Is Disneyland busy on Thanksgiving? It is a question we get asked frequently as such big Disney fans. In this guide we will let you know which day of the Thanksgiving weekend is busiest, what to expect visiting at Thanksgiving and of course answer the question is Disneyland Crowded on Thanksgiving alongside our tips for avoiding the crowds.
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Does Disneyland Celebrate Thanksgiving?
In answer to does Disneyland celebrate Thanksgiving I would say the answer is yes and no. The truth is that Thanksgiving is smack bang in the middle of Disneyland’s festive season. It is amazing how Disneyland transforms overnight from Halloween and is transformed into a Winter Wonderland.
Therefore you can expect the decorations to be more Christmassy than Thanksgiving but there is certainly enough food and drink at Disneyland to make it feel like you are celebrating Thanksgiving in the park.
For more information on the best day of the week to visit Disneyland check out this post.
Is Disneyland Busy on Thanksgiving?
The bad news for those who want to visit Disneyland on Thanksgiving is that this is historically one of the busiest times of year in the park.
The reason for this is because the schools are out for the holidays and most people also get Thanksgiving off work and use the long weekend to travel. This means that a lot of people will choose to spend their Thanksgiving vacation at Disneyland causing the crowds to swell.
The ironic thing is that for the rest of November, at least during the week, crowds are not as high as the months around them. Disneyland in October is busy because Disneyland at Halloween is very popular and Disneyland in December is hugely popular as people flock to the parks for the Christmas season.
If you visit on Thanksgiving you won’t get the lower crowds of November weekdays but you will at least get to see some of the seasonal decor.
To compare Disneyland to Magic Kingdom on Thanksgiving check out this post.
Does Disneyland decorate for Thanksgiving?
Disneyland does not specifically decorate for thanksgiving however it will be decorated for Christmas. Therefore although not a specific Thanksgiving theme you will feel in the Thanksgiving spirit with the festive decor.
Can you get a Thanksgiving Dinner at Disneyland?
If you are visiting Disneyland on Thanksgiving Day i.e. the Thursday rather than the rest of the holiday weekend you will be able to get a Thanksgiving meal in the park themselves.
You find that many of the table service restaurants in Disneyland will have at least one Turkey option on Thanksgiving Day.
Normally the following restaurants at Disneyland at Thanksgiving will have Thanksgiving meal options (though this is always subject to change and it is worth calling the restaurants before the 60 day window opens to confirm what their menu will be on Thanksgiving day):
- Blue Bayou Restaurant
- Cafe Orleans
- Carnation Cafe
- River Belle Terrace
- Wine Country Trattoria.
At these restaurants you would on any day of the year have to make reservations 60 days in advance. However, this is even more important if you are visiting on Thanksgiving as the parks are very crowded and many people will be wanting a Thanksgiving Dinner.
Note: it may be worth bringing your own snacks to Disneyland on Thanksgiving to save you queues.
What to wear at Disneyland for Thanksgiving
We always recommend that you theme your outfits whenever you travel to Disneyland. I find that you always get better character interactions when you either have themed t shirts or your kids are wearing costumes and Thanksgiving is no different.
If you would like a Disney Thanksgiving t shirt we have found that the place with the best range is Etsy. Click here to shop Disney Thanksgiving T Shirt.
And as always when at Disneyland be sure to pack very comfortable shoes as you are going to be doing a lot of walking.
Also, Disneyland In November is pretty changeable weather wise and if you decide to stay until closing you will find the temperatures do drop and it can get quite chilly. Therefore a key to packing for Thanksgiving at Disneyland is to have lots of layers with you.
Avoiding the Crowds at Disneyland on Thanksgiving?
Now that you know to expect large crowds at Disneyland on Thanksgiving we will give you our tips for avoiding the crowds.
If you can stay in an on site resort when they are offering early magic hours for Thanksgiving we definitely recommend doing it. As Thanksgiving is so busy getting in the parks before the crowds staying off site you will get a lot more rides done.
Even if you aren’t staying on site we recommend arriving at the parks early as the crowds will only get larger as the day goes on.
As well as the crowds being lower first thing in the morning, the crowds also start too thin out later in the day. Therefore it you can stay at the parks until closing you will be rewarded with shorter ride times.
Go on Thanksgiving
Although Thanksgiving Day will be exceptionally busy at the parks, it actually might be quieter to visit on Thanksgiving rather than the Friday or weekend after which can be some of the busiest days of the years at Disneyland.
Use Single Rider Line
The above are all great ways to reduce your ride wait times. GEnie+ and Lightening Lanes give you timed returns for certain rides while single rider means that you can ride without the rest of your party whenever there is a spare seat in a car and can greatly reduce your waiting times. For more information on queues at Disneyland check out our guide to Disneyland singer rider lines
Avoid Quick Service Restaurants
Quick service restaurants are always busy at peak times in the park. Therefore we recommend trying to avoid these on exceptionally busy days such as Thanksgiving. The best way of doing this is to book a table service restaurants 60 days before Thanksgiving.
However if you can’t get a reservation (and they do go fast) or your budget won’t stretch to a table service restaurant be sure to try and eat at odd times of day as this will reduce the amount of time you have to wait and where possible use mobile ordering where available.
Or why not try some on the go foods such as Disney’s famous smoked turkey leg or a traditional corn on the cob.
Make your Reservations 60 days in advance
Along with your table service reservations, any other reservations you may want such as Bippidi Boppity Boutique or character dining needs to also be booked 60 days in advance.
You may be lucky and get a reservation later but for your best chance at getting all the reservations you want you need to book them as soon as the booking slots open.
We always recommend getting Genie+ for Disneyland and California Adventure as this will really maximise how many rides you can do in one day. And it is even more vital for busier days in the parks such as Thanksgiving to make the most out of your time in the park.
Have a plan
I always recommend having a rough idea of what Disneyland itinerary you want to follow or the priority rides or meet and greets you want at California Adventure. This is especially important for days when the parks are rammed.
Therefore we recommend you picking what meet and greet or ride you want to rope drop and heading straight for that. After that we recommend prioritising what you want to do so you get the most important things done earlier in the day.
But don’t forget to schedule in time to watch the festive parades and shows.
Although Disneyland has some great snacks, the queues for these on Thanksgiving can be extremely long. We therefore recommend packing some snacks to avoid waiting in these long lines and picking maybe just a couple of festive snacks to try.
Packing for toddlers at Disneyland is even more important as no one wants to be traveling with a hangry toddler and then having to wait in very long queues.
Use Downtown Disney
And if everything in the park gets too crowded don’t be worried about using Downtown Disney or heading back to your hotel for a couple of hours in the middle of the day when the crowds are at their highest. You are better utilising the morning and evening and resting in the afternoon if you need to or are traveling to Disneyland with a toddler who is feeing overwhelmed as you will get more done during the extremities of the day.
FAQs About Disneyland for Thanksgiving
Disneyland Thanksgiving Opening Times
The opening times for Disneyland Thanksgiving Weekend for 2022 have yet to be confirmed. Usually the park operating hours are confirmed around 6 weeks before the date which means we can expect the dates to be released sometime around early October 2022.
However we can guess that the park hours on Thanksgiving will operate for around 16 hours a day. On a weekend in November the parks usually operate for 16 hours a day while the weekdays will have slightly reduced hours. However even though Thanksgiving itself falls on a Thursday I would expect given the fact it is a holiday weekend that the parks will operate longer hours.
What is the best Ticket for Disneyland at Thanksgiving
As Thanksgiving can be one of the busiest times of year to visit we recommend buying a park hopper ticket if you aren’t traveling to Disneyland Paris on a budget and can afford this.
I would personally start in Disneyland and move over to California Adventure later in the day if the crowds are very high at Disneyland and you want to mix it up.
Have you been to Disneyland for Thanksgiving? What are your tips? Did you find it crowded at Thanksgiving in Disneyland?