Our guide to discount Disneyland & Disney California Adventure tickets offers money-saving tips & tricks for safe sellers of park admission and where not to buy to avoid scams. We cover a hack for upgrading to Magic Key passes, potential price increases, buying at grocery stores or from AAA, and pros & cons of Park Hoppers. (Updated August 24, 2021.)
If all you want to know is the cheapest, best, and safest place to buy Disneyland tickets, our top recommendation is Get Away Today. These Disneyland tickets are delivered via email immediately after buying and can be used right after you receive them. So no delay whatsoever. These are “tier-less tickets,” which means they can be used on any date.
This is one an authorized seller of Disneyland tickets that we recommend due to their exceptional customer service and flexibility, both of which are superior to what Disney offers directly (call centers are currently short-staffed, making speaking with a person at Disney “challenging” to say the least). These low prices coupled with Get Away Today’s “Best Price Guarantee” makes them our recommended ticket seller…
Right now, you can get an extra day free when you purchase your tickets with Get Away Today–their first special offer above the normal discounts in over a year! When you buy a 5-Day Disneyland ticket, you’ll just pay the 4-day gate price. That’s a over $20 savings per ticket–and an extra day for FREE! (This is also the best ticket to purchase for the Magic Key Ticket Bridging Hack.)
Once you purchase tickets, you’ll need to make a theme park reservation for the foreseeable future. For step-by-step details of the process, read How to Make Disneyland Park Reservations. This is a relatively simple and straightforward process, and the availability calendar is pretty much wide open for this month and beyond. Nevertheless, it’s important to make reservations before your visit, as they’re often unavailable day-of.
Before we get to Disneyland tickets that we recommend buying and avoiding, let’s start with some ticket updates, as a ton has changed as of August 2021…
August 2021 Disneyland Ticket News
Let’s start with the latest, biggest change: Disneyland’s new “Magic Key” Pass Program, which replaces Annual Passes (but really is a new AP system, just with a different name). There is a ton to know about Magic Key, most of which is beyond the scope of this post. However, one thing that is worth covering here is a HUGE hack to use before buying Magic Key.
All tickets purchased through Get Away Today (except the California Resident Ticket offer below) can be upgraded to any of the Magic Key Passes. There are three huge benefits to doing this. First, you’ll save money on Disneyland tickets, but will be able to apply the full ticket value towards any Magic Key Pass. Second, you can make theme park reservations immediately, and will be able to do so up to 120 days in advance (that’s an extra 30 days over a Magic Key).
Finally, you won’t be subject to Magic Key blockout dates while using your multi-day tickets. You can use your regular ticket as normal while visiting Disneyland and DCA, and then upgrade at a ticket booth outside the parks or via the app (it’ll almost certainly be easier in-person) on the last day of your visit, so long as that’s on or after August 25, 2021. This means you won’t need to be part of the mad dash of people rushing to buy Magic Key Passes–and waiting in a virtual queue for hours on end in the process.
Literally any one of these benefits would be reason enough to buy from Get Away Today and “bridge” your ticket while visiting Disneyland. The totality of them is huge–as is not dealing with Disneyland’s online system, which will undoubtedly be chaotic when the Magic Key program first launches. Read our Magic Key “Ticket Bridging” Trick for everything you need to know, and why this hack is highly recommended.
In other Disneyland ticket news/rumor/speculation, it’s unclear whether regular ticket prices will increase when the Magic Key passes become available on August 25, 2021. Normally, that’s exactly what would happen–when Disneyland updates its “admission products,” there’s a price increase for everything.
However, attendance is starting to slow down and the timing may not be ideal for a price increase. It never hurts to buy tickets early to lock-in current pricing, but it’s entirely possible prices won’t go up until 2022. If we had to guess, our prediction would be that the next price increase will occur in January or February 2022.
If you’re a Californian who is not in the market for Magic Key Passes, there’s an unprecedented New Summer & Fall 2021 Disneyland Ticket Deal for Californians.
Unlike previous resident ticket special offers, this one is not limited to only Southern California zip codes. This deal is valid through September 30, 2021. (Again, you cannot “bridge” these to a Magic Key pass, so do not buy those with the intent to upgrade.)
Another thing to note when purchasing tickets is that MaxPass and FastPass are suspended. Walt Disney World has been open since last summer, and FastPass still has not returned there, so we wouldn’t expect those back at Disneyland. To the contrary, we expect a paid line-skipping option to be announced this month or in September.
Otherwise, things are mostly back to normal at Disneyland. California has fully reopened and the parks are allowing out-of-state visitors. Fireworks have since returned, more restaurants have reopened, and entertainment is starting to come back. The parks are still not at 100% (see our Disneyland “Return to Normal” Reopening Tracker), but things are moving in the right direction at a fast pace. There has been one setback–Disneyland reinstated indoor mask rules–but that’s relatively minor and we don’t expect it to last too long.
If you need more info and advice to figure out which ticket options are right for you or how many days you should spend in the parks, the rest of this post is for you. 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, starting with where to buy–and where NOT to buy–discount Disneyland tickets…
Where to Buy Discount Disneyland Tickets
As for where to buy, purchasing online in advance is best idea to save the most money. Again, we recommend Get Away Today as a safe (you’ll see why we keep emphasizing this below) option for discounted tickets. These are the same as what you’d purchase directly from Disneyland, with all of the same “features.”
Want to book a hotel in addition to park tickets? That’s perfect, as there are great deals on Disneyland ticket & hotel bundle discounts. In fact, this is where the big savings come into play. We recommend looking for hotels that offer the “4th night free” special. Currently, these are the best discounts you’ll find on a Disneyland Resort or Southern California vacation.
The hotel packages save much more than individual discounts on tickets and hotels, so it’s a great option if you need to book both. Consult our Anaheim Hotel Reviews & Rankings post for our favorite hotels in the area–we’ve stayed in and reviewed ~50 hotels near Disneyland.
For buying Disneyland tickets, another great option is Undercover Tourist. If you’re in a pinch or buying in person, Target and Sam’s Club stores can also be decent options. If you’re a REDcard holder, Target stores are a more appealing option, although the prices and availability does vary. Same goes for Sam’s Club, which is obviously membership-only.
Target and Sam’s Club stores are definitely your best in-person options, though. When comparing prices, always be sure to factor fees–some sites don’t show these until the order confirmation page. There is no sales tax charged on theme park tickets in California, so that’s not relevant.
If you’re located in Southern California, there are other in-person options in addition to Target and Sam’s Club, but the discounts are not as good. These include Disneyland Good Neighbor Hotels in Anaheim, most of which are authorized sellers. Other options are 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.
Where NOT to Buy Disneyland Tickets
Now that you now where to buy discount Disneyland tickets, let’s cover where you should not purchase tickets. Do not buy Disneyland tickets on eBay, Craigslist, or roadside stands in and around Anaheim. Ticket “rental” or buying partially used tickets is a scam, and you will be throwing your money away.
The reason these won’t work is because Disneyland now takes your photo at the turnstiles the first time you use a ticket. Each time thereafter that you reenter the park, that photo pops up on the screen, and Cast Members verify your appearance against that photo.
Unless you have a really compelling Face/Off kind of story, you’ll be denied entry. 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. We have heard horror stories about this; it’s not a fun way to start a vacation, and instead of “saving” $40 or so, you’ll be losing hundreds of dollars.
Another place you should not purchase Disneyland tickets is DisneyWorld.com. Remember, this guide is for Disneyland Resort, encompassing Disneyland (park) and Disney California Adventure in Southern California. If you’re visiting Walt Disney World in Florida, check out our Tips for Saving Money on Walt Disney World Tickets post.
You might laugh, but guests arriving with tickets purchased for the wrong coast is a daily occurrence. While this is a problem with which they can assist you, it’s time-consuming, cumbersome, and embarrassing, so don’t make this mistake.
Next, our thoughts on how many days to do Disneyland, and which type of tickets you should purchase…
How Many Days at Disneyland?
We highly recommend spending more than a single day at Disneyland, but then again, we’re hardcore Disney dorks who spend way too much time in the parks. So your mileage may vary if you’re traveling to California and want to spend the majority of your time exploring Los Angeles, San Diego, and the beach cities.
Unfortunately, no authorized ticket sellers offer discounts on 1-day tickets. None. You’re better off purchasing those directly from Disney. There are almost no exceptions to this, so if you see somewhere advertising discounts on 1-day Disneyland tickets, it’s probably not legit. If you really only want to do a single day and you can’t be convinced otherwise, we highly recommend doing the Park Hopper tickets and bouncing between the two parks to see as much as possible.
Those on a tight budget might consider forgoing the Park Hopper option, in which case you should only do Disneyland, rather than Disney California Adventure. Keep in mind that if do that, you won’t be able to visit the awesome Cars Land, Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission Breakout, Incredicoaster, and more. Also know that it’s impossible to do everything in one day.
If you’re willing to commit to two days at Disneyland, the good news is that this is where discounts start to be offered via authorized sellers. The bad news is that these discounts are fairly minimal. You’re looking at ~$5 off per ticket at best–but every little bit of savings helps!
As with the 1-day ticket, we recommend purchasing the Park Hopper option. This allows you a day for each park, as well as the ability to bounce back and forth between the two parks during your visit. That offers some strategic advantages, although the biggest one–leveraging the FastPass system–is unavailable as of August 2021.
If you’re doing 3 days or more, that’s where you’ll start finding the best discounts on Disneyland tickets. The incremental cost of each day beyond 2 is progressively lower, meaning you pay significantly less per day for Disneyland and Disney California Adventure visits that are 4 days long than you do for a single day. This huge cost difference is one of the big reasons we recommend doing a few days at Disneyland if you can. As Disney says, “the longer you play, the less you pay per day.” Cheesy, but accurate.
Cutting to the chase, this is why we recommend the average family spend 3-4 days at Disneyland Resort. There’s enough to do at the parks to justify a 4 day visit, especially if you go at a normal pace, take a midday break, or do table service meals. Four days is the point when the per day cost drops below $100, and with 4-day tickets, you can also not purchase the Park Hopper option to save even more money. (Without Park Hopper, the per day cost is $74.)
Of course, not everyone is going to want to spend 4 days at Disneyland, so it’s not for everyone. There’s a ton to do in Southern California, so you might be better suited with only 2-3 days and spending time at the beach, in Los Angeles, or other theme parks like Universal Studios Hollywood.
Park Hopper v. One Park Per Day
We’ve already answered this question for single and 2-day tickets, but we also recommend the Park Hopper option for longer stays if your budget allows. The reason for this is simple: 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, making for more efficient touring. This is incredibly helpful during busier seasons like summer, spring break, and Christmas. You don’t waste time commuting 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.
On the other hand, if you have small children who won’t stay up late or aren’t concerned about having the most efficient day possible, opting for Park Hopper might be a waste of your money. As always, there’s really no one size fits all answer. While we love the Park Hopper option and leverage it to its full advantage, others might take a more laid back approach.
Finally, some other ticket options that might be appealing to some readers, but are more ‘niche’ options…
Costco, Safeway & Other Grocery Stores
If you are reading this at the last-minute while already on vacation in California, and are just looking for quick–but not the best–savings, local grocery stores can be an option. Sometimes Safeway, Vons, Albertsons, Ralphs, and Costco have small discounts.
We would not recommend going out of your way to find one of these stores, as these tickets aren’t always available, and usually amount to around $2 per ticket. It’s really not worth your limited vacation time for what’s potentially a wild goose chase. (We have never seen discounted Disneyland tickets at Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods, so don’t even bother with those.)
There are also modest savings available at AAA stores, which obviously are not grocery stores, but the AAA discount is the same idea. Note that AAA and Disney ended their partnership, so the savings there are no longer as good. More importantly, they no longer offer free parking, which was a really big deal.
In the past, Costco stores on the West Coast offered a gift card with purchase, but this has not happened for over 5 years. Basically, if you read about an excellent grocery store ticket offer, read the publication date, as all of these discounts have dried up. These grocery store discounts were available at a time when Disneyland’s attendance was much lower and they’re unlikely to return.
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.
Disneyland Annual Passes
Even under the new Magic Key pass program, it’s still really tough to justify buying a Disneyland Annual Passport for a single trip if you live out of state. This might conflict with other information you’ve heard or read, but that’s probably outdated.
It used to be a great option to purchase an Annual Pass, but in the last 5 years, Disneyland Annual Passes have more than doubled in price. (You read that correctly.) Annual Passes are particularly attractive if you have a flexible schedule and will be in the parks more than two weeks per year.
Conversely, if you live in Northern California, Utah, Nevada, etc. and will visit Disneyland multiple times per year, the Magic Key pass might make a lot of sense. In fact, depending on when you plan to visit, you might be able to get away with the “Enchant” Magic Key, which would move the breakeven point down to only a few separate long weekend trips.
Other SoCal Theme Parks
If you are wanting to visit other theme parks as part of your Southern California vacation, there are a ton of options. The two we recommend are Knott’s Berry Farm and Universal Studios Hollywood, neither of which are available via CityPass. Knott’s is less than 15 minutes away, and Universal Studios Hollywood is under an hour away from Disneyland.
There’s also both SeaWorld San Diego and LEGOLAND California, which are both over 2 hours south of Disneyland Resort by car. If you are thinking about doing any of these other parks, check out Get Away Today’s discounts and ticket bundles.
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 4-day or 5-day ticket for the most value. (Pro tip: break up your visit with a relaxing beach day in the middle.)
- 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 4-Day Park Hopper Ticket to drop the per day cost of visiting Disneyland to under $100.
- Regardless of when you’re visiting Disneyland, we recommend purchasing your tickets now to lock-in current prices.
- We don’t recommend a 1-day ticket, but if you’re going to buy it, do so directly from Disney–no third parties discount this ticket.
- Magic Key Passes (AP replacement) might be a great option for Californians and those in nearby states who make a few trips per year. Anyone making one trip or even two shorter ones will not benefit from the Magic Key program.
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!
Where do you typically purchase your Disneyland tickets? Have any questions about Disneyland tickets or places to buy them? Wondering about the latest Disneyland ticket price increase rumors? Any questions we can help you answer? Hearing your feedback—even when you disagree with us—is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!