Our post about visiting Disneyland in October is wildly popular, so we've decided to follow up with info about Disneyland in May. Let's make a whole series of it! Visiting Disneyland every month out of the year is a tough job, I know, but someone has to do it.
Must-know stuff about Disneyland in May
In many ways, May is an ideal time of year. You're generally missing the high vacation times. Spring break is over, summer's not yet begun. The bizarrely cool nights that Southern California is known for have mostly warmed up, and the out-of-nowhere downpours of February and March have long since subsided.
Weather at Disneyland in May
Which brings us to the skies. It's not really cold, and not particularly wet. What IS on the docket for Disneyland in May? Welcome to May Grey! Infamous among Southern Californians, this mild seasonal bummer is actually a boon for visitors to Disneyland.
“May Grey” is the term us locals use for a generally-overcast kind of vague cloudiness that settles in around the coast during the month of May (followed quickly by June Gloom). Californians tend to be a weather-averse bunch, so this phenomenon tends to send locals back indoors and away from the theme parks. If there is ANY sign of drizzles or drops on the horizon it's a GREAT time to head to Disneyland. Just make sure to bring a hoodie and a couple extra layers in case the temperature does take a sudden nosedive or the skies abruptly open up.
Disneyland's battle against the crowd lull
Disneyland has clearly been in this theme park business for awhile, so they know what to expect. The park often implements seasonal discounts for Southern California residents during April and May. Traditionally known as SoCal Resident tickets, these are advertised on billboards throughout the region and offer locals the chance to visit at reduced rates on designated days, or to get a multi-day pass for much cheaper than usual.
Crowdtrackers are key
With local attendance and weather factors to consider, how do you know which day to visit Disneyland in May? Easy. Crowdtrackers like Is It Packed lay out a friendly visual calendar showcasing the busiest and best-bet days at Disneyland. They even factor in school vacations, annual pass blackout days, special events and ticket sales.
Book breakfast ahead of time
With your local know-how up to date and your tickets in-hand, you should probably plan on booking a breakfast ahead of time. May, with its slower-than-usual pace in the parks, is the perfect time to indulge in one of Disneyland's incredible breakfast opportunities. Disneyland invited us out and hosted us at their all you can eat “Minnie & Friends – Breakfast in the Park” experience at Plaza Inn. It was so nice to eat in an upscale environment and get a chance to have a peaceful meal with the kids during which we planned our day, set expectations, and ate. A lot!
Maximize your time if the weather's good
Obviously we know to nab allllll the FASTPASSES and/or book MaxPasses on our phones. In case you're not up to date on this, the FASTPASS service is free and it requires that you scan your ticket at a ride entrance to receive a return time. The MaxPass paid upgrade is a ticket add-on that lets you book a FASTPASS directly from your phone as soon as you enter the park from any location within Disneyland or California Adventure (without physically going to the ride ahead of time). Unlike DisneyWorld's program, only one FASTPASS may be held at a time per person, regardless of whether you have paid for MaxPass. MaxPass really is great for avoiding a lot of running around, though!
Got it? Good. Now that that's settled, Disneyland in May is my favorite time to speed ride all the little rides. If you've planned well and dodged the crowds, any ride that doesn't have a FASTPASS will likely have a relatively short line! The longest we waited on our trip in May was about 20 minutes, so we took full advantage to get our kids on all their favorite rides over and over and over again.
Astro Orbiter, I'm lookin at you.
Have a plan for if it DOES rain
Don't forget to bring a poncho – just in case! If the weather does take a turn, this is a good chance to get to know the intricacies of the indoor spaces! Our kids like to wait in lines that are largely indoors, such as Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters, Star Tours and most of the Fantasyland rides. In California Adventure, we head to the Bakery Tour, Monsters Inc, Soarin Over California and the Animation Building in Hollywood Land.
You can also escape to the Tiki Room and Golden Horseshoe and catch up on indoor entertainment like shows at the Fantasy Faire Royal Theatre, Frozen – Live at the Hyperion, or Disney Junior Dance Party! Be aware that the big shows may be impacted. Word of Color still runs when it rains, but fireworks may be cancelled due to rain or wind.
Catch up on the latest and greatest
If you haven't been to Disneyland and California Adventure in awhile, you may have missed some awesome new unveilings! We had yet to experience Jessie's Critter Carousel, so we hopped into that cute little whirly ride. If you're unsure about what may be new, just chat with a cast member. They're super helpful.
Get a peek at what's to come
Disney tends to open some amazing attractions to entertain the summer crowds, so Disneyland in May is your perfect opportunity to get a sneak peek! We wandered over to the entrance of Star Wars Galaxy's Edge near Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and found a giant wall with an alluring teaser poster.
Predictably, our tiny Darth Vader was NONE too stoked. “Don’t be too proud of this technological terror you’ve constructed,” he hissed.
If you can't name the movie that quote is from you don't get to enter Galaxy's Edge. I have decreed it and it is so.
Take it easy
With a bit of a more relaxed pace at the park than usual, you may forget to plan nap time. Don't do that! Trust me. Kids needs a structured break, even if you're enjoying an overall-leisurely day in the park. We like to enjoy food from a nearby stand and hop on the Mark Twain Riverboat for a steam-powered half-mile journey into the heart of the American Frontier.
My favorite place to wander when I'm looking to really immerse myself in Disneyland is the shops behind Pirates of the Caribbean in New Orleans Square. My grandma used to buy a fancy parasol every time we came here when I was a kid. They have all sorts of perfumes, beautiful dresses, jewelry and other fancy baubles to ogle. Added bonus: this is another great place to run from rain, if need be!
Celebrate the upcoming releases
Disney usually releases some great summer blockbusters, so go ahead and do your research to get the kiddos excited! They'll be coming out with Toy Story 4 next month, so we took the opportunity to restock our play room toys and visit some of our favorite Toy Story rides over by Pixar Pier.
Book a room and make it a multi-day adventure
With occupancy down compared to other seasons, you can often nab a steal of a deal on a hotel room in Anaheim – including at some of Disney's own hotels. Do your research: this may be the perfect opportunity to maximize your experience! Don't forget to look on Disney's website for multi-day deals and potential seasonal discounts while you're at it.
Have you been to Disneyland in May? Did you have a blast!?