twain
    Tarzan's Treehouse
    Indiana Jones open, but no Fastpass


    Plus, the fireworks, BPB, DEP and High School Musical pep rally are only on weekends right now.

    Not counting weekends or holidays, maximum entertainment and minimal ride refurbs will exist for these dates (to the best of my understanding):

    Mid-March to Mid-April
    Mid-June to Labor Day
    Mid-November to Early January (with some gaps in early December as described in the OP)
     

    mermaidwannabe

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jun 8, 2004
    That is off-season, or at least not high season. For example, if you went late April/early May this year (i.e., right now), here is the short list of what you would miss:

    Splash Mtn
    Fantasmic
    Tom Sawyer Island
    Mark Twain
    Tarzan's Treehouse
    Indiana Jones open, but no Fastpass


    Plus, the fireworks, BPB, DEP and High School Musical pep rally are only on weekends right now.

    Not counting weekends or holidays, maximum entertainment and minimal ride refurbs will exist for these dates (to the best of my understanding):

    Mid-March to Mid-April
    Mid-June to Labor Day
    Mid-November to Early January (with some gaps in early December as described in the OP)
    :eek: YIKES! I wouldn't want to miss those things! I was debating taking the girls out of school to go for less crowds, but maybe I should just go in late June. ?? Would that be an awful time to go as far as crowds go? It would be nice not to have my girls miss school. Now I don't know what to do...
     

    HydroGuy

    A Pirate's Life For Me
    Joined
    Jun 5, 2005
    :eek: YIKES! I wouldn't want to miss those things! I was debating taking the girls out of school to go for less crowds, but maybe I should just go in late June. ?? Would that be an awful time to go as far as crowds go? It would be nice not to have my girls miss school. Now I don't know what to do...
    It depends on your priorities. We are going in late June this year and I have no qualms about it. It is more crowded, but the park hours are longer. It is true that you have to be more strategic and plan a bit more. RideMax can help those who are concerned about crowds. If you stay away from weekends it is manageable IMO. It is all a tradeoff.
     
  • Mom2my2daughters

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Mar 18, 2005
    So would the 2nd week of September (right after Labor Day) be considered off season?? We are leaving for DL on the 15th.

    Thanks!
     

    HydroGuy

    A Pirate's Life For Me
    Joined
    Jun 5, 2005
    So would the 2nd week of September (right after Labor Day) be considered off season?? We are leaving for DL on the 15th.

    Thanks!
    Yes it would. For comparison look at the park hours for Sept 2006 here:

    www.laughingplace.com/Guide-Cal-DLR2-200609.asp

    After Labor Day you can see how the DL park hours shrink to 10AM-8PM. That is a good indicator. People who like off-season will tell you the lower crowds outweigh the reduced park hours, and I do not doubt that. But the full entertainment will be on weekends only (and the park hours will also be longer on the weekends).
     

    JadeDarkstar

    Dis Veteran Pirate dragon mom
    Joined
    Jun 2, 2007
    im gona be there nov 27-dec2ed.. what is the scedual that time.. i dont want to miss anything??
     
  • beansf

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Jun 8, 2006
    Another thing to consider might be weather. Obviously, it is pretty nice in Southern Cali. year round, but since we are from Northern Cali. (and therefore have a low tolerance for heat) we like the off-season. I am from the midwest originally, where theme parks are only open during the HOT months. Every trip to Six Flags as a child was a sweat-drenched experience.

    The first time I was able to go to DL during the Fall, I became a totally loyal off-season goer. Plus I am as white as a ghost and I burn really easily, so not having to deal with sunscreen on my scalp is pretty cool, too.
     

    JadeDarkstar

    Dis Veteran Pirate dragon mom
    Joined
    Jun 2, 2007
    same here, im so white when im out even walking in this az sun. i come back with burn on shoulders

    I love the cold but here in az never get it.
     

    HydroGuy

    A Pirate's Life For Me
    Joined
    Jun 5, 2005
    Just to be clear, my OP was not advocating summer visits. For that matter it was not advocating any time of year. It was just making clear the off-season downsides.

    High season does not mean summer at DLR. It means summer, holiday and spring break. So if it is a concern that you may miss shows, etc., during off-season, then you can go high season without heat during holidays and spring break, as well as certain holiday weekends.

    For those who have the flexibility of going off-season and know the issues with show schedules, then by all means go whatever month suits you best.
     

    BriarRose59

    WDW Once Upon a Dream
    Joined
    Aug 22, 2003
    HydoGuy:

    Thank you so much for your information. My DH will be at a convention over the weekend of January 18-20. My DD's and I are going so that we can spend Sat and Sun at the parks, we fly in on Friday night and out on Monday afternoon. From your post, I am gathering that the fireworks and parades should take place since it is a weekend, right? Where can I find the park hours posted now? Should we expect high crowds because the locals attend on the weekends and this is a holiday weekend? My DD's are 16 and 20 so we just want to go have a relaxed trip spending the whole day in the parks riding everything but the kiddie rides. We are planning on staying at the GC. Any suggestions?
     

    HydroGuy

    A Pirate's Life For Me
    Joined
    Jun 5, 2005
    HydoGuy:

    Thank you so much for your information. My DH will be at a convention over the weekend of January 18-20. My DD's and I are going so that we can spend Sat and Sun at the parks, we fly in on Friday night and out on Monday afternoon. From your post, I am gathering that the fireworks and parades should take place since it is a weekend, right? Where can I find the park hours posted now? Should we expect high crowds because the locals attend on the weekends and this is a holiday weekend? My DD's are 16 and 20 so we just want to go have a relaxed trip spending the whole day in the parks riding everything but the kiddie rides. We are planning on staying at the GC. Any suggestions?
    I have not been to DLR in January in many years, so others should jump in here.

    You will not see park hours for Jan until probably Oct or Nov. FWIW, here were the hours and entertainment in Jan 2007: www.laughingplace.com/Guide-Cal-DLR2-200701.asp

    I would expect full entertainment for the weekend. Make sure to see fireworks on the first night if possible - see "HydroGuy's Fireworks Rule" www.disboards.com/showthread.php?t=1199851

    Crowds over MLK can better be answered by others. I would expect it to be moderately crowded because of the holiday. When park hours get extended by DLR, that is a good indication of what they are expecting.

    Have fun. :)
     

    Lostgirlz

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Mar 7, 2006
    Yes from what I was told today by a disney cast member the fireworks do not go on during the week, nor does the electric parade, or fantasmic. During the week it is very limited show chances.
     

    gramto2boys

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Mar 22, 2008
    Hi all, I need some info for October.. the 9th thru the 16th. I would go any time, but my son who is autistic needs a less crowded time. I have not taken him in several years as it was hell. Now that he is older I think he can deal way better, but I still need some insights on whats going on in the park these days, and what times the park closes. If you can help me I would appreciate it very much. we are so excited to be able to go again after many years !!!
     

    gramto2boys

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Mar 22, 2008
    Hi all, I need some info for October.. the 9th thru the 16th. I would go any time, but my son who is autistic needs a less crowded time. I have not taken him in several years as it was hell. Now that he is older I think he can deal way better, but I still need some insights on whats going on in the park these days, and what times the park closes. If you can help me I would appreciate it very much. we are so excited to be able to go again after many years !!!
    Bump please
     

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