Is This Disneyland Upgrade Worth It?

Disneyland upgrades—is it worth the cost? We’re talking ticket upgrades like hopper passes, Disney Genie+, reserved viewing locations and so much more. Keep reading for what’s worth your pretty penny and what’s not when doing a Disneyland vacation.

Disneyland Ticket Upgrades

Disneyland tickets are often the first point of confusion when booking a Disneyland Resort vacation with many people asking, “Should I get a park hopper ticket for Disneyland?” or “Should I upgrade my ticket for more days at Disneyland?” These are loaded questions and we want to help break it down for you. 


Joy Pixar Pier Ticket


The most basic ticket you can get at Disneyland Resort is a one day, one park ticket. I explain here in detail about why one day tickets are the worst value and will cost you the most per day, especially if you’re visiting on a weekend. 

Should I upgrade my ticket for more days at Disneyland?

Yes, you should upgrade your ticket for more days at Disneyland because the cost per day goes down dramatically with each day you add. Here’s the math on Disneyland tickets.


Incredicoaster splash


One day tickets are by far the most expensive option. You could be paying slightly more for a two day ticket. Especially during the times they run California Resident specials, if you qualify. 

Think there won’t be enough to do at Disneyland over 3 or 5 days? Think again! I’ve listed some of my must-do Disneyland items here and I bet you’ll have trouble fitting it all in.

Is a Disneyland Park Hopper worth it?

A Disneyland Park hopper isn’t always worth it. 

  • For one and two day tickets, park hopping will cost you an extra $65
  • For three day and four day tickets, park hopping will cost you an extra $70
  • For five day tickets, park hopping will cost you an additional $75

Rise line cave


Yes, you should upgrade to a Disneyland Park Hopper ticket because:

  • Flexibility to hit rides and attractions at both parks is ideal.
  • Hopping is easy and parks are just steps away from each other. 
  • Crowding can happen, escape the madness at the other park.
  • Chowing down on the best food is easy when you park hop.
  • Maximizing late nights since Disneyland is open later.

Discount Disneyland tickets

No, you should not upgrade to a Disneyland Park Hopper ticket because:

  • Added stress trying to cram everything in your day.
  • Instead get a Disneyland Plan print out to accomplish your favorites
  • This is your first visit to Disneyland Resort, so you want to keep it simple.
  • You have little ones who can’t walk as much.
  • You’re budget conscious and want to save the money.

Can I upgrade my Disneyland ticket during my trip?

Yes, you can upgrade your Disneyland ticket during your trip. Maybe you have a 2 day ticket, but you decided to go an extra day. Or maybe you decided not to park hop, but are now seeing the convenience a park hopper offers.

Disneyland Matterhorn from Tomorrowland


Here’s the skinny on upgrading a park ticket during your vacation:

  1. Visit any ticket booth in the esplanade, the area between Disneyland and California Adventure to see if tickets and reservations are available.
  2. Pay the price difference for your new upgraded ticket, the original value of your ticket will be applied.
  3. Make sure all your park reservations are in place before leaving the ticket booth. 

Want to upgrade to a Magic Key? Keep reading for more details. 

Is a Disneyland Magic Key worth it?

Yes, a Disneyland Magic Key is worth it if you plan to visit Disneyland Resort multiple days throughout the year.

Disneyland autograph tips


Southern California residents (with valid ID) qualify for lower tier Magic Keys. Non-residents can purchase Annual Passes beginning at around $600 (some blackouts may apply). In addition to entrance fees being covered, Annual Passholders also get discounts on dining and merchandise. 

You can upgrade your Disneyland Park ticket during your vacation by following these steps:

  1. Visit any ticket booth in the esplanade, the area between Disneyland and California Adventure before closing on the last day your ticket is valid. 
  2. OR upgrade on the Disneyland App.
  3. The paid value of your ticket will be applied to your Magic Key and you only pay the difference. 

Disney Genie+ Upgrade

Genie+ has been around for a while but it’s still complicated for those who don’t visit the parks a ton. Read up on my all things Disney Genie+ and Lightning Lane tips here.


Mickey and Minnie Runaway Railway entrance line


As you can see in the above photo, there are two line you can wait in—Lightning Lane and Stand-by. Lightning Lane is a paid upgrade via the Disney Genie+ system. 

Is Disney Genie+ worth it?

Yes, I think Disney Genie+ is worth when you buy it in advance and lock in your price here. This “front of the line” pass has been around for years, but has most certainly changed along the way. I explain exactly how Disney Genie+ works here.

Is Disneyland’s Individual Lightning Lane worth the price? 

This is one I don’t usually splurge for. Individual Lightning Lanes are offered for a select few rides and cost to ride per person. I prefer to time it right and use the stand-by line instead. 


Radiator Springs Cars Ride

Disneyland PhotoPass Upgrade

Did you know there are tons of Disneyland PhotoPass photographers ready to snap your family picture when you’re at Disneyland? I love stopping for group photos because everyone knows who would be left out . . . Mom or Dad usually gets the bench to snap the pics and you end up at home after a fabulous trip looking for one picture of everyone together. 


PhotoPass Disneyland


Is Disneyland PhotoPass worth the price?

PhotoPass alone? No way, totally not worth it. It’s because the price is crazy high and guess what—you can get FREE PhotoPass pictures when you purchase Disney Genie+. Just another fabulous perk of that paid upgrade. I’ve covered all the top Disneyland PhotoPass spots here, plus I explain how you get it for free with Disney Genie+.


What is MaxPass


Looking for more professional quality photos? A&C Photography is my go-to Disneyland family photographer. Read about my experience with A&C Photography at Disneyland Resort and get a bonus discount here

Disneyland Early Entry

Early Entry is an included perk when you stay at one of the Disney owned properties in Anaheim. 


Grand Californian Lobby Disneyland

Is Disneyland’s Early Entry worth it?

Yes! If you’re booked at a Disneyland Resort Hotel like the Disneyland Hotel, absolutely take advantage of Early Entry. It’s offered before the theme parks open to the public on select days and here is exactly what you need to know about Early Entry at Disneyland Resort.


Cars Land empty

Disneyland Character Dining & More

Now that you’re inside the parks and have paid for the basics like tickets and hotels, what upgrades are worth it? The main upgrades many guests come in contact with are the following options. 

Is Disneyland Character Dining worth it? 

Character dining upgrades are when you pay a premium price for a meal that comes with one on one time with select groups of Disney characters. Yes, you can meet most of them for free inside the parks, but it could take you all day to track them down. I think Disneyland character dining is worth it for a splurge a time or two, or for a special occasion. 


Mickey Mouse Storytellers Cafe Breakfast family


You can make it even more affordable if you go to one that is outside the park like on your arrival or departure day. It really helps you extend that Disneyland vacation vibe. 

Is Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique worth it? 

This is one I have never tried myself. My youngest, the only one who meets the age requirements isn’t super into dress up, so it was never anything we decided was worth it to us. However, I have readers who absolutely loved their experience at Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique outlined here


Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique


Are shows and fireworks reserved spots worth it? 

There are a variety of shows, parades and fireworks that offer reserved viewing. Most come with a meal you eat beforehand, at various locations and then return to your often front row spots when the show begins. Take a look at some of the best upgrades below:

Are Disneyland Guided Tour Upgrades worth it? 

Totally worth it for adults, mostly. Kids won’t want to do all the walking and structured tour-guide stuff associated with guided tours like Walk in Walt’s Footsteps.


Walt Disneys apartment tour


I absolutely loved my tour and even keep in touch with my amazing tour guide. We’ve even met up on occasion outside of her working hours. I would do Walk in Walt’s Footsteps again in a heartbeat and plan to take my oldest for a special treat one day. 

Are Halloween Parties and After Hour events worth it? 

The best thing ever was when I completely surprised my family (even though I say don’t do that lol!), including my husband with flights and tickets to the Disneyland Halloween Party. I even scheduled work off for my husband behind his back. It did cause me major anxiety keeping a full on vacation secret from him, but man it was worth it. 


Oogie Boogie Bash costumes share a coke


People go all-out on costumes for this after hours event. Since I needed costumes I could pack while being undercover, we were Share a Coke bottles, the ones with special labels you can only find at Disney Parks! Oogie Boogie Bash is a must-do upgrade and we plan to make it a family tradition. 

Other after-hours events take place throughout the year, like After Dark events and more. Which one has been your favorite?

I want to hear from you—what Disneyland upgrades are totally worth it? What is a must-have and what is a must-do maybe once or twice? Anything you’d definitely skip and never do again?

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By Jessica Sanders

Recognized authority on all things Disneyland Resort. Offering dynamic planning strategies and the latest theme park information since 2013. Jessica's insights have been featured on Yahoo! News, InStyle, The Washington Post, and many others.

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