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. 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!
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. The ticket system has its benefits and drawbacks. The biggest drawback is that there are so many options that it can be confusing. Conversely, thanks to all of the options, you can get exactly what you need and not purchase any unnecessary add-ons. Because of this, if you’re willing to do a little homework, all of the confusing options are definitely a good thing. We can help with this, so if you’ve come to figure out how to save money on Walt Disney World tickets, you’ve come to the right place. (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.)
Of course, buying the right Walt Disney World tickets is just one aspect of planning a trip. To make sure you plan everything perfectly, make sure you read our 10 Step Guide to Planning a Walt Disney World Trip, which covers all of the essentials for planning your Disney trip!
To save money on multi-day Walt Disney World tickets, we highly recommend Undercover Tourist, an authorized ticket broker selling CHEAPER tickets than you can buy directly from Disney.
Before we got our Annual Passes, we always purchased our tickets from Undercover Tourist. Undercover Tourist is 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 Undercover Tourist prices do include tax into the final price you pay. Another great benefit about Undercover Tourist 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!
Undercover Tourist is a great way 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!
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 first day.
In 2013, a 7-day Walt Disney World Park Hopper Ticket from Undercover Tourist is $375.95 after tax. Now, that’s a lot of money. However, compare it to a 1-day Park Hopper ticket, which is $137.39 after tax. The per day cost of the 7-day Park Hopper from Undercover Tourist is less than half that price at only $53.71! For this reason, the 7-day Walt Disney World Park Hopper ticket is what we consider the best option for most visitors to Walt Disney World!
However, there’s another option that might work for you if you visit annually and spend fewer days in the parks. Back when we visited Walt Disney World once per year for about 4-5 days per trip, we would buy 10-day No-Expiration Tickets with the Water Parks Fun and More option from Undercover Tourist, 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. With visits to the water parks factored in, our daily cost ended up being less than $50!
Because the cost decreases with each day you add to a ticket, the 10 day tickets with those water park & more add-ons offer the most per-day value. A 10-day ticket is cheaper than three 3-day tickets, and is much, much cheaper than a single day ticket. Since we traveled to Walt Disney World about once per year, this was a great ticket for us to use over the course of 3 years. It had the added benefit of locking in costs, and guarding against Disney’s annual ticket price increases.
Just remember that tickets are non-transferable, so don’t plan on beating the system by purchasing a 10-day ticket for three people to share. That will not work, so if you only plan on visiting Walt Disney World once ever (or very rarely), this is not a good ticket option for you. Also, over the years the price of this 10-day no-expiration ticket has increased because of this great “trick.” It used to be a better value than two 5-day tickets; now, 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.
If you don’t need the “No Expiration” option or the Park Hopper option, you can get a 5-day Walt Disney World ticket from Undercover Tourist for only $291.95 after tax, or only $53.99 per day! If you’re staying for 7 days, the per day cost is even cheaper, at $45.56 after tax.
These are our two recommended tickets for visitors who aren’t going to be returning to Walt Disney World annually and don’t need the Park Hopper option. The 5-day ticket is a great budget 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. If you’re not traveling on a tight budget, you might also consider adding the Park Hopper and “Water Park Fun and More” add-ons to your ticket so you can enjoy multiple parks per day (not all open and close at the same times) and also check out Disney’s water parks (which normally require separate admission).
So, yeah, Walt Disney World tickets can be over $100 per day, but only if you buy a single day ticket directly from Disney. Most people who are knowledgeable about Walt Disney World know not to do those things and are able to save a lot of money.
If for some reason you don’t want to buy discounted tickets from 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 are not as good as Undercover Tourist discounts, but military or department of defense discounts are better than both. The frequently-run “Stars and Stripes” promotion will usually annihilate what is offered by Undercover Tourist or AAA. This 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 2013, and we’ve had Annual Passes every year since. The same rationale now has us holding 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, if you’re like us, this “reckless” behavior will actually substantially increase your happiness, but it will definitely leave you with less money!
For 2013, we took advantage of a promotion offered to Disney Vacation Club members (one reason why it might be a good idea for you to buy Disney Vacation Club!) to purchase a Premium Annual Pass for only $399! The normal price of this AP is $699, so that’s a savings of $300 (or $240 savings off the normal Disney Vacation Club-discounted price of the pass). A Premium Annual Pass allows for admission to all four theme parks, plus both water parks, Disney Quest Indoor Interactive Theme Park, ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, Disney’s Oak Trail Golf Course and free parking. Plus the ever-important Annual Pass discounts! Although no announcement has been made, we expect this to be offered again late in 2013 or early 2014.
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:
As of March 2013, it appears that Walt Disney World is phasing out it’s no expiration tickets (August 2013 update: these tickets are still available after Disney’s annual price increase, which included 2013 pricing for the “No Expiration” option, so they’re sticking around…for now). 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 heed our advice. It’s really best to sit down, look at your own schedule, and compare the discounts Undercover Tourist offers for each ticket (as the discount percentage does vary) as compared to how many days you plan on spending at Walt Disney World, and then buy the appropriate tickets.
Hopefully this guide to Disney discount tickets has provided you with some valuable information, and a starting place for where and what kind of tickets you might want to purchase!
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!