Disneyland is one of the most magical places on Earth, and it’s my absolute favorite place in the world to travel to! I’ve been going to Disneyland since I was a little girl and have been to the parks (both Disneyland and California Adventure) at least 50 times in my 27 years of life. I had an annual pass while I was in college, and Freddy and I have been going together for the past 7 years. The parks hold very special memories for me, from time spent with family and best friends, to Freddy proposing in front of Sleeping Beauty Castle as fireworks lit up the night sky. It’s safe to say that I know my way around the Disneyland Resort, which is why I’m so excited to share my comprehensive travel guide with you! Throughout the next week I’ll be sharing my tried-and-true tips on where to stay, what/where to eat, the best places to shop and how to navigate the parks to get the most magic out of your vacation! We got a lot of travelin’ ahead of us, so be sure to stay seated, keeping your hands, arms, feet and legs inside the train. All aboard!
If you’re reading this post and you’re planning on visiting the Disneyland Resort, congratulations! Enchantment, magic and so many fun-filled memories await you! While this is such an exciting vacation to look forward to, I understand that it can also feel a bit stressful and overwhelming figuring out all of the logistics of your visit to the Happiest Place on Earth. If this is your first time visiting both parks, you may be wondering if they are in close proximity to one another or if they are spread out, like the parks at Walt Disney World. Both Disneyland and California Adventure are just a stone’s throw away from each other, separated by an open esplanade with ticketing booths and benches to sit on. So, let’s get down to business and answer this very important question: how long do you plan to stay? You may be doing a quick 1-2 day trip with your girlfriends, making if a family affair with a week-long stay, or you might be somewhere in between! Determining how long you plan to visit will ultimately help determine the type of park tickets you want to purchase. Let’s get down to the nitty gritty, shall we?
Which Type of Ticket Should I Buy?
I’m so glad you asked! There are 2 types of tickets you can purchase for your upcoming Disney vacation: a 1 Park Per Day ticket and a Park Hopper ticket. The difference between the two may seem obvious, but with the first choice you can only attend one park per day, and with the second choice you can hop between both Disneyland and California Adventure on the same day to get the best of both worlds. I highly recommend the Park Hopper if you’re only going for one day, that way you get to experience both parks. But if you’re going for 2 or more days, I would suggest going with the 1 Park Per Day ticket, which is what Freddy and I normally purchase! Here are a couple of reasons we love the 1 Park Per Day ticket:
It’s cheaper than the Park Hopper by a solid $50 per ticket (more money for churros and pins!)
It’s nice to be able to enjoy one park at a time if you’re staying for multiple days and not feel like you have to rush and go between both parks. We prefer to stick to one park because we truly feel like it allows us to maximize our day!
What’s This MaxPass All About?
You’re so on-point with these questions! Let’s dive into what the MaxPass is and if it’s really worth all the hype. Basically, the MaxPass allows you to book FASTPASSES for rides directly on your phone through the Disneyland mobile app for an extra $15 per ticket, per day. Woah, that was a loaded sentence—let me break it up into more bit-sized pieces that Heimlich would approve of.
A FASTPASS is a paper ticket that you can get near the entrance of select rides at both Disneyland and California Adventure which allows you to essentially skip the line and the long wait times. Here’s how it works: you walk up to the FASTPASS distribution machines near the ride entrance, you’ll insert your park ticket into the slot indicated and poof! Out pops your paper FASTPASS ticket! There will be FASTPASS return times posted above the ride to indicate the 1-hour window in which you can return to skip the line and ride the attraction. Depending on how popular a ride is, you can expect to wait anywhere between 2-6 hours before you’re able to ride the attraction during your FASTPASS window. For extremely popular rides, FASTPASSES can run out within the first few hours of the park opening, so I suggest getting a FASTPASS for those rides first thing when you arrive. Note: all people in your party must have their own individual FASTPASS in order to board the ride, and you must return within the designated window of time as it shows on your FASTPASS, otherwise you will not be allowed to enter the FASTPASS line.
As I was saying about the MaxPass…you don’t have to walk to each ride to book a FASTPASS, you can simply do it all from your phone! Which means you don’t have to worry about losing your paper ticket, and you can keep track of your multiple FASTPASSES digitally in one place. You can only book one FASTPASS at a time until the time stated on either your paper FASTPASS ticket or on the Disneyland mobile app.
MaxPass also acts as your PhotoPass where you get unlimited downloads from your favorite moments of the day. You can download, share and even purchase photos from various character experiences, attractions and more thanks to MaxPass.
Since MaxPass was introduced a little over 2 years ago, we have bought it each year since and have not regretted it once! It really helps save you time navigating the parks by eliminating the need to walk to each attraction every time you want to get a FASTPASS, and I love instantly downloading our favorite pictures taken by Cast Members in front of our favorite spots, like the castle the “Partners” statue. For a few extra dollars each day, I’m willing to pay the price! While there are many positives, I will be honest about a couple of drawbacks:
All right, sparky, here’s the deal: you can’t book a FASTPASS until your ticket has been scanned into the park. For example, if you’re having breakfast in Downtown Disney and you want to book a FASTPASS before you get into the park, WRONG-O! You can’t collect $200 until you pass “go”.
The Disneyland app, while incredibly helpful in booking a FASTPASS, looking up wait times, and even seeing where certain characters are located, does use up a lot of battery. I suggest being strategic about when you use it and also bringing a portable phone charger. Trust me, I’ve learned from experience and it sucks having a phone on 4% battery while watching the fireworks at the end of the night!
Where To Buy Park Tickets
There are multiple options when it comes to where you can buy your tickets and I’ve done them all, so here are your choices:
You can buy your tickets the day-of at one of the ticketing kiosks located right outside both Disneyland and California Adventure. There are at least 20 different kiosk windows with Cast Members there to assist you, and they keep the lines moving very quickly. I think the longest I’ve had to wait in line to buy my ticket is 10 minutes!
You can buy your tickets in the lobby of your hotel at their guest services desk. Most hotels in the area, whether they’re on Disney property or not, usually sell the same tickets that you can buy when you get to the parks. No, they generally are not cheaper if you buy them at the hotel, but it can save you a couple minutes by purchasing them in advance.
If you want to buy your tickets well in advance, you can do so directly on the Disneyland website and have them emailed to you, print them at home or download them directly onto your phone via the Disneyland mobile app. Super convenient!
You can also buy your tickets online through some discounted member sites such as AAA.com or Costco.com, but these sites may only save you around $5-$10 per ticket, so if you’re looking for a steep discount on tickets, you will likely just keep searching.
And if you’re lucky enough, you can win tickets on a local radio station. This actually happened to us 6 years ago, and it ended up being the year that Freddy proposed! While the odds may be slim to none, it can’t hurt to try and you never know when TinkerBell will sprinkle you with her magical pixie dust!
If you live near the parks or decide that you’re craving more magic at the end of your vacation, you can upgrade and invest in a Disney Annual Passport! As I mentioned earlier, I had an Annual Passport (AP) for a year while I was attending FIDM in Downtown LA and it was truly the highlight of my college experience! I mean, what’s better than going to the parks every weekend or on a random Tuesday when you have the freedom to go as you please?! There are different AP tiers so that you can select the one that’s right for you, and the perks are pretty amazing! You can get the MaxPass feature included in your AP (so many photo opportunities!), receive dining and merchandise discounts anywhere from 10%-20% and get invited to exclusive AP events, just for members. The magic and entertainment doesn’t have to stop just because your vacation is over!
That just about sums it all up when it comes to everything you need to know about Disneyland park tickets! I hope this information was helpful, and don’t forget to check back tomorrow for my next post where I’ll be covering the lowdown on where to stay! See ya real soon, pal!