We cover tips & tricks to save money on Disneyland tickets, the best tickets to buy, the pros and cons of getting Park Hoppers, and other discount Disneyland ticket info. While you can buy 2018 Disneyland tickets at AAA & Costco, the cheaper route is online via authorized ticket sellers. (Last updated January 8, 2018.)
If all you’re looking for is the best, cheapest, and safest places to buy Disneyland tickets, our top recommendation is Get Away Today. Right now, their best deal is on a 5-day Park Hopper ticket for the price of a 4-day ticket (which also includes $400 worth of coupons for Southern California–many of them are useless, but you’ll probably find a bit of value in some of them). For many people, a 5-day ticket is too much, so fortunately, there are plenty of tickets for shorter durations that are also discounted.
Additionally, Get Away Today currently has several hotel/ticket bundle discounts, including the 4th night free of your hotel stay at certain hotels, and 5th day free on your park tickets. This deal can also be stacked with hotel bundles to save even more. (And you’re also locking in ticket prices now before the inevitable February 2018 price increase.) Even if you don’t need a hotel, we have info on where to find Disneyland ticket deals…
We are frugal so we’ve analyzed the different options before buying Disneyland tickets, and thought we’d share some of what we’ve learned beyond that in this post. Even if you’re cheap like us, one thing we always suggest is getting the Park Hopper option. With the 2 parks less than 2 minutes apart by foot, this is really important. In terms of where to buy, authorized sellers are the best option.
Purchasing online in advance is the best idea, but there are other options if you’d rather buy in person, including Disneyland Good Neighbor Hotels in Anaheim, AAA, Safeway, and Costco stores in Southern California. Note that these stores don’t always carry Disneyland tickets, and even when they do, sometimes the discounts are quite minimal.
If you live in Southern California (and have proof of residence), discounted tickets are currently available for now through May 24, 2018. These tickets are offered every spring to SoCal residents during a time when attendance is historically light. For 2018, the prices have increased for these tickets by about $50 across the board, with the 3-day ticket offer starting at $199 per ticket for Southern California residents within ZIP codes 90000-93599. Again, proof or residence is required to purchase these tickets.
If you aren’t a SoCal resident, but are already on vacation in California, sometimes AAA, Safeway, and Costco have small discounts of a couple dollars per ticket. It’s less than Get Away Today or ParkSavers, but better than nothing. In the past, Costco stores on the West Coast offered a gift card with purchase, but this has not happened for 2 years. Whatever you do, do not just stop at a random roadside store in Anaheim or Los Angeles and buy tickets. Those are most likely scams (more on that below).
With Disneyland attendance at an all-time high, it’s unlikely Disneyland will have an incentive anytime soon to lure West Coasters with these deals at Safeway or Costco. Note that AAA and Disney ended their partnership last year, so the savings there are no longer as good. More importantly, they no longer offer free parking, which was a really big deal.
Now that you now that, let’s cover where you should and shouldn’t purchase tickets. Where you shouldn’t buy tickets is as important as where you should buy them. Disneyland authorizes some third parties to sell its tickets at slight discounts, and there is a huge black market for bootleg and partially-used “rental” tickets. You might be familiar with this because Disneyland’s crackdown on these tickets has garnered national media attention.
Whatever you do, do not buy Disneyland tickets on eBay, Craigslist, or on the side of the road near Disneyland Resort. Ticket “rental” is a scam, and you will be throwing your money away. Disney Cast Members will not have any sympathy if you’re caught with “rental” tickets; you will have to purchase new tickets at the gate, at full price. Not a fun way to start a vacation.
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. One day non-hopper tickets now start at $97, whereas hopper tickets are over $150, before tax. Multi-day tickets cost more, but offer better value as the per-day cost decreases.
The best, safe place to purchase discounted multi-day tickets is Get Away Today. These tickets are the same as what you’d purchase directly from Disneyland, and are FastPass-enabled, and also can be used to purchase the new digital MaxPass option (different topic, but we recommend MaxPass if you’re going during the busy holiday season around Thanksgiving or Christmas this year!)
Another site to consider for discount Disneyland tickets is ParkSavers. If you already know how many days you’re going, that’s really all you need to know before buying. If you aren’t sure how many days to go, or which ticket options to buy, keep reading…
Also, remember that this guide is for Disneyland Resort, encompassing Disneyland (park) and Disney California Adventure. If you’re visiting Walt Disney World in Florida, check out our Tips for Saving Money on Walt Disney World Tickets post. With that said, here are my thoughts on which Disneyland tickets you should purchase…
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 really only want to do a single day so that you can see everything else that Southern California has to offer, purchase a 1-day non-hopper pass and visit only Disneyland park.
Try to avoid national holidays, school breaks, and weekends, as those are the most expensive times of year for 1-day Flex tickets. If you go right at park opening (as you should to avoid crowds) and stay until park closing, that’s a lot of hours’ worth of entertainment, and pretty good bang for your buck.
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.
A lot of people reading this are probably planning a stop at Disneyland as part of a longer vacation in Southern California. These people are not necessarily Disney fans, but are considering some time in the parks because Disneyland is an “American institution.” If this describes you, our recommendation is the 2-Day Park Hopper Ticket. This allows you a day for each park (Disneyland and Disney California Adventure), and the ability to bounce back and forth between the two parks during your visit.
As you’ll read in our Park Hopper section below, we always recommend the park hopper option if your budget allows. They are slightly more expensive, but it is money very well spent. This is because it’s so easy to walk back and forth between the parks, and staggered opening and closing hours make it really worthwhile (much moreso than at Walt Disney World, where park hopping can be a pain).
3-Day or More Visits
Here’s where you can start finding good discounts on tickets. Every day you add after three amounts to a smaller increase in cost, meaning the cost per day of Disneyland and Disney California Adventure tickets is significantly lower. Same goes for park hopper versus non-hopper tickets. 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).
As for how many days, if Disneyland and Disney California Adventure are the focus of your Southern California vacation, we recommend the average guest spend 3-5 days at Disneyland Resort. Walt Disney World regulars visiting Disneyland for the first time and other serious Disney fans could easily spend 5 days (or more) at Disneyland Resort and not run out of things to do.
In addition to Disney fans being able to spend 5 days in the parks, the 5-day Park Hopper Ticket is a great value if you want more bang for your buck. If you’re big on Disney or just want the best value for your money, this ticket is definitely the way to go. Of course, not everyone is going to want to spend 5 days at Disneyland (there’s a ton to do in Southern California!), so it’s not for everyone.
If Disneyland is the focus of your vacation, consider booking one of the nearby hotels within (walking distance of the parks) and bundling that with tickets for more savings. We have a post ranking the hotels near Disneyland to help you choose which might be best for you.
Why Get the Park Hopper Option?
Here’s why you should get the hopper: Disneyland and Disney California Adventure are literally less than a football field apart. It’s easy to jump from one to the other, and we do on every single visit. This allows you to hit Radiator Springs Racers first thing every morning of our trip, and then either continue the day at Disney California Adventure, or head over to Disneyland.
If you do continue the day at Disney California Adventure, having the hopper allows you to go to Disneyland late at night for the fireworks, or to head over to Disneyland to end the day, because it’s usually open later. There’s a lot of nighttime entertainment to see, and it’s tough to see it all in one night.
You can also bounce back and forth between the parks collecting FastPasses, making for more efficient touring–this is incredibly helpful during the busiest times of the year, like summer, spring break, and Christmas. You don’t waste time going between the Disneyland Resort parks like you do at Walt Disney World, so it’s really good from a strategic and ‘most bang for your buck’ perspective, the Park Hopper is it!
Regardless of which ticket you purchase, if you’re buying a 3-5 day ticket, we recommend buying your Disneyland tickets in advance from authorized ticket brokers to save money and time over purchasing the tickets at the gates when you arrive at Disneyland Resort. Once again, and we cannot reiterate this enough, but don’t buy tickets at roadside stands near Disneyland–those are scams!
CityPass for SoCal Theme Parks
If you are wanting to visit other theme parks as part of your Southern California vacation, the SoCal CityPass might appeal to you. This pass includes a 3-day Park Hopper ticket for Disneyland and Disney California Adventure, plus 1-day tickets to both SeaWorld and LEGOLAND California.
Price-wise, this is a great discount, but that’s only the case if you want to visit all of these parks. Keep in mind that both SeaWorld and LEGOLAND are located near San Diego, which is over 2-hours away from Disneyland Resort by car. And that assumes light to moderate traffic, which is pretty rare in California!
Additionally, if you are thinking of other theme parks in California, the two we recommend are Knott’s Berry Farm and Universal Studios Hollywood, neither of which are available via CityPass. Both of these parks are located significantly closer to Disneyland (Knott’s is less than 15 minutes away, and Universal Studios Hollywood is under an hour away–but the latter is very traffic-dependent since it requires driving through Los Angeles). If you are thinking about doing Disneyland and Universal Studios Hollywood, Get Away Today has good prices on ticket bundles.
With all of this in mind, we are not big advocates of the Southern California CityPass. It can be a great deal for some people, but unless you have your mind set on visiting LEGOLAND and SeaWorld in addition to Disneyland, we think there are better things to do in Southern California outside of Disneyland…
Disneyland Annual Passes?
If you don’t live in Southern California and you’re going to be at Disneyland for more than 10-13 days in a given 365 day period, there’s a decent chance one of the Annual Passes is best for you. If you live in SoCal, the Southern California Select Annual Pass and Souther California Annual Pass (which is once again being sold after being discontinued for 2 years) are options.
These are particularly attraction if you have a flexible schedule and will be in the parks more than 5 days per year. Note that you must have a California Driver’s License to purchase the SoCal Annual Pass. Also, parking is not included in either of these Annual Passes, and that’s a cost that can add up quickly. Before buying any Annual Pass, look at the blockout calendar.
The Deluxe Annual Pass is blocked out for about 50 days per year (usually days predicted to be the busiest–like weekends and holidays), whereas the Southern California Select Annual Pass is blocked out 195 days per year–all summer, weekends, and any day that is predicted to be remotely busy. Basically, if you can’t attend on a weekday, this pass is not for you.
If you’re a regular Walt Disney World Guest or an Annual Passholder at Walt Disney World, determine whether the $1,400+ Premier Annual Pass good at both Walt Disney World and Disneyland is right for you by doing the math. This is the top tier of both Annual Passes and is sort of like the ‘status symbol’ equivalent of an AMEX Centurion Card…but for Disney nerds. For this Annual Pass, there is no Disney Vacation Club discount and no renewal discount.
While it’s valid for approximately 130 days more than the SoCal Select Annual Pass (for exactly the same price), it never includes admission to Disneyland. We love DCA, but Disneyland is the far superior park, so that’s a deal-breaker. The numerous blockout dates and lack of access to Disneyland make this a really poor offer, in our opinion. We do not recommend this AP to anyone as a result.
Okay, so that’s all a lot to digest. What are the key takeaways?
- Always buy your Disneyland tickets in advance, from an authorized third party ticket broker. Get Away Today has the best prices on Disneyland tickets. If you want to do more than just Disneyland, their Disneyland + Universal Studios Hollywood bundle is a great option.
- If you are doing a vacation that is focused on Disneyland Resort, we recommend doing a 5-day ticket for the most value. (Pro tip: break up your visit with a relaxing beach day in the middle.)
- Currently, we highly recommend taking advantage of Get Away Today’s 5-day Disneyland ticket for the price of a 4-day ticket deal. It’s an unbeatable price!
- If Get Away Today doesn’t have what you’re looking for, ParkSavers has some good Disneyland ticket options, including the SoCal CityPass.
- If you want to a balanced vacation that allows you to do the highlights of Disneyland and Disney California Adventure, but also spend a a lot of time in Los Angeles and other parts of Southern California, our recommendation is the 3-Day Park Hopper Ticket.
- Regardless of when you’re visiting Disneyland between now and December 31, 2018, we recommend purchasing your tickets now to lock-in current prices.
- We don’t recommend a 1-day ticket for anyone. It’s the worst value-for-money, and not nearly enough time to see the parks.
- Disney fanatics who plan to take multiple trips per year for a total of 10+ days in the parks might save even more by purchasing an Annual Pass instead of multi-day tickets.
We also have tons of other posts to help you plan, including our look at Disneyland Area Hotel Reviews & Rankings, our Unique Packing List for Disney Trips, an index of our Disneyland Resort Restaurant Reviews, and a number of other things in our comprehensive Disneyland Vacation Planning Guide!
Have any questions about Disneyland tickets or places to buy them? Wondering about the latest Disneyland ticket price increase rumors? Have any other questions or tips? Share your thoughts or questions in the comments and we will do our best to answer!