Walt Disney World offers a wide array of tickets. These tickets are expensive, but luckily, if you shop right, you can find good discounts on Disney tickets to save money. When it comes to a Disney vacation, the tickets are likely going to be your second-most expensive expenditure after your hotel room and perhaps airfare. For some people, they might actually be the most costly portion of the trip! Disney raises its ticket prices about once or twice per year with the last increase occurring in February 2014, so it’s best to buy your tickets as early as possible, before your trip.
Given their cost, and the myriad of different ticket options, it’s important to know as much as you can about the different types of tickets, and what your family will probably need. Purchasing Walt Disney World tickets can be overwhelming, as there are many different choices and add-ons. If you’re willing to do a little homework, all of the options are a good thing, as you can buy exactly what you need and not waste money on unnecessary extras.
In this article we sort through the different options and give you recommendations on what types of tickets are best for you, plus where you can save money on Walt Disney World tickets. (If you’ve come looking for info on discount Disneyland tickets, you’ve come to the wrong place–but we do have an article on that, too.)
If all you’re looking for is where to safely buy cheap, legitimate Walt Disney World tickets from an authorized reseller and don’t need to read this entire article, click here.
Ready to get started? Here are our tips and tricks for saving money on 2014 Disney World tickets!
To save money on multi-day Walt Disney World tickets, there are three authorized discount Disney ticket brokers from whom we recommend purchasing your tickets: Official Ticket Center, Park Savers, and Undercover Tourist. In our experience, these 3 have the best reputation and prices. Not only do they sell tickets cheaper than you can purchase them from Disney directly, but they are FastPass+ enabled, so you can make FastPass+ selections with these tickets before you arrive to the park! Each of our links below to specific tickets goes to whichever of these 3 sources has the current best price for that particular ticket after tax–we check prices regularly (this post was last updated in November 2014). Usually, the 3 are all pretty competitive, and are within a few dollars of one another–and significantly cheaper than Disney.
Before we got our Annual Passes, we always purchased our tickets from Undercover Tourist. They are a Disney-authorized ticket broker (so no, they’re not the same shady stands you see offering “free Disney tickets!” on your way to Walt Disney World) offering excellent prices and customer service. Their prices are always lower than if you purchased from Disney directly.
Disney prices don’t include the Florida 6.5% tax, whereas prices from the sellers we recommend do include tax into the final price you pay. Another great benefit about buying from authorized discount ticket brokers is that you can buy your tickets in advance of your trip, and have them shipped to your house for FREE! No hassle with having to wait in line to pick them up at Disney, wasting your valuable vacation time.
Authorized discount Disney ticket brokers are great ways to save money on park tickets over gate prices, but not every third party ticket broker is reliable and trust-worthy. Most sites offering discount Disney tickets are scams. Likewise, buying tickets on eBay or Craigslist is about as good of an idea as buying hypodermic needles from buying some dude on a street corner. Disney tickets are non-transferrable. If someone else has used part of the ticket or if a ticket purchased from an unauthorized retailer is counterfeit, you won’t be able to use the ticket. This is a common problem with other ticket brokers and eBay tickets, and if you get burned by these sellers, Disney won’t care. You’ll have to pay full price for tickets at the park gates. Not exactly the best way to start the day on a Disney vacation!
Fortunately, there are authorized third party ticket brokers like the ones we recommend in this post that are safe ways to save money on Walt Disney World tickets!
When you purchase tickets from an authorized Walt Disney World ticket broker before your trip, you can make FastPass+ ride reservations before you trip, and many of the most popular FastPass+ reservations get booked quickly. You definitely want to book popular attractions like Soarin’, Splash Mountain, Toy Story Mania, the Anna & Elsa ‘Frozen’ Meet & Greet, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, etc., in advance of your trip, because if you wait to make reservations on the day you visit, there won’t be availability. We cannot stress enough how important it is to make FastPass+ reservations in advance of your trip, and buying tickets in advance is the only way to do that.
If you haven’t been to Walt Disney World in a while, FastPass+ is a web-based ride reservation system that replaced the old paper FastPass tickets (paper FastPasses are no longer used at Walt Disney World). In its place is the MyMagic+ system, which includes MagicBands, the My Disney Experience app, FastPass+, and more. We have a full MyMagic+ FAQ post that covers details of this new system; it’s really important that you understand this (sometimes confusing) system before your trip, so definitely read that post. Suffice to say, many attractions “sell out” of FastPass+ weeks in advance, and standby waits on the day you visit for some of the attractions above can exceed 2 hours (in the case of the ‘Frozen’ Anna & Elsa meet & greet, 4 hour waits are the norm).
Because of this, you absolutely need to purchase tickets well in advance of your Walt Disney World vacation, and make those FastPass+ reservations as soon as possible. Our Walt Disney World Ride Guides cover which attractions are the best uses of FastPass+ in each park.
If you wait until you arrive at Walt Disney World to purchase your tickets, not only do you pay more money, but you can’t make your FastPass+ selections until you arrive. Many popular attractions won’t have any availability (we can say with 100% certainty that you will not be able to meet Anna & Elsa if you wait), meaning you will have to either skip these attractions or wait in long standby lines. For many people, the advantage of being able to make FastPass+ selections in advance is actually more important than the money saved by buying in advance.
People complain about Disney ticket prices, but unless you’re only going for one day and buying your ticket at a Disney ticket booth, you’re not going to pay that much. If you’re taking a “Disney Vacation” prices are substantially less expensive, because the cost per day decreases substantially with each day you add after the second day. This is why we highly recommend a 7-day ticket…because the cost isn’t much more than a 4 or 5 day ticket.
If you might want to visit multiple parks per day, for 2014 a discounted 7-day Walt Disney World Adult Park Hopper Ticket is $391.50 after tax. Now, that’s a lot of money. However, compare it to a 1-day Park Hopper ticket directly from Disney, which is $142.71 after tax. The per day cost of the 7-day Park Hopper from the authorized discount ticket broker is less than half that price at only $55.92 per day! For this reason, the 7-day Walt Disney World Park Hopper ticket is what we consider the best option for most vacationers to Walt Disney World! If you aren’t visiting as long, you can get a discounted 5-day Park Hopper for $364.
If you want to make the most of your time at Walt Disney World, we recommend adding the Park Hopper option. This enables you to visit multiple parks per day, which is important because not all parks open and close at the same time. There are many days when Disney’s Animal Kingdom closes at 5 pm, and the Magic Kingdom remains open until 11 pm or later. That’s another 6 hours of time in the parks that you miss out on if you visit Animal Kingdom and don’t have Park Hopper tickets.
If you don’t plan to visit multiple parks per day, the discounted 5-day Walt Disney World base ticket is only $310.46 after tax, or $62.09 per day! If you’re staying for 7 days, the per day cost is even cheaper, at $47.78 per day after tax for the discounted 7-day ticket without Park Hopping. These are our recommended tickets for visitors who don’t need the Park Hopper option.
Another good option if you plan to do things outside the 4 main theme parks is the “Water Park Fun and More” option. These tickets allow you “extra” visits to the Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach water parks, DisneyQuest, the Walt Disney World golf courses (regular and mini-golf), and ESPN Wide World of Sports, all without using your regular days on the ticket or paying an extra admission cost. These tickets offer great bang for buck, and have the best discounts via the authorized third parties. A lot of people aren’t water park fans so we recommend the 7-day Park Hopper for most people, but we are huge water park fans, and if you are too, this is a GREAT ticket.
If you’re on a tighter budget, the 5-day base ticket mentioned above is a great value option, even for those on a week-long Walt Disney World vacation (as there is plenty to do at Walt Disney World outside the parks), and the 7-day ticket is a better option for those who want to have the option to visit the parks each day.
There’s another option that might work for you if you visit annually and spend 3-4 days in the parks each trip. We used to visit Walt Disney World once per year for about 4-5 days per trip, so we bought 10-day No-Expiration Tickets with the Water Parks Fun and More option, and would use 3-4 of these days per trip for the four main theme parks (Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Animal Kingdom, and Disney’s Hollywood Studios) plus one or two water park days. Because the cost decreases with each day you add, these offer the most per-day value. This ticket has the added benefit of locking in costs, and guarding against Disney’s annual ticket price increases. The only downside is that you have to pay for it all up-front. Just remember that tickets are non-transferable, and if you’re going to visit the four main theme parks for 5 or more days in a single trip, don’t bother with the no-expiration tickets. Just buy your tickets for each separate trip as you need them.
So, yeah, Walt Disney World tickets can be over $100 per day, but only if you buy a single day ticket. Most people who are knowledgeable about Walt Disney World know not to do this, and are able to save a lot of money on multi-day tickets.
If for some reason you don’t want to buy discounted tickets from Official Ticket Center, Park Savers, or Undercover Tourist, there’s a decent chance you qualify for some other form of discount. The most common discounts are: Florida resident, military/department of defense, corporate or “club” discounts, Disney Vacation Club, and sometimes “Europe” discounts (for lack of a better term). Of these discounts, military discounts are typically the best, followed by AAA discounts. AAA discounts are only offered through local offices and tax isn’t included in their price quotes.
AAA discounts typically are not as good as the prices offered by the discount ticket brokers, but military or department of defense discounts are always better. The frequently-run “Stars and Stripes” promotion will usually annihilate what is offered by third party discount ticket brokers or AAA. This promo isn’t always offered, so call Shades of Green at 888-593-2242 prior to ordering tickets to see whether it’s available for your stay.
I hate to encourage this kind of reckless behavior–okay, actually, I love encouraging it–but you might want to consider an Annual Pass. The threshold consideration here is whether you travel to Walt Disney World at least once per year. If the answer to this is yes, then you might want to think about getting an Annual Pass certain years (minimally) and booking two of your “yearly” trips so they fall within 365 days of one another. Stated differently, if you usually go every August, consider going August one year, then late July the next year.
Although your mileage may vary slightly, the typical break-even point for an Annual Pass is 11 or more days in the parks per year. That said, this break-even number can decrease due to the perks that come with an Annual Pass, such as the ability to purchase a Tables in Wonderland card, entertainment discounts, free parking, occasional shopping discounts, and other benefits offered from time to time (exclusive pins, etc.). More importantly, you’re eligible to Annual Passholder room discounts, which we believe are one of the best discounts offered at Walt Disney World. Given those other benefits, it may be advantageous for one member of your party to buy an Annual Pass even if you’ll only be in the parks 8 or 9 days per year. It’s definitely worth doing the math to figure out how the other discounts will benefit you.
I mentioned at the outset that purchasing an Annual Pass is reckless behavior. You may have written this off as nonsensical sarcasm (good call), and it mostly was, but there was a bit of truth to it. We first purchased Annual Passes one year for our annual 7 day August vacation, thinking we’d just move the vacation up one week the following year to justify the pass, and then not renew after that. That was back in 2008 and it’s now 2014, and we’ve had Annual Passes every year since.
The same rationale caused us to purchase Disneyland Annual Passes, as well. We live in Indianapolis, Indiana….this buying Annual Passes to “save” money has actually cost us quite a bit more money! We’ve taken more impromptu weekend vacations to “get more value out of our Annual Passes” than I care to admit. Once you buy an Annual Pass, you might find yourself checking weekend airfare because you want to get “value” out of your Annual Passes. Now, we have the Premier Passport, which is the Annual Pass for both Disneyland and Walt Disney World!
Whichever ones suit your vacation! There is no one size fits all ticket, so I can’t give an answer to that question. As a general rule, here is what I would advise:
It appears that Walt Disney World is phasing out its no expiration tickets (2014 update: these tickets are still available, but only via third parties and at ticket gates…they’re not currently available on Disney’s site). They’re currently still available and I will update this page when they are completely unavailable…if you’re on the fence about buying no expiration tickets now or waiting, you might want to do it now!
It’s important to know that my suggestions are based on our preferences, and they may not work for you. We couldn’t imagine a trip without park hopping. Because of this, we advise others to add park hopping to their tickets, as it’s pretty inexpensive for multi-day tickets. If you’re a one-park per day person, it obviously makes no sense to do this. It’s really best to sit down, look at your own schedule, determine what tickets you need, and then head to Official Ticket Center, Park Savers, or Undercover Tourist to buy the appropriate tickets at a discount.
Hopefully this guide to Disney discount tickets has provided you with some valuable information to help you save money on Walt Disney World tickets, and has helped you figure out what kind of Disney tickets are right for you!
For Walt Disney World trip planning tips and comprehensive advice, make sure to read our Walt Disney World Trip Planning Guide and related articles.
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If you’re a Walt Disney World veteran with lots of ticket-buying experience, what do you typically purchase, and why? Share your thoughts in the comments! If you’re a first timer who wants tailored advice, share some of your circumstances and we’ll give you our best personalized advice!