Planning a trip to Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, California comes with a lot of decisions to make before your trip. Where to stay, how long to visit, and which ticket to buy are just the start. Disneyland Resorts and Good Neighbor Hotels offers a variety of ticket options when organizing your visit. This is an awesome way to customize your trip and budget your vacation as needed. You can choose the number of days, whether or not you want the Park Hopper option, and the decision of including MaxPass. (Don’t worry, we’ll explain MaxPass a bit later.) When discussing my Disneyland Resort adventures with family and friends, one of the first questions I get is, “Is Disneyland Park Hopper worth it?” Before jumping into our discussion of whether or not the Disneyland Park Hopper tickets are worth it, let’s go over some important background information about Disneyland Resort.
First of all, there can’t be park-hopping without multiple parks, right? Disneyland Resort is home to two incredible, immersive theme parks. Disneyland Park is likely the one you envision when you think “Disney” … this park is where you’ll find Sleeping Beauty’s Castle, Main Street U.S.A., all of the famous “Mountain” rides, and pretty much any Disney classic attraction you can think of. Over at Disney California Adventure, you can experience a totally different realm within walking distance of Disneyland Park. California Adventure has plenty of classics of its own, like the famous Pixar (formerly Paradise) Pier, as well as some of its hit opening day attractions like Grizzly River Run and Soarin’ Around the World.
With that being said, you’re probably wondering what exactly Park Hopper tickets entail. The Park Hopper option allows you to visit both Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure within the same day. There is no limit on the number of times you can “hop” from park to park … you could go from Disneyland to Disney California Adventure and back again to your heart’s extent all day long! You can enter and re-enter both parks as many times as you’d like between operating hours. While we typically recommend using the Park Hopper ticket in a more strategic manner, it is awesome to know you can always re-visit the park of your choice for something as simple as craving a certain dining location, or getting to ride your favorite attraction that you may have missed earlier in the day.
All of the Disneyland Resort Ticket Options
Disneyland Resort offers ticket options between one and five days, with or without the Park Hopper option. Needless to say, the standard (non-Park Hopper) ticket grants you entry to one park per day – either Disneyland Park or Disney California Adventure. A one-day, one-park ticket ranges in cost between $104 and over $149. While you may leave and re-enter the same park, you can’t visit both within the same day. However, if you get a 2-day park hopper, you can visit Disneyland Park the first day and Disney California Adventure the next … or vice versa.
I know what you’re thinking, “Why do the prices vary so much?” Ticket cost is a direct result of supply and demand. The price depends on the time of year, day of the week, seasonal events, and more. It may come as a shock, but the lower-cost tickets are a good indicator of when the parks will be less busy (since they’re less in-demand). Talk about a win-win! Days are categorized as “Value”, “Regular”, and “Peak”. A “Value” day, for example, would be a mid-week day during an off-season time such as mid-February. “Peak” days typically fall around holidays or during the summer. A good rule to follow is that most “Peak” days are when kids are out of school, causing high demand. For now, these pricing categories only affect single-day ticket costs, and not multi-day.
The good news is that the longer you stay, the less you pay per day. A single-day, single-park ticket can cost upwards of $150 or more during “Peak” times … but if you visit for five days, the cost averages out to about $70 per day. And we can’t forget the huge benefit that is children under three being free, ticket-wise!
As for the Park Hopper, the cost is not per day, and only varies between single- and multi-days. It’s an additional $50 for one-day tickets, and $55 for multi-day tickets. If you’re planning on spending a full week in the parks, the Park Hopper upgrade is an awesome purchase, even if you only plan on “hopping” select days.
Looking for more perks of a longer stay? When you purchase a 3-, 4-, or 5-day ticket (Park Hopper or not), one free Magic Morning is included. Magic Morning grants you access to a selection of rides, shops, entertainment, and dining at Disneyland Park one hour prior to official park open on select days. Be sure to plan ahead, though! Magic Mornings are only available on select days (typically Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays) and offered to guests who purchase tickets in advance. Keep in mind that you can only select one Magic Morning to enjoy within your 3- to 5-day ticket use.
Another ticket option (and cost) to consider is the MaxPass. In addition to the FASTPASS system included in regular ticket price, MaxPass allows you to book your FASTPASS reservations directly through the Disneyland app, rather than having to visit the physical FASTPASS redemption location at each attraction. This allows you to save time and get more FASTPASSES! Another huge perk that we love about MaxPass is that it includes all of your attraction photos and pictures taken throughout the park at some of the most holiday card-worthy, scenic locations. MaxPass costs $15 per person, per day, and we find it to be a totally worthwhile upgrade.
Now, let’s get down to business. What are the pros and cons of making the jump to the Park Hopper ticket, and how does it really make a difference during your trip?
Benefits of the Disneyland Park Hopper Tickets:
- One-day visits: For one-day visits, going for the Park Hopper ticket option is the way to go. The Park Hopper allows you to experience the best of both worlds within a limited amount of time! There’s no need to sacrifice one park or the other … with the Park Hopper ticket option, you can experience the highlights at both Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure all in one day. Want to ride with Rocket on Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission Breakout and then head straight to Matterhorn Bobsleds? No problem. Our number one piece of advice is to be sure to plan your one-day visit ahead of time to make the most of it with your Park Hopper. Be sure to check the show times for your favorite entertainment, too!
- Getting your bearings: If it’s your first time visiting Disneyland Resort, it can be tough to figure out what attractions, restaurants, and entertainment are in each park. During our first visit, we had dining reservations booked at Carthay Circle in Disney California Adventure. We made the mistake of accidentally entering Disneyland Park instead! While cast members likely would’ve helped us sort out our accidental use of our ticket at the wrong park, having the Park Hopper ticket option made this a nonissue. Once we realized we were in the wrong place, we simply “hopped” back across the way to California Adventure and made it to our dining reservation. The Park Hopper ticket gives you the flexibility to explore and get familiar with what’s in each park (even mistakenly so) to avoid missing out on any of the fun.
- Entertainment: It should come as no surprise that both Disneyland and California Adventure parks both have amazing entertainment offerings. From fireworks, to parades, character meet-and-greets, and other spectacles, there’s no way to choose between the two parks when it comes to their entertainment line-ups. If you have limited time, it can be hard to check out all there is to offer spending just one day at a time at each park (if you’re lucky enough to have more than one day, that is!) The Park Hopper tickets really come in handy when it comes to scheduled entertainment offerings. For example, during our last visit, we were able to watch the afternoon parade at Disneyland Park, then after close, hop over to the still-open California Adventure to watch the Paint the Night Parade. Thanks to the Park Hopper, we didn’t have to compromise on either. We also like being able to go to California Adventure from Disneyland whenever we’re in the mood for a relaxing break so we can watch Frozen: Live at the Hyperion.
- Dining: Speaking of our above example, sometimes my family is simply in the mood to dine at the opposite park! Sometimes we’ll be hanging out at California Adventure for the evening, but want to head back to Disneyland Park for one of the famous Monte Cristos at Café Orleans for dinner. Park Hopper tickets come in handy to fulfill those cravings, and to be able to take advantage of last-minute dining reservations at either park!
- Proximity of parks: As I mentioned earlier, Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure are within a short walking distance from one another. For those familiar with Walt Disney World in Florida, where you have to take a monorail or bus between each of the four parks, this may sound like a foreign concept. However, the two parks at Disneyland Resort are super conveniently close together – the gates are directly across from one another, and you can “hop” from one to the other with less than a five-minute walk.
- Special events: During the holiday season, Disneyland Park hosts separately-ticketed Halloween and Christmas events that cause the park to close for regular daytime guests a bit earlier than normal. A “plus” of having the Park Hopper option during this time is that if you aren’t interested in attending those up-charged events, you can simply “hop” on over to Disney California Adventure for the remainder of the evening.
- More Park Time: Even on standard days during the normal season, park hours vary from park to park. Sometimes Disneyland opens prior to California Adventure, or sometimes California Adventure is open later than Disneyland. With the Park Hopper ticket option, you have the power to take advantage of the best hours at either park for the most in-park time available.
- Ride Closures: Bad weather happens to the best of us, even in the dreamscape that is Disneyland Resort in sunny California. Whether it’s thunderstorms or another issue that causes an attraction to go down, this can throw a serious wrench in your plans … especially if you have kids that were particularly excited about a specific ride. During one of our Disneyland trips, we had a FASTPASS for Radiator Springs Racers in Disney California Adventure one afternoon, but unfortunately, the ride was suddenly shut down for the remainder of the day. Luckily, with our Park Hopper ticket, we were able to hop over to experience it the following day, even though we had planned on spending the majority of our day at Disneyland Park. This flexibility allows unpredictable factors to become less of a hassle during your vacation.
Yes, we LOVE park hopping, but we’re not blind to the downsides, either. There are some “cons” to consider when deciding whether upgrading to the Disneyland Park Hopper tickets is the best fit for your family. (However, it’s not hard to notice that our “pros” section is significantly lengthier!)
Downsides to consider when deciding on Disneyland Park Hopper Tickets:
- Additional Cost: While an additional $50 per person isn’t too bad for all of the fun and convenience of adding the Park Hopper feature on to your ticket, this price can absolutely add up for a whole family. If the stress of spending that extra chunk of change on Park Hoppers is only going to add more pressure to your trip, skip the splurge and enjoy exploring Disneyland Park and California Adventure one at a time instead.
- The Stress of Hopping: For Disneyland newcomers, those visiting in large groups, or parents with kids in tow, park-hopping may be a bit overwhelming. Thanks to the close proximity of the parks, there are certainly more pros than cons – it’s a quick and easy process to go from one park to the other. But depending on your situation, this might be too much to handle. Little ones may be overwhelmed, so it can keep things simple to stay at one park for the day. This allows them to get familiar and comfortable with the new, exciting environment. It also saves a bit of time staying in one place versus going in and out of the parks.
- Navigating the Parks: The Park Hopper ticket option can be a huge help to make sure you can check off everything on your to-do list without laying out a major plan in advance. However, it could also just add more to your plate. With the option of visiting both parks each day, you might feel pressured to “hop” more than you have the capacity to! Navigating the parks can be difficult, and adding park-hopping to the equation might make your visit more overwhelming than it needs to be. For some visitors, taking it one park at a time is the way to go! This allows you to organize your trip one day at a time, and gives you enough time in each park to begin with so that you can get used to navigating Fantasyland, Cars Land, and everywhere in between without missing a beat!
- One-day Visits: Wait, didn’t we just include this in the pros category? Don’t worry, you’re not going crazy (and neither are we.) Depending on your circumstances, one-day trips to Disneyland Resort may better lend themselves to single-park tickets. For first time visitors, we recommend first immersing yourself in Disneyland Park and enjoying the classic, nostalgic wonder … while returning guests may want to spend the whole day enjoying all of the new and exciting fun at California Adventure’s Pixar Pier. Specific one-day visits, like a plan to visit exclusively for the upcoming Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disneyland Park may only require a single-park ticket. It’s important to factor in the goals for your visit, where your focus is, and if you want or need the Park Hopper ticket at all.
So, Is Disneyland Park Hopper Worth It?
If you have the means to spend more on your tickets, upgrading to Park Hoppers is absolutely worth it. The flexibility they add to your trip is a huge value that will allow you to accomplish even more fun attractions, shows, and more! As with any Disneyland Resort trip decision, it’s all about taking what works for your family into consideration. When your family visits Disneyland Resort, are Park Hopper tickets your go-to choice? Tell us in the comments!