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Park Hopping Guide at Disneyland

When you travel to Disneyland, you’ll have the opportunity to experience two different theme parks – Disneyland and Disney’s California Adventure. Some guests choose to experience one park per day while others opt to hop between parks for one or more days.

In addition, some guests may wonder if they can leave Disneyland and come back later in the day (yes, you can!). Perhaps you want to go back to the hotel and rest for a while, or go to lunch at Downtown Disney. Whether you want to park hop or want to stay at the same park but return later in the day, this guide will help you determine the best way to enjoy the Disneyland parks.

Disclosure: I have received complimentary admission to the Disneyland Resort parks at no cost as part of my participation in a conference. This post contains affiliate links, and a purchase/click through one of these links may result in a commission paid to us at no cost to you. All opinions are my own.

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Disneyland Train Station at entrance of park

Park Hopping Guide at Disneyland

Regardless of which park tickets you choose, you’ll be able to leave the park and return later in the same day. This can be a great way to get some rest during the day (especially when traveling with younger kids). You can also choose to leave one of the two theme parks and dine outside the parks – either at a nearby restaurant, at a Disney hotel restaurant, or at a Downtown Disney restaurant.

Park Hopping

Park hopping, however, is different. When you park hop, you will leave the first park (Disneyland Resort or Disney California Adventure Park), and go to the other park on the same day.

To park hop, you’ll need to have that option on your tickets. It does cost extra, so you’ll have to decide if it’s worth it.

Whenever I visit Disneyland, I get the park hopper option on my ticket. I like having the flexibility of traveling between the two parks. It is a great opportunity to try to ride everything that I want and gives me the option of dining at a different park.

If you want, you can choose to add the park hopper option to your tickets when you purchase them. While this is also an option for Walt Disney World tickets, this post specifically focuses on Disneyland in California.

It’s important to note that Disneyland currently has a set time for when guests are allowed to park hop to the second park. At Disneyland, you’ll make a reservation for your first park (reservations are still required) and then you can park hop starting at 11 am.

You don’t, however, have to park hop at 11 am – you are allowed to at any point after 11 am. In addition, you are also able to return to the first park you started at.

This is a good way to experience shows, attractions, and restaurants at both parks. Because the two parks at Disneyland Resort are across from each other, it’s easy to move from one to the other (unlike at Walt Disney World).

Pixar pier with Incredicoaster at Disney California Adventure, one of the theme parks in Southern California


Planning on using Genie+ with park hopping? You’ll be able to do that.

When you purchase tickets, you’ll have the option of number of days (for a multi-day ticket), for the park hopper option, and for Genie+.

When you start at your first park, you’ll schedule your Genie+ reservations for that park. In the morning, it should be relatively easy to keep those Genie+ times early. However, make sure you aren’t making reservations past the time you want to leave.

Assuming you have a park hopper ticket, you can also make Genie+ reservations for the second park. Those reservations will need to be at or after 11 am when you’ll be able to move to the second park.

Early entry

When you stay at an official Disneyland Resort Hotel, you’ll have access to early entry. Early entry is where resort guests can enter a park 30 minutes in advance of the official opening.

During early entry, there is a limited number of attractions open, but it’s a great way to get a head start on your day. Each day, there is one designated park open for early resort entry.

The three Disneyland Resort Hotels are Disney’s Grand Californian, the Disneyland Hotel, and the newly renovated Pixar Place Hotel.

I find early entry to be a big perk that makes it worth staying at a Disneyland Resort Hotel. It may not be worth it if you don’t want to wake up early – but as an East Coaster who is often up way too early, it’s a great way to start riding attractions right away.

If you aren’t staying at a Disneyland Resort Hotel, it’s still worthwhile to know the schedule. I’d recommend starting in the other park that day (not the one open early). It’s likely to be less crowded in the morning.

Popcorn cart outside of ferris wheel

Consider Meals

I feel that Disneyland offers better quick service options than table service restaurants. But, if you do plan to make reservations for the table service restaurants, you’ll want to plan out your park hopping so you know exactly which park you’ll be in during mealtime.

Currently, at Disneyland Resort (both theme parks), you will also need a valid park reservation for the first park you are visiting for the day. This is the case, even if you have a restaurant reservation in that park.


Carrying a lot of stuff for the day? Lockers are available to rent at both theme parks and right outside the theme parks, in the Esplanade.

Remember that you’ll need to return to the locker at the end of the day to retrieve your stuff. If you don’t need it inside the park, it may be best to rent one at the Esplanade, which will be easier to access when you are done for the day.

Pool at Grand Californian with pool cabanas

Staying Nearby

Planning to leave the park and return later in the day? To maximize your time, it’s best to stay near Disneyland so you can just walk back to your hotel room. Luckily, at Disneyland in California, there are many hotels nearby, in addition to the three Disneyland Resort Hotels. We have several reviews of nearby hotels, including the Courtyard by Marriott, the Howard Johnson, and the Westin.

Tips for Park Hopping

  • Make your theme park reservations for the first theme park of the day
  • Consider your schedule and then make any dining reservations
  • Take advantage of early park entry if you are staying at an onsite hotel, or visit the other park first if you aren’t.
  • Wear comfortable shoes since you’ll be doing a lot of walking
  • Stay at a nearby hotel so you can easily return to your hotel in the middle of the day
  • Remember that Downtown Disney is a great place to grab lunch for a quick, midday break. Or consider the restaurants at the onsite hotels.
Cinderella Castle at Disneyland

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