California is an incredible place to visit. There are Stunning Landscapes, Sprawling Cities, and more landmarks and tourist hotspots than anywhere on earth. It is also home to a Huge array of Themeparks and world-class attractions that draw visitors from all over the world. Any Trip to this incredible state should include trips to some of the best Themeparks, Zoos, and Attractions the state has to offer. The problem with this is costs can easily rack up making visiting too many simply prohibitive.
Mot people ration their attraction visits to meet their budget missing out on things they want to see and do to keep within a budget. But there is another way. Attraction passes allow you to visit a number of top attractions all for one set price. Meaning you can do more for the same money. The Go California Explorer Pass is one such pass and can save you money on some of California’s top attractions. But how does the pass stack up against the competition and is The Go California Explorer Pass Worth Buying? Find out in our Go California Explorer Pass Review.
- Product: Go California Explorer Pass
- Price: $219 – $334
- Price Child: $204 – $299 (Child 3-12yrs)
- Where to Buy: GoCity.com – Direct
- Number Of Attractions: 12+ Top Attractions
- Time Limit: 30 Days
- Rating: 3.6/5
Premium – Choose between:
- UNIVERSAL STUDIOS HOLLYWOOD – $124
- LEGOLAND California 2-Day – $155
Regular – Choose Any
- Warner Bros Studio Tour – $72
- SeaWorld San Diego – Multi-Day – $91.99
- San Diego Zoo – $56
- San Diego Zoo Safari Park – $56
- Six Flags Magic Mountain – $92.99
- Knott’s Berry Farm – $84
- Six Flags Discovery Kingdom – $75
- California Acadamy Of Sciences – $39.95
- Knott’s Berry Soak City Water Park – $53
- Hop On Hop Off LA Bus Tour – $50
- Belmont Park All Access Combo Pass – $56
- California’s Great America – $59.99
What is the Go California Explorer Pass
The Go California Pass is an attraction pass that unlike most attractions Passes, which focus on a City, it covers attractions spread across the entire state of California. It is also far more restricted than most passes and only covers a few of the Top high-cost attractions.
Coming with a fairly hefty price tag itself it is geared towards the Traveler who is looking at long road trips across the USA taking in a few of the absolute best attractions on the way.
The Pass is a Per Attraction pass, meaning you get a set number of attractions for a fixed price and can visit those in at your leisure over a 30 day period from first use.
Go California Explorer Pass in Practice
The Pass is a digital Pass, meaning there is no physical pass. After purchase, the pass is emailed to you where you can either print it off or use it directly from your phone. Once synced with the Go City App the pass is on your phone and requires no Data to use.
To use the pass you simply pull up the QR code and scan it at your desired attraction. Most of the attractions are straight to the gate, so there is no need to visit the ticket booths at the attraction, you simply head straight in. There are some exceptions to that so read the instructions before queueing!
You do not need to choose your attractions ahead of time you simply scan the Pass and that counts as your choice, this helps keep things flexible as you can visit attractions anytime within 30 days of first use.
Really this pass system works very well out in the field and we have encountered no significant issues using the pass ver conventional pre-bought tickets or buying at the gate.
How Much Does the Go California Explorer Pass Cost?
This is a High-End Pass and includes some really high-value attractions. So while the headline figure is very expensive you are saving considerable sums as we explore later. The key figure here is the Per Attraction Price.
- 3 Attraction Pass – Adult – $219 ($73 per Attraction) Child – $204
- 4 Attraction Pass – Adult – $284 ($71 per Attraction) Child – $259
- 5 Attraction Pass – Adult – $334 ($66.8 per Attraction) Child – $299
Is the Go California Explorer Pass right for me?
The pass suits people who are planning on hitting some of the big theme parks and covering a fair portion of the state. While there is enough for those stating solely in L.A the pass works better if you take in San Diego in San Francisco as well.
The type of trip this pass suits is fairly limited. We find most people like the mix of big-ticket attractions and smaller local attractions that most passes offer. With the Go California Pass, you are just getting the big-ticket items. The Focus on Big theme parks can mean this is of limited use to families with younger children.
The attraction list is very limited with the Go California Explorer Pass. While it’s Limited that is because it only includes the big hitters. Universal Studios, LEGOLAND, Six Flags Magic Mountain, SeaWorld and more. There is very little filler on this pass as is common with most passes.
Premium Attractions – Choose one
With the Go California Pass, you get a choice of two Premium Attractions. These count as one of your attractions but you can only pick one of these whereas with all the other attractions you can pick any.
UNIVERSAL STUDIOS HOLLYWOOD – $124 – Los Angeles
Universal Studios is one of California’s premier attractions and very high up on most people’s wish lists. We love the Studios. The combination of thrilling and fun rides combined with the Incredible Studio Tours means this is a really high-end and unique theme park. If you are visiting Hollywood you really should visit HOLLYWOOD and the Studio’s tour gives you exactly that
If you want to know more about the Studio’s check out our full Guide.
LEGOLAND California 2-Day – $155 – Nr San Diego
Legoland is right at the top of many kids must visit’s. As adults, the draw of Legoland has diminished somewhat but back when Lego was my life the desire to visit and entire land filled with the biggest and best Lego creations drove me to distraction. If your kids are big builders this can literally be a dream come true.
The Highest value attraction on the pass the 2-day you are getting real value if you choose Legoland as your premium. However, as we will explore later, both the Go Los Angeles Pass and the Go San Diego Pass also both include Legoland, for a much-reduced price. Yes, it is only a one-day pass, but Legoland need not take 2 full days.
That said this is a two-day resort pass, so you get the park, the water park, and the Sealife Aquarium! If you are planning on staying up near Legoland to get full use of the parks this can be a great value option. The only negative is you lose the incredible universal studios!
Regular – Choose Any
After picking between the two premium attractions you can then chose as many regular attractions as you have left on the pass. Of Course, you do NOT have to choose a premium, but it makes less sense financially if not.
Our Recommended –
Not all The Regular attractions are equal. Some are really big hitters and high-value ticket items. Others are still great attractions but the price of these attractions is below the “per attraction” price of the pass. While you can include one of these and still get good value from the pass any more and it stops making financial sense. First off we take a look at the attractions we really recommend choosing these will mean you really make the most of the pass.
Warner Bros Studio Tour – $72 – Los Angeles
While universal Studios is a full one theme park with a Studio tour thrown in, the Warner Bros Studio Tour is a full-on studio tour. Your tour takes you around the world-famous Studios taking in loads of really famous sets and locations. It is a working set so there is a good chance you will see actual filming taking place and the chance to see real Movie/TV Stars.
It is a really great tour and well worth checking out if one of your reasons for visiting L.A is the Movies! Check out our recent trip there.
SeaWorld San Diego – Multi-Day – $91.99 – San Diego
This can be a contentious choice as some people are moving away from the idea that Whales and Dolphins should be kept in captivity. However, the Park is moving away from that model and there is a lot to see and do at the park. We really enjoyed our latest visit and urge you to make your own moral decision.
The Park certainly offers great value from the pass and it is one of San Diego’s iconic attractions. Read our full guide to SeaWorld San Diego here.
Six Flags Magic Mountain – $92.99 – Nr Los Angeles
Six Flags are the market leader in Big Thrill Theme Parks and Magic Mountain is the biggest and baddest theme park on the west coast. The Park has more roller coasters than any other park in the world and is constantly at the forefront of ride tech. While the Park does have family areas and rides for children this is primarily a thrill-junkies park. Themeing and immersion take a back seat here to out and out thrill.
Knott’s Berry Farm – $84 – Nr Los Angeles
Another world-class theme park, packed with big roller coasters and thrill rides. The Park is better themed and more family-friendly than Six Flags and this shows in the fact it receives more visitors a year despite being a little more low key than Magic Mountain.
Six Flags Discovery Kingdom – $75 – Nr San Francisco
Another Six Flags park this time in northern California. The Park has plenty of big rides and while being slightly behind Magic Mountain and Knotts berry it has a lot more going on besides just rides. Think of it as a cross between a Six Flags park and Sea World. It is a bit of an Outlier in terms of location making it a great choice for Road Trips.
We really love the park and if it fits your itinerary it is well worth visiting.
San Diego Zoo – $56 – San Diego
This is at the lower end of the attraction price point and only just works out at a saving. But the attraction is just SO good we have to include it on our recommended list. San Diego zoo is one of the best zoos anywhere in the world and an absolute must-visit if you are in the San Diego Area.
Only include this if you are buying the 5-day pass. The upgrade cost from 4 to 5 attractions is $50 making this just worth adding to the pass.
Our Less Recommended –
Let’s be clear, we only less recommend these due to the price point. These are all excellent attractions and well worth a visit but using the pass for these becomes less and less good value. In fact, any 5 of these added together cost significantly less than the purchase price. This Pass ONLY works if you choose the higher valued attractions.
That said you should not choose your attractions based on cost but on what you want to do. If any of the below attractions interests you then that is more important than how much they cost, so you should definitely visit them. Just DON’T use the pass. Either pay the entry fee separately or consider one of the other passes available that cover these…more on those next.
San Diego Zoo Safari Park – $56 – San Diego
While we love the San Diego Zoo Safari Park we would always pick the zoo first. if you pick both the pass stops making sense. If you really want to do both, take a look at the Go San Diego Pass.
California Acadamy Of Sciences – $39.95 – San Francisco
We love the Academy of Sciences, and wholly recommend everyone checks it out but at only $39.99 it does not make a good choice for this pass. Try any of the San Francisco Passes or just pay at the gate.
Knott’s Berry Soak City Water Park – $53 – Nr Los Angeles
Again a fun and worthwhile attraction but the value is just not there.
Hop On Hop Off LA Bus Tour – $50 – Los Angeles
We like Hop On Hop Off Tours, even though they get some stick, however, the headline price is always too high. That is why we love seeing them on passes as the value is pretty irrelevant, Not here, the value is not enough to warrant you using it even at headline price, and it is worth less than that as well.
Belmont Park All Access Combo Pass – $56 – San Diego
Like the Bus Tour, this is another attraction we don’t think it warrants its $56 price tag. There are not enough rides and attractions at the park to really justify the $56. On the Go San Diego Pass, it’s fine as it’s all-inclusive but you would be wasting an attraction off this pass.
California’s Great America – $59.99 Nr San Francisco
If you are in the San Sanfrisco area and looking for a brilliant theme park, then we would choose Six Flags Discovery Kingdom over California’s Great America all day long. Couple this with the fact there are just better parks down south. and finally if you are not heading south you would probably do better with another San Francisco Pass.
So once again out less recommended attractions are only less recommended when using THIS pass. This is an expensive pass and to get the best from it you have to be visiting the more expensive attractions.
Is the Go California Explorer Pass Worth it?
Let’s take a look at some sample Itinarys and see how the Pass works out and also see if it stands up to the competition.
5 Attractions $349
- $124 – Universal Studios Hollywood
- $92 – Sea World San Diego Multi-Day Pass
- $56 – San Diego Zoo
- $92 – Six Flags Magic Mountain
- $72 – Warner Bros Studio Tour
- Gate Price – $436
- Pass Price – $334
- Saving – $105 – 24%
As you can see the pass offers a fairly substantial saving of over $100 per person. While this is a good chunk of cash the percentage saving is fairly low, meaning there is room for a more competitive product to save you even more.
Go Los Angeles Card + Buy Sea World Seperatly!
- Gate Price – $436
- 3 Day Pass – $238 + Sea World $73.99 = $311.99
- Saving $124 – 28%
A Much bigger saving! However, You would need to cram Warner Bros and Universal into the same day, which is definitely doable. Or if Seaworld is not on your list the 5-Day Go L.A. Pass is only $307 and covers “most” of the attractions the Go California Pass offers, and a whole lot more besides!
Really for most cases, we find a combination of Go San Diego, the Go Los Angeles, and the Go San Francisco pass offers better value and cheaper experience and are the passes we would turn to. The Go California pass just doesn’t seem to hit quite the high notes the other passes manage!
The Go California Pass has the advantage of being an Explorer-style pass meaning you can spread the attractions out and give each attraction your FULL attention and not be tempted into rushing attractions, which can be the case on the All-Inclusive Passes.
Overall the key is to match the pass to the attractions you most want to do. We prefer the Go Los Angeles pass as it suits our style of traveling much better. We like packing in busy days where we see and do a lot, often trying things we wouldn’t have done usually. The Go California Pass misses that out, just giving you the headline attractions. If that is what you want and you plan on hitting the beach or the shops on other days the Go Californing Pass might be right up your street.
Have Your Say
Have you tried a Go California Explorer Pass? How did you find it? Did it work out as good value or was it overpriced? Which attractions did you visit? Could you have saved more by choosing other attractions? What type of trip were you on? Whatever you have to say about the pass just fire away in the comments below. We love hearing from you, and if you have any questions at all just fire away.