Looking to save money on your trip to Disneyland? (Rhetorical question–I doubt anyone wants to spend more money than necessary.) Lucky for you, discount Disneyland tickets can be found through a variety of vendors, including online, at Disneyland Good Neighbor Hotels in Anaheim, AAA, Safeway, Costco, online, and through other various websites. Special offers are frequently made available to SoCal residents during times when attendance is predicted to be lighter than Disneyland would like.
Much like Walt Disney World, Disneyland offers tickets with a “hopper” option (the ability to visit both parks in the same day) and one-day, one-park tickets that don’t allow hopping. Unsurprisingly, non-hopper tickets are cheaper. In 2013, 1-day non-hopper tickets are around $87, whereas hopper tickets were just over $100. Other unofficial planning sites include charts they made themselves with ticket prices to given the impression of more content, but I’m not going to waste my time doing that. You can simply visit Disneyland’s ticketing page and find the exact same information.
Instead, since I believe you’ll find analysis more useful than price regurgitation, Here are my thoughts on which tickets you should purchase.
One-Day Visit: No one should visit Disneyland for only one day. Even if you’re only wanting to visit Disneyland park and aren’t a big Disneyland fan. That said, if you are so inclined, purchase a one-day non-hopper pass and visit only Disneyland park. This ticket is seldom discounted, so just buy it at Disneyland. If you only visit for one day without a park hopper, you won’t be able to visit the awesome Cars Land in Disney California Adventure, but it’s impossible to do everything in both parks in one day. If you are really ambitious and want to see Cars Land, too, buy a hopper ticket, start at Disney California Adventure (doing Radiator Springs Racers first) and then hop over to Disneyland once you experience a few things in Disney California Adventure.
Two-Day Visit: Again, this is a ticket that is rarely discounted. If you have two days to spend at Disneyland, get the park hopper. It’s $30 more than the non-hopper, and gives you two advantages: 1) starting the day at the park that opens earlier (or getting Radiator Springs Racers FastPasses each morning) and/or ending the day at the park open later (again, usually Disneyland), and 2) allowing you to really exploit the FastPass system on busy days. The first point is self-explanatory–obviously extending your vacation-hours is a good thing. The second point is a little less obvious. You can simultaneously hold FastPasses for each of the parks during the same time windows. During busy times of the year, this can be crucial, especially if you like the more popular FastPass attractions. Hopping does take time, so your time-savings might be negligible during normal seasons, but during the height of crowds, this can really help.
Three-Day Plus Visits: This really depends upon what you can find as far as discounted passes go. Often, there is a 3-day hopper pass for a discounted price. Once you get into the 3-6 day ticket range, you can really start finding discounts at external sources (AAA, ticket brokers, CostCo, etc.), too. So check those locations for prices. Every day you add after three amounts to a negligible (I think) increase in cost. Same goes for park hopper versus non-hopper. For this reason, I think that if you are debating between three and four days at Disneyland, and park hopper or non-hopper, always err on the side of “too much.” Go for an extra day and get the hopper. Despite Disneyland only being two parks, there is a LOT to do in those two parks (especially Disneyland). We typically spend 5 days at a time at Disneyland.
Annual Passes?: Are Annual Passes right for you? Well, if you’re going to be at Disneyland for more than 6 days in a given 365 day period, there’s a decent chance one of the APs will work for you. If you live in SoCal, this is a no-brainer. Minimally, purchase one of the SoCal Annual Passes and attend when you’re not blocked out. If you’re a tourist planning on spending more than 6 days at Disneyland in a 365 day period, use the benchmark of $379 when determining what to do (or $359 if you’re a Disney Vacation Club member). If all the tickets you need for a 365 day period will cost less than that, buy the tickets. If they’ll cost more than that, consider the Deluxe Annual Pass. Now, before buying the Deluxe Annual Pass, look at the blockout calendar. The price of blockout days substantially increased in 2013, so it now doesn’t make much sense to get the Deluxe Annual Pass if you must visit on a blockout day.
If you’re a regular Walt Disney World Guest or an Annual Passholder at Walt Disney World, determine whether the $849 Premier Annual Pass good at both Walt Disney World and Disneyland is right for you by doing the math. Of important note: this is the top tier of both Annual Passes, there is no Disney Vacation Club discount, no renewal discount, and if you upgrade a Walt Disney World Annual Pass to the Premier Pass, the new pass takes the expiration date of your original Annual Pass. So, if you have a Walt Disney World AP that expires on 10/30, it’s probably not a good idea to upgrade to the Premier on 10/25.
For us, Disney Vacation Club members who visited Disneyland at the half-way point on our Walt Disney World APs, who don’t park at Disneyland or visit on blockout days, buying the Deluxe Annual pass to Disneyland was a far better option than buying individual tickets OR upgrading to the Premier Annual pass. However, your mileage will vary on this.
To plan your trip to Disneyland, read our “10 Steps for Planning a Disneyland Trip” post!
How many days do you visit Disneyland per trip? Which Disneyland tickets do you normally buy? Share your thoughts or questions in the comments!