I’ve found that there are two distinct types of visitors at Disneyland: people that LOVE shows, and people that hate them. People that love shows are usually really on top of planning ahead, and there are tons of guides for visiting these shows – how stake out spots, grab fast passes, plan dining reservations, you name it. But I’ve never seen a guide for those who want to avoid shows, and how to steer clear of the crowds.
Full disclosure – show times are sometimes the best times to visit rides. People tend to crowd near the ropes, and lines for nearby attractions often disappear. But physically maneuvering your way through the crowds to those attractions is extremely difficult, and might want to avoid altogether. If you are a person that wants nothing to do with Disneyland’s shows and show crowds, this guide is for you. I’ve broken down some tips for avoiding show crowds – before, during, and after performances.
- Plan Ahead: The last thing you want to do is to try and make a plan in the middle of the chaos and crowding of a show. When you’re approaching show time, plan out your next few rides and where to meet up, in case you get separated in the crowds. A little planning ahead will save you a lot of headache.
- Steer Clear: If you can, choose rides in a separate land from the show. Fantasmic! time is a TERRIBLE time to visit New Orleans Square, but it’s an excellent time to swing by Fantasyland, for example. Pay attention to show times not just for shows you want to watch, but especially for shows you DON’T want to watch. That way, you won’t be in the wrong place at the wrong time.
- Areas to Avoid:
- Fantasmic!: Critter Country, New Orleans Square, Frontierland
- Fireworks: Main Street USA, Adventureland, New Orleans Square, Fantasyland (not crowded, but most attractions will close until the fireworks are done)
- Parades (California Adventure): Buena Vista Street, Hollywood Land, Pacific Wharf
- Parades (Disneyland): Main Street USA & eastern Fantasyland (It’s A Small World, Alice in Wonderland)
- World of Color: Paradise Park, Pacific Wharf
- Be Patient: Most of the outdoor shows at Disneyland mean roped off sections and roadblocks. If you get stuck somewhere, don’t get frustrated…it doesn’t help! If I get stuck on Main Street during a parade, I like to pop into the shops and check out souvenirs. Each land has little things to check out, so if you find yourself trapped, use the opportunity to take in your surroundings. Shows at Disneyland are almost never longer than 20-30 minutes, so you won’t have to wait long for the walkways to open up again.
- Rest & Refuel: If you happen to be in New Orleans Square or Critter Country during Fantasmic! or Adventureland during the fireworks, the chances of you getting very far are close to zero. When I find myself in that situation, I go to a nearby snack cart or restaurant and grab dessert. Most people watching shows stand up and crowd as close as possible, so the odds of you finding a place to sit are surprisingly decent.
- Go Downtown: It’s not a bad idea to take a breather from the parks altogether during peak show times. The #1 time you might want to be in Downtown Disney is from 30 minutes before Paint the Night through 30 minutes after the fireworks. Most of Disneyland will be at a standstill, as people wait in staked out spots, and those that don’t want to watch the shows will head into California Adventure. The parade and Fantasmic! happen at the same time, and the fireworks start right afterward, so the coast will be clear again after that window.
- Stay Put: For some reason, people tend to rush out of a land after a show instead of visiting nearby attractions. If, for example, you are in New Orleans Square when Fantasmic! ends, head straight for Pirates or the Haunted Mansion. Crowd traffic will almost certainly be flowing toward Frontierland and Adventureland, and the Square will start to empty.
What are your tips for navigating show crowds? Share in the comments!