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 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 click here.
Walt Disney World ticket prices last increased in price in February 2015. It was about a 5% price increase per ticket, with one day tickets for the Magic Kingdom increasing to $105 and other parks going to $97, plus increases for all multi-day park tickets. As of January 2016, we are starting to hear rumblings of another price increase on the way (this post was last updated on January 13, 2016). We have full details about these rumors of the next Walt Disney World ticket price increase at the bottom of the post if you want to know more. Suffice to say, if you’re visiting in or after early February 2016, you should buy your park tickets ASAP to lock in current pricing.
With that said, 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 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!
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: 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…
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. We’ve done the research, and the three legitimate discount Walt Disney World ticket sellers with the cheapest prices are Official Ticket Center, Undercover Tourist, and ParkSavers.
Moving on, let’s take a look at some savvy ways to save money on Walt Disney World tickets, and which type of ticket options are best for you…
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, we recommend adding the Park Hopper option to your Walt Disney World tickets. 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 2016, 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).
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, etc. 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 Walt Disney World 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 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, 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 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 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.
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. This 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. 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 9 days per year.
Know that buying a Walt Disney World Annual Pass can be “dangerous.” 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 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.
Future Disney Ticket Pricing?
Walt Disney World ticket prices and price increases used to be fairly predictable–they happened once per year, in July. The last increase in February bucked the trend. There are rumors that prices may increase again before the end of the year, but this is just rumor. Since it’s now early-December, we do not expect that to occur. Typically, ticket prices increase in the summer if at all, and there has never been a holiday season price increase. This isn’t to say it can’t happen, but we would be surprised–even wit the record crowds visiting Walt Disney World.
As of right now, we expect another price increase in late January or early February 2016. Even though the increase last February was unprecedented, it’s even more unprecedented for Disney to go over 12 months without a price increase, especially in times of record attendance (such as now). In the fall, there were very aggressive Annual Pass price increases, and we would not be surprised to see the same occur with normal tickets, and prices jumping 10% or more.
A reasonably strong 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. If this happens, expect a slight increase in prices for non-peak season pricing, and significant jumps for peak seasons. Jumps for times like Christmas week and Easter could be as high as 25%. (If you’re unaware of which seasons are busier than others, consult our When to Visit Walt Disney World post.)
Future prices are anyone’s guess, but we suspect with large scale construction on Star Wars Land and Toy Story Land set to begin in early 2016, and the AVATAR Land expansion ongoing–all costly projects–Disney will feel the “need” to raise prices again in 2016, presumably near the beginning of the year (perhaps around February), rather than waiting until July 2016. That’s just an educated guess, though.
Regardless, if you are planning a Walt Disney World vacation for sometime in or after February 2016, there is a strong possibility park tickets will cost more during your visit than they do today. If you want to lock-in current prices, we highly recommend purchasing tickets now, before your trip.
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!
For more dining news, discounts and special offers, and tips, subscribe to our newsletter!
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!