The Best Events You Should Plan Your Disneyland Trip Around In 2024

For Disney Park fanatics, special events at the parks make frequent visits even more special. While things like Oogie Boogie Bash (the Halloween party) happen yearly, others, like After Dark events, change. Even with the beloved holiday standbys, activities like character interactions or food offerings make them worth seeing time after time.

There's a good chance that no matter when you plan your trip to Disneyland, it will coincide with at least one of these special events. Even if you aren't planning on going to something like the aforementioned Halloween party, you can still enjoy much of the season throughout the park.

However, if you're up for some extra-ticketed fun and want to attend one of the park's special events, there are quite a few to consider before making your journey to the Happiest Place on Earth. Here are the big ones you should plan your Disneyland trip around in 2024, in order!

Lunar New Year

A nearly month-long festivity from mid-January into mid-February, the Lunar New Year events at Disneyland are an amalgamation of experiences. Combining the celestial celebrations of Chinese, Korean, and Vietnamese cultures, Disneyland mixes delectable Asian fusion cuisine, merch, and entertainment.

Mulan's Processional, a fan-favorite entertainment offering for the Lunar New Year, is back. This parade begins in Pixar Pier and ends at Paradise Garden Park with Mulan, Mushu, and a host of specialty performers, including a Chinese dragon puppet.

One of the things that makes these events so memorable is that there are extraordinary opportunities — including rare character meet and greets. One such character for the Lunar New Year celebration is none other than the original Walt Disney Studios creation, Oswald the Lucky Rabbit. He will be all decked out in a unique Lunar New Year outfit and can be found in the Paradise Gardens gazebo. Plus, Ortensia, Oswald's girlfriend, will also be out for meet and greets for the first time in a U.S.-based Disney park.

Disneyland After Dark: Sweethearts' Nite

Disneyland After Dark events aren't just stay-up-late-at-the-parks parties. These are themed, extra-ticketed events that celebrate various franchises or things that make life magical — like love. After Dark events occur once the park has closed for the night. Guests can experience Disneyland with far fewer visitors and (most importantly) much shorter queues.

Running from mid-January to mid-February on select nights, these after-hour events celebrate love with tasty treats and our favorite Disney romances. In 2024, there will be eight Sweethearts' Nites offered. In step with the theme, photo areas will be modeled after some of Disney's greatest love stories, like "Tangled" and "Lady and the Tramp." You can even go boogie down with Stitch and the rarely-seen Angel (his girlfriend) in Tomorrowland.

As is the case with most Disney Parks special events, there is also a parade for Sweethearts' Nite. This royal cavalcade features some of the studio's most beloved princesses and princes on horseback, yet another celebration of quintessential Disney love. And yes, plenty of love-themed snacks will keep your hearts all aglow.

Celebrate Gospel

For just two days in February, the 18th and 25th, Disneyland celebrates Black History Month with the soulful sounds of Gospel music. Celebrate Gospel has been an annual event at the park for over 10 years. During both days, throughout the afternoon and evening, guests have the opportunity to see performances from renowned musicians.

Performances on the 18th include Grammy-nominated Jekalyn Carr and Melvin Crispell III. You'll also have the chance to hear the acapella group Sacred Groove. Meanwhile, on the 25th, the performers include Grammy award-winner Erica Campbell, DOE, and The Singers of Soul. Community choirs from all over Southern California will put on other performances throughout the day.

During Black History Month, Disneyland Resort will have other seasonal activities. They include more live music, crafting, and even some special menu items. For example, at Troubadour Tavern, which has an African-influenced menu, two new foods will be added for a limited time: a red velvet Bundt cake and a honey-glazed fried chicken bowl.

Disneyland After Dark: Disney Channel Nite

A new Disneyland After Dark theme, Disney Channel Nite, is meant to reignite the kid in all of us. With the return of stars from the channel's Renaissance in the early 2000s, Millennial and older Gen Z'ers will geek out. Why not go and live your best "Camp Rock" style life? You can even attend a pep rally and relive those "High School Musical" musical fantasy moments. After all, we're all in this together.

Like any good After Dark event, there is a dance party, this time hosted by none other than Phineas and Ferb. There will also be guest star sightings by other "Phineas and Ferb" characters — perhaps Perry the Platypus? Plus, as is the standard for After Dark parties, there will be a bunch of exclusive, themed photo ops. You can roar it out with "The Cheetah Girls" or find out what dreams are made of with "Lizzie McGuire."

You also can't forget the snacks — a staple for any Disney Channel binge. However, it'll be a missed opportunity if the chili cheese nachos at Café Daisy aren't somehow related to Rufus the naked mole rat.

California Adventure Food & Wine Festival

Disneyland's iteration of the EPCOT Food & Wine Festival in Walt Disney World, the yearly California Adventure Food & Wine Festival, embraces culinary arts from all around the world. Sample incredible wines, eat your way through the park, and perhaps discover a new favorite food. In 2024, the festival runs from March 1 to April 22, giving guests plenty of time to head to Cali without missing the scrumptious offerings.

Although the main draw is the smorgasbord of food and beverage tastings, many special activities are happening throughout the festival. For example, kiddos can decorate cupcakes at Alice's Wonderland Bakery Unbirthday Party or hang out with Chef Goofy and the Jammin' Chefs.

Keep in mind that the Food & Wine Festival does not require an additional ticket on top of your day ticket for California Adventure. That said, the food and wine will be extra. So leave plenty of room in that budget (and your bellies).

Season of the Force

Sith, Jedi, and porgs — oh my! Another new celebration at Disneyland is the Star Wars-themed festival, Season of the Force, which will not incur additional tickets outside of day admission. Rides like Space Mountain will be transformed into Hyperspace Mountain and there will also be limited-edition food and merchandise. Disneyland Paris held a Season of the Force in 2018, offering Disneyland a blueprint for their iteration.

Running between April 5 and June 2, you'll see the Star Wars themes played up for Earthlings and citizens of Batuu alike. It's no coincidence that May 4 (May the Fourth Be With You) falls during the festival. At the event, Disneyland will also unveil the new ride scenarios for Star Tours — The Adventures Continue, which were teased earlier in 2023.

Since this is the first time the Season of the Force will take place at Disneyland, not all details have been publicly released. So, wait in anticipation we must for what's to come.

Disneyland After Dark: Star Wars Nite

Fittingly, there will be eight Disneyland After Dark events during the Season of the Force celebration. This is no Jedi mind trick; these Star Wars Nite parties will bring fans even closer together for all things galaxy far, far away. Perhaps they can even bridge the gaps between the Prequelists, Originalists, and Sequelists. Though, we don't think that's likely.

Unlike Season of the Force, Star Wars Nite has been an After Dark theme before. While not all details are available yet, there are some elements guests can expect. Rare character appearances that have graced Star Wars Nite before, including Anakin Skywalker, Princess Leia, and (of course) the beeping king himself, R2-D2. Plus, Tomorrowland will be jumping with yet another After Dark dance party.

You'll also be able to ride Star Tours to your heart's content to see every new scenario. With such small crowds, you might as well get your fill of galactic goodness. No matter what Disneyland cooks up for these special events, you better believe it'll be out of this world.

Pixar Fest

Once you're ready to depart a galaxy far, far away and head back to Earth, get ready for the bold colors of Pixar. Over in California Adventure from mid-April to early August (you read that right), the park is all about Pixar Fest, making its return after previously spreading joy in 2018. Beloved characters and themes from the studio's various properties will be out and about with special nighttime shows and parades. Just watch out if you smell strawberries — you don't want to mess with Lotso.

This year's Pixar Fest will have a new parade to commemorate the festival. Better Together: A Pixar Pals Celebration! will unite characters from all over the Pixar-verse.

Don't use up all your emotions during the day, though. It wouldn't be a Pixar party without some waterworks. Together Forever — A Pixar Nighttime Spectacular is bound to make even the stingiest fan misty-eyed, with the fireworks show featuring new scenes (presumably from properties that debuted since the last Pixar fest). So, you may want to embrace your inner red panda and go with the (tear) flow.

Disneyland After Dark: Pride Nite

This special event started in 2023 with an absolute bang. From personal experience, there is no more magical time to visit Disneyland than during Pride Nite. Main Street comes alive with colors of the rainbow, there are extra special character greets like Mulan as Ping, and the air is alive with warmth and love. In 2024, there will be two Pride Nites, taking place on June 18 and 20.

Waiting for the fireworks in a crowd of fellow LGBTQIA+ visitors is nothing short of celestial. Park attendees become a harmonious family singing aloud when the Pride Nite soundtrack hits the air. Such harmony only increases as everyone waits in anticipation of the special fireworks that unite us all in a sky of vibrant color.

Not to mention, Mickey, Minnie, and their pals all have gorgeous rainbow outfits for the celebration. There's something particularly magical about a hug from a rainbow-clad Goofy. Even Clarabelle Cow comes out for the party. What more could we say about that?

Black Music Month

While the Gospel music performances in February are only on two nights, June has an entire month of musical celebrations. Even Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln will have an exhibit on Black American heroes like Frederick Douglass. Black Music Month allows guests to taste specialty food and beverages that reflect Black culture. The celebration's menu items include the BBQ Hot Link Sandwich and Strawberry Cheesecake Funnel Cake Fries à la Mode at California Adventure.

The month's theme is Celebrate Soulfully, though that extends far beyond the musical tributes throughout Disneyland Resort. Even Downtown Disney is in on the fun. Each night during the festival, the Downtown Disney LIVE Stage showcases musicians from a range of musical genres. And if you miss the first set or two, don't worry. Four sets are performed each night, with up to 17 groups playing. You could potentially go every night and see different acts each time.

Oogie Boogie Bash

Part of the overarching Halloween Time celebration at Disneyland, the Oogie Boogie Bash is an after-hours Halloween party at California Adventure. These fantastical parties start in early September and run through Halloween, offering guests plenty of time to get their Oogie Boogie on. This event has a range of ticket prices, though they get gradually steeper until Halloween (when they're most expensive).

Trick-or-treating is on the agenda, of course, which is a way visitors get more for their additional party ticket. You can go trick-or-treating along the Immersive Treat Trail. Word to the wise: bring a bigger candy bag. Chances are, you'll need it.

A highlight of the Oogie Boogie Bash is the Frightfully Fun Parade, where you'll see a slew of favorite Disney villains. A few of the rarer characters in attendance are Judge Frollo (from "Hunchback of Notre Dame") and Jafar (from "Aladdin"). Don't forget to stroll through Villains Grove for even more spooky fun. These specialty areas feature more antagonists you can even interact with. Just wait until you hear Ernesto de la Cruz serenade you with "Remember Me."

Celebration of Coco Plaza de la Familia

Over in California Adventure Park, you'll discover the Dia de los Muertos tradition of Celebration of Coco Plaza de la Familia. This event takes over the Paradise Gardens with "Coco" characters, traditional Mexican cuisine, and plenty of music for the whole familia. Dates for Plaza de la Familia largely overlap with the Oogie Boogie Bash parties and the overall Halloween aesthetic for autumn. It runs from early September into early November.

While not as all-encompassing as other festivals, there are still quite a few things to do when "Coco" takes over Paradise Gardens. It won't take you all day to enjoy everything, but you can pop over here for some specialty food, celebration merchandise, live entertainment, and photo ops. Keep an eye out for Dante; he's usually around for a goofy tongues-out selfie moment. So grab some Elote and get ready to say "cheese!"

Holidays at the Disneyland Resort

Unlike its United States sibling, Walt Disney World, Disneyland Resort does not have winter holiday parties. While there isn't a Californian version of Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party, that doesn't stop the parks from getting all dolled up for the occasion. From November until January, Disneyland Resort sparkles brighter than ever to get festive for the season of so many celebrations.

Other than the ever-so-iconic Mickey garlands strewn across Main Street, Sleeping Beauty Castle is gorgeous during the holidays. Decked out with white icicle lights, you'll almost forget it doesn't snow in California. You'll be so busy seeing all the seasonal decorations in the park that you may not beeline it to your favorite ride. Give yourself plenty of time to enjoy the cozy greenery and ornaments.

Although Disneyland doesn't have a Christmas party, it gets something Disney World doesn't get: Haunted Mansion Holiday. Haunted Mansion gets an overlay of "The Nightmare Before Christmas" and is the envy of many a Disney World fan — this writer included. Who doesn't want to explore a haunted gingerbread house?

How we made our recommendations

As a Disney Parks fanatic, there are elements of both U.S. parks that make visiting them so many times extra exciting. Special events held between Walt Disney World and Disneyland keep things interesting year after year.

Several of these events, like Oogie Boogie Bash, are annual traditions that don't change a ton every year, giving guests a good understanding of what to expect. However, Disneyland is always cooking something new to give folks like Magic Key holders (the park's annual pass program) an excuse to return.

When applicable, the recommendations are buffeted by personal experience. When that isn't possible, and the events have happened before, we turned to frequent Disneyland attendees who write about their experiences in well-known Disney expert publications. However, a few of these events, like Season of the Force, haven't happened before. In that case, we had to rely on information provided to publications from Disneyland, filling in the blanks with lived experiences of other such events.