Overnight, Walt Disney World rolled out its new date-based ticket system, which was previously announced a few weeks ago. In addition to most single and multi-day ticket prices increasing, so too have Annual Passes and parking.
The new date-based ticket system utilizes a new interactive calendar, which is now accessible when you go to the ‘tickets’ section of DisneyWorld.com. This calendar allows you to select whether you want one park per day, Park Hopper, and displays per day prices in calendar format (think flexible airfare calendars) based on the ticket duration you select.
The good news, if you’re looking for something, is that this new interactive calendar is pretty snappy and Stitch didn’t once eat our page while testing it out. (Hey, it’s the small victories.) The bad news is that you’re almost certainly going to be paying more for park tickets unless you travel between late January and early February or late August and September.
We ran a number of sample scenarios, and it looks like ticket prices have mostly increased. For example, the advance purchase price of a 4-day base ticket (after tax) was previously $404 for adults. Under the new system, that means you’d have to find a date with the price starting at $95/day or less to come out ahead.
For the remainder of 2018, there are no such days. You can find some $93-95/day tickets in late January 2019 and early February 2019, but that only represents a handful of dates in the next 4-plus months. After that, you can again find a scattering of $95 days in August and September 2019.
All told, this is roughly 5 weeks out of the next year that have decreased in price. Since roughly 4 of those weeks are $95/day dates, you’re looking at a price decrease (for those tickets) of $2.88 per ticket. (This is all assuming my math is correct, and I just had my morning coffee, so no promises there.)
Keep in mind that this is the best case scenario. If you’re planning to travel around the holidays, expect to pay more. The worst case scenarios are Thanksgiving and Christmas weeks, when many start dates will yield 4-day ticket costs of $461, which is a price increase of over $50 per ticket.
In between, you’ll find more modest price increases of around $15-20 per ticket on average, but it’s worth keeping in mind that this is the second price increase of 2018, with the last having occurred in February.
Somewhat surprisingly, there appears to be a bit better potential savings on 3-day tickets, with 2-day tickets having opportunities for savings spread out across the calendar a bit more. With this ‘silver lining’ we should still offer the caveat that the vast majority of 2 and 3-day ticket prices increased.
We’ve yet to comb through all of the ticket options and compare them to previous offerings, but we’d hazard a guess that there are examples of both better savings and bigger increases. So if you want to cherry pick examples to illustrate that the date-based ticket system is “good” or “bad,” have at it. The fact is that the majority of dates have increased in price for the majority of ticket types. The exact amount of the increase varies widely.
If you don’t want to be locked into a set date window, you’ll find a “Flexible Dates Option” as you continue to the next step of the checkout process. This price varies based upon the initial cost of your ticket. For example, Christmas travel dates that have peak season pricing will incur a minimal fee for this, whereas February low season prices will have a high ($50+) fee.
Basically, you’re paying the difference between whatever tickets you purchase and the most expensive tickets here, so there isn’t a loophole allowing people to buy the cheapest travel dates and upgrade to flexible tickets to use during peak season dates. Savvy move on Disney’s part.
In addition to the increases on single and multi-day tickets, Annual Pass prices have also increased. The increases ranged from around $20 for the lower tier Florida resident passes to $45 for the Platinum Passes. On the plus side (I guess?), the coast-to-coast Premier Pass didn’t increase in price.
Parking at the theme parks is also up by $3 per vehicle, to $25. (Oversized and preferred parking increased as well.)
It didn’t take a crystal ball to see any of this coming, so we’re not exactly surprised at this point. We implored readers to purchase before this new system went live; despite Disney’s marketing stressing that this would be easier and allow more flexibility, I think most people saw through that and anticipated this would be a price increase by a different name.
As for what this will do in terms of redistributing crowds, we aren’t holding our breath. As we noted in the last post on this topic, not everyone has flexible travel dates. It’s not as if people are thinking, “June and July when Florida is like walking around the surface of Mars? Sign me up.” Walt Disney World is largely a family travel destination, and many families are handcuffed by school schedules.
With that said, it’s now abundantly clear to “bargain” (air quotes) hunters just when the low season is at Walt Disney World, something that wasn’t quite as transparent with hotel rates (the prices for which track similarly to this date-based ticket system). We would thus not be surprised if those January, February, and September travel dates become more popular, with a negligible decrease in visitors from the rest of the calendar.
If you didn’t heed our advice to buy before this ticket “change” because you thought you’d take a wait and see approach since Walt Disney World was promising it’d be more flexible, easier, and offer value options–and are now feeling burnt because your prices increased dramatically–you’re in luck. Undercover Tourist has a limited supply of their “old” inventory of discounted Walt Disney World tickets, which don’t require a start date. If you’re traveling between now and December 31, 2019, we’d again strongly encourage you to buy now because (spoiler alert) Walt Disney World tickets will only increase in price again between now and the debut of 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 at Walt Disney World? Are you disappointed about another (for the most part) price increase, or excited that if you plan during a handful of weeks per year, you can save a few dollars? 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!