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In the secret Cow level of Diablo 2, if you don't kill the Cow King, you can go back as many times as you want by creating the portal in a new game of that difficulty.

Can you access/farm the secret level in Diablo 3 more than once per difficulty?

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According to the wiki at IGN, you can run the secret area as many times as you like. This has been confirmed several times since, including this video. Once you have a Staff of Herding for a difficulty, you can enter the secret area as many times as you want.

You can use the staff from a higher difficulty to open the secret level in a lower difficulty so you can feel free to create the Hellish or Infernal Staff of Herding when you're able.

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So as long as you have the staff for the difficulty, all you need to do is go back to the ghost of the Cow King to get back in? Do you get to kill everything again if you start a new game? –  Krazer May 17 '12 at 18:50
    
So there is a different staff per difficulty? Or once you make the one staff your good to go forever? –  stay May 17 '12 at 21:39
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@stay It looks like there's one staff per difficulty level. –  Krazer May 17 '12 at 23:38
    
@stay There is the Staff of Herding, the Hellish Staff of Herding and the Infernal Staff of Herding. Each uses the prior staff in its creation, according to everything I've read thus far. –  Tharius May 18 '12 at 0:28

I have accessed Whimsyshire twice with two different characters. It seems all you have to do is put the Staff back in your chest and equip it, find the cow's ghosts and you're good to go. All you need is to upgrade depending the difficulty level. For instance, I have the Nightmare one. Not disappearing anymore.

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Doesn't need equipping, just needs to be in your inventory. –  kalina Jul 18 '12 at 16:26

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