You can buy discount Disneyland tickets for 2016 at AAA & Costco, or cheaper online via authorized sellers. We cover tips & tricks to save money on Disneyland tickets, the best tickets to buy, the pros and cons of getting an Annual Pass, and much more in this post. We are pretty frugal so we’ve always analyzed the different options whenever we’ve bought Disneyland tickets, and thought we’d share some of what we’ve learned over the years in this post. We know Disneyland vacations are expensive, and any savings help!
Currently, for the best deals for buying Disneyland tickets safely and securely are via Park Savers, an authorized seller of Disneyland tickets with the best prices that we’ve found (for an authorized seller). If you already know how many days worth of tickets you need and are looking for the best price, that’s all you need to know. If you need more assistance, read on…
While authorized online sellers are the best option, there are other options if you’d rather buy in person, including Disneyland Good Neighbor Hotels in Anaheim, AAA, Safeway, and Costco. If you live in Southern California (and have proof of residence), special offers are sometimes made available to SoCal residents during times when attendance is predicted to be light.
AAA, Safeway, and Costco have small standard discounts of a couple dollars per ticket. In the past, Costco stores on the West Coast offered a gift card with purchase, but this has not happened for 2 years. With Disneyland’s 60th Anniversary already drawing huge crowds this summer, 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.
Disneyland ticket prices increased in February 2015. There were rumors that Disneyland would increase prices again in last fall, but that did not occur. As of January 13, 2016 (the last date this post was updated), we started hearing strong rumors that another price increase is set to occur in early February 2016. With this price increase, there are rumblings of tiered (demand-based, or “surge” pricing) pricing, with the busiest seasons seeing the greatest price increases. If you’re going to Disneyland sometime in or after February 2016, it might be wise to purchase tickets now to lock-in the current prices.
This is especially true if you’re planning to visit during a busy season, as the prices for those times of year could increase by ~25% or more. If you purchase your Disneyland park tickets now, they are valid for use any time prior to December 31, 2016, so as long as you are visiting Disneyland this year, there’s no downside to buying tickets now. We can guarantee with 100% certainty that tickets will not go down in price. In the last 5+ years, Disneyland has never gone more than 12 months without a price increase!
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. As of early 2016, 1-day non-hopper tickets are around $99, whereas hopper tickets were 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 ParkSavers. Period. 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 one-day non-hopper pass and visit only Disneyland park. This ticket is seldom discounted, so just buy it at Disneyland. Yes, it will be expensive, but 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.
If you have two days to spend at Disneyland Resort, get the park hopper. It’s ~$40 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 (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. Really, we always recommend the park hopper option if your budget allows. It’s just 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).
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
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, we recommend the average guest spend 3 days at Disneyland Resort. One day to do the highlights of each park, and then a final day to go back and do anything you missed, and re-ride the favorites. Serious Disney fans could easily spend 4-5 days (or more) at Disneyland Resort and not run out of things to do. For this reason, we recommend advance-purchasing the 3-Day Disneyland Park Hopper to save money.
If you’re a Walt Disney World regular, here’s a good rule of thumb to determine how many days you need: consider how many days you normally spend at the Magic Kingdom and add one to that for determining how much time you want to spend at Disneyland Park, and think of how many days you normally spend at Epcot and use that same number for how much time you’ll want to spend at Disney California Adventure. While the hotels and Downtown Disney at Disneyland Resort are nice, don’t count on spending as much time there as you would at Walt Disney World.
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 us 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. Now that Disneyland’s 60th Anniversary is underway, 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 (you can simultaneously hold a FastPass in Disneyland and Disney California Adventure), 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!
If you’re going to be at Disneyland for more than 7 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 is an option if you have a flexible schedule. If you’re a tourist planning on spending more than 7 days at Disneyland in a 365 day period, use the benchmark of $549 when determining what to do. 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.
Before buying either of these passes, 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 $1,100 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.
For almost every tourist visiting Disneyland, buying a 3-day or 4-day Park Hopper ticket with an advance purchase discount from an authorized third party ticket broker is what we recommend. With Park Savers you can print your tickets via Disneyland’s eTicket delivery, which saves you time when you get to Disneyland Resort. Every little bit of money you save adds up!
If you’re heading to Disneyland for the Diamond Celebration, check out our Ultimate Guide to the Disneyland 60th Anniversary Diamond Celebration. We also have tons of other posts to help you plan, including our Tips for Saving Money on Disneyland Tickets, a 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 Trip Planning Guide!
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