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How To Get The Best Deal On Disney World Tickets

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Walt Disney World just increased the price of park tickets… again. Every year the cost of a Disney vacation gets higher and higher. Which makes getting the best deals even more important.

How to Save on Walt Disney World Tickets

If you’re headed to Disney World and want to find the best deal on tickets, here’s how to do it.

This post covers A LOT, so feel free to skip ahead. Our best recommendation if to not buy your tickets from Disney, but to use one of the Authorized Disney Ticket Sellers instead.

Walt Disney World Tickets

Walt Disney World has changed their tickets greatly over the years. I’m too young to remember the days of the individual attraction tickets. But as a kid, I remember having a paper ticket with spaces that would be stamped with the date when you entered the park. If you didn’t use all the days, you could save them for your next trip.

Now, Disney World has what they call a dynamic pricing system for tickets. What that means is that the price of your ticket is based on when you are visiting. Guests who plan to visit during peak times like school holidays and spring break can expect to pay more than guests who visit when there is less demand.

Another big change with Disney World tickets is that they are only good for a small window of time. Single day date-based tickets are only good for the date that you select when you purchase it. Multi-day tickets are good for a window of dates that begin with the first date you select at the time of your purchase. For example, a 4-day standard ticket purchased for August 12th can be used for any 4 days between August 12th and August 18th.

The exception to this rule is when your tickets are purchase as part of a vacation package. If your room reservation is longer than ticket expiration window, your tickets will expire on your checkout date instead.

There is a “flexible date” ticket option. But you’ll pay more for those tickets and they will still expire at the end of the calendar year. I honestly can’t think of a scenario where paying the extra money for the flexible date tickets is worth it.

Disney World Ticket Types

Deciding which tickets you need for your family can be somewhat daunting, especially for first-timers or those who haven’t visited in a while. First, we’ll go over the tickets that are available to everyone. These are “base tickets”, “park hoppers”, the new “water park and sports”, and “park hopper plus”.

Each of these tickets can be purchased for a single day or up to 10 days. Adult prices are for ages 10 and up. Kids prices are for ages 3-9. Kids under 3 do not need a ticket to enter any of the theme parks or waterparks as long as they are accompanied by a paying adult.

Walt Disney World Standard or “Base” 1 Park-Per-Day Tickets

A base ticket is the least expensive ticket option for admission to the Walt Disney World Theme Parks. These tickets can be purchased for anywhere from 1 to 10 days and grant you admission to one of the four Disney World theme parks (Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and Disney’s Animal Kingdom) on each day.

  • Do not include admission to Disney’s waterparks.
  • Do not allow you to visit more than one theme park on a single day.
  • Do not include special theme park events before or after hours.

Park Hopper Option

The “Park Hopper” option is an upgrade to base tickets that give you the ability to visit more than one of the Disney World theme parks on the same day. You can add the “Park Hopper” option to your base ticket at the time of purchase, or even after you start using your ticket, as long as it is not expired.

The price of the Park Hopper option is based on the length of the ticket:

  • $65 per ticket for 1-day tickets
  • $75 per ticket for 2 to 3-day tickets
  • $85 per ticket for 4 to 10-day tickets

Water Parks and Sports Option

The Water Parks and Sports option upgrades your standard ticket, allowing you to visit one theme park per day, along with entitlements to visit the following locations:

  • Disney’s Blizzard Beach Water Park
  • Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon Water Park
  • NBA Experience (available for purchases after February 11, 2020)
  • ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex
  • Disney’s Oak Trail Golf Course – FootGolf
  • Disney’s Oak Trail Golf Course 
  • Disney’s Fantasia Gardens Miniature Golf Course
  • Disney’s Winter Summerland Miniature Golf Course

The number of “water parks and sports” entitlements depends on the number of days on your ticket. For example, a 5-day ticket gives you 5 entitlements to use, while a 6-day ticket gives you 6.

The Water Parks and Sports options costs $70 per ticket, no matter the length.

Park Hopper Plus Option

The “Park Hopper Plus” option gives you the ability to visit multiple theme parks on the same day, plus entitlements that can be used at the following locations:

  • Disney’s Blizzard Beach Water Park
  • Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon Water Park
  • NBA Experience (available for purchases after February 11, 2020)
  • ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex
  • Disney’s Oak Trail Golf Course – FootGolf
  • Disney’s Oak Trail Golf Course 
  • Disney’s Fantasia Gardens Miniature Golf Course
  • Disney’s Winter Summerland Miniature Golf Course

The number of “plus” entitlements depends on the number of days on your ticket. For example, a 5-day ticket gives you 5 entitlements to use, while a 6-day ticket gives you 6.

Like the Park Hopper upgrade, the Park Hopper Plus upgrade is priced according to the length of your ticket:

  • $85 per ticket for 1-day tickets
  • $95 per ticket for 2 to 3-day tickets
  • $105 per ticket for 4 to 10-day tickets

Special Event Tickets

Throughout the year, Disney World will hold special events that require you to purchase a separate ticket for admission. These tickets allow you access to a specified theme park on a particular date between certain hours.

During these events, only guests with these special tickets are allowed to be in the park. To remain in the park before or after the special event, a standard ticket is required.

Annual Passes

If you frequent the parks enough, an annual pass might makes sense for you. Disney World annual passes come in a few varieties and are good for 12 months from the date of purchase or redemption.

Only the Platinum and Platinum Plus Passes are available to all guests. You need to be a DVC Member for the Gold Pass option, or Florida Resident for all other pass options.

  • Premiere Passport – All theme parks at BOTH Disneyland and Walt Disney World Resort
  • Platinum Pass – All 4 theme parks
  • Platinum Pass Plus – All 4 theme parks + water parks
  • Gold Pass (Florida Resident and DVC Members) – All 4 theme parks with blackout dates during Christmas and Spring Break
  • Silver Pass (Florida Residents) – All 4 theme parks with blackout dates for Christmas season, Spring Break, and Summer
  • Theme Park Select Pass (Florida Residents) – All 4 theme parks with blackout dates of the Silver Pass, plus additional dates that vary by park.
  • Weekday Select Pass (Florida Residents) – All 4 theme parks monday through Friday only, with blackout dates for Christmas, Spring Break, and Summer.
  • After 4 Epcot Pass (Florida Residents) – Access to Epcot only after 4pm
  • After 2 Water Park Pass (Florida Residents) – Access to both waterparks after 2pm.

As Disney Vacation Club members, it has made sense for us on a few occasions to purchase the Gold Annual Pass.

Disney World Ticket Discounts

Of the four major expenses of your Disney World vacation (Travel, Lodging, Food, and Tickets), tickets is probably the hardest area to save money on.

Keeping your costs in check starts by purchasing the right ticket for you family. You might not want to splurge on the Park Hopper option if you are not going to use it. You may also want to limit the number of days on your tickets to save money and give you some downtime.

But once you decide on the length and type of ticket to buy, there is still the question of getting the best deal on that particular ticket. The discounts may not be mind-blowing, but every little bit adds up. So let’s explore the Disney World ticket discounts that are out there.

Direct from Disney Discounts

Disney World typically offers discounts on tickets to Florida Residents and members of the Military and their families. So if either of those apply to you, this is probably your best discount option.

You might think that there would be a discount for purchasing a vacation package from Disney that includes tickets along with a resort stay. That is not the case. The only benefit is that your ticket’s expiration date could be longer.

The only other time it probably makes sense to buy your tickets directly from Disney is when they are offering their popular “free dining” promotion. Qualifying for that offer usually requires a package that includes a resort stay + park tickets. The savings on food *could* be more than what you might save on tickets and hotel otherwise. It usually depends on your family size and length of stay.

Outside of these situations, you never want to purchase your park tickets directly from Disney. Even their ticket-only promotions and special event tickets are available at a lesser price from authorized ticket sellers. And if you do have to buy directly from Disney, don’t do it at the gate. Buying online is cheaper than the ticket windows.

Authorized Disney Ticket Sellers

In our experience, the most consistent way to get the best discounted price on Walt Disney World tickets is by purchasing them through an authorized ticket seller. Even when Disney World offers a special deal like its Four-Park Magic tickets, that same deal will be discounted through Authorized Sellers.

Here is a list of reputable authorized ticket sellers with authentic Walt Disney World base tickets, park hoppers, and special event tickets for sale:

Prices may vary between these sites, so it’s best to shop around. Touring Plans has a ticket price calculator tool that does some of the leg-work for you. (Though there was one instance I used the tool where the information wasn’t up-to-date, so it doesn’t hurt to do the leg-work yourself!)

Remember: used Disney tickets cannot be transferred, so never buy used tickets or tickets being sold as new that you can’t verify, like from Craigslist or Ebay.

Membership Discounts:

There are some other opportunities you may be able to explore based on whether you work for a participating company or have a membership.

  • Media Passes
  • Corporate Sponsors/Subsidiaries of Disney
  • AAA
  • Costco
  • Tickets at Work
  • Working Advantage
  • UCF Students/Faculty

Media Passes

Members of the media may apply for free 1-day park hoppers. This is at the discretion of Disney. As members of the media who write about Disney World, we have been able to get these complimentary passes on occasion, but not always.

Employees of Corporate Sponsors and Disney Companies

If you work for the Mouse, or a company that has a sponsorship deal with Disney for one its attractions or the parks in general, that may get you a free ticket to get into the parks.

I have friends who work for ABC who are able to get a limited number of tickets. I have hear rumors that employees of attraction sponsors have been able to do so, as well.

AAA/Costco

I’m lumping AAA and Costco together because both places require you to buy a membership and both at times are known to sell discounted tickets or even annual passes. It’s worth taking a look and comparing the cost to the authorized Disney ticket sellers.

Tickets at Work/Working Advantage

Your employer may participate in a program like Tickets at Work or Working Advantage which gives discounts on entertainment, including various theme parks.

University of Central Florida

Students and Faculty/Staff at the University of Central Florida can purchase discounted one-day tickets on campus at the SGA ticket office.

“Free” Tickets

As the saying goes, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. So when you see an offer for “free” Disney tickets, it pays to be skeptical. You don’t want to get scammed.

While there are many scams out there, you may find a few legitimate offers for “free” tickets from timeshare companies or other businesses that will expect you to sit through a presentation and hard sell on their offerings before you get them.

Whether that is worth it is for you to decide.

Annual Pass Discount

AS we mentioned earlier, frequent guests of Walt Disney World theme parks might want to consider an annual pass. This can be quite more affordable than purchasing multi-day tickets for more than one visit.

A Platinum Pass currently costs $1272.68. If you visit Disney World during peak times like holidays and school breaks, then your Annual Pass pays for itself in about 13/14 visits without park hopping. (And probably around 11 days compared to the park hopper option).

Getting a discount on an Annual Pass makes it even more attractive. So DVC members and Florida Residents are more likely to take advantage. But you might also score a discount on an annual pass through AAA. (about $100 off the Platinum and Platinum Plus pass at last check).

Bridging Discounted Tickets to Annual Passes

Another way to save money on your Annual Pass is to purchase a discounted multi-day ticket through an authorized ticket seller and then “bridge” your ticket to an Annual Pass. By doing this, you are applying the discount you got on your multi-day ticket to your annual pass.

This is also a way you can get potentially get around the block-out dates on an annual pass. If the first visit would have been during a block-out period, then you visit then with a multi-day ticket, and upgrade on your last day right before the ticket expires. (This won’t work if the block-out dates are on subsequent visits)

Every Little Bit Counts

While you probably won’t save a ton of money on your park tickets, any money you save is money you can spend on something else. And when you factor in ways you can save on the other major expenses of your Disney World vacation such as Transportation, Lodging, and Food, the savings can add up to a nice chunk of change.

Do you know of any discounts that we missed? Let us know how you save on your Disney World tickets by leaving a comment!

how to save on disney world tickets
how to get the best deal on tickets for Walt Disney World

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