Ready to purchase tickets for your Disney World trip?
In this post we will walk you through everything you need to know about how the date-based ticket pricing structure works plus give you some of our thoughts on where you should buy them (and why!).
Let's take a look...
Date-Based tickets are now in effect
Back in September of 2018 Disney announced a major overhaul of their ticket-pricing structure.
A lot of the announced changes caused the entire purchasing process to look drastically different from what was done in the past.
So, if you are a Disney World veteran you'll want to pay close attention to the details listed below.
Old: Aside from single-day tickets, pricing only varied based upon the length of the ticket.
New: You must specify the first day you plan to use your tickets and the price of your ticket will depend upon both the length of the ticket AND that initial usage date. Base prices for tickets will vary throughout the year much the same way resort prices vary (busier times of the year prices are higher, slower times of the year, prices are lower).
Ticket valid period
Old: Tickets 2 days or longer in length were valid for 14 days from first use.
New: How long a ticket remains valid depends on a couple different things.
If you purchased your tickets outside of a package, your tickets are valid for the length indicated below.
Note: if you choose to add on the Park Hopper Plus you'll notice that you get 1 additional day to use your ticket.
- 1-Day tickets are valid ONLY for the day indicated when purchased
- 2-Day tickets are valid for any 2 days within a 4 day window that begins on the day indicated when purchased (5 days for Park Hopper Plus)
- 3-Day tickets are valid for any 3 days within a 5 day window that begins on the day indicated when purchased (6 days for Park Hopper Plus)
- 4-Day tickets are valid for any 4 days within a 7 day window that begins on the day indicated when purchased (8 days for Park Hopper Plus)
- 5-Day tickets are valid for any 5 days within a 8 day window that begins on the day indicated when purchased (9 days for Park Hopper Plus)
- 6-Day tickets are valid for any 6 days within a 9 day window that begins on the day indicated when purchased (10 days for Park Hopper Plus)
- 7-Day tickets are valid for any 7 days within a 10 day window that begins on the day indicated when purchased (11 days for Park Hopper Plus)
- 8-Day tickets are valid for any 8 days within a 12 day window that begins on the day indicated when purchased (13 days for Park Hopper Plus)
- 9-Day tickets are valid for any 9 days within a 13 day window that begins on the day indicated when purchased (14 days for Park Hopper Plus)
- 10-Day tickets are valid for any 10 days within a 14 day window that begins on the day indicated when purchased (15 days for Park Hopper Plus)
Walt Disney World Vacation Packages
If, however, you purchased a Disney World Vacation Package, your tickets are valid for the LONGER of either the standard valid length indicated in the list above OR the length of your stay.
So, for example, if you booked a 8 day package but you have 3-Day tickets your tickets are good for 8 days (the length of your stay) not the standard 5 days (per the list above).
AND, the reverse is true.
If you book a 3-night package but you have 8-Day tickets, you'll have 12 days to use up all of your ticket entitlements (per the list above) not just 3 days (which is the length of your stay).
Park Hopper Tickets
Old: Allowed you to enter multiple different parks in a single day and could only be purchased for the entire length of your ticket; you couldn't add the "Park Hopper" option to just one day, for example. It was all or nothing.
New: The new Park Hopper option works exactly the same way as before.
Park Hopper Plus
Old: Granted you all the privileges of a Park Hopper BUT also granted you additional entrances into the water parks (both Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon) along with other "plus" options for things like golf. The number of additional entrances was equal to the length of your ticket (5 day Park Hopper Plus granted you 5 days in the four main parks and 5 "Plus" visits).
New: The new Park Hopper Plus option works exactly the same way as before EXCEPT guests that purchase Park Hopper Plus also receive an additional day in which they have to use their tickets. This isn't an additional park day - it is just an extra day to use your ticket entitlements.
Tickets with no date restrictions
Old: This was basically how all the old-style tickets worked. Aside from single-day tickets, the ticket you purchased could be used regardless of the date and tickets remained valid for 14 days after the first use.
New: If you prefer tickets with that kind of flexibility, Disney will still offer them, however, they will cost extra (up to $50/ticket extra depending on the length of the ticket).
Making changes to your tickets
Old: If you changed your mind about your tickets, in many instances you couldn't make changes until you got to Disney World.
New: Changes (including changing the start date, increasing or decreasing days, adding Park Hopper, etc.) can be made from home either in the My Disney Experience app OR on the My Disney Experience website.
However, it is important to note that if the change causes to the price to go UP, the guest will be prompted to pay the difference. But, if the price goes DOWN, no refunds will be given. Ouch.
Which type of ticket should you buy?
Types of Disney World park tickets
Here's a quick overview of the different types of tickets and who should get each one.
These are the most basic tickets that allow you to visit 1 of the 4 theme parks per day.
Who should buy Base tickets:
People looking to spend the least amount possible and/or those whose daily plan only requires visiting one park per day should purchase Base tickets.
Adding the Park Hopper option to tickets allows you to visit more than 1 park per day.
Who should buy Park Hopper tickets:
We recommend Park Hopper tickets for the people in the categories below.
- People who want to use Extra Magic Hours but spend the other part of the day in a non-EMH park. Though we don't normally recommend EMHs, this is especially handy during peak travel times (like Christmas and Easter).
- If you're staying at an Epcot-area resort, it's convenient to have Park Hopper tickets so you can spend the first part of the day at any park and then go into Epcot in the evening.
- Visitors with trips of 3 days or less who want to fit in more parks than they have days.
- Those who want to see all nighttime entertainment but the shows aren't scheduled for every night of your trip. Park Hoppers will allow you to visit any park for the first part of the day and then hop to the park with the nighttime show when it's scheduled.
Park Hopper Plus
Adding this option to your tickets gives you entry into the water parks, miniature golf (before 4:00), and a round of golf at Oak Trail. For every day of tickets that you buy, you get 1 entry into 1 of the extra places.
For instance, if you buy 5 day Park Hopper Plus, you'll get 5 entries into the extra places that can be used at any time during your trip.
Who should buy Park Hopper Plus tickets:
People who plan to do a water park will often a good idea to get these tickets rather than buying the water park ticket separately.
People with an Annual Pass get, as the name indicates, one year of entry into the 4 Disney World theme parks.
Annual Passholders also get free PhotoPass downloads (basically Memory Maker is included), free onsite parking at the parks, and special discounts on resorts and food.
Who should get an Annual Pass:
People taking multiple trips within a year will usually find that an Annual Pass is a better deal than buying two sets of Disney World tickets (though you should do the math to be sure).
In addition, offsite guests staying 8+ days should also consider having 1 person in the group get an Annual Pass since the free parking, PhotoPass downloads, and merchandise and food discounts can often add up to justify the cost.
Where should you buy Disney World tickets?
For the most hassle-free experience, you can't beat purchasing your tickets through Disney.
Not only is it the most convenient option, it's also a required part of booking a package as well as a requirement for some promotions like Free Dining.
Thinking about booking a trip with a travel agent?
If you're thinking about using the services of a travel agent to plan your dream vacation, keep in mind that in order to help you book your FastPass+ reservations most agents will require that you use them to purchase your tickets through Disney.
3rd Party Vendors
There are lots of 3rd party options out there, but not all are created equal.
If you opt to look outside of Disney for your tickets, there are some things to keep in mind:
- Many travel agents will not book your FastPasses for you if you do not use them to purchase your tickets through Disney. This is a biggie and definitely something to consider if you plan to use a travel agent.
- If you do decide to use a 3rd party vendor, you'll want to make sure that you are working directly with an official authorized ticket reseller. Definitely do your research ahead of time!
- While you can save a few bucks, the savings aren't usually that big (and often not worth the hassle).
- Make sure you understand how you'll get your tickets (mail? email?) and don't forget, you'll need to link those tickets to your My Disney Experience account in order to make FastPass+ reservations.
Where you should *not* buy tickets
Used ticket resellers
Ticket sellers will often pop up at random hotels in the Orlando area or on sites like eBay. Do not purchase from those sources.
When you enter a Disney theme park, your finger is scanned to verify that you are the person linked to the park ticket.
If you purchase used tickets, your fingerprint won't match, you'll lose your tickets, and there's a good chance you'll be questioned by a Cast Member regarding where you purchased the tickets.
Not a magical way to start a vacation.
History of Disney World price increases
Every time a price increase occurs, people seem to moan as though it doesn't happen every year. In fact, you can count on an increase every February.
The reason is super simple: the parks are crowded. Not only can Disney raise prices but it helps keeps the crowd levels more manageable.
What questions or other info do you have about purchasing park tickets?
Please share in the comments.