Southern California CityPASS Review 2023: Is It Worth It?
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In this Southern California CityPASS review, we explain how the pass works, explore what is included, and help you decide if it’s a good fit for your travel plans. Enjoy!
Got plans to visit Southern California? Along with tons of fun in the sun, SoCal is home to some of the best family-friendly theme parks in the world. (Disneyland, anyone?)
What might be disappointing, though, is how hard this trip is going to hit your wallet. Unfortunately, all those world-famous attractions command a pretty penny, especially if you pay full price at the gate!
Luckily, the Southern California CityPASS can help you save money on some of the area’s biggest and best attractions!
Still, as with any sightseeing pass, the SoCal CityPASS isn’t a good fit for every traveler. So, let’s take a look at what the pass offers and decide whether it would be a good deal for you!
Southern California CityPASS Review: How it Works
If you have used a sightseeing pass before, it’s important to know that the the Southern California CityPASS doesn’t work like most other passes. In fact, it isn’t really a pass at all. The SoCal CityPASS functions more like the Orlando CityPASS in that it resells tickets to area attractions at a discount.
Here’s the good news, though: You can still save money at five of SoCal’s largest family-friendly theme parks. You’ll still save over the prices you would have paid at the gate, which could make it a good deal for your family.
Simply use the “pass” to purchase tickets for the attractions you’d like to visit. You can choose from five different attractions, select the type of tickets you want, and you’ll save money doing it.
Top Attractions on the Southern California CityPASS
With the Southern California CityPASS, you can purchase individual tickets to the following family-friendly theme parks at a discount:
- Disneyland Resort
- Universal Studios Hollywood
- SeaWorld San Diego
- LEGOLAND California Resort
- San Diego Zoo and Safari Park
*Current as of March 23, 2022
How Much Does the Southern California CityPASS Cost?
If you’ve been researching prices, you already know that theme park hopping in SoCal isn’t cheap. But exactly how much does the Southern California CityPASS cost? And how much will it save you?
Unfortunately, that totally depends.
Because of the way the SoCal CityPASS is set up, the amount you save depends on which attractions you choose. It also depends on the type of ticket you select, how many days you want entry to the park, and more. So, the amount you’ll save varies wildly depending on what you choose.
After running a few scenarios with the SoCal CityPASS, here’s what we can tell you: You can save about $21 per adult on a 3-Day Park Hopper Ticket to Disneyland and about $25 per adult for a single day ticket to Sea World. Now, that’s clearly nothing to shake a stick at, but it doesn’t provide nearly as much value as some more traditional sightseeing passes in other areas.
Save Money in SoCal – Save money at five of the most popular parks in SoCal with the Southern California CityPASS. See how much you can save here.
Southern California CityPASS: Top Attractions
Let’s take a closer look at the attractions included on the Southern California CityPASS to help you decide if it’s a good buy for you.
I don’t want to generalize, but if you’re visiting SoCal with kids, Disneyland is probably a given. Dubbed “the happiest place on earth,” Disneyland can entertain the whole family for days.
With the Southern California CityPASS, you get discounted admission on variety of 2, 3, 4, and 5-day tickets. You also get access to both Disneyland Park and/or Disney California Adventure. These are actually two separate, unique parks with their own “lands” and themes. Don’t worry though, they are basically across the street from each other. So, if you’re staying nearby, you’ll be close to both.
Disneyland Park is the larger of the two and is the original theme park. It’s home to Disney Classics like the Sleeping Beauty Castle, Space Mountain, and It’s a Small World.
Disney California Adventure is a newer addition and features seven of its own lands, including the popular Cars Land. They’re both family-friendly, although Disney California Adventure has a higher proportion of rides designed for thrill seekers. They also serve alcohol, which Disneyland doesn’t.
With the multi-day tickets, you can spend two to five days going back and forth between the two Disney parks however you choose. When purchasing your tickets, you have the option of getting either Park Hopper or one park per day passes. You can also select the Genie+ option, allowing you to save time in line by reserving “arrival windows” to the Lightning Lane of select attractions.
Finally, when you purchase your Disneyland tickets through the Southern California CityPASS, you get to skip the ticket line at the entrance of the park. If you’ve been to Disney before, you know that’s a huge perk, because those lines are usually long.
SeaWorld San Diego
Based on the name alone, you might assume SeaWorld is an aquatic animal exhibit. That’s part of it for sure, but it’s also a full-size theme park complete with rides, shows, and yes, marine animals.
You’ll see killer whales, interact with dolphins, and marvel at sharks, sea lions, and more. But you’ll also get to enjoy sixteen custom rides. Check out family-friendly offerings like Abby’s Sea Star Spin and thrill seeker treats like the new Emperor dive coaster (if you’re brave enough). Your family can spend a whole day enjoying all SeaWorld San Diego has to offer.
LEGOLAND California features more than 60 Lego-themed rides, attractions, and shows that will be sure to keep your kiddos engaged all day long. Kids or adults (no judgement) who are into Legos may also want to bring along a minifigure. There are trading stations around the park where you can trade in your minifigure for a new one. Pretty cool.
Note that LEGOLAND targets kids aged 2-12, so there aren’t a lot of thrill rides. That doesn’t mean adults won’t enjoy the rides and shows, though. Even if you aren’t into Legos, the exhibits are pretty impressive. There are a ton of delicious food options, too (Granny’s Apple Fries come highly recommended). So, grab some snacks and enjoy watching your kids have a blast. You’ll probably find yourself having fun, too.
Universal Studios Hollywood
The Southern California CityPASS also offers tickets to Universal Studios Hollywood. Universal’s world famous “Studio Tour” is a blast for all ages. The tour allows visiotrs to go behind the scenes and explore a real Hollywood film set. Of course, the park also boasts movie-themed rides from your favorite flicks – including franchises like Jurassic Park, Harry Potter, Fast & Furious, and more.
San Diego Zoo and Safari Park
Animal lovers will enjoy either of the San Diego Zoo options. At the world-famous San Diego Zoo, visitors can get up close and personal with more than 3,700 rare and endangered animals. Stroll past the tigers, kangaroos, and polar bears, or get a bird’s eye view of the zoo from the Skyfari Aerial Tram.
The Safari Park is an 1,800 acre reserve where animals are allowed to roam free. Enjoy the lounging elephants, antelope, giraffes as you make your way through the habitat by truck, tram, electric cart, or zipline. It’s like a choose your own adventure!
Other Benefits of the Southern California CityPASS
- Savings – Although you may not get as much savings as a traditional pass, the Southern California CityPASS can still save you money compared to prices at the gate!
- Choose your own attractions – One of the best things about this “pass” is that you aren’t paying for things you don’t want. The SoCal CityPASS allows you to choose only the attractions you plan to visit.
- Fast track entry – Theme parks are awesome, but the lines aren’t. The Southern California CityPASS is your ticket into the included parks, so you can skip lining up to purchase tickets. That means more time to enjoy your day.
Save Money on SoCal’s Top Theme Parks – Save at the best theme parks in Southern California with the Southern California CityPASS! Get started here.
Where the Southern California CityPASS Falls Short
I have to be brutally honest here: I’m not a big fan of the Southern California CityPASS.
The SoCal CityPASS used to be an all-inclusive style pass, and – frankly – it was one of the best passes available anywhere. The newer format lacks the convenience of having all of your tickets on one pass and also significantly decreases the amount of savings available.
I very much prefer the all-inclusive style found on other CityPASS products like the Seattle CityPASS and Chicago CityPASS.
Additionally, the pass does not offer a lot of things to do in L.A. In fact, the pass features attractions that are all located considerably south of Los Angeles – mostly in Orange and San Diego counties. So, if you’re looking for a pass with more options in L.A., the Go Los Angeles Pass may be a better fit. (Read our full Go Los Angeles Pass review here.)
With all of that said, I’m all about saving money. So, if you are headed to Southern California and are a theme park junkie, the SoCal CityPASS does save you a few bucks.
Who Should Get the Southern California CityPASS
Families – The tickets offered by the SoCal CityPASS are all to very family-friendly attractions. All the included theme parks are geared towards families. LEGOLAND is especially kid-centric. That being said, adults typically love Disney and SeaWorld, too.
Theme park junkies – The Southern California CityPASS offers discount tickets to area theme parks. So, if you’re looking to spend four or five days on the theme park circuit, you can probably find some cheap tickets here.
Disney fans – If you love Disney, this is good option because it includes access to both Disney parks at a discount. If you’ve never been to Disney, let me tell you, you can easily spend three days there. If you’ve been there before and loved it, you know how long you need and can decide accordingly.
Visitors to San Diego – If you plan on making San Diego your main hub during your trip, the SoCal CityPASS is a nice fit. Most of the attractions are located in either San Diego County or Orange County.
Who Should Skip the Southern California CityPASS
People who don’t like theme parks – That’s basically all this pass offers, so if theme parks aren’t your jam, the Southern California CityPASS isn’t for you.
Travelers who want an all-inclusive pass – The format of this “pass” means it really isn’t a pass at all. Effectively, you’re just buying discount tickets through a ticket reseller. So, if you’re looking for something a bit more all inclusive, check out our suggestion below.
Visitors focusing on Los Angeles – The pass bills itself as a “Southern California” pass, but – if most of your trip will be spent in L.A. – this probably isn’t the pass for you. Most of the SoCal CityPASS attractions are located exclusively in Orange County and San Diego County. If you’re looking for a sightseeing card with more options for L.A., check out the Go Los Angeles Card instead.
How to Buy the Southern California CityPASS
Buying tickets through the Southern California CityPASS is a breeze – grab them online here. You’ll get an email immediately and can download and print your e-tickets from home.
Is the Southern California CityPASS Worth It?
So, is the Southern California CityPASS a good deal? Well, that depends on what you’re looking for.
Unfortunately, this pass is no longer really a pass at all. If you’re looking for a true all-inclusive pass, you’ll have to look elsewhere.
On the other hand, if you simply want to choose which attractions you visit and buy tickets at a discounted price, using the Southern California CityPASS website may be a good option for you. With this format, you’re not paying for attractions you won’t use, but you can still save money.
Ultimately, the attractions offered through the site appeal most to families with kids who are game to spend several days enjoying the SoCal theme park scene. If that describes you, then you may be able to find a good deal. If you’re not gung-ho for theme parks, don’t bother checking it out.
Thanks so much for reading and enjoy your trip to Southern California! Until next time, happy traveling!
Visit SoCal’s Top Theme Parks for Less – Save money on the best attractions in SoCal! Get started with the Southern California CityPASS here.
Southern California CityPASS Review
Pass Options & Lengths
Fast Track Entry
Southern California CityPASS Review Summary
The Southern California CityPASS isn’t much of a pass but rather a ticket reseller, which is a disappointment. Although you’ll still save with the “pass,” the amount you’ll save is far less than what you may get from more traditional sightseeing passes.
Additionally, the pass does not offer a lot of things to do in L.A. In fact, the pass features attractions that are all located considerably south of Los Angeles – mostly in Orange and San Diego counties.
On the other hand, if you simply want to choose which attractions to visit and buy tickets at a discounted price, then using the Southern California CityPASS website may be a good option for you. You aren’t paying for attractions you won’t use, but you can still save money.
Ultimately, the attractions offered through the site appeal most to families with kids who are going to spend several days enjoying the SoCal theme park scene. If that describes you, then you may be able to find a good deal. If you’re not gung-ho for theme parks, don’t bother checking it out.
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hi. Such a good review, we are thinking of buying the SoCal City pass. We understand this gets us through the entrance ticket line faster. I want to know it can be used any day? so… can it be used in crowed days?
can does tickets be added to the disney app?
And if I want to purchase the MaxFastPass. Is this an option?