Walt Disney World tickets are expensive, but if you follow our tips & tricks, you can find good discounts on Disney tickets to save money in 2016. Tickets are likely going to be your second-most expensive expenditure of your Walt Disney World vacation after your hotel, so saving money is important! Since Disney raises its ticket prices 1-2 times per year, it’s best to buy your tickets before your trip, as early as possible. This guide will help you with which tickets to buy, and where to buy them.
If all you want to know is where to safely buy cheap, legitimate Walt Disney World tickets from an authorized reseller click here.
If you have more questions about which type of Walt Disney World tickets you should purchase or need other assistance, the rest of this guide is for you. We present all of the options here along with their pros and cons, so you can make an informed decision. Given their cost, and the different ticket options, it’s important to know as much as you can before you buy your Walt Disney World tickets so you don’t waste money. We will break down all of the options and various add-ons to make buying Walt Disney World tickets easier.
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 with Tips for Saving Money on Disneyland Tickets, too.)
Ready to get started? Here are our tips and tricks for saving money on 2016 Walt Disney World tickets! (Note: this post was last updated with new Park Hopper tips on April 28, 2016.)
Where to Buy the Cheapest Disney Tickets
To save money on multi-day Walt Disney World tickets, there are a few authorized discount Disney ticket brokers from whom we recommend purchasing your Disney park tickets: Undercover Tourist, Official Ticket Center, and ParkSavers. In our experience, these 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! Keep reading to learn why this is important…
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 places selling discount Disney tickets are scams. 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–they are tied to your fingerprint once partially used. If you get burned by these sellers with a partially-used or counterfeit ticket, Disney won’t have sympathy. 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!
If you’re comparing prices, remember to compare apples to apples: 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. Also consider whether you’re comparing Park Hopper tickets to regular tickets or not. Lots of readers have had questions about their comparisons, and they almost always had made a mistake in not comparing the same tickets to one another.
Moving on, let’s take a look at which type of ticket options are best for you…
Which Tickets to Buy?
Sometimes people ask which ticket is our favorite for first-time visitors to Walt Disney World. We think the best park ticket for first timers is the 5-day ticket.
The 5-day ticket gives you a day at each park, plus a second day at the Magic Kingdom. It’s also because our recommended sellers have a special promotion that includes the 5th day for free on a 4-day ticket, meaning a 4-day ticket is exactly the same price as a 5-day ticket. This free day makes the 5-day ticket a really great value.
The discounted 5-day Walt Disney World base ticket is only $348.59 after tax, or $69.72 per day. Even if your trip is longer than 5 days, we feel this is a good amount of time to spend in the parks. If your trip is 7 days long, you should plan a day or 2 outside the parks, spending time at your hotel’s pool, Disney Springs, or enjoying other free entertainment options around Walt Disney World.
…OTHER GOOD OPTIONS FOR LONGER TRIPS…
If you want more time in the parks, the 6-day ticket is even cheaper, at $61.16 per day.
If you’re staying for 7 days, the per day cost is even cheaper, at $54.74 per day after tax for the discounted 7-day ticket without Park Hopping. (Read about whether you should get the Park Hopper option below.)
Another good option if you plan to do things outside the 4 main theme parks is the “Water Park Fun and More” option. This is especially true if you’re not doing the Park Hopper, as you can do these “Fun and More” options after you leave the theme parks for the day. We are big fans of the water parks, so this is a personal favorite ticket option for us!
These Disney tickets allow you visits to the Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach water parks, DisneyQuest, 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, because they offer the most amount of savings via the authorized third parties. The extra admissions to the other experiences barely costs anything–and Disney’s water parks are awesome.
Skip The Park Hopper Option?
The Park Hopper add-on allows you to visit multiple parks in the same day, so you can bounce around the parks and spend the majority of the day in the parks. If you are traveling to Walt Disney World after May 27, 2016, we recommend skipping the Park Hopper option. We used to recommend most people get it to maximize time in the parks, but starting the Friday of Memorial Day weekend and continuing the rest of the year, Animal Kingdom will be open until 11 p.m. nightly (due to the new Jungle Book show, and later the new Rivers of Light nighttime show).
Now that Animal Kingdom is open late (instead of closing around 6 p.m.), it means most guests won’t need to spend more money on the Park Hopper option. Park Hopping can still be good for some people–especially those with large budgets–but we do not recommend it for anyone on a budget or for families with small children.
Okay, so maybe you’re still thinking the Park Hopper option might be worth it to you. If you want to go all-out, spending your entire day in the parks, it can be good to add the Park Hopper option to your Walt Disney World tickets. This enables you to visit multiple parks per day, which is nice. Some nights, Magic Kingdom closes 2-3 hours later than the other parks, so you squeeze a couple more hours out of day. Or, you might want to revisit favorite attractions or fireworks shows at a particular park, and the Park Hopper option allows that, too.
While the Park Hopper option does cost more, if you’re buying multiple day tickets, you might be surprised to learn that the extra cost is insignificant. For 2016, a discounted 7-day Walt Disney World Adult Park Hopper Ticket is $448 after tax. Now, that’s a lot of money. However, compare it to a 1-day Park Hopper ticket directly from Disney, which is $170.40 after tax.
The per day cost of the 7-day Park Hopper from the authorized discount ticket broker is less than one-third that price at only $64/day. For this reason, the 7-day Walt Disney World Park Hopper ticket is a good option.
If you aren’t visiting as long, you can get a discounted 5-day Park Hopper for $420. This ticket is a great option for anyone who wants to visit each of the Walt Disney World theme parks, including 2 days at the Magic Kingdom, and the ability to bounce around in the evenings, or to revisit favorite fireworks, restaurants, etc.
If for some reason you don’t want to buy discounted Disney tickets from Official Ticket Center or Undercover Tourist or ParkSavers, there’s a possibility 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 Walt Disney World ticket discounts for Europeans. Of these discounts, military Disney ticket 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. Note that Disney ended its relationship with AAA last year, so there are no additional perks for buying Disney tickets through AAA in 2016.
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.
Why to Buy Tickets in Advance
When you purchase tickets from an authorized Walt Disney World ticket broker before your trip, you can make FastPass+ ride reservations before you trip. You definitely want to book FastPass+ for popular attractions like Toy Story Mania, the ‘Frozen’ Meet & Greet, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, etc., in advance, 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, and buying tickets before your vacation is the only way to do that.
If you’re unfamiliar with FastPass+, we have a comprehensive Guide to FastPass+ at Walt Disney World that includes step-by-step tips for using FastPass+ and a ton of tricks for using it. Basically, FastPass+ is a web-based ride reservation system that replaced the old paper FastPass tickets. It is part of the MyMagic+ system, which is discussed in our full MyMagic+ FAQ post that covers everything you need to know. It’s really important that you understand FastPass+ before your trip, so definitely read those posts. 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. Using FastPass+ effectively will save you a ton of time. Because of this, you absolutely need to purchase tickets in advance, and make FastPass+ reservations as soon as possible.
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, meaning you will have to either skip them or wait in long standby lines. Our Walt Disney World Ride Guides cover which attractions are the best uses of FastPass+ in each park.
Now, let’s cover strategizing to save money on your Walt Disney World park tickets. While Walt Disney World tickets are expensive, there is a misconception about just how much visiting Walt Disney World costs per day. Unless you’re only going for one day and buying your ticket at a Disney ticket booth, tickets won’t cost $100 per day–or anywhere close to that.
What About An Annual Pass?
In the past, it has made sense to consider an Annual Pass for your trip to Walt Disney World. After Annual Pass tiers changed, that now is typically not true unless you are a Florida resident. For the normal “Platinum” Annual Pass to be a better value than normal park tickets, you’d have to spend 15+ days in the parks. If you visit annually, this may still work if you book two of your “yearly” trips so they fall within 365 days of one another.
For most casual tourists, though, an Annual Pass no longer makes any sense. Even with the perks of being an Annual Passholder, it’s simply too expensive unless you are a Florida local, or you will take 3 separate vacations to Walt Disney World in a calendar year.
Three separate vacations might seem excessive (and it is!) but this is exactly how we got “hooked.” We first purchased Annual Passes one year thinking it would be a one-time thing. That was several years ago, and we’ve had Annual Passes every year since. We find ourselves using our “free” park admission as an excuse to take spontaneous long weekend trips a few times per year, which ends up costing more in the end. So be careful! 😉
Future Disney Ticket Pricing?
The most recent price increase occurred on February 28, 2016. Exact prices range from $5 to $43 more expensive per ticket, with certain 1-day tickets seeing the biggest percentage increases. This is because of Flex Pricing, which breaks 1-day tickets into three different tiers: Value, Regular, and Peak. Most people reading this probably aren’t buying 1-day tickets, but if you are, hopefully you’re visiting during a slow time of year when school is in session.
With the 2016 price increase set in stone, you might be wondering about prices in the future. With large scale construction on AVATAR Land, Star Wars Land, and Toy Story Land ongoing, and Rivers of Light and Frozen Ever After debuting in 2016, Disney may increase prices sooner rather than later. In the past, prices have increased 1-2 times per year, so we would not be surprised to see an increase again before Halloween or Christmas 2016. Following that, a February 2017 increase is almost a guarantee (it has happened the last several years). Flex Pricing for 1-day tickets has gone smoothly so far, and it likely will be expanded to multi-day tickets sooner rather than later. (Which is part of the reason why we think another price increase in 2016 is a possibility.)
Regardless, if you are planning a vacation and definitely going to Walt Disney World, it’s best to buy tickets ASAP. Unused tickets don’t expire, so you can buy a year or more in advance of your trip to avoid having to pay increased prices. Buying now locks-in current pricing so you don’t end up paying more down the road. It also means not having to hassle with Flex Pricing for multi-day tickets (and potentially paying a lot more if you visit during school breaks or holiday seasons).
Which tickets should you buy? Whichever ones suit your vacation! Hopefully the above info helped you determine this for yourself, because really, there is no one size fits all ticket, so I can’t give an answer to that question. Here are some general rules:
- If you are visiting after April 22, 2016, we no longer recommend Park Hopper tickets unless you have a huge budget or are a big-time night owl. Families with small children should skip the Park Hopper option.
- Our favorite ticket is the discounted 5-day one park per day ticket, which offers great value thanks to the free day it includes.
- By purchasing via an authorized ticket broker, you can make FastPass+ reservations ahead of time. If you buy tickets once you arrive to Walt Disney World, you’re at a disadvantage in terms of making FastPass+ ride reservations.
- If your trip is 7+ days, consider the Water Park Fun & More option so you can visit the water parks or DisneyQuest on your non-theme park days.
- Do not consider an Annual Pass unless you will visit Walt Disney World for 15+ days in a 365 day window.
It’s important to know that my suggestions are based on our preferences, and they may not work for you. It’s really best to read through this and then apply it to your own circumstances by looking at your own schedule and preferences, and determining what type of tickets are best for you. Then, head to Official Ticket Center or Undercover Tourist or ParkSavers to buy the appropriate tickets at a discount.
Hopefully this guide to Disney discount tickets has provided you with some valuable tips & tricks to help you save money on Walt Disney World tickets, and has helped you figure out which kind of Disney tickets are right for you!
For where to eat, try out our Walt Disney World Restaurant Reviews page. If you want to save money on tickets or determine which type you should get, read our Tips for Saving Money on Walt Disney World Tickets post. Our What to Pack for Disney Trips post takes a unique look at unconventional things you should take on your trip. Once you arrive at the parks, our Walt Disney World “Ride Guides”are great for determining what to do and when to do it.
For overviews of all of these topics and so much more, the best place to start is our comprehensive Walt Disney World Trip Planning Guide to make the most of your experience!
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Have any questions about which tickets might be best for you? Which Walt Disney World tickets do you think are best, and why? Share your thoughts in the comments! Leave them in the comments and we will try to help!