Advice, Tips and Tricks for Disneyland Tickets and Passes

There are things you should know about Disneyland (California) tickets before you buy. You may save yourself some time, money and/or aggravation by reading the tips below.

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Very Important Tip!

Disneyland will replace your lost tickets, if you have a scan or picture of the back of the ticket with the numbers under the barcode visible. So when you get your tickets (not your will-call voucher or print-at-home “tickets,” but the small paper tickets the size of a credit card), immediately take a picture with your phone or camera of the backs of all of the tickets, and zoom in on the photo to make sure those numbers are readable. Then email the photos to someone else, or upload them to a cloud service, so you can still get to them if you lose your phone.

If you lose a ticket and have a picture of the back, the ticket can be replaced at any Guest Relations location or Disneyland resort ticket booth. You’ll need to have everyone in your party go to Guest Relations together, with all the tickets you have (if any) so they can be sure which tickets need to be voided and replaced. It would be very bad to accidentally void the wrong ticket.

If you don’t have a camera or smartphone, write down all the numbers under the bar code from each ticket and stick it somewhere you won’t lose it, like deep in a purse or backpack.

Amazingly enough, if you don’t have your tickets or a photo of the backs, but you do have some unused FastPasses that were gathered using those tickets, the Guest Relations folks can look up your tickets from the code numbers at the bottom of the FastPasses!

Thanks to Mike W. for info.

Where NOT to Buy Disneyland Tickets

There are lots of legitimate ways to get discount Disneyland tickets. Unfortunately, there are also some ways to get ripped off.

Never buy partially used tickets. For instance, someone may claim they bought a 4-day ticket and ended up using only 2 days of it, so they are reselling the remaining 2 days. Sounds good, right? The trouble is, there is absolutely no way to tell whether the pass does, in fact, have the number of days remaining that the seller claims, until you get to the gate and see if it works. If it doesn’t, Disney will not be sympathetic, because Disney tickets are nontransferable. That means they can legally be used only by the original purchaser.

It is a very bad idea to buy Disneyland tickets on eBay or Craigslist. Unfortunately both of these online resources are extremely popular with con artists. Recently scammers have even taken to presenting fake “invoices” or “receipts” that seem to be from legitimate businesses that supposedly sold them the tickets. They always have some sad story about buying nonrefundable tickets, and now they can’t go, and they just want to get some of their money back. But the passes they sell you are partially or completely used up, or were never valid to begin with.

Disneyland tickets can look perfectly new and real, yet be worthless. For example, they may be selling real Disneyland ticket stock shoplifted from supermarkets or other stores, but since the tickets were never paid for, they have not been validated and have zero value. Or the tickets may be real, valid Disneyland tickets that have already been used and are now worthless.

There is no way to find out if the tickets you buy from a stranger (or even “a friend of a friend”) are any good in advance of your trip. You are very likely to arrive at the gate and find out you have invalid passes. Here is a news story, another story and yet another story about this type of scam.

Websites that seem to be offering super fantastic ticket discounts are almost guaranteed to be scams. There are legitimate, authorized Disneyland ticket brokers, but they don’t have a lot of profit margin once they pay Disney. There is no way a ticket dealer can offer new, authentic Disneyland tickets at extremely low prices without losing money. Scam sites may outright rip you off (charge you for tickets you never receive), or even worse, they may just be harvesting your personal information and credit card number so they can sell that information to criminals. If you see Disneyland ticket discounts of 15% or more, that should set off red flags. Occasionally discounts like that are legit, because of some loss-leader strategy by an online travel agency, but check everything out thoroughly. If you see a discount of 50%, don’t even bother; it’s definitely a scam.

Some signs of a scam ticket site:

There are legitimate, authorized ticket sellers that have contracts with Disney and sell NEW, UNUSED Disney passes at a discount!

Making Changes to Disneyland Tickets

If you have already purchased park tickets and find that your plans have changed, you can usually make changes to your tickets such as adding days or features. You can usually apply the value of an unused ticket (or one that’s partially used, but not yet fully used up) toward the purchase of any higher-priced ticket or annual pass (including renewals), subject to some restrictions. You can add days to a Disneyland ticket, or add Park Hopper. We cover this subject just below in our Upgrading Disneyland Tickets section.

Upgrading Disneyland Tickets

You can apply the value of unused Disneyland tickets toward the purchase of higher-priced tickets or Annual Passports any time, even years after purchase. Discounted tickets purchased from third-party vendors will be credited at the retail price as of the day the ticket was issued. Full-price or discounted passes purchased directly from Disney will be credited at the exact price paid. You can upgrade a ticket at any ticket booth or Guest Services window either inside or outside the park.

You can apply the value of partially used Disneyland tickets toward the purchase of higher-priced tickets or Annual Passports, as long as you do it before the tickets expire. The last time you can upgrade a ticket is one hour after park closing (when the ticket booths close) on the day you use the last admission on the ticket, or the 13th day after first use, whichever comes first. Discounted tickets purchased from third-party vendors will be credited at the retail price as of the day the ticket was issued. Full-price or discounted passes purchased directly from Disney will be credited at the exact price paid. You can upgrade a ticket at any ticket booth or Guest Services window either inside or outside the park.

You can’t combine the value of two tickets to buy one higher-priced ticket or annual pass. Each ticket can be traded in for a single new ticket or Annual Passport. You also can’t upgrade a ticket beyond 5 days. If you have a 4-day ticket and want to add one more day, that’s fine, but you can’t add two more days. A 5-day ticket can only be upgraded to an Annual Passport.

The start date on an Annual Passport that was upgraded from a ticket will be the first day you used the ticket; you can’t get extra days by using a ticket and then upgrading to an annual pass, though you still might want to do this to get around blackout dates.

When Disneyland Tickets Expire

All multi-day passes at Disneyland expire 13 days after the first day you start using them, or when you have used every admission day, whichever comes first. After that point the ticket becomes worthless, except as a souvenir. The first day of use is counted as day 1, so if you go into the park for the first time on February 1, the last day you can enter the park with that ticket is February 13, assuming you still have days left on the ticket.

Disneyland tickets generally must be first used by December 31 of the year they were purchased (or the next year, for tickets purchased late in the year). Some special promotional tickets may expire even earlier. Unused, expired Disneyland tickets cannot be used to enter the park any more, but can be traded in for a new ticket. You’ll get the amount you paid originally as a credit toward the new ticket. Even if you’re trading in for the same type of ticket, you’ll have to pay more if Disneyland ticket prices have gone up since you bought the original ticket.

Old Disneyland tickets that were issued in the days before expiration dates applied can still be used. Their original value is too low to be worth applying to a new ticket, though. Just use them for admission (Guest Services will trade them for tickets that will work at the gates) — or if they’re old enough, they might be worth more as collectibles!

Blackout Dates

If you buy a restricted Annual Pass (such as the Southern California Annual Passport, which has many “blackout dates”), but you plan to start your trip on one of the blackout dates, the blackout will not apply on the day you purchase the pass. So if you go to Disneyland on a Saturday and buy an Annual Pass that is normally not valid on Saturdays, you will still be able to use it that day at both parks.

Another handy tip for getting around annual pass blackout dates: you can buy a regular unrestricted Disneyland ticket and use it on the blackout dates, then before it’s fully used up, upgrade it to an annual passport. You don’t get any extra days this way – the annual passes will be dated from the first day you used the tickets.

Can You Use Walt Disney World Tickets at Disneyland or Vice-Versa?

The short answer is no. In the past you could use any unexpired, leftover days on a Walt Disney World ticket at Disneyland or Disney California Adventure. This was an unpublished benefit that was in effect at least since this site first started (2001). However, as of mid-December 2013, Disneyland and Disney California Adventure will no longer honor Walt Disney World tickets.

Disneyland tickets have never been accepted at Walt Disney World, and most Annual Passes are only good at the park where they were purchased (Walt Disney World Annual Passes are NOT good at Disneyland, and vice versa). However, there is a Premier Passport that is good at both locations.

What Is A Park Hopper Ticket? Do You Need It?

Park Hopper Disneyland tickets can be used to visit both parks on the same day. You can leave Disneyland park in the middle of the day, walk across the courtyard and use the same ticket to go to Disney’s California Adventure, or vice-versa. You can go back and forth as often as you want.

Non-hopper (one-park-per-day) Disneyland tickets only allow you to visit one park each day. You can visit either of the two parks each day, but once you enter one, you can’t use the same ticket to go across to the other park. You cannot “burn” another day from non-hopper Disneyland tickets to visit both parks on the same day; the computer knows you already entered the first park and won’t let you go into the second using the same tickets. You can, of course, leave and return to the same park the same day with any ticket, say to take a midday break or to go to lunch in Downtown Disney.

Park Hopper Disneyland tickets can actually be quite handy at the Disneyland Resort, because the two parks are very close — the entrances are right across from each other. We always buy Park Hopper tickets and always hop on several days of our trip. That said, if money is tight, we think it’s fine to just get one-park-per-day Disneyland tickets. It’s not a massive hardship to plan your day around staying in one park.

If you buy a one-park-per-day ticket and then realize you want to hop once you’re actually there, remember that all normal Disneyland tickets can be upgraded.