You would be forgiven for thinking that you need a degree in rocket science to understand the Disney World ticket system. At first look it is a confusing array of options with strange terms such as park hopper and Magic Your Way. Don’t worry though, not all ticket types are available to all guests and once you understand the basics you will be able to narrow down the list to find the ticket type which is most appropriate for your Walt Disney World vacation.
The ticket options range from a One Day One Park option which as it says on the label is good for one day’s admission to one of the four theme parks, to the top of the range Premium Annual Pass which will get you into every Disney World theme and water park with park hopper privileges every day for 365 days.
An average family, staying for a week’s vacation will have about a dozen different ticket options to choose from. Spending the time to understand the different perks included with the different options could save you lots of money, which is important if you are interested in cheap Disney vacations. A little time spent on research will help you avoid purchasing a more expensive ticket which has features you’ll probably never use.
In 2005 Disney introduced the Magic Your Way ticket system, which is essentially a pick ‘n mix way to buy your admission tickets. You start out with a Base Ticket and then add on various options to tailor the ticket to your needs. There is a volume discount, so the more days admission you add to your Base Ticket the lower the cost of a day’s entry becomes. Base Tickets can be bought for a minimum of one and a maximum of ten day’s admission. You can only visit one park per day with a Base Ticket and they expire 14 days from the first date of use.
There are three add-on options available at an additional cost to increase the flexibility of your Base Ticket
1. Park Hopper – For a flat fee you can add park hopping privileges to your ticket, which allows you to visit more than one park each day. If you are only buying one or two day’s admission this can prove expensive, but becomes a more affordable option for longer visits.
2. No Expiration Date – Daily entry becomes cheaper the more day’s admission you buy so if you are planning a short trip consider buying a ten day pass and adding the no expiration date option. This means that any unused days never expire so you can use the pass on a future vacation. The option price depends on the number of days you add to your Base Ticket but cannot be added to a one-day pass.
3. Plus Pack – If you want to visit the water parks or Disney Quest then you might want to consider adding a plus to your Base Ticket. The number of pluses you can buy is fixed and is tied to the number of days on your Base Ticket. for example a one, two or three-day ticket has two plusses while a ten-day ticket has five.
It is possible to add options to your ticket after you have bought it, so you can start with a Base Ticket and then choose to add park hopper privileges or plusses after you have started using it.
Annual Passes provide unlimited admission to the four theme parks for one year and an add-on is available to give unlimited admission to the water parks too. Perks available to Annual Pass holders include free parking, shopping discounts and ad hoc room rate discounts at Disney hotels.
If you are traveling from the United Kingdom then your ticket choices are different. A number of advance purchase tickets are available to British travelers including a Five-Day Premium Ticket which includes park hopping privileges to all four theme parks for five days and three admissions to the water parks. The Seven-Day Premium ticket increases this to seven day’s admission and five water park admissions. Both expire 14-days from first use. Alternatively the Ultimate Tickets provide unlimited admission to the theme and water parks as well as park hopping privileges for either 14 or 21 days.
Before you choose your ticket options you need to have an idea about what you want to do during your vacation; it does not make sense to pay for options that you won’t get around to using after all. Don’t forget that sometimes you might save money in the long run by buying a more expensive ticket. For example if you plan to visit Walt Disney World on vacation again next year see if you can travel a couple of weeks earlier as this will allow you to take advantage of the Annual Pass options; effectively using the same ticket for both vacations. As Disney often offers hotel discounts to Annual Pass holders you might find that the discount you can obtain on next year’s accommodation more than covers the additional cost of the pass.