Disneyland vacations can be expensive endeavors. Budget-conscious visitors often look to save money by foregoing a few of the Disneyland optional extras, from Disney Genie+ line skipping to character dining. One extra that can really add to the cost of a Disneyland vacation is the park hopper ticket option. Park hopper tickets permit guests to visit both parks at the Disneyland Resort in a single day.
While many guests consider park hopping a must-have splurge, the cost of this ticket feature has increased substantially over the years. A brand new price increase as of October 11, 2023 makes the service that much more expensive.
My family and I travel to Disneyland in Anaheim, California multiple times a year. We are always weighing the pros and cons of each Disneyland upcharge, including park hopping. We nearly always choose to purchase park hopper tickets at Disneyland for our family, and we have several reasons for that.
That said, I don’t recommend this choice for every Disneyland visitor! Park hopper tickets simply aren’t worth it at Disneyland for everyone in every circumstance. So many factors might tip the scale in favor of opting in or out of this purchase. Additionally, each trip is different, so you need to crunch the numbers and consider your vacation goals for your family each time.
If you are struggling with whether to select park hopper tickets for your next Disneyland vacation, here are the factors to consider.
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Disneyland Park Hopper Ticket Basics
What is a Park Hopper Ticket?
First things first – if you aren’t a Disney geek, what is a park hopper ticket? It is a ticket that allows guests entrance on the same day to both of the theme parks at the Disneyland Resort: Disneyland park and Disney California Adventure park.
What are the Rules and Restrictions of Park Hopping at Disneyland?
As of fall 2023, there are some restrictions on park hopping. Most notably, park hopping is not permitted at Disneyland until 11:00 am. Guests with park hopper tickets (and indeed all tickets) must make a park reservation for the park that they intend to visit first. Then at 11:00 am or any time thereafter, they can leave that park and “hop” over to the other one.
If you have a park hopper ticket and haven’t entered any park before 11:00 am, you can go to either park. There’s no need to start with reserved one at Disneyland.
There is no limit on how many times guests can park hop in a single day. I’ve gone back and forth between the two parks myself 9 times in one day before!
Theoretically, park hopping can be limited or delayed if one park reaches capacity. Practically speaking, this just doesn’t happen at Disneyland in the era of theme park reservations. It only really would happen again in truly extraordinary circumstances, like during a once-in-a-lifetime kind of event.
Is Park Hopping Different at Disneyland vs. Walt Disney World?
If you visit Walt Disney World in Florida you might be familiar with park hopping there. Park hopping at Disneyland is certainly quite similar. But in practice, whether and how guests will use and find value in the option is very different at Disneyland.
Because of the proximity of the two parks at Disneyland (unlike Walt Disney World’s four parks), park hopping only takes a couple of minutes at Disneyland. The parks are directly across from one another separated by an esplanade.
Park hopping is as easy as walking out of the exit turnstile of one park, strolling a few hundred yards across this esplanade, and scanning your park ticket or MagicBand+ to enter the turnstiles at the other park. Occasionally there can be a short queue to enter the other park (most notably right around 11:00 am when many guests hop), but that is only a minor inconvenience except on the busiest of days.
For the remainder of 2023, Walt Disney World only permits guests to park hop at 2:00 pm or later. But starting on January 9, 2024, the park hopping time restriction at Disney World will be lifted entirely. Disneyland so far is expected to keep its 11:00 am limitation (but bookmark this post and watch this space to find out if that changes!)
Park hours also tend to be longer on average at Disneyland than at Walt Disney World. So California guests may get many more hours of value out of park hopping if they plan to rope drop first thing in the morning and stay until park close.
Pricing for Park Hopper Tickets at Disneyland
As you might imagine, park hopper tickets cost more than standard one park per day tickets. For many years, Disneyland charged a flat fee for the park hopper option. The total cost was the same whether you added the option to a single day ticket or a five day ticket.
That all changed in 2022 when Disneyland (somewhat surprisingly) began charging more for park hopping on one day tickets than it did on multi-day tickets. It changed again on October 11, 2023 in conjunction with Disneyland’s annual ticket price increase.
The park hopper ticket option at Disneyland now has 3 different price points. These are tied to your length of ticket.
As of October 11, 2023, here is the price to add on park hopping to each kind of ticket, with a comparison to the previous pricing. Note that the per-day cost park hopping goes down as ticket length gets longer, even though the price is a bit more in total for longer tickets.
- 1 day tickets: $65 (average cost of $65 per day) (no increase)
- 2 day tickets: $65 (average cost of $32.50 per day) ($5 increase)
- 3 day tickets: $70 (average cost of $23.33 per day) ($10 increase)
- 4 day tickets: $70 (average cost of $17.50 per day) ($10 increase)
- 5 day tickets: $75 (average cost of $12.50 per day) ($15 increase)
The park hopper option can only be added on to the entire length of any ticket. So it’s not possible to purchase a 4 day ticket and only purchase park hopping for a single day. Given that the cost is only $5 more to add to a 4 day ticket vs. a single day ticket, you wouldn’t want to do that anyway!
For guests who have Magic Keys (a.k.a. annual passes), park hopping privileges come standard – no extra cost needed.
What to Consider in Evaluating Disneyland’s Park Hopper Tickets
Now that you know the basics, how do you decide whether to upgrade to a park hopper ticket on your next Disneyland vacation? Here are the factors to consider when evaluating whether park hopper tickets are worth it to you.
Ultimately, it always comes down to money. For most people, vacation dollars are limited. If you want to splurge on a fancy Disneyland dining experience or on a special souvenir, you may have to cut back somewhere else. Park hopping is an obvious place to look.
For some families, especially larger ones, the cost of park hopping may simply be prohibitive. If that is your situation, don’t fret. You can absolutely have a wonderful and rich Disneyland vacation of any length without park hopper tickets.
Many family travel budgets are a bit flexible, however. That’s where you have to start looking beyond just absolute dollars and cents and considering your other vacation goals and interests.
2. Length of Stay
As noted above, the per day cost of park hopping decreases for those taking longer Disneyland vacations. So determining whether park hopper tickets are worth it often depends on how long you are going to be visiting Disneyland on any given trip.
The per day cost is at its highest for one day trips. But for one day visits, the park hopper ticket is the only way you get to see both parks. While it’s not really possible to do everything in both parks on a single day, there are headliners and characters/IPs in both parks that may be on your must-do list.
Multi-day tickets require a different calculus. Two and three day visits are often when I recommend skipping the park hopper option. For two day visits especially, a lot of families are content spending one day in each park to hit the major highlights of each.
For three day visits, spending two days in one park and one in another usually works well too. Disneyland is larger and has more to do than DCA, so two days in Disneyland and one in DCA is a split that makes sense for the average guest.
For even longer trips, the considerations are a bit different. The total price of four and five day vacations to Disneyland is expensive. So park hopping could be the straw that breaks the camel’s back in terms of budget. Plus, you’ll get plenty of time in both parks with such a long ticket. But some families may look at it differently. If you are already spending $5000+ on a lengthy Disneyland vacation, what’s a few hundred more to get the utmost in park hopping flexibility at a low per day cost?
3. Ages & Stages in Your Traveling Family
Whether you can get value out of park hopping also depends on how much ground your traveling group or family can cover in a single day. Yes, the parks at Disneyland are very close to one another. But getting all the way from the back of Pixar Pier in DCA to the back of Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge in Disneyland is a pretty long trek.
If you have agile teens who want to ride thrill rides, extra steps may be no concern at all when it comes to their goal of completing every coaster in both parks. Indeed, they may not be happy limiting themselves to the half dozen or fewer thrills in one park. Adding a park hopper ticket option to a one day trip with teens, for example, unlocks thrills in Disney California Adventure like Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: BREAKOUT!, the Incredicoaster, and Radiator Springs Racers, along with Space Mountain, Thunder Mountain, and the Matterhorn in Disneyland.
If you are traveling with very young kids or older grandparents, however, your family will surely tour at a slower pace.
You may have little ones who simply want to ride gentle rides like “it’s a small world,” Dumbo, or Winnie the Pooh, perhaps meeting and greeting princesses or the Fab 5 as they go. In this case, making that trek across the esplanade isn’t essential. There’s plenty to do in just Fantasyland in Disneyland park!
Mobility-restricted families may well find park hopping too logistically difficult and not worth the cost. In this case, save the cash and savor each park.
There is one exception, however, to this general rule. With young kids still bound by a nap schedule, park hopping can offer an important advantage to consider. If you plan to go back to your hotel room for a mid-afternoon nap anyway, having the park hopper ticket can be valuable. With it, you can return to a different (and sometimes more convenient) park in the evening without really adding extra steps.
4. Maximizing Disney Genie+
Do you love riding rides at Disneyland and hate waiting in line? If so, one of the other extras you are probably considering is Disney Genie+, Disneyland’s FASTPASS replacement that allows guests to cut some of the lines for many of the most popular attractions.
There are 12 attractions in Disneyland on the Genie+ system but only 8 in Disney California Adventure. Guest who know how to work the Genie+ system well can very easily max it out in less than a single day if they are limited to staying in just one park per day.
For that reason, heavy Genie+ users are going to get more value out of park hopping than average guests. Being able to go between parks unlocks more rides with lower waits daily. This factor looms pretty large for my family, as we like to go hard on our Disneyland vacations and squeeze a lot into each day. Of course, guests who take this approach will be paying extra for both Genie+ and park hopper tickets, so this isn’t exactly a budget-friendly strategy.
One important tip: because of the park hopping time restriction at 11:00 am, guests can’t book a Genie+ return time for a ride in the park they plan to hop to until that ride is offering a return time of 11:00 am or later. For popular rides like Toy Story Midway Mania, this may happen somewhat early in the morning. But for less popular rides like Monsters, Inc., it may not happen until close to 11:00am. See my advanced guide to Disneyland’s Genie+ for all of these kinds of detailed expert tips.
Do you simply want the flexibility of making decisions on the fly? If leaving some things to chance matters to you, then park hopper tickets could be worthwhile.
Despite the pressure to pre-plan everything these days, it is still possible to have a lot of fun at Disneyland without scheduling every single minute. In fact, sometimes that approach is essential and leads to a better vacation. Park hopper tickets give you the ability to adjust as you go, perhaps avoiding unexpected crowds and choke points or simply responding to what you learn about what your family enjoys.
This is especially true on longer trips. If, for example, you find out on day 1 of a trip that your preschooler mainly wants to ride “it’s a small world” on repeat (my youngest kiddo was one of those!), a park hopper ticket enables you you check that box each day of your vacation.
6. Disneyland Dining
Dining at Disneyland has gotten to be an increasingly competitive endeavor. If you want to eat at some of the iconic table restaurants in the park, like Lamplight Lounge or Blue Bayou, it’s hard to get a reservation at all – much less a reservation on the day you are planning to be in the “right” park.
Park hopper tickets open up more dining possibilities. If you aren’t able to get a reservation at the 60 day mark when they are first available, strategies to get the meals you want include snagging cancellations (via a service like Mouse Dining) or adding yourself to the same day walkup waitlist in the Disneyland app. You’ll be able to do this more easily with a park hopper ticket that doesn’t confine you one park and limit your options each day.
To be sure, dining simply isn’t a consideration at all for many guests. If you are happy eating any number of places or have already gotten the dining reservations you want well in advance, you may not need the park hopper tickets to assist.
7. Special Events & Food Festivals
One final and often-overlooked factor to consider when determining the value and importance of park hopper tickets is the timing of special events happening at the Disneyland Resort. Those can affect park hours – sometimes significantly. Seasonal events may change your normal touring habits, making you spend more time in one park than you ordinarily might otherwise.
For example, if your visit is in the fall during Halloween Time and at least one of the days of your trip is on a day when the Oogie Boogie Bash Halloween party is held, that can be significant. On those days, Disney California Adventure closes at 6:00pm. The only way you can keep going to a park in the evening (if you plan to start that day in DCA) is if you have a park hopper ticket to move to Disneyland. DCA often tends to be less crowded in the morning on party days as guests without hoppers select Disneyland park for the full day to avoid the party. Those with park hoppers can take advantage of the lower DCA morning crowds and then hop to Disneyland as crowds build.
Another type of special event to consider is food festivals that are held in DCA during several times of year. These include Lunar New Year in January and February, the Disney California Adventure Food & Wine Festival in the spring, and the Festival of Holidays during the Disneyland Holidays celebration.
These food festivals may be where you want to eat more of your meals than usual (the booth food tends to be quite delicious!). But if you are confined to one park, you can’t take advantage of them as much. I tend to spend much more time on average on any given trip in Disneyland park for rides, but I eat most of my lunches and dinners at DCA during these festivals. A park hopper ticket allows me to move back and forth.
Advanced Disneyland Park Hopping Tips and Tricks
Now that you know the major factors to consider, here are a few more advanced tips for making your decision and ultimately making the most out of the choice you make – park hopper or not. As I mentioned above, my family almost always chooses to park hop. We prefer flexibility and would rather ride more rides by park hopping than spend extra cash on something like fine dining.
1. Do the math!
The way you are going to make the smartest ticket choice is by crunching the numbers. Always, always do the math! Take all of the ticket features – park hopping, Genie+, length of ticket – and price your vacation, adding and subtracting each option.
Some visitors may find they get more value out of a longer trip without park hopper than a trip with fewer park days with it. Some may find they can skip park hopper tickets if they spring for Genie+ one or more days.
Here are a few examples (priced for a family of 4 buying tickets for 2 adults and 2 kids) – with the math done! – that might apply to you. You may be surprised to find how close in price these turned out.
- Park Hopper vs. Genie+ Short Trip (2 day ticket with park hopper vs. 2 day ticket one-park-per-day with Genie+ at pre-purchase price): $1460 vs. $1440
- Longer Trip, No Hopper vs. Shorter Trip with Hopper (2 day ticket with park hopper vs. 3 day ticket one-park-per-day): $1460 vs. $1510
- Park Hopper vs. Genie+ Long Trip (4 day ticket with park hopper vs. 4 day ticket one-park-per-day with 2 days of Genie+ at $35 average in-park purchase price): $2010 vs. $2010 – the same!
2. Hack two (or even three) day trips with single day tickets
If you plan to visit Disneyland for two days (and even for some three day periods), there is an extra ticket hack that could save you even more money. This hack works more for one-park-per-day tickets, but I was surprised to discover that it even works with park hopper tickets to an extent!
Because of Disneyland’s tiered one day ticket prices and fixed multi-day prices, sometimes two 1 day tickets cost LESS than a 2 day multi-day ticket. And on a few rare occasions, sometimes even three one day tickets cost LESS than a 3 day multi-day ticket!
This only happens on the lowest tier (cheapest) days on the ticket calendar. For example, two adult Tier 0-3 one day tickets ($104-154 per day) cost less than a 2 day multi-day ticket ($310). And three adult Tier 0-1 one day tickets ($104-119 per day) cost less than a 3 day multi-day ticket ($390 adult).
What about when park hopping is in the mix? It’s possible to combine the cheapest of one day park hoppers plus 1 or 2 one-park-per day tickets and still come out ahead of the equivalent multi-day one-park-per-day ticket pricing. Of course, you’ll only get to park hop some of the time, but that may be sufficient for many guests when there are cost savings in play.
What’s the catch? Personally, I consider multi-day tickets “safer” to buy because they are good on any calendar day of the year without blackouts. If you need to cancel and reschedule a trip, it’s so much harder with the lowest tiered one day tickets. So I don’t recommend using this hack unless the savings are substantial. But sometimes they truly can be!
3. Check the park reservation calendars
If you’ve made Disneyland park reservations in the last couple of years, you’ve probably noticed that there are several different availability calendars for different ticket types. Guests who buy park hopper tickets have one calendar, and guests with one-park-per-day tickets have another.
In most circumstances, the one-park-per-day reservation calendar “sells out” before the park hopper one does. For guests who are booking vacations more last minute, you may have more luck reserving the starting park of your choice each day – or any park at all – if you purchase park hopper tickets.
4. Do your research before you buy
Last but not least, whatever you choose, you need to be informed before you buy theme park tickets. Disneyland does not make it easy to exchange tickets or add on many options after purchase (although my discount ticket partners at Get Away Today do make this easier – their tickets are refundable!).
To avoid headaches though, you want to get the purchase right from the outset. To do that, do your due diligence first. Learn about Disneyland if you are not a regular visitor so you can buy the ticket that matches your interests and how you plan to approach your visit.
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Are park hopper tickets worth it to you during your Disneyland vacation? What are the reasons for your choice?