Date-Based Pricing Coming for Disney World Tickets
Walt Disney World has finally announced a roll-out for the date-based ticket pricing hinted at earlier this year. Beginning October 16, 2018 on DisneyWorld.com, guests will purchase multi-day tickets priced by the first date of visit. In this post, we’ll detail the new ticket-buying process, and speculate about what this means for prices and the future of visiting Walt Disney World.
In terms of logistics, when guests purchase tickets online, they will start by using an interactive online calendar that displays different prices based on the start date guests choose to visit, as well as some conditions and ‘add-ons’ for their ticket, such as the “Flexible Dates Option.” This interactive calendar will also allow guests to see the lowest-priced days each month.
In viewing screenshots of the new system, it looks a lot like some airfare booking engines, albeit with pre-published prices that are date-based rather than dynamic. Irrespective of that, the motivations behind the schemes are similar: demand. Walt Disney World indicated that it’s making the change to date-based tickets and pricing to better distribute attendance throughout the year.
Walt Disney World has posted a quick video from which you can glean quite a bit more about how all of this will work. We’d encourage you to take a couple minutes to watch this:
Okay, so a few things. First, we wouldn’t spend too much time freeze-framing the video trying to gain insight into new ticket prices (even though we may or may not have done exactly that). As the video clearly disclaims in the bottom corner, “prices shown do not reflect actual prices.”
We would anticipate that some dates will decrease in price while the majority increase, similarly to what occurred when Walt Disney World shifted to seasonal pricing on 1-day tickets a few years ago. A Disney spokesperson indicated that this is the continued evolution of that, with date-based pricing rolling out for multi-day tickets and being further segmented for single day tickets.
Disney’s rep also stated that new single day prices would range from $109 to $129 for single day, single park tickets, as compared to current prices ranging from $102 to $129. Additionally, the price distinction between Magic Kingdom and the other parks will be eliminated.
Second, there are a lot of steps to complete the ticket-buying process. As sites like Amazon have aimed to streamline and ease their online checkout process, it’s odd that Disney would be making things more difficult. It’s fair to point out that booking components of a vacation is not akin to buying an inflatable dinosaur pool float. However, numerous studies of online shopping behavior have concluded that each added click (or layer of resistance) leads to abandonment by customers, and a lower conversion rate.
Prior to this being announced, one rumored reason for the delay in it being rolled out was the cumbersome booking process that was “still being perfected.” Even though many of you reading this are doing so as Walt Disney World veterans who have years of experience planning trips and seldom are confused, that’s not the norm for first-timers. Confusion and frustration are pretty common.
As a blog that is popular among people planning once in a lifetime Walt Disney World vacations, we see this confusion countless times per day. People are overwhelmed and perplexed–and those are the people who are doing their homework and trying to plan in the first place. These changes will only compound guest confusion, and further solidify Walt Disney World’s spot as one of the most difficult vacations to plan.
As much as Walt Disney World might want to make this sound simple with phrases like “seamlessly planning,” “simplify the booking experience,” and “easier ways to plan” in their press release about the changes, it’s pretty easy to see through that. This further complicates what was already a complicated vacation planning experience.
Moreover, it’s not as if Walt Disney World is world-renowned for its robust and fail-free IT infrastructure. We can’t help but wonder what kind of service outages and problems will occur come October 16, 2018–and how long they’ll last. To that end, we’d advise booking FastPass+ and Advance Dining Reservations before then, as it could be a frustrating day (or days) for the My Disney Experience app and DisneyWorld.com.
We also wouldn’t be surprised if this process and pricing continues to be tweaked between this October and November 2019. If Disney notices its online conversion rates are dropping, or a surplus of confused guests are showing up to the turnstiles with the incorrect tickets, or feedback surveys reveal dissatisfaction, further refinement is likely. This is being introduced in October 2018, but the goal is probably to have it running smoothly for the Late 2019 debut of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge.
In addition to releasing this info on the Disney Parks Blog, a FAQ about these changes has also been sent out. One item of info that we think is interesting concerns modification–Walt Disney World will allow modification prior to the ticket start date: “If the ticket is changed to a higher priced date, guest will be responsible for paying the difference in price. There will be no refunds to changes to lower priced dates.”
This is unsurprising, and is likely a result of Walt Disney World anticipating problems with guests purchasing the cheapest possible tickets, trying to use them on busy days, and then playing stupid. With this new modification policy, rather than the harsh potential extremes of allowing guests to use this as a money-saving ‘hack’ or forcing them to repurchase tickets entirely, Cast Members at the turnstiles can turn them away and advise them to go ‘upgrade’ their tickets to the correct dates.
Finally, and most importantly to anyone reading this blog as a planning resource: “Will I need to pay more for my ticket if I already purchased it prior to Oct. 16? No. Please be sure to check the specific terms and conditions on your ticket to confirm the expiration policy.”
It should go without saying, but we would strongly encourage you to purchase your multi-day tickets prior to October 16, 2018 if you plan on traveling sometime before December 31, 2019. As we cover in our Tips for Buying Discount Walt Disney World Tickets post, authorized third parties have tickets for sale with a first-use between now and December 31, 2019, and buying those now to lock-in current prices and the flexible price scheme are highly recommended.
While Walt Disney World has emphasized that this change is about offering better value and redistributing crowds throughout the year, we’d caution people about being too enthusiastic about the upsides here. We’ve been down this road before with single day tickets going to seasonal pricing, and at that time the majority of tickets increased in price. We would expect the same here, with fewer than 25% of dates staying the same or decreasing in price.
Walt Disney World wants to be able to pitch this as a price change rather than a price increase, but for most guests, it’ll be a price increase. Moreover, while Disney might present it as a way to redistribute crowds, it’s real aim is undoubtedly to increase per guest spending and decrease operating costs. The increased spending is obvious, coming via the higher prices. The decreased operating costs will occur via Walt Disney World having greater insight into attendance in advance, and adjusting staffing and capacity accordingly.
Expect crowd trends to change slightly, but there’s only so much they can change. Peak seasons are not the most crowded because they’re objectively the best times to visit, but because they’re most convenient. Hotel prices and airfare already reflect this, and act as a means of “discouraging” visits at certain times. Radical price differences on hotels and airfare has already proven mostly ineffective at redistributing crowds, and there’s no reason to believe a less-significant difference in ticket prices will be more persuasive.
Even if you somehow get lucky and your dates don’t increase in price on October 16, you can be 99.999999% sure all prices will increase between now and the opening of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. Oh, and you might think we’ve been emphasizing Star Wars land a lot, even in seemingly unrelated posts–almost nothing happening between now and next fall is unrelated to Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge.
Planning a Walt Disney World trip? Learn about hotels on our Walt Disney World Hotels Reviews page. For where to eat, read our Walt Disney World Restaurant Reviews. To save money on tickets or determine which type to buy, 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 clever items to take. For what to do and when to do it, our Walt Disney World Ride Guides will help. For comprehensive advice, the best place to start is our Walt Disney World Trip Planning Guide for everything you need to know!
What do you think of the new date-based ticket pricing coming to Walt Disney World? Disappointed that planning will become even more complicated and rigid, or pleased with the potential for scoring value-priced multi-day tickets? Any questions we can help you answer? Hearing your feedback–even when you disagree with us–is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!
This will be my first visit to Disney in December can anybody suggest what should we plan how much days are sufficient for 4 parks and how much crowd is there how much days ticket to buy and how much price will be increased after October 16 any help will be appreciated
No idea on ticket prices changed, but I will recommend at least six days in the parks, maybe eight, with the park hopper option. The busiest week of the year is from Christmas through New Year’s. Later in January should be nice though.
A few people have asked. Any update on what this means for FL Resident pricing? Should I purchase before the 18th or will the pricing stay the same for FL residents?
I am also wondering what if any effect this will have on annual passes..
I am too.
Also, not everyone likes Star Wars and not everyone likes Hollywood Studios. Pandora seems to have stabilized a bit. What happens in 2 years when Galaxies Edge gets old?
That’s putting a lot of eggs in one basket. I just returned from Disney and I visited Hollywood Studios. I was very upset with being let out at the road by the Disney bus and having to walk 1/2 a mile across the blazing hot parking lot through a makeshift cattle gate. If this keeps up for another year Disney may not have to worry too much about crowds. Everything seemed woefully understaffed.
I think Disney just wants to make planning a vacation feel like a game and this is a way of increasing the skill gap. 🙂
Really frustrated that the ticket bridging for annual passes may no longer be an option with no warning ! I purchased 6 day PH for our Thanksgiving trip and planned all along on upgrading to AP on arrival, but only paying the $450 or so up front and other $450 in November is what was making this possible. We have short weekend trips planned for December, March, May and were looking into August as well. We absolutely cannot afford tickets for all of these trips without an AP and now these November tickets feel like a complete waste of money if we cannot upgrade! We will be canceling these trips and Disney will clearly be losing business.. I am sure others had similar plans and will be screwed over by this as well. So disappointing I really hope upgrading to AP will still be possible… why would Disney refuse to take more money from me if I ask to upgrade is my thought process here!
Pretty sure you will always be able to upgrade a ticket to an AP by paying the difference.
What makes you think it won’t be an option? I’m curious because I’d be running into a similar issue
This is just another way of charging more for the same experience. A pattern Disney has practiced a lot recently. Have you noticed all the “extra” hard ticket events you now can purchase? And the operating hours over the years have actually decreased.
If I were Disney instead of trying to redistribute crowds, they should worry about showing the “magic” to bring back return customers – the backbone of support for any business.
I’m a DVC member AND an annual passholder, but I’ll probably rent out my DVC points next year to an unsuspecting first time Disney visitor and let them experience the frustration and expense of a Disney vacation.
There’s a lot of magic out there, national parks, train rides, zoos and aquariums. Even non-Disney theme parks.
So does this mean that if you buy a multi-day pass for a trip in say October that you can’t use extra days during a different time of the year? We’ve had extra days left on previous tickets and have even added extra days to our passes before checking out to save for the next trip.
Guests haven’t been able to do that for years. Tickets expire 14 days after first use.
That is not true. We purchased a multi day ticket in Nov. 17 and had 6 months to use any left over days.
Silvan, that was a specialty ticket.
Silvan, that was a specialty ticket.
Disney provided some advance notice of these pass increases. Have they historically provided some advance notice of increases for APs? Why do you believe that APs may increase in October when the increases, including 2018, have historically occurred in February?
Thanks for the heads up! So if I am planining strip for early March, should I buy know or wait? If Free dining comes up as a promotion with I still be able to switch?
If free dining comes up as a promotion that always requires a minimum number of ticket days purchased as part of that promotion. Any tickets purchased separate from that cannot be applied to that requirement.
disney is currently advertising a package deal with reduced price dining plan that goes through arrival dates in the first couple weeks of march. It is unlikely they will do free dining if they already have a reduced price dining package out for that time period.
Will annual passes increase as well? We are going in November for two weeks and planning to go again later in 2019 when Star Wars Land open so we are thinking to get the passes instead of multi days tickets.
Will I still be able to buy a park hopper with the new ticket change
I already have a 3-day Florida resident pass. However I was planning on purchasing the discovery tickets in February. Do you think they will still offer them next year? Or will they be more expensive than the current Florida resident tickets?
Hello There, I think that Disney World should lowest tickets & Magic bands as well to make Disney World Fans & Disabilities Like myself I disabled I’m a huge big fan of Disney World Too!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! but I do understand why to increase the of Disney World,
After spending the last two days trying to make fast pass arrangements for my upcoming trip, I can only hope that when they upgrade the system it is better than what we have now. I have waited on hold on 3 different occasions been hung up on and then on the final occasion told so sorry there are no fast passes available (I am trying to add rest of my party to an existing fast pass that a chat person had made and left off half my party when the system was down yesterday). I was advised to visit guest relations in the park about my problem because this particular cast member could not override this mistake. So I am left with the hope that once I am on my vacation the other half of my party can ride with the ones who currently are showing on the fast pass. I have made disney fast passes for years and never had the issues I have had this time. I will point out I also had a challenging time making my initial hotel reservations also and some issues with dining arrangement too. All in all I really hope that Disney will address all this glitches and really make it a magical experience because my last 3 trips have been riddled with I T glitches. I will probably take a break for a while from disney after this trip which is a shame since I now have a new grandson that I was hoping to make loads of memories with at the parks. I am now printing all my disney experience screens and plans so I have proof for my trip that I actually have fast passes and dinner reservations. I wish everyone luck in the coming weeks as they change over and enhance their system.
Unfortunately I have not seen cast members allow multiple extra people for a fast pass. You may want to continue to try. Have you used their app? Bugs in it yes, but it may help you.
The app is also a mess for some of us. I have literally spent hours on the phone with them on several calls trying to fix hotel, ticket and dining problems on the app. Today it appears to be fixed after two weeks of agony. I hope it really works when we get to the park.
Yesterday was day #60 for my family & attempting to make FPs was an absolute nightmare! I finally had 3 confirmed after 1 & 1/2 hrs and then had to abandon in order to go to work. The system was working by the time I returned from working all day, but so were some of those coveted FP times! It was extremely frustrating to say the least!
I’ve been having problems with their system for weeks, a call to a guest services to confirm my special event tickets were still on my account ( they disappeared from the my Disney experience site) and luckily they did have a record of them but they said their system has been having problems for a bit now, to bear with them and keep checking back. Got my ADRs in in June but now with this ticket price overhaul, I’m expecting my FP booking to be a big mess. Wish they would wait till the end of the year or a ’slower’ time period to make changes. Changing systems when guests are in the middle of Holiday FP booking windows is ridiculous imo. Good luck with your trip!
I am a little confused on this. I was under the understanding that Disney tickets never expire. I was going to use our Disney Rewards to buy tickets now from our Disney Store to use either next year or the year after on our trip. But after reading this and some of the comments it seems that they have an expiration date on them. So if I did buy them now and did not use them until 2020, would I be throwing my rewards away?
Are you referring to the Disney Rewards earned through use of a Chase Disney VISA credit card? They do expire but not for several years. It’s the actual admission tickets to the Disney parks that expire on Dec 31st of next year (or 14 day after first use, whichever comes first).
Yes, I was going to use the rewards dollars to buy our tickets. But what you are saying is that they are only good for a year? Did they change the good forever?
Any park tickets purchased this year will expire on Dec 31, 2019. My understanding is you may apply the cost of those tickets to new tickets after that date. So no, you would not be wasting your Rewards dollars. But you should just send an email or do a chat with Disney to verify the cost of expired tickets can be applied to new tickets.
Yes, the “Disney tickets never expire” thing is long gone. As of several years ago, all tickets purchased have a “first use must occur by X” date. However, if you have expired and unused tickets, you can apply their purchase value to the purchase of new tickets (at current prices).
You can pay extra to keep park tickets from expiring (at least you still could on our last trip). It was an upgrade like adding the park hopper option.
I wonder if Disney made online ticket purchasing more difficult on purpose to keep crowds lower (due to abandonment) or to increase purchase at the gate to turn people away when parks are full. Also, I suspect individual dates will sell out in advance, ie the date Star Wars Land opens?!!
Son of a gun!!!!
My fastpass day is Oct 18th!, when this will still be a hot mess, grrr!
And, how is Disney the only company in the world, that can play that festive music in their video above, as they introduce the disaster that will be forthcoming in the form of mass confusion with ticket purchases, increase in cost and inevitable MDE crash?!
Sort of like someone who is witnessing some evolving disaster, singing “zip-a-dee-doo-dah”.
My Fastpass day is Oct 16th. I’m worried!
My Fastpass day is October 16th! I’m worried!
If I was planning on purchasing annual passes near the end of the year as a Christmas gift, will this affect those prices? Should I purchase prior to October 16th instead?
I have some olderpark hopper tickets that were purchased as “never expiring”.
Will 5hey still be good?
I have the same type of tickets, and the response from Disney was that those tickets are good and you will not need an additional payment.
So if I already have 7 day tickets for my kids (they were gifts) but had planned to upgrade them to 10-day hoppers at the park (which I have already bought for husband and self), I will just have to wait and see how this affects that, right? No way to upgrade before I am onsite in November if I have the tickets already on MDE? Had considered AP too but same there, can’t do until onsite?
For our August trip I called and they allowed me to upgrade 5 day hoppers to 8 days over the phone. I already had them linked to MDE and had FP+ booked. We had no issues and they were very helpful. Just have your confirmation numbers. They said you had to have bought through Disney, but I know these were Park Savers (they probably buy direct through Disney and resell?), but they can check that with the conf # too.