There is one certainty when it comes to Disneyland travel: Ticket prices always go up and never go down. Theme park tickets are often the largest part of the cost of a Disneyland vacation. It’s vital to understand all the options as you plan a trip to the “happiest place on Earth.”
Do you really need add-ons like “park hoppers” (meaning you can visit more than one park per day)? Are there ways to save on tickets that are safe and legitimate? How do tickets work in 2021 with the new Disneyland reservations system?
After visiting Disneyland regularly for the last couple of decades, I’ve purchased nearly every ticket type there is, including an annual pass before Disneyland APs were canceled earlier this year. Here are all the essentials you need to know about Disneyland tickets to make the right purchase for your trip.
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Disneyland ticket basics
Let’s start with the most basic option: one-day tickets into a single park at Disneyland. There are two parks at Disneyland (Disneyland park and Disney California Adventure) and these tickets will only permit admission into one of the two.
One-day tickets at the Disneyland Resort have variable pricing, with five price tiers depending on the day you are planning to visit. There is no price difference between the two parks. Prices for single-day, one-park-per-day tickets are as follows:
- Tier 1: $104 adult, $98 child.
- Tier 2: $114 adult, $108 child.
- Tier 3: $124 adult, $117 child.
- Tier 4: $139 adult, $132 child.
- Tier 5: $154 adult, $146 child.
Adults are anyone age 10 and over, child tickets are for ages 3-9, and anyone under age 3 is admitted free.
Disneyland only designates the days into tiers a few months in advance. For example, as of the date of publication of this article, Disneyland has only made one-day ticket pricing available until the end of June.
As you might expect, peak demand periods (like weekends or the first several weeks around Disneyland’s reopening on April 30) are Tier 5 days. Historically, Tier 1 days tended to be midweek in lower demand months, but the current calendar has no Tier 1 days available. There are just six Tier 2 days on the calendar right now: all Tuesdays and Wednesdays before the California school year ends.
If you are visiting for a longer vacation to Disneyland, multiday tickets are available as well. Per-day prices on these tickets begin to decrease the longer you stay. The most basic multiday ticket also allows admission into one park per day. So, guests with a three-day one-park-per-day ticket could spend two days in Disneyland park and one day at Disney California Adventure, but would not be able to go to both parks in a single day.
Unlike at Walt Disney World where multiday tickets have variable pricing based upon the date of your visit, Disneyland’s multiday ticket prices are thankfully static. There are no tiers or blockout calendars like one-day ticket holders have to navigate.
Regular prices for multiday one-park-per-day tickets in 2021 are:
- Two days: $235 adult, $220 child.
- Three days: $310 adult, $290 child.
- Four days: $340 adult, $320 child.
- Five days: $360 adult, $340 child.
Multiday tickets are only valid for 13 additional days after they are first used. This makes them a great option to reduce cost for out-of-towners coming for a trip of several days. But that means they are not-so-ideal for locals looking to space multiple visits out over a longer period of time.
Disneyland ticket options and add-ons
There are, of course, additional options that increase the cost of park tickets for Disneyland guests. Ones to consider adding to your tickets include:
The most basic tickets at Disneyland permit entry into a single park per day, but it’s also possible to purchase tickets with a Park Hopper option for an additional charge. As the name suggests, Park Hopper tickets allow guests to hop between Disneyland park and Disney California Adventure an unlimited number of times on a single day. Since the parks are located just steps apart from one another, park-hopping is much easier to do than it might be at Walt Disney World.
How much does the Park Hopper feature increase ticket prices? Whether you are buying a one-day ticket or a five-day ticket or anything in between, the Park Hopper option currently costs a flat rate of $55 for both adult and child tickets. On a per-day basis, this makes the cost of park-hopping pretty expensive for shorter trips ($55 a day for just a single day vacation), but very reasonable for longer ones ($11 a day for a five-day trip).
Whether you need the Park Hopper option depends on your touring habits. Personally, my family likes the flexibility of being able to hop between parks if we find one park too crowded on a given day. In fact, park-hopping has been a huge part of our line-avoidance strategy at Disneyland over the years. I usually recommend Park Hopper tickets to most friends as well, perhaps with the exception of guests on a two-day trip who plan to spend a single day in each park.
In 2021 when the parks reopen at a limited capacity, park-hopping comes with one additional limitation it didn’t before: a time restriction. Guests won’t be able to park-hop until 1 p.m. or later, subject to capacity restrictions of course. With shorter park hours and some ride and restaurant closures, the Park Hopper option might not be as valuable in the short term as it once was.
Ticket add-ons discontinued for now: MaxPass, Magic Morning
Several other ticket options that were mainstays of the last several years have been discontinued for the 2021 reopening. Those include Disney MaxPass as well as Magic Morning.
Disney MaxPass was a digital version of Disneyland’s FastPass system that allowed guests to book FastPass reservations on their smartphones. The service cost $20 per ticket per day back in March 2020. There is no word whether and when MaxPass or its free FastPass equivalent will return, or whether modifications to MaxPass and FastPass are under consideration.
Magic Morning was an additional ticket benefit that came at no extra cost with all park tickets of three days or longer that were purchased in advance. Magic Morning afforded guests a single day of early entry into Disneyland park on a Tuesday, Thursday or Saturday. Disneyland has currently suspended Magic Morning, along with another early entry option for on-property hotel guests: Extra Magic Hour. Extra Magic Hour was previously offered in both Disneyland and Disney California Adventure on select days.
Tickets and Disneyland’s 2021 reservation system
There is a new wrinkle in 2021 when it comes to Disneyland tickets. Having a ticket to the parks is necessary, but not sufficient, to gain park entry. Because of capacity restrictions, Disneyland now also requires guests to make advance daily reservations for the theme park they will enter first for each day. This is a second separate step that guests complete after purchasing a ticket.
This means that before purchasing tickets in 2021, guests should always check Disneyland’s reservation availability calendar. It’s essential to make sure that the parks you want to visit are available for new reservations on the days you want to visit!
Note that there are two separate calendars with different reservation availability: one for one-park-per-day tickets and another for Park Hopper tickets. Be sure to click the tab that matches the ticket type you plan to purchase.
To be sure, the Disneyland reservation system adds a new layer of complexity and is already causing confusion for many guests. Check out TPG’s guide to Disneyland reservations so you don’t run afoul of any of the new requirements. Note too that Disneyland currently has an in-state residency requirement to be able to visit as of the date this article is being published.
Disneyland ticket discounts and the best times to buy
Tickets are one of the most expensive parts of a Disneyland vacation, so naturally, guests are looking to save money any way they can. Unfortunately, super deep ticket discounts just aren’t realistic (and if you see them, they are probably fraudulent so steer clear).
Single and multiday Disneyland ticket discounts
It is possible to save some money on tickets at Disneyland, however, without too much effort. The easiest way to save is by purchasing multiday tickets through one of the legitimate ticket brokers that partner with Disneyland like Get Away Today, Undercover Tourist or aRes Travel.
These brokers regularly list tickets at least a few dollars per person below official Disney prices, and their tickets come with all of the same benefits and ease of use. Some occasionally will run additional specials like fifth-day free that reduce the price even more. Be sure to shop around because prices fluctuate regularly, and sometimes brokers have different pricing available to select partners.
Disneyland almost never discounts its one-day tickets (except for specialty tickets that would not be available to the vast majority of visitors). So, if you are just going for a single day, don’t waste your time searching for deals. The easiest way to save on single-day tickets at Disneyland is instead by buying discounted Disney gift cards and paying for the ticket purchases direct from Disney with the gift cards. If you can get a deep enough discount on gift cards, sometimes using gift cards will also beat the ticket broker multiday pricing too.
Of course, there are a number of other places to find discounts (Costco, AAA, grocery stores), but they rarely beat the discount ticket brokers or using discounted Disney gift cards.
If you can plan your Disneyland vacation a little more last minute, there are sometimes seasonal deals and specials that arise throughout the year worth considering. In 2020, for example, Disneyland offered two spring ticket deals before the parks shut down in mid-March. One was a discount on kids tickets that reduced trip costs for families with several younger kids fairly significantly. The second was a Southern California resident offer on three-day tickets. These tickets were priced well below normal three-day ticket prices ($199 for one park per day and $254 for the Park Hopper version). They also could be used over a several-month period, rather than within 13 days after first use.
Other deals during times of low attendance often will pop up unexpectedly as well. In the summer of 2019 (when the expected record attendance for Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge didn’t materialize), Disneyland offered a bring-a-friend deal where annual pass holders could purchase a single-day Park Hopper ticket for several companions for just $99.
With annual passes currently discontinued and the Disneyland reservations calendar still showing a lot of availability, similar summer 2021 discounts or special passes are definitely possible, especially for Southern California residents.
There are a few other ticket discounts to be aware of if you are within the eligible groups. These are not available yet for 2021, but be sure to continue to look for them if they apply to you.
Historically, the best of these discounts are the ones available to members of the military and their spouses. Before the closure last March, these tickets could be purchased at the Disneyland ticket booths as well as on participating military bases. Military ID is required and certain eligibility requirements must be met. Military ticket prices at Disneyland for 2020 were:
- Three-day Park Hopper ticket: $184.
- Four-day Park Hopper ticket: $204.
In 2020, visitors from other countries, particularly Canada and Australia, could also find additional discounts and offers not available elsewhere. There was a regular Canadian deal offered at least annually, and Australians were eligible to purchase a 10-day Park Hopper, a ticket length not available to American guests. When international visitors can again start to return to Disneyland, these offerings may well come back too.
Finally, when it comes to tickets, watch out for the dreaded annual ticket price increase. It probably goes without saying the best time to buy Disneyland tickets is right before that price increase hits. In the last several years, Disneyland has increased prices annually sometime between late January and early March, but the exact date is never known in advance.
Luckily, even when a price increase happens, the discount ticket brokers are allowed to sell tickets valid through year’s end at the previous year’s prices for a short time (usually about a week or two after the announcement). I therefore highly recommend doing some Disneyland vacation planning right after the new year so that you can be ready to jump on the previous year’s prices for travel for the rest of the year.
Disneyland annual passes
Last but certainly not least, annual passes were another option for discounted theme park admission into Disneyland for many years. Guests who planned to travel to Disneyland Resort for a couple of trips a year usually found them a better value compared to two or more multiday tickets. Annual passes were certainly more valuable to many local Southern California residents as well.
Although annual passes have been completely canceled for now, Disneyland has announced they will return in some form. The introduction of the Disney Flex Passport in 2019 may offer a peek into the future of annual passes at Disneyland. This pass required guests to reserve park days for entry, giving Disney a better estimate of and control over crowd levels. With park reservations now also the new normal in 2021, it’s quite possible they find their way into the new AP structure.
When annual passes do return, the key will be to do the math as well as read the fine print to find out whether the annual pass has restrictions or blockout dates that conflict with your vacationing patterns. Annual passes also come with additional dining and shopping discounts to consider that can add up to more savings as well.
Looking for a discount on an annual pass? There has never been a way to buy a discounted annual pass direct from Disney. But one trick to save money on an annual pass was to upgrade a discounted park ticket to an AP. Disney allowed you to apply the value of a regular park ticket to the cost of an annual pass as long as you did it before park closing on the last day of your trip. If you purchased that park ticket at a discount from a ticket broker like Undercover Tourist or Get Away Today, Disney would apply the full face value of the ticket to your AP upgrade. Watch for the potential that this “bridging” trick remains when APs return.
Tickets are undoubtedly a major expense when it comes to Disneyland travel. With a little preplanning as well as an analysis of the extras you actually need and knowledge of available discounts, it’s certainly still possible to save a decent amount of dough.
If you’re planning a Disneyland vacation, check out these money- and time-saving tips:
- 9 things families should know before visiting Disneyland
- Where to stay at Disneyland: On- vs. off-property hotel comparisons
- Skip the lines at Disneyland: 10 line-busting tips for less waiting and more playing
- These are the best times to visit Disneyland
Featured photo by Leslie Harvey.
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Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.
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