Many people think visiting Disney World is too expensive, so they don’t even consider it. That’s a false belief, though. Sure, a one-day ticket for Magic Kingdom is over $100, but most people aren’t buying a one-day ticket. When you purchase multiple days, you’ll save more with each additional day.
But there’s more to buying tickets than figuring out how many days you’re going to buy. Since this is one of the most expensive parts of your trip besides your hotel, it’s a big consideration. It will have a huge impact on you Disney vacation budget.
Before we get into the different kinds of tickets, I should mention that some people may be eligible for discounts, which would make the ticket costs discussed below much more affordable. Florida residents, military and Department of Defense personnel, and Disney Vacation Club members are eligible for discounts with the military discount being the best.
There are several different kinds of tickets, so let’s take a look at them.
1. Base Ticket
Disney World Guests can purchase base tickets for any number of days between one and ten, so the first thing you’ll need to do is figure out how many days you’ll be spending in the parks.
The price of a one-day ticket ranges in price depending on park and date (with busy seasons costing more). If you buy two or more days, the prices don’t change based on the season. You will save more, on a cost-per-day basis, when you add additional days. Right now, two days will cost about $100 each while ten days are as low as $40 each. That’s a big savings, so it’s definitely better to spend more days!
2. Park Hopper
The park hopper is the most common add-on to the base ticket. It allows you to visit more than one park in a day maximizing your minutes to spend all day in the parks.
This was especially necessary in the days when Disney’s Animal Kingdom was only open until dusk since guests would basically only have half of a day in the park. Without the park hopper, they would have to go back to the resort, to Disney Springs, or somewhere else for the evening. The park hopper, however, allowed them to spend the day in Animal Kingdom and spend the evening visiting another park.
The park hopper is still a nice option to have, though not a necessity, for a few reasons.
First, each day at least one park has extra magic hours in the morning or evening. Since Magic Kingdom frequently stays open much later than the other parks, the park hopper is good for people who want to spend as much time as possible in the parks. You might even be able to catch a second fireworks show of the evening! It’s also good for people who want to visit a favorite attraction for a second day without limiting themselves to the same park again.
Next, the park hopper may not be a smart purchase for families with young children who need to adhere to a bedtime. These little Disney fans will be so tuckered out by early evening that another few hours in Magic Kingdom would be unthinkable.
Many people skip this option because they think it is too expensive, but the cost is usually so insignificant especially when purchasing multiple days that you don’t even notice it. In the end, if you can afford it and you think there’s a possibility you might want to use it, it’s a good purchase.
3. Water Park Fun and More
Disney World’s water parks are a lot of fun. Typhoon Lagoon has a shipwreck theme while Blizzard Beach is like a winter wonderland. The “and more” part includes ESPN Wide World Of Sports, Disney’s Oak Trail Golf Course, Disney’s Fantasia Gardens Miniature Golf Course, and Disney’s Winter Summerland Miniature Golf course.
For each day you purchase, you get one visit to these activities. For example, a 5-day ticket gives you five visits.
This is a good option for people who are spending several days at Walt Disney World Resort and/or who don’t plan to spend all day in the parks. These “and more” options can be used after a day in the parks without using a park hopper option.
This add-on is usually more expensive than the park hopper, but it’s worth it if you would like to visit the water parks.
4. Memory Maker
Although this isn’t really a “ticket,” it is an option when you purchase your tickets online, so I’ll discuss it.
PhotoPass is free for all Disney World guests. You can ask Disney photographers to take as many pictures as you want, have them edited with magical additions, and purchase any or all of them. If you only want to purchase one or two, then you don’t need the MemoryMaker.
However, if you plan to purchase several pictures from your vacation, you will probably save money if you pre-purchase the MemoryMaker, which gives you all of your vacation pictures for one price. The cost can be evened out if you’re traveling with a large party since only one person needs to have the MemoryMaker and can link it to all of the accounts. If everyone pitches in, the cost is much more affordable.
To make the most out of this option if you do decide to purchase it, get as many pictures taken as possible. Stop at every PhotoPass photographer and really get into the photos. As long as you keep posing, they’ll keep snapping!
5. Annual Pass
Annual Passholders at the Platinum level enjoy many perks including one-year admission to all four theme parks, an included park hopper, no blackout dates, and admission to ESPN Wide World of Sports and Oak Trail Golf Course. They also receive discounts on dining, merchandise, recreation, tours, parking, and much more.
Until very recently an Annual Pass was something to consider when visiting Disney World since all of these discounts can really add up. However, current prices mean you would have to visit Disney World at least 15 days in a 365-day period to make the purchase worth the savings.
If you plan to visit annually, you could make this work for you. Say you visit for the first time on February 11th, 2017 then you plan to visit again “next year” and you can arrive a few days before February 11th, 2018. Since this is within the 365-day period allowed with an annual pass, you will still be able to use your annual pass for your park admission.
So what ticket is right for you? There are many variables, so it depends on your needs and circumstances. Consider all of the options plus how long you plan to stay and what kind of vacationer you are (fast and furious or slow and relaxed) then decide from there.
Whether you’re traveling with kids, parents/grandparents, friends, all adults, etc., that will also affect what tickets you should purchase.
Regardless of what ticket you purchase, you’ll want to buy ahead of time for two important reasons.
First, Disney raises ticket prices at least once per year. Since tickets are good for one year, buying now will lock in the current prices. Even if Disney raises the cost, you’ll pay the current price.
Second, purchasing tickets before your arrival allows you to make FastPass+ reservations. Resort guests can make reservations up to 60 days in advance and off-property guests have 30 days to make reservations. If you wait until you arrive to purchase tickets, you not only might pay more, but you won’t be able to get FP+ reservations. This means that you’ll spend a lot more time waiting in line and you won’t get as much out of your vacation.
Finally, if you wait to buy tickets when you arrive, you will very likely spend some vacation time waiting in yet another line.