Our money-saving guide to Disneyland & Disney California Adventure tickets offers tips & tricks for legitimate sellers of discounted Disneyland park admission and where not to buy tickets to avoid scams. We cover buying at Target, Sam’s Club, AAA, grocery stores, and whether MaxPass & Park Hoppers are right for you. (Updated January 1, 2020.)
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 electronically (so no waiting in line) and every 3-day or longer ticket also includes Magic Morning.
Best of all, Get Away Today’s tickets are valid through December 31, 2020, meaning you can purchase tickets now and use them at any point prior to then. This is crucial because there’s almost certainly a price increase on the horizon for Disneyland and DCA tickets in early 2020…
One of the most common questions we receive is “when will ticket prices increase?” The answer is that, historically, Disneyland ticket prices increase once or twice per year. We anticipate January 2020 being when the next Disneyland park ticket price increase will occur.
This is because Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge didn’t give Disneyland the initial boost in crowds as expected, but the second (and flagship) ride opens on January 17, 2020. We anticipate that Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance will be a huge draw that dramatically increases crowds at Disneyland leading into Summer 2020. Consequently, Disney will take advantage of this and increase prices.
This is hardly a bold prediction. Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance is already open at Walt Disney World, and is garnering rave reviews and drawing huge crowds. When this type of thing happens, Disney commonly increases prices. Purchasing tickets now locks in current prices and offers peace of mind.
This means that even if prices increase for your travel dates, you don’t pay the increased cost if you purchase before the increase happens. If you’re visiting between now and December 2020 (yes, 2020!), buying tickets sooner rather than later is a savvy safeguard that could save you even more money.
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 & Rankingspost for our favorite hotels in the area–we’ve stayed in and reviewed ~50 hotels near Disneyland.
If you need more info 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…
Three other good options are Undercover Tourist, plus Target and Sam’s Club stores. 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.
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, scoring FastPasses for both Disneyland and Disney California Adventure as you go.
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. The practical upsides of this are collecting more FastPasses and also starting at the park that opens first and ending your night at the park open later (Disneyland is often open 2 hours later than Disney California Adventure).
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 5 days long than you do for a single day.
Currently, the per day cost of 5-day Park Hopper tickets is $69.80 whereas a 1-day Peak Season Park Hopper ticket is $185. (There’s no seasonal pricing on multi-day tickets–yet.) 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 at least 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.)
If you want an even more leisurely pace, time to revisit favorite attractions, or are a big Disney fans, we recommend doing the 5-day tickets. In addition to easily 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. 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.
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 collecting FastPasses, 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…
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. Knott’s is less than 15 minutes away, and Universal Studios Hollywood is under an hour away from Disneyland. If you are thinking about doing Disneyland and Universal Studios Hollywood, Get Away Today has good prices on ticket bundles.
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 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.
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. As Californians, we grocery shop a couple of times a week at a variety of these stores, and I’d say the chances of finding these deals is less than 50/50.
In the past, Costco stores on the West Coast offered a gift card with purchase, but this has not happened for 3 years. Last year, Costco sold an exclusive Disney California Adventure Annual Pass in lieu of a multi-day ticket deals or other special offers, but that was also discontinued. Basically, if you read about an excellent grocery store ticket offer, read the publication date, as all of these discounts have dried up.
We’ll update this again if Costco, AAA, Safeway, Ralphs, etc., ever offer these special offers again, but with Disneyland’s popularity and attendance surging, it seems unlikely. Those grocery store discounts were available at a time when Disneyland’s attendance was much lower.
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
If you don’t live in Southern California, you basically need to have multiple trips totaling at least 7-8 days in the parks planned in a single year for an Annual Pass to even begin to make sense. At that point, you might want to consider the new Disney Flex Pass. As we discuss in our Disneyland Flex Annual Pass: Winners & Losers post, there’s a lot of upside to this new pass.
The Flex AP definitely is not for everyone, though. If it doesn’t work for you, the Deluxe Annual Passport also might make sense for you. For that, you’re going to need around 9-11 days in the parks per year for it to make sense. Even then, you need to make sure that none of your dates coincide with the Annual Pass’ blockout dates.
In other words, it’s 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 nearly doubled in cost. (You read that correctly.)
However, if you do live in SoCal and can prove your residency, the Southern California Select Annual Pass is an excellent option. This AP costs roughly the same price as a 5-day Park Hopper ticket, but it’s only valid 225 days per year, with all holidays, Saturdays, and peak summer periods blocked out. Nevertheless, 225 days for the price of 5 isn’t bad.
Annual Passes are particularly attractive if you have a flexible schedule and will be in the parks more than 5 days per year. To purchase, you must present a valid California Driver’s License or other proof of residency. Also, parking is not included in the SoCal Annual Pass, and that’s a cost that can add up quickly. Before buying any Annual Pass, look at the blockout calendar.
One final option if you’re a Walt Disney World regular: the $2,000+ Premier Annual Pass. This is the ultimate coast-to-coast Annual Pass that is valid at both Walt Disney World and Disneyland. This is the top tier of Annual Passes on both coasts, includes parking, has no blockout dates, and includes decent discounts on hotels, restaurants, and shopping on both coasts. It’s also like the ‘status symbol’ equivalent of an AMEX Centurion Card…but for Disney nerds.
Southern California Resident Discounts
If you live in Southern California (and have proof of residence), there are usually discount Disneyland and Disney California Adventure ticket offers from January until May each year during a time when attendance is historically light and attraction closures are common for refurbishments. For SoCal residents, these are the best deals of the year–better than anything else on this list.
To give you an idea of what to expect, this year the 3-day ticket offer started at $199 per ticket for Southern California residents within ZIP codes 90000-93599. Again, proof or residence is required to purchase these tickets.
Okay, so that’s all a lot to digest. What are the key takeaways?
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 between now and December 31, 2020, werecommend 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.
Disney fanatics who plan to take multiple trips per year for a total of 11+ days in the parks might consider purchasing an Annual Pass instead of multi-day tickets.
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!