I’ve previously talked about ways to save money getting to the World and how to save on your room while you’re there. And while you could go to Walt Disney World and have a great time without ever setting foot in the parks, most people will need admission tickets.
The first rule is to only buy what you need. By that, I mean, consider how you and your family tour the parks. Don’t buy add-ons like the Park Hopper or Water Parks Fun and More unless you really think you’ll use them. If in doubt, leave them out. You can always add these options to a base ticket later if you decide you need them. My family, for example, has found that we rarely park hop. We can save $52 per ticket (plus tax) by not getting that option. For a family of four, that’s a savings of over $200.
If you are planning on visiting the water parks or Disney Quest, but only once, it’s cheaper to buy a single day admission than to get the Water Parks Fun and More option. So unless you’re going to go to the water parks more than once during your trip, avoid this add-on.
One thing to consider if purchasing the Water Parks Fun and More option is that these admissions are in addition to the main four parks. Since a day at Typhoon Lagoon or Blizzard Beach is a full day in itself for most people, you don’t need regular park admission for the days you’re planning on going to these additional venues. For example, if you’re staying for seven days and planning on hitting the main parks for five days, Blizzard Beach one day, and spending a day at Downtown Disney and Disney Quest, then rather than getting a 7-day base ticket with the Water Parks Fun and More option, you only need a 5-day base ticket. The other two days will be covered by your WPFAM add-on.
You’re almost always better off getting your tickets from somewhere other than Disney. A word of caution here–I’d avoid getting tickets off of e-Bay or from the vendors in the Orlando area that have signs up that read, “DISCOUNT DISNEY TICKETS HERE.” You might be all right, but it’s simply not worth the risk to me. There are reputable discount vendors, however. You can go to www.touringplans.com and make use of its “Least Expensive Ticket Calculator.” It will take into account your group composition, touring preferences, and length of stay to tell you where you can get tickets for the lowest price. All of the vendors that this calculator uses are reputable. The savings won’t be huge, only about $5 to $7 per ticket. But, again, for a family of four, that’s $20 you have to spend on souvenirs.
In an earlier blog, I discussed how service members can get substantial discounts on Disney tickets at either Shades of Green or a base ITT office. If you or a member of your party is eligible, this is the way to go.
Finally, consider either an Annual Pass or buying a 10-day ticket with the No Expiration option. If you’re staying for longer than 10 days (lucky you!), you definitely need the Annual Pass. Also, if you’re planning on multiple trips within a year, this is probably your best option. With a little advance planning, you can use an Annual Pass to cover two years’ vacations. For example, if you go in July one year and June of the next, one Annual Pass can cover both trips.
Even if you’re not staying longer than 10 days or planning multiple trips within a year, you may want to consider getting an Annual Pass for one member of your group simply for the other discounts offered to Annual Pass holders. Especially if you stay at Deluxe resorts, the room discounts offered to Annual Pass holders can more than make up for the $200 extra dollars you pay for the pass. There are other discounts, too, such as for tours and dining, but these tend to be smaller. A word of caution about this strategy is in order, though. In recent years, Disney has offered discounts to the general public that are almost as good as those offered to Annual Pass holders. You can check www.mousesavers.com or www.themouseforless.com for the current pass holders discounts. It pays to crunch the numbers and see if you’ll actually come out ahead by opting for the Annual Pass.
If you’re planning multiple short trips, but not within a year of each other, consider buying a 10-day pass with the No Expiration option. This way, you’re pre-paying for your second trip. This saves you money in a couple of ways. First, a ten day Park Hopper pass with the No Expiration option is cheaper than two 5-day Park Hopper tickets. Secondly, you’re locking in today’s rates. The only sure things in life are death, taxes, and that Disney will raise its ticket prices each year. Finally, you only have to pay for any add-ons, like the Park Hopper or WPFAM, once. You should note, however, that the No Expiration option is so expensive ($223 for a 10-day ticket) that you only save a significant amount of money if you are also purchasing an add-on. Also, only consider this if you can put the tickets up somewhere safe and remember where they are. We put our tickets in a file with our other important documents, like our marriage license, the deed to our house, and our college transcripts.
We did this in 2006. Although we were only staying for a week, we went ahead and bought 10-day Park Hoppers with the No Expiration option for $1610 altogether back then. We’ve held on to the remaining five days and are finally using them this year. Our tickets for this year’s trip effectively cost $805. Buying the same admission this year would cost $1158. So we saved over $350.
A final tip that doesn’t really save you much money, but does make it easier to pay for your tickets. The 14-day window on Disney’s tickets doesn’t begin until you use them for the first time, even if you don’t purchase the No Expiration option. So if you have a trip planned in December, you can go ahead and purchase your tickets now, one at a time, if that is all your budget will allow, and hold on to them until you’re ready to go. By purchasing your tickets before the first Sunday in August, when Disney has traditionally increased their ticket prices, you lock in this year’s rate and save yourself however much the increase ends up being, usually a few percent. Again, when purchasing tickets for a family, this small savings per ticket can add up to enough to buy a meal.
Your park admission is your “ticket to the World.” There’s not an opportunity for huge savings here, but there’s still no reason to pay full price.
Contributed by: Mark (NDD #102). Mark is our resident “how to save money while living the Disney Driven Life” expert.