Although it sounds backwards, park tickets are the FINAL thing to purchase (well, okay, besides groceries!). Because there are very few discounts on tickets, and those discounts usually occur with ‘package’ deals, you will want to have everything else in your vacation figured out before you buy tickets.
Don’t purchase park tickets for your arrival or departure days unless you will be arriving before noon, or your return flight leaves after 5pm. If you do have energy and time on these days, you can use them for relaxing and exploring your own resort, Disney Springs, or visiting other resorts.
Disney offers ‘Magic Your Way’ tickets, and the options can be a bit daunting:
Because your tickets and on site resort reservation are now connected with FastPass+, we recommend purchasing tickets directly through Disney if you are staying on site.
Go to Disney’s official site for current pricing and options: https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/tickets/
Base Ticket – gets you in to ONE park (Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, Hollywood Studios, Animal Kingdom) each day. You cannot combine Base tickets (use two in one day for different parks), but you can leave your chosen park and return to it later the same day.
All tickets must be used within 14 days of the first use date – this means that you don’t have to go to the parks each day you are there – if you have a 10 day pass you could be at Disney 4 days, then go to Sea World one day, take a rest day, then head back to the parks on day 7 of your vacation with 6 days still left on your Disney ticket.
From this Base Ticket, you can purchase these options:
1. Park Hopper – Allows you to ‘hop’ to any park each day. Start at Magic Kingdom, hop to Hollywood Studios, end at EPCOT.
2. Water Park Fun and More (WP&M) – Entrance in to the two water parks, ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, two Mini-Golf Courses, or a round of golf at Disney’s 9-hole Oak Trail Golf Course. You receive a specific amount of ‘tickets’ for these attractions with your Base ticket if you choose this option – for instance, a 10 Day pass with this option will include 10 WP&M passes. This means you could go to Magic Kingdom in the morning using your regular base ticket, then go to the water park in the afternoon with one of your WP&M virtual ‘tickets’, then play Mini Golf in the evening with another of your WP&M ‘tickets’. This would leave you with 8 more virtual ‘tickets’ for the remainder of your trip. Confused yet?
Think of it this way – your base ticket is a key to get into the parks for a specified number of days – if you have the Base ticket that means ONE park each day. If you have Parkhopper that means as many parks as you want each day. The WP&M option adds a specific number of virtual ‘tickets’ to your base pass. Hand in a virtual ‘ticket’ for admission to one activity, then hand in a second virtual ‘ticket’ for admission to another activity. In theory, you could use up four virtual tickets in one day by going to the two water parks, playing golf, then hitting the ESPN Complex.
3. Memory Maker (Photopass) – Unlimited photos taken by Disney PhotoPass photographers, including photos taken at select dining experiences and attractions. You can add photos to your account for 30 days (from the date of first download). All media you add within the 30 days can be downloaded (subject to the expiration policy) and shared with family. Learn more about it here https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/memory-maker/ .
Annual Passes – If you will be visiting the parks for more than 10 days, or more than once in a year, an Annual Pass may be your least expensive option. Annual Passholders are also eligible for special room discounts, shopping discounts, free parking at the parks (even if you aren’t staying on site), and other perks. Some people will purchase a single Annual Pass for one family member so they can be eligible for discounts and free parking.
Magic Bands – I’m sure many of you are wondering why we haven’t mentioned this component of a WDW trip yet – Magic Bands are Disney’s way of accessing your park ticket, room key, charging privileges and FastPass reservations all with a re-useable wristband. All guests staying on-site will be receiving free Magic Bands, off site users can purchase Magic Bands. This system not only changes the media used to enter the parks, it also changes the way FastPass works, check out our Park Touring section for more information.
Money Savers – Tickets
No matter where you buy, ticket prices are usually within a few dollars of each other (with the exception of the YES program tickets). For regular tickets, AAA will usually have the cheapest price, followed by http://www.undercovertourist.com, then Disney online (sometimes the company you work for also has discounts available). The only way to really save on tickets is when you purchase with some sort of package deal with the room.
Undercover Tourist lists their ticket prices including tax. Some sites only show tax at checkout, so be sure you’re comparing all prices with tax and any shipping or handling fees.
Not sure if you’ll use the Park Hopper or WP&M option? Purchase the ‘base’ ticket, you can add any of the options at any time while you’re there. You can also add days (up to 10), or upgrade your ticket to a season pass if you wish.
YES Program Tickets – If you have a school-aged child (1st-12th Grade), your entire family is eligible for YES program tickets, which offer a significant reduction of regular ticket prices. You can get 3-Day to 10-Day Base Tickets. Park Hopper and Water Park Fun & More options can also be added. However, the No Expiration option is NOT available with these tickets and cannot be added. The eligible student will attend a 3-hour class, subjects vary from chemistry to photography, there are plenty of options to choose from. These popular programs fill up fast, so call as far in advance as possible to book. http://www.disneyyouth.com/individual-enrollment/overview/
TAKE A PICTURE – If you are still using regular media tickets, be sure to take a digital photo of the back of everyone’s park ticket so the number can be clearly read (or write down the numbers). Do the same with your Photopass card (see below). This way if the cards get lost, replacements are possible!