Walt Disney World offers lots of ticket options. Park tickets are expensive, but if you follow our tips & tricks, you can find good discounts on Disney tickets to save money. Tickets are likely going to be your second-most expensive expenditure of your Walt Disney World vacation after your hotel room (and perhaps airfare). Since Disney raises its ticket prices about once or twice per year, so 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 and don’t want to read this entire article covering the best tickets to purchase and other tips, click here.
Walt Disney World ticket prices last increased in price on February 22, 2015. It was about a 5% price increase per, with one day tickets for the Magic Kingdom raising to $105 and other parks going to $97, plus increases for all multi-day tickets. There are rumors that prices may increase again in July, but this is just rumor.
Another possibility is that Walt Disney World will introduce pricing tiers that increases ticket prices based on demand (or “surge pricing”). This idea has been rumored for years, but it’s gaining momentum with a recent survey sent to Walt Disney World guests including a calendar of potential surge dates and news articles discussing the potential new ticket pricing.
From what we have heard, demand-pricing is likely to come sooner rather than later, and could be introduced in lieu of the next price increase, with the lowest price tier simply being the current prices. This means it will most affect those who visit during busier times, like summer and other school breaks. Those who visit during peak seasons, like Easter or Christmas, are likely to see the largest price increases. Simply put, tiered pricing would be a way for Walt Disney World to effectively raise ticket prices for most guests while presenting it publicly as a “fair” way to deal with high demand (as surge pricing has been marketed exactly that way elsewhere). The good news is that you can buy tickets now for vacations you’re taking anytime in the future, so buying before prices increase again is a good way to lock in current prices and not have to worry about future pricing tiers or other increases.
With this information about the latest Walt Disney World ticket price increase in mind and potential future pricing, you might be wondering which type of Walt Disney World tickets you should purchase? 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 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 2015 Walt Disney World tickets!
Where to Buy the Cheapest 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 tickets: Official Ticket Center, Undercover Tourist, 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…
Each of our links in this post to specific tickets goes to whichever of these sources has the current best price for that particular ticket after tax–we check prices regularly (this post was last updated on June 7, 2015). Usually, they pretty competitive, and are within a few dollars of one another–and cheaper than Disney. Plus, you’ll get them in advance, so no hassle with having to wait in line to pick them up at Walt Disney World, 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. 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.
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 Soarin’, 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. Let’s take a look at some savvy ways to save money on Walt Disney World tickets…
Is the Park Hopper Option Worth It?
Whether the Park Hopper option is worth it really depends upon how much time you want to spend in the parks per day. This is the main reason I see for getting it. 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 nice. Disney’s Animal Kingdom often closes at 5 pm, while the Magic Kingdom closes at 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.
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 2015, a discounted 7-day Walt Disney World Adult Park Hopper Ticket is $408 after tax. Now, that’s a lot of money. However, compare it to a 1-day Park Hopper ticket directly from Disney, which is $165.08 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 $58.28 per day. For this reason, the 7-day Walt Disney World Park Hopper ticket is one of the best options for Walt Disney World!
If you aren’t visiting as long, you can get a discounted 5-day Park Hopper for $389. This ticket is a great option for anyone who wants to visit each of the Walt Disney World theme parks, with 2 days at the Magic Kingdom (and it’ll take about 2 days to do everything there).
Should I Skip The Park Hopper Option?
So, the main reason for buying the Park Hopper is that you can bounce around the parks and spend the majority of the day in the parks. That’s not for everyone. If this is your first visit to Walt Disney World, you might be over-estimating how much time you will want to spend in the parks per day. This is particularly true for families, as most kids wear out or melt down before the parks close.
If you don’t envision yourself spending 9 am until 11 pm in the parks everyday, the Park Hopper option might be a needless expense. Also, keep in mind that there is other entertainment at Walt Disney World, such as Disney Springs (Downtown Disney), your hotel pool, and much more. In other words, you don’t need to spend every waking moment in the parks to have a great time.
If you don’t plan to visit multiple parks per day, the discounted 5-day Walt Disney World base ticket is only $321.95 after tax, or $64.39 per day. A 6-day ticket is even cheaper, at $55.82 per day.
If you’re staying for 7 days, the per day cost is even cheaper, at $49.42 per day after tax for the discounted 7-day ticket without Park Hopping.
These are the tickets that we recommend for visitors who don’t need the Park Hopper option.
You might wonder why we don’t recommend 4-day tickets…it’s because the discount Disney ticket sellers include 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 makes the 5-day ticket a really great value.
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.
These 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, and have the best discounts via the authorized third parties.
Hopefully this helps you determine whether or not the Park Hopper option is right for you. As you can see, regardless of which direction you go, by purchasing more than a 1-3 day ticket, your per day cost drops dramatically!.
If for some reason you don’t want to buy discounted tickets from Official Ticket Center or Undercover Tourist or ParkSavers, 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. Note that Disney ended its relationship with AAA at the start of 2015, so there are no additional perks for buying through AAA.
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.
What About An Annual Pass?
You also might want to consider an Annual Pass. The threshold consideration here is whether you can travel to Walt Disney World at least 11 days per year. If so, then get an Annual Pass. If you visit annually, but not for 11 days at a time, then you might want to think about getting an Annual Pass certain years 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.
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.
One thing to know about purchasing an Annual Pass is that it can be “dangerous.” We first purchased Annual Passes one year thinking it would be a one-time thing. That was several years ago and it’s now 2015, and we’ve had Annual Passes every year since. We find ourselves using our “free” (already paid for) park admission as an excuse to take quick weekend trips throughout the year, which ends up costing more in the end. So be careful!
Which Tickets Should You Get?
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:
- There’s no benefit to buying tickets directly from Disney except if you’re purchasing 1 or 2 day tickets.
- You can save money by purchasing via an authorized ticket broker, plus you can make FastPass+ reservations at the 60-day window. If you buy tickets once you arrive to Walt Disney World, you’re at a disadvantage in terms of making FastPass+ ride reservations.
- I’d recommend adding the Park Hopper option for unless your budget is tight, especially if you want to spend as much time in the parks as possible, since some parks open earlier and close earlier than others.
- Those with small kids may not need Park Hopper, since doing one park a day is often plenty for them. Consider the Water Park Fun & More option if the water parks, or DisneyQuest, appeal to you.
- If you can find a way to visit Disney for 11 or more days in a 365 day window, buy Annual Passes.
- If you will be visiting Disney for 9 or more days in a 365 day window and you frequently eat at Disney Table Service restaurants and pay out of pocket, book room-only Disney Resort reservations, or pay for parking at the parks, strongly consider buying an Annual Pass for one person in your party and getting the rest of your tickets through Undercover Tourist. You will need to do the math for yourself to determine whether this is cost-effective.
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 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.
For updates, news, Disney tips, and information on the latest Disney discounts and promotions, sign up for our monthly newsletter!
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! Have any questions about which tickets might be best for you? Leave them in the comments and we will try to help!