Discount Disneyland Ticket Buying Guide & Tips

Our 2018-2019 discount Disneyland ticket guide offers money-saving tips & tricks, where to find deals & coupons on Disney California Adventure & Disneyland park tickets, pros & cons of Park Hoppers, and more. You can buy tickets at AAA & Costco, but the cheaper option is via authorized online ticket sellers. (Last updated November 21, 2018.)

If all you want to know is the cheapest, best, and safest place to buy Disneyland tickets, our top recommendation is Get Away Today. They have excellent discounts on 2-day to 5-day tickets, with the 5-day tickets offering the largest savings. For many people, a 5-day ticket is too much–fortunately, there are plenty of tickets for shorter durations that are also discounted.

Currently, Get Away Today is having their Black Friday Sale, which runs until November 27, 2018. During this sale, they have a variety of discounts, but the most notable one is $95 off per ticket for January through May 2019 travel dates. Other dates offer savings, as well, but if you can manage to visit during that window, we’d highly recommend it. This also coincides with California’s off-season, in general, so everything from airfare to hotels is typically cheaper within most of that travel date range.

If you’re planning a 2019 Disneyland vacation, we’d highly recommend jumping now and buying discounted Disneyland park tickets while this deal is available. Disneyland has announced they are going switch to tiered pricing for multi-day tickets, meaning that another price increase on Disneyland tickets is on the horizon.

To be honest, we expected that this would occur at the same time as it did for Walt Disney World tickets, but since that didn’t happen, we’re now assuming that Disneyland is waiting until 2019 when the annual price increase typically occurs in February. We also would not be surprised to see a second price increase in the summer, right around the time Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge opens. Purchasing tickets today locks in current pricing so you beat these price increases.

Part of the reason discounts are more abundant right now is because some guests are postponing trips until that Star Wars land opens, at which point attendance to Disneyland is going to explode. While Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge looks awesome, and like something every fan will want to experience, the crowds are going to be a giant headache. If you can go before the end of May 2019, we’d absolutely recommend it. Prices will be cheaper (both of tickets and hotels), and crowds will be lower.

You can save even more money by purchasing hotel/ticket bundle discounts from Get Away Today. In fact, this is where the big savings come into play, as Get Away Today is a vacation planning company that specializes in comprehensive travel packages. The one we recommend is the “4th night free” of your hotel stay at certain hotels.

This bundle saves even more than the 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 nearly 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…

Where to Buy Discount Disneyland Tickets

As for where to buy, purchasing online in advance is best idea to save the most money. 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.

Speaking of which–and a slightly different topic–we recommend purchasing MaxPass if you’re going during the busy holiday season around Thanksgiving or Christmas this year, or even peak dates in October! In addition to Get Away Today, you can find discount Disneyland tickets online at Undercover Tourist, which is another reliable and authorized seller.

If you’d prefer to purchase in person, there are other options for that–but the discounts aren’t 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 we know Cast Members who have work the turnstiles and Guest Relations at Disneyland and Disney California. 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), and you can purchase these from Get Away Today.

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 get away with not purchasing 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.

Ultimately, 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.

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 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 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.

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. In the last few years there has been a dramatic spike, and that’s going to be even more pronounced when Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge opens in Summer 2019.

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

Tips for Saving Money on Disneyland Tickets by Buying from Authorized Third Parties (AAA, Costco, etc.)

If you don’t live in Southern California, you basically need to have multiple trips totaling at least 11 days in the parks planned in a single year for an Annual Pass to even begin to make sense. At that point, the Deluxe Annual Passport might make sense for you. 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.

If you’re a Southern Californian on the fence about purchasing this low-level AP, we’d recommend doing so sooner rather than later. We would not be surprised if this is discontinued prior to the debut of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, as that has occurred with other SoCal AP options that used to be offered.

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 $1,600+ 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. While this SoCal resident Disneyland ticket deal is not currently available, we’d expect the promotion to return for the same period in 2019.

Date-Based Pricing for Disneyland Tickets?

Earlier this week, Disney announced that Walt Disney World would switch to date-based pricing for all tickets, effectively creating tiered pricing with more popular dates costing more. Notably absent from this announcement was whether Disneyland would be switching to a similar pricing scheme, as Disney reps previously indicated would be the case.

There are several possibilities as to why Disneyland was not mentioned in the announcement. One possibility is that whatever multi-day tiered pricing scheme Disneyland introduces will differ significantly, and thus will receive its own announcement. Disneyland’s technology infrastructure is notably less-complicated than the Florida parks, which could necessitate a different approach.

Disneyland’s guest demographics are also quite dissimilar, with the California parks drawing mostly locals from Los Angeles and Orange Counties, and far fewer out of state tourists. This is significant in terms of booking the tickets, as Disneyland visitors are much less likely to book in advance. More importantly, date-based Disneyland ticket pricing could have a huge impact on crowd patterns, as Disneyland and Disney California Adventure guests are in a much better position to schedule their visits around when prices are cheaper.

As such, another possibility is that Disney has gotten cold feet about introducing tiered multi-day ticket pricing at Disneyland, apprehensive that introducing a new system that could radically alter visitation trends (and thus, internal attendance projections and staffing levels) less than a year before Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge opens. This apprehension would be the safe and conservative approach, but it’d also be the less profitable one.

This is the case because the new date-based ticket system is also a means of increasing ticket prices. Disney rarely passes on the opportunity to push prices higher, even if that will have unintended negative consequences. Taking the “safe” approach in lieu of the more profitable one doesn’t seem like Disney’s M.O., so our bet is that Disney simply has not announced how it will approach tiered or date-based pricing for Disneyland and Disney California Adventure tickets.

We’d still expect it to happen at some point before the end of 2018, so buying tickets now to lock-in current pricing remains a good idea. With that said, there’s a definite possibility that Disney won’t increase prices again until February 2019. We shall see!

save-money-disneyland-tickets-tips

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 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, 2019, 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.
  • 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.

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!

Your Thoughts…

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!


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