Ticket Bridging for Disney World Annual Passes
If you want to save money on a Walt Disney World Annual Pass, a method called “price bridging” will provide the greatest discount. With this technique, you purchase a park ticket from an authorized third party reseller and then upgrade that ticket to an Annual Pass. (Last updated May 6, 2018.)
In the process of ticket bridging, you’re credited for the full gate price value of the regular Walt Disney World park ticket. This “bridges” the gap (hence the name) between what you paid and the ticket’s current value. You then pay out of pocket for the difference between your ticket’s current value and the cost of a Walt Disney World Annual Pass.
In order to price bridge, you’ll want to start by purchasing the Walt Disney World park ticket with the deepest discount from an authorized third party reseller. We keep our Tips for Saving Money on Walt Disney World Tickets post updated with what’s currently the best deal at the top of the post. Saving money in this first step is important because you receive the face value of this ticket, not what you paid for it, when upgrading.
The next step is going to a Guest Services window with your unused or partially used (despite what you might read, it makes no difference) ticket, and requesting to upgrade it to an Annual Pass, with the value applied towards your Annual Pass. The reason we recommend Guest Services is that this is a fairly uncommon request, and Guest Services is where you’re most likely to find a Cast Member with experience in price bridging.
If, for some reason, the Cast Member at Guest Services is unable to price bridge at the current (full) gate price of your Walt Disney World ticket, ask if a supervisor can assist. Don’t get confrontational or say, “but the internet told me this works!” Neither will get you anywhere. For many Cast Members, the internet is a verboten place of tomfoolery and lies about 5th gates and monorail expansion.
Failing that, try again at a different window. Please, don’t leave an irate comment here about this technique “no longer working.” This method absolutely does work–you just need to be diligent. If ever price bridging stops working at Walt Disney World, I’ll update the post.
Here’s some quick and dirty math to illustrate the savings and process. Let’s say I buy a 7-day Park Hopper for $447. This ticket is credited its full gate price including tax, which is $516.53. I want to purchase the Disney Platinum Pass, which is $829.64 after tax. Out of pocket, I will pay $313.11 to price bridge the difference. (Obviously, these numbers will differ based upon what you purchase–and if any price increases occur between the time this is published and whenever you’re reading it.)
What’s interesting about this technique is that it only works this way with third party tickets, not those purchased directly from Walt Disney World. While all tickets are capable of being upgraded if you pay the difference, those tickets purchased directly from Disney receive credit for the gate price of the ticket at the time the ticket was purchased.
By contrast, third party tickets are credited the current gate price of the ticket at the time of the upgrade. This is a known loophole in Disney’s system and I’m not sure why. Perhaps there’s some sort of breakdown in the feedback loop with the third party sale or some other, unknown reason why full, current price is credited. Whatever the case, it’s a “known issue” that benefits the consumer.
Note that there’s one unique wrinkle to this that will impact a very small minority of you. If you purchased tickets from a reseller before the February 2018 price increase, you will only be given credit for the gate value before the increase. If you purchased after the February 2018 price increase (as most of you are probably doing), you’ll receive credit for the current gate value of the ticket. Since this is a ‘how to’ post, this nuance probably applies to next to no one reading, but it’s still worth mentioning.
Variations of price bridging have been around for at least 10 years, and this loophole has yet to be closed. (Let’s call it a “Disney Hack” since loophole has a negative connotation…) I doubt this blog post will change that as this info has been widely available via forums and other sites for a while. I remember using the technique–albeit not in the exact manner–back in the early days of Free Dining to upgrade tickets, and the same principles are being applied here.
Theoretically, you could “invest” in park tickets now that you’ll use to upgrade to Annual Passes years down the road and watch the value of your tickets climb. It would basically be like investing in GOOGL at its IPO and cashing out today. Well, maybe not that good of an investment, but ticket price increases have way outpaced inflation. However, we don’t recommend this as a long-term plan because there’s no telling when Disney revise this policy.
A few other notes:
- You will receive a credit for the current gate price after-tax when upgrading. Make sure to confirm this amount before completing the upgrade transaction.
- You can use price bridging on Annual Pass renewals.
- You can use price bridging on Disney Vacation Club-discounted Annual Passes.
- You can use price bridging on other, more expensive tickets that aren’t Annual Passes.
- There are some reports of price bridging working at Disneyland, but most of the time it does not. It has never worked for us, so YMMV.
That should about cover it in terms of pricing bridging your discounted Walt Disney World tickets to…discounted Annual Passes! It’s a nice way to save a bit more money that you can then put towards Vinylmation or novelty hats–you know, the necessities.
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!
Do you have any questions about price bridging? Have you tried it before? Any issues price bridging? Successes? Wish this technique were called “WDW Ticket Trojan Horsing” instead? Share any questions, tips, or additional thoughts you have in the comments!
If purchasing discounted time share tickets… can those be bridged ?
I bought 5 four day hopper passes over the years. I did this to save $ over time. I bought them before they put in the “new” expire rule. I called Disney to see if I can add two more days to the hopper passes. They told me I can but only at the gate once I get there. Has anyone else have this issue? I would like to solve this issue before I go to the parks this summer because of fast passes and ADR’s. Can I do this over the phone or I have friends going down this Sept can they help me out?
Just wanted your opinion on booking the current bounceback offer for our stay in December 2018 (7th-14th) then upgrading these 7 day hoppers on this trip to an annual pass. Then when we come back in December 2019 we would use the tickets we had purchased for that trip to renew our annual pass for another year. Your thoughts??
The current bounceback offer expires October 31, 2018.
Hi Tom I have a 4 day park hopper ticket under the military rate will this still work? It would be a substantial savings obviously. How would I go about doing this?
We can buy military discount tickets on base not the salute tickets but the hopper passes. And I debated due to the amount of days we need and black out dates possibly for salutes… just buying platinum passes through DVC. The platniums are a pretty penny if we purchased the base ticket and then bridged can we still get a dvc discount
Bridged at MK guest services. Used an undercover tourist “4 Day + 1 Free Day” park hopper ticket. Got credit for full 5-day park hopper. No questions asked. I didn’t mention the bridging, her first step after scanning our bands was just to “correct” the pricing, which took a few minutes.
Does this only work if you have the park hopper option? What if you have a 7 day one park ticket, would you still be able to upgrade to an annual pass?
I have the same question. Which ticket should i actually buy, the one with the most dollar amount savings?
I have the same question. Which ticket should i actually buy, the one with the most dollar amount savings?
For what it’s worth, I just booked a package on the phone with Disney, and had mentioned I was planning on getting an annual pass. The cast member I talked to on the phone suggested doing just this. Use the park hopper 7 day pass during my initial visit, then at the end of the trip, upgrade to an annual pass for the difference – start using your annual pass at your next trip. So it’s paid in 2 installments and you get a little extra time on your annual pass. The clock for the annual pass doesn’t start on the first trip, plus you will not have paid any extra for the annual pass. Since the cast member suggested it, I would assume it’s a relatively well known work around.
You mentioned that you’ve done something similar with free dining in the past. We are going to Disney World in July for 2 weeks. We currently have 10 day park hoppers for 2 adults and 2 children and Summer Free Dining (1 quick service per person per day). Because we plan on going again in December now, we are thinking about upgrading to the Annual Passes. From what I researched, we could go to the park on our first day and once inside, upgrade to annual passes. We will get what we paid for the ticket/park hoppers and then pay the difference for the passes. However, because we’ve already started our trip package for hotel, free dining, and tickets, we would be able to keep our free dining for the entire length of our stay. Is this correct? Thanks!
We actually did this last year – had free dining, park hopper passes, etc.
We went on the last day of our trip to guest services, and got the value of our tickets applied towards annual passes. I am not sure if it affects your free dining if you switch on the first day of your trip. Maybe someone else will have more experience with that, but I wanted to chime in with what we did 🙂
You mentioned you can use this for Annual Pass renewals, could you please elaborate? I thought about doing free dining this year, but a requirement is that you have to buy tickets through Disney. Would we be able to use the value of those tickets purchased towards our annual pass renewal?
Not sure if you have ever tried but ….we already have AP at Disneyland here in California. We did a Disneyworld Package for the Free Dining. Can we combine the value of both our Disneyland AP and Disneyworld park hopper to get the combined pass.
We have a trip planned for during Christmas and then I will be traveling again in August 2019. If I purchase park hoppers and then while at the parks purchase the annual pass using the bridge method will I need to purchase the no black out date annual pass or since I have the park tickets for the 7 days were down there will they still allow us enter into the park with only purchasing the dvc gold annual pass?
We did this is February and it was a super easy experience! I didn’t even know it had a name 🙂 We had planned to go to WDW and bought 7 day park hoppers last year before the price increase, then my husband had a last minute work trip that we tagged along on and decided to upgrade to an annual pass. We had no trouble at all with the cast member at the TTC. And it saved us about $130/ticket. I had originally bought our tickets through Parksavers.
We did this last week and it ended up working after some persistance. We purchased tickets form UCT before the price increase with plan to upgrade to annual passes. We tried first at Magic Kingdom guest services and the quoted price did not account for “bridging” the ticket, we nicely said thank you for your help but we wouldn’t like to upgrade right now for that amount. We found a friendly and helpful CM at animal kingdom ticket window that initially quoted us the same as the magic kingdom CM, we had told him that we had figured out what it would cost us to upgrade prior to arriving, he asked us how the tickets were purchased, then made a phone call to a supervisor who immediately helped him bridge the ticket and upgrade us to annual passes, saving a substantial amount.
This worked for me in late March this year though I had to try on two different days at two different parks. I bought my original tickets from Undercover Tourist at a discount. I first went to the Guest Relations counter at Animal Kingdom and the price the Cast Member gave me did not give me the price it should have been with ticket bridging so I told her thank you and that I would have to think about it. I went to Magic Kingdom’s Guest Relations counter and this time, I got the right price. It gave me a year + 1 day from the first day I used my original tickets. Thanks for this advice Tom, it worked like a charm! 🙂
Tom, perhaps you can clarify something that seems contradictory to me (it’s probably not and I’m just confused). You say in one paragraph that purchasing before the price increase will lock you into earlier gate prices, but in a later paragraph say theoretically you could invest in tickets and cash them in years later. As a side note, I’m apparently the minority, as I bought tickets before the 2017 price increase for a trip we ended up postponing, so I’m wondering if I’m locked into 2016 prices, 2017 prices, or if I can worm my way into current gate prices.
If you bought your tickets through disney you will be given the price when you purchased them, if you bought them third party, then you will be given the current gate prices.
I thought I had a great plan for doing this by buying single day PH tickets at a charity auction which I was going to apply to an AP. Of course they were nicely packaged so I didn’t see the fine print on the back noting they were comp tickets. A comp ticket has no retail value so can’t be applied. It was totally fine as we just used them for single entry days. But I thought I was being SO Smart! Lol.
This no longer works. Tried it today. Did not work. Bummer.
Can you elaborate on what didn’t work? I have not heard/read/experienced anything that would cause this to no longer work.
It’s possible something has changed with how Disney handles ticket bridging, but it’s more likely you dealt with a Cast Member at the ticket window who did not know what they were doing.
Hi Tom! Would LOVE if you could offer any updated insight to 2018 ticket bridging. As a few others have asked, how does it work if I buy a ticket from UT that is a certain number of days “plus an extra day”? Does disney count the extra day and just see it as a ticket of that many days. Also, as someone else asked, when you upgrade to an annual pass, does the year start date begin when it is upgraded, when the first ticket was activated, or the date the original ticket was purchased from the third party reseller (least likely i think)? It seems like it would be smartest to go to upgrade the ticket to AP on the last day of our next trip if the AP would then be good for one year from that date. And you recommend buying whatever ticket is the best value from the discounted site, even if it is more than needed at the time of a trip… like 7 day PH being better value compared to gate price than the 5 day PH I really need when we plan to go in Nov. Thank you!! Really hoping to hear back soon.
The number of days on the ticket you purchase should be immaterial–you’re looking for the ticket that offers the best savings as compared to gate prices.
The expiration date on your AP will be one year from the date of first use of the original ticket being upgraded.
Hope that answers your questions! 🙂
This is great information and very helpful. I have a couple questions:
Where are the best places to purchase authorized third party tickets? Is costco travel and option?
When you go to upgrade your tickets at a guest services window, do they need proof of purchase? Or do they just need your tickets?
Thank you for your help!
So frustrated, so leaving a comment here to share in case others face this. We bought tickets two days ago on Undercover Tourist with intention to bridge/upgrade to an AP when in the park in April. With rumors that prices are increasing this weekend, we can’t upgrade over the phone as we didn’t purchase the tickets through Disney directly. If prices increase on the AP, we’ll lose more than we saved by buying through Undercover Tourist. I called Undercover Tourist and they can’t help either. So, we’re out $100’s potentially.
Thank you for posting this. I was planning to do this very thing. I didn’t realize you couldn’t do it over the phone. Sorry you have to go through this but I appreciate the warning!
Didn’t the post SPECIFICALLY say GO TO A WINDOW? It said NOTHING about over the phone.
Please please READ the entire article. Summary is buy discounted ticket BRING TICKET TO GUEST SERVICES WINDOW AT DISNEYWORLD AND UPGRADE BUT MAKE SURE THE AMOUNT IS THE CURRENT PRICE OF THE TICKET YOU PURCHASED PLUS TAX AND PAY THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THAT PRICE AND ANNUAL PASS.
Omg. I am actually here at wdw and tried to accomplish this but am in what I perceive as a snag. Does this only apply to NON Florida residents? I am so confused. I hope you are online tonight. It is our last day here.