Everything you need to know about the NEW Disney World date-based tickets

(Article last updated: October 16, 2018)

When people start planning Disney World trips, they're often shocked at how expensive Disney World tickets are.

And, with recent changes to the way Disney prices their tickets, the entire process can be downright confusing.

In this post, we will walk you through everything you need to know about the new date-based ticket pricing structure plus give you some tips on the best places to purchase Disney World tickets for your trip.

Let's take a look...

Date-Based tickets go into affect October 16, 2018

Back in September of 2018 Disney announced a major overhaul of their ticket-pricing structure.

A lot of the announced changes cause 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.

Purchasing tickets

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.

Ticket-only purchases (includes purchases from authorized re-sellers AS SOON as re-sellers begin selling the new date-based tickets).

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.

Annual Passes

There are various types of Annual Passes and even with the price increases there are still times when it might make sense to upgrade your ticket to one.

To help you with that, we've put together some Annual Pass charts so you can see where the break-even point might be for you.

Information for tickets purchased prior to October 16, 2018

If you purchased your tickets or vacation package before the October 16 changeover, the information below still applies to your tickets.

Type of Disney World park tickets

First, a quick overview of the different types of tickets and who should get each one.

Base tickets

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.

Park Hoppers

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.

Annual Passes

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, and special discounts on resorts and food. There aren't many AP discounts available, and these tickets are usually purchased directly from Disney World.

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 7+ days should also consider having 1 person in the group get an AP. Details on that below in the pricing section.

Where should you buy Disney World tickets?

There are lots of places where you can buy tickets, including from Disney World and third-party sellers.

Below are some of the best options for purchasing tickets.

Note: if you purchase through one of these ticket sellers, you will be able to link them in your My Disney Experience account so you can book FastPass+ ahead of time.

Some sellers provide a commission on tickets purchased through the links below.

Disney World

Buying directly from Disney means that you're paying full price for tickets, but it's also a required part of booking a package. If you hope to take advantage of a package promotion like Free Dining, you'll have to make a reservation for an on-site resort plus park tickets to do that.

Disney World is the best source for these types of tickets:

  • 1 and 2 day tickets of all types
  • Anytime you need to book a package

Park Savers

Park Savers offers prices that are hard to beat for almost all ticket types. Park Savers tickets are sent by email within 24 hours and you can then link to your My Disney Experience account. People who do not have MagicBands will need to stop by guest relations before entering the park to pick up tickets, but can still make FastPass+ reservations online beforehand.

Park Savers is the best source for these types of tickets:

  • All types of 3-10 day tickets

Undercover Tourist using the WDW Prep link

Undercover Tourist might be the most trusted name for Disney World tickets, and WDW Prep is thrilled to be one of their partners.

Undercover Tourist is the best source for these types of tickets:

  • All types of 3 day tickets
  • 4 day base tickets
  • 5, 6, and 10 day base and Park Hopper tickets

Official Ticket Center

Like Undercover Tourist, Official Ticket Center is an authorized, legitimate ticket wholesaler. They provide free shipping for tickets, have a great reputation, and fantastic prices.

Official Ticket Center is the best source for these types of tickets:

  • 3, 4, 5, and 6 day base tickets
  • 5 day Park Hopper tickets

Corporate discount

Many big corporations offer discounts on lots of things, including park tickets which can be purchased through Tickets at Work or Working Advantage. When searching your company intranet, try just searching for "tickets" rather than "Disney World" because the site sells discounted tickets for lots of destinations and your company may not list the specific types of tickets.

Be careful when comparing these ticket prices as they show you prices before lots of fees are added. Add them to your cart and act like you're going to purchase to see what the real price would be.

Tickets at Work/Working Advantage is the best source for these types of tickets:

  • 6 day base tickets

Military Salute tickets

Disney provides tickets to military personnel at a deep discount. However, the only tickets available are 4 and 5 day tickets.

Military Salute is the best source for these types of tickets:

  • Anybody who qualifies and wants 4 and 5 day tickets will find these to be the best deal by far

There are other military tickets available. Be sure to check out Military Disney Tips ticket info for more info.

International guests

Guests outside of the United States can often get great discounts by purchasing long-length tickets from Disney.

AAA

AAA used to be a good source of discounts, but Disney World tickets aren't available through all chapters anymore and the prices vary between them.

If you're a AAA member, see what (if any) prices are available to you (be sure to include tax and delivery fees) and compare to those to other ticket sellers in this post to see if they're a good deal for you.

Youth Education Series

YES has been a Disney program that provides educational classes in the parks for kids during certain months of the year (usually January, February, June, July, August, September and October). A side benefit to participating in YES classes has been that you can purchase discounted park tickets. However, this program seems to have been discontinued.

Military tickets

In addition to the Military Salute Tickets listed above, there are other discounted tickets available for military families. Be sure to check out Military Disney Tips ticket info for more info.

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.

Other resellers

We checked many other ticket sources, including Maple Leaf, Orlando Fun Tickets, Visit Orlando, and Getaway Today and found that the pricing (watch the delivery fees!) and method of delivery couldn't beat the methods listed above.

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.

Check out history of all ticket increases on AllEars.

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What questions or other info do you have about purchasing park tickets?

Please share in the comments.

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