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by Tinker Belle Diva

Disneyland APs vs Park Hoppers

I purchased my first Disneyland Annual Pass in 2005. It was a Deluxe Annual Pass (AP) and the purchase price was around $300 for the year. That year I was taking two trips of 3- and 5-day durations and saved money by purchasing the AP. I have used both Park Hoppers and APs in the years since, doing calculations on the number of trips and the discounts to determine what is best for my family.

The latest price increase on February 11th, 2018, has me looking at this again. Since I am out-of-state, I am only comparing the Deluxe, Signature and Signature Plus passes. For those of you that live in Southern California, you have two other options, and being a local changes just about everything since you could visit dozens of time in a month. If you are lucky enough to be that person, an AP is definitely the way to go.

All APs are Park Hoppers, but the additional perks and discounts do vary based on the type of pass purchased. As of February 11, 2018, the choices and prices for non-Southern California resident APs are:

Ticket Option Ticket Price Additional Perks/Information
Deluxe $729 ·     10% off select dining

·     10% off select merchandise

·     Blockout dates for weekends and holidays

·     No parking included

·     Add MaxPass for $75/year

Signature $999 ·     15% off select dining

·     20% off select merchandise

·     Blockout dates for December and other select holidays

·     Parking included

·     Add MaxPass for $75/year

Signature Plus $1149 ·     15% off select dining

·     20% off select merchandise

·     No blockout dates

·     Parking included

·     MaxPass included

Within each of the AP Ticket Options, the perks vary widely and may be more or less appropriate for your family. For example, how often do you drive and need to park at the Disneyland Resort? Or do you stay at a hotel within walking distance and don’t need parking? Are you enjoying the benefits of MaxPass and want that every day of your vacation? Do you have children in school and only vacation during weekends and holidays? Let’s say you do only vacation on holiday weekends and would therefore select either the Signature or Signature Plus pass. The discounts are the same, and you can add MaxPass to the Signature pass for an additional $75. The difference between the two passes if you add MaxPass is $75, which means your break even is about 8 visits. If you plan to vacation for 8 or more days, the Signature Plus would be the best choice in this scenario. Remember that APs do not include a Magic Morning.

It's A Small World Holiday Overlay 2015
Do you travel only during the holidays? That will impact which ticket is right for you.

Here are the Park Hopper prices as of February 11th and the number of time you would need to make a trip under each ticket option to make it the cost equivalent of purchasing an AP. This is the ticket price only and doesn’t include discounts or other perks. While there are options for discounted tickets through 3rd Party providers, like AAA, or severely discounted tickets, like Military, I am doing a comparison of only the retail ticket prices directly from Disney. Keep in mind that you would need to add days to your trip if you have those discount options available to you to create your trip equivalent.

Ticket Option Adult Ticket Price Price/day Trip Equivalent with Deluxe AP ($729) Trip Equivalent with Signature AP ($999) Trip Equivalent with Signature Plus AP ($1149)
1 day Park Hopper Value Dates $147 $147 5 individual 1 day trips 7 individual 1 day trips 8 individual 1 day trips
1 day Park Hopper Regular Dates $167 $167 5 individual 1 day trips 6 individual 1 day trips 7 individual 1 day trips
1 day Park Hopper Peak Dates $185 $185 4 individual 1 day trips 6 individual 1 day trips 7 individual 1 day trips
2 day Park Hopper $260 $130 3 individual 2 day trips 4 individual 2 day trips 5 individual 2 day trips
3 day Park Hopper (includes Magic Morning) $330 $110 3 individual 3 day trips 3 individual 3 day trips 4 individual 3 day trips
4 day Park Hopper (includes Magic Morning) $355 $88.75 2 individual 4 day trips 3 individual 4 day trips 4 individual 4 day trips
5 day Park Hopper (includes Magic Morning) $370 $74 2 individual 5 day trips 3 individual 5 days trips 4 individual 5 day trips

None of the Park Hopper tickets include blackout dates, so your decision on what to buy may also be driven by your vacation dates. Be sure to check the blackout calendar on the Disneyland website for the dates when the Deluxe and Signature APs cannot be used. Remember too that you can buy discounted tickets for children 3-9, while you will need to pay full price for anyone 3 or older when you purchase an AP.

Since the math from the table above doesn’t include discounts or perks or a combination of trips over a different number of days, we can look at a couple of scenarios to see what might be the right choice. I am not including tax in the meal or merchandise prices.
Disneyland

Scenario 1 – A family of two adults will be taking two trips, one a 3-day and one a 4-day trip. They typically spent $75/day on meals and $25/day on merchandise. They do not need theme park parking, and they will want MaxPass for each day of their trip ($10/day/person).

Cost with Park Hoppers Cost with Deluxe Cost with Signature Cost with Signature Plus
Ticket Price $1370 $1458 $1998 $2298
Meal Price $525 $472.50 $446.25 $446.25
Merchandise Price $175 $157.50 $140 $140
MaxPass $140 $140 $140 Included
Vacation Total $2210 $2228 $2724.25 $2884.25

This family should look at the blockout dates for the Deluxe, but most likely this could be their best option since it is only $18 more than the Park Hopper option and if their schedule allows, they could have a partial day in the Park on the day they arrive and/or leave. However, if the Deluxe is not available for their dates, they should choose the Park Hoppers.

Great Tips To Know Before You Go to Disneyland's California Adventure

Scenario 2 – A family of four (all 10 and older) will be taking three trips, one a 2-day, one a 3-day and one a 4-day trip. They typically spent $150/day on meals and $45/day on merchandise. They do need theme park parking ($20/day), and they will want MaxPass for 8 days of the 9 of their trip.

Cost with Park Hoppers Cost with Deluxe Cost with Signature Cost with Signature Plus
Ticket Price $3780 $2916 $3996 $4596
Meal Price $1350 $1215 $1147.50 $1147.50
Merchandise Price $405 $364.50 $324 $324
MaxPass $320 $320 $300 Included
Parking $180 $180 Included Included
Vacation Total $6035 $4995.50 $5767.50 $6067.50

This family should look at the blockout dates for the Deluxe, but most likely this could be their best option since it is nearly $800 less expensive than the Signature AP. However, if the vacations are planned over holiday weekends or Saturdays during the summer when the Deluxe is blocked, they will need to purchase the Signature AP.

There are a few more considerations that might influence your decision. Do you stay on the Disney property resorts and would an AP discount be available during your vacation? Do you take tours or attend special events that have an AP discount? Do you shop or eat at the stores in Downtown Disney that have an AP discount?

Tinker Belle Diva's youngest son at Disneyland, January 2013
Are you traveling with children? Compare the price for Park Hoppers for the 3-9 age group to the cost of the AP. You may find that only the adults need APs.

Once you have estimated the number of trips, the duration of each of those trips, your food/merchandise spend, parking needs, and desire for MaxPass, you will be able to make the decision that financially fits your needs. Enjoy your vacation!

Need help planning your Disney vacation? Patricia at All 4 Dream Travel is here to help! Contact her today for a quote.

 

 

 

 

Hello! I'm Tinker Belle Diva. Just like you, I love all things Disney and have since my first trip to the Walt Disney World in 1980, followed quickly by my first trip to Disneyland. The love of Disney runs strong in my family and has been passed along to my daughter and son, who have been to Disneyland more times than I can count!