If you're planning a trip to Walt Disney World, it's likely that a big chunk of your budget has been earmarked for buying admission tickets for the resort’s four theme parks and two water parks. Although Disney doesn’t generally offer huge discounts on tickets and passes, there are still savings to be made if you plan in advance. Even shaving a few percent off the total cost can free up a significant amount of cash – so we’ve gathered together our top 9 tips for saving money on Walt Disney World tickets below.
1. Understand the options and only pay for what you need
Taking the time to understand the full array of ticket options offered by Walt Disney World can help ensure that you don't end up paying for expensive extras that you don't need. The resort introduced the Magic Your Way scheme in 2005, replacing all of its previous ticket options (with the exception of some tickets for overseas visitors, which we'll explain below). Here are the basics of the scheme:
- First, you'll have to select a Magic Your Way Base Ticket. This provides entry to one of the resort's four theme parks (the Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disney’s Hollywood Studios or Disney’s Animal Kingdom) each day, for between 1 and 10 days.
- You can then choose between a range of optional extras, with varying costs. Be careful to select only those which you really need.
- The Park Hopper option is essential if you plan to visit multiple parks on the same day (for instance, starting at the Magic Kingdom in the morning and heading to Epcot in the afternoon). This option is available at a flat-rate of $37.28 (including tax) for one day, or $58.58 for 2 days or more. Therefore, it presents much better value for longer stays – costing just $5.86 per day for a 10-Day visit, compared to $29.29 per day for a 2-day trip.
- The Water Park Fun & More option provides a limited number of admissions to any combination of the Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach water parks, the DisneyQuest indoor theme park, Disney’s Wide World of Sports and Disney’s Oak Trail Golf Course. Like Park Hopper, it is priced at a flat rate of $58.58 including tax. However, the total number of admissions to any of the attractions included varies according to the duration of your Base Ticket (ranging from 2 admissions with 1-day and 2-day tickets, up to 10 admissions with a 10-day ticket). As with Park Hopper, there is an incentive to buy longer tickets as you will receive more admissions for the same amount of money.
- Magic Your Way tickets expire 14 days after their first use. However, if you are planning on returning to Walt Disney World in the near future you can choose to pay extra for the No Expiration option. We don’t advise this unless you are absolutely certain you will return – it can be pricey, with the cost ranging from $26.33 (including tax) for a 2-day ticket up to $239.63 (with tax) for a 10-day ticket.
- You can select any combination of the above options, or just buy a plain Base Ticket. If you’re not sure in advance of exactly what you’ll need, bear in mind that you can add any of the options to a Base Ticket within 14 days of its first use.
UK and European visitors: Walt Disney World sells an additional range of tickets which are only available in advance for visitors from the UK and Europe. These are:
- 5-Day Premium Ticket - Allows unlimited admission to all four of Walt Disney World's theme parks, including the ability to visit more than one theme park on the same day. The ticket also provides 5 admissions to any combination of Disney's water parks (Typhoon Lagoon or Blizzard Beach), DisneyQuest or Disney's Wide World of Sports.
- 7-Day Premium Ticket - Allows unlimited admission to all four of Walt Disney World's theme parks, including the ability to visit more than one theme park on the same day. The ticket also provides 7 admissions to any combination of Disney's water parks (Typhoon Lagoon or Blizzard Beach), DisneyQuest or Disney's Wide World of Sports.
- 14-Day and 21-Day Ultimate Tickets - Allow unlimited admission to all four of Walt Disney World’s theme parks, including the ability to visit more than one theme park on the same day. The ticket also provides unlimited admissions to Typhoon Lagoon, Blizzard Beach, DisneyQuest and Disney's Wide World of Sports.
Note that it is possible for international visitors to buy Magic Your Way tickets, and in some cases (particularly for short visits) these can be cheaper than the special overseas options. However, many vendors (including Disney’s US website) will not deliver tickets to the UK and Europe. Instead, you’ll have to pick them up in Orlando. Check the vendor’s location and terms and conditions carefully before buying. Sometimes the convenience of having the tickets shipped to you may be worth paying a few pounds extra for.
2. Compare prices and buy your tickets online, in advance
Although Disney does not offer deep discounts on admission tickets, there are savings to be made by buying online, in advance. A number of authorized resellers offer tickets at rates that are lower than gate prices. These include the official Walt Disney World website, Undercover Tourist, Maple Leaf Tickets and the Official Ticket Center. Be sure to check these before making a purchase.
3. Consider an Annual Pass
Annual passes for Walt Disney World are not cheap, with a basic Annual Pass for the resort's theme parks currently costing $552.74 for adults and $509.07 for children (including tax). However, if you are planning an extended visit (of around 3 weeks or longer), or if you are planning on visiting more than once in a year, an Annual Pass can be the cheapest option. Annual Passes also offer a number of other benefits, including regular discounts on hotel rooms, dining and entertainment – so it's worth considering buying one for a single member of your party even for shorter stays.
4. Local resident? Take advantage of special rates
Florida residents are eligible for a range of permanent and one-off discounts at Walt Disney World. These include a 10% discount on 1-day Base Tickets, plus discounts on 5, 6 and 7-day tickets. In addition, Park Hopper and Water Park Fun & More options can be added at half-price ($29.29 including tax). Disney also frequently offers 3 and 4-day "Play Passes" which offer discounted admission to the parks, while AAA's Auto Club South offers even deeper discounts on some tickets for Florida residents. Check Walt Disney World’s Florida Residents page for the latest deals.
5. Check for military and employer discounts
Walt Disney World offers a number of generous deals to active and retired members of the US military, including their own dedicated resort (Shades of Green). Its ticket discounts vary season-by-season – check Walt Disney World's Military Sales page for the latest deals.
Members of a number of other occupations are also eligible for regular or seasonal discounts. These include some Civil Service employees, students at the University of Central Florida and organized Youth Groups.
Some major employers also offer corporate discounts on Walt Disney World tickets. Sponsors of attractions (such as General Motors and Siemens) and other major partners (such as Coca Cola) may sometimes offer cut-price tickets – check with your employer before booking elsewhere.
6. DON'T buy partially used passes
One potential way to waste a pile of money on Walt Disney World tickets is to buy partially used passes online (through Ebay, for instance) or from "touts" at the parks. Disney tickets are not transferable, and can only legally be used by the original purchaser. The first time a ticket is used, Disney takes a partial fingerprint. If on subsequent use, a guest's fingerprint does not match the original they will not be admitted. On top of this, there is no way to tell that a ticket really has the number of days left on it that a seller claims without actually using it. Avoid this at all costs!
7. Want to stay longer? Upgrade your ticket!
You're in Orlando, and you've decided that you’d like to spend 7 days, rather than 3 at Walt Disney World. Or, you love it so much that you want to upgrade to an Annual Pass. The good news is, you can get a discount on an upgraded ticket equal to the value of your original ticket – provided the original has not yet expired. Ticket upgrades can be made at any Guest Services window.
8. Check the cost of packages against individual tickets and hotel rooms
Disney frequently offers discounts on package deals that include hotel accommodation and theme park tickets. Although ticket prices in these deals may be more expensive than available elsewhere, the overall cost of hotel-plus-ticket packages may be cheaper than paying for them individually. Make sure you check for hotel-only discounts as well before making a comparison. You can find the latest deals using Theme Park Tourist's Special Offer Watch.
9. Take advantage of Special Offers
Disney regularly runs special offers on hotels, admission and food at Walt Disney World. Although discounts are generally deeper during the off-season, there are usually several available at any one time. For details of the latest offers, check TPT's Special Offer Watch.
Do you have your own tips for saving money on Walt Disney World tickets? Why not share them with others through our theme park tips section? If you spot something wrong in the article, or disagree with any of the tips, please let us know through the comments or by e-mailing us.