Advice, Tips and Tricks for Walt Disney World Tickets and Passes

LAST UPDATE: 5/18/14

There are loads of different Walt Disney World tickets and passes, and it can be very confusing to figure out which ones to buy and how to get the best discounts and deals on them. This page can help.

In addition to Walt Disney World ticket discounts, there are lots of ways to maximize the use of your Disney World ticket. You can get a lot of extra value out of it if you know what you’re doing!

Read the sections below to get specific tips for each of the major Disney World tickets as well as Disney passes sold in advance, at the gate and at the Disney resort hotels.

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Other Walt Disney World Ticket Information Pages

Very Important Tip!

The first thing you should do when you buy Walt Disney World tickets is make a photocopy or take a picture of the reverse side (the side with all the numbers). Taking a picture with your phone is often the easiest way, but email the pictures to yourself or someone else in case the phone is lost or stolen with the tickets. If your tickets go missing, your only hope of getting them replaced is to have the coded information on the back. The seemingly random numbers, letters and dates you’ll see in a couple of locations on the backs of your tickets will help Disney replace them. Disney will almost always reissue a pass if you can provide that information, though it is not obligated to do so: the tickets state that “Disney is not responsible for misplaced, lost or stolen tickets.” Note that they will also void the serial numbers of the missing tickets which means they will come up in the computer system as “potentially stolen.” If you should ever get your tickets reissued and then later find the missing tickets, throw them away. If you leave them lying around and then inadvertently use them, you’ll have to spend some time explaining to Disney security how you came to have tickets that were reported missing.

If you buy your tickets at the gate, save the receipt, since that can also be used to look up lost tickets. A receipt from a non-Disney source, such as AAA or a ticket broker, won’t have any information that helps with replacing tickets, so it is especially important to take a picture or make a copy if you get your tickets that way.

Even a regular receipt from the Disney Store won’t have your ticket numbers on it, though reader Kathy R reports that her local Disney Store gave her a separate receipt with the pass numbers on it. We don’t know if all Disney Stores do this. If you don’t see a serial number on your receipt that matches the info on the back of your tickets, be sure to make a photocopy.

Another option is to scan the backs, then email the file to yourself. As long as you have a web-based email account, you can retrieve the file from anywhere.

5 seconds and a free photocopy saved us $200.00!

There is one bit of info on your site that is absolutely imperative that EVERY Disney World visitor MUST follow. Take 5 seconds and make a PHOTOCOPY of your tickets.

We purchased three – 4 day park hopper passes… I had the tickets photocopied. On the 2nd day we discovered we had lost one of our tickets. We did panic for a few minutes, until we remembered I photocopied the tickets….

When we got to the Magic Kingdom we handed them the photocopy of our tickets. The guest relations person … said had we not done this there would’ve been nothing they could’ve done for us other than sell us a new 4 day park hopper ticket. Instead, they reissued the ticket.

Rick J from Colorado Springs

Where NOT to Buy Disney World Tickets

There are lots of legitimate ways to get discounted Walt Disney World passes. Unfortunately, there are also many ways to get ripped off.

Never buy partially used passes.

For instance, perhaps someone says he bought a 7-day ticket and ended up using only 5 days of it, so he’s reselling the remaining 2 days. Sounds good, right? Wrong, and here’s why:

  1. There is absolutely no way to tell whether the pass actually has the number of days remaining that the seller claims, until you get to the gate and see if it works.
  2. Disney tickets are nontransferable. Each ticket can be used only by one person. Disney uses a biometric finger scan system at the gate that takes a partial fingerprint the first time the ticket is used, and records it on the ticket’s magnetic strip. If the scan doesn’t match, you can’t use the ticket.
  3. In Florida it is illegal to resell partly-used multi-day admission tickets: click here to read about the arrest of some people who were doing just that. Used ticket brokers are everywhere in the Orlando/Kissimmee area. They are generally fly-by-night operators with small storefronts or a desk in another business, such as a motel or restaurant. They mostly sell partially used passes. It’s likely that you’ll get to the gate and find out the passes are no good. Needless to say, Disney is not going to help you with this. It is a great way to ruin a vacation. Here’s a link to a news story describing a recent fraud involving worthless tickets.

Websites that seem to be offering super low prices on Disney tickets are almost guaranteed to be scams.

There are legitimate, authorized Disney ticket brokers (such as Undercover Tourist) but they don’t have a lot of profit margin once they pay Disney. There is no way a ticket dealer can offer new, authentic Disney tickets at extremely low prices without losing money.

Scam sites may outright rip you off (charge you for tickets you never receive), or even worse, they may just be harvesting your personal information and credit card number so they can sell that information to criminals.

Some signs of a scam ticket site:

It is a very bad idea to buy Disney passes on eBay or Craigslist.

Unfortunately both of these online resources are extremely popular with con artists. Recently scammers have even taken to presenting fake “invoices” or “receipts” that seem to be from legitimate businesses that supposedly sold them the tickets. They always have some sad story about buying nonrefundable tickets, and now they can’t go, and they just want to get some of their money back. But the passes they sell you are partially or completely used up, or were never valid to begin with.

Tickets can look perfectly new and real, yet be worthless. For example, they may be selling real Disney ticket stock shoplifted from a Disney Store, but since the tickets were never paid for, they have not been validated and they have zero value.

There is no way to find out if the tickets you buy from a stranger (or even “a friend of a friend”) are any good in advance of your trip. You are very likely to arrive at the gate and find out you have invalid passes.

Websites that offer exceptionally low prices for Disney tickets may be promoting timeshares.

Look at the very bottom of the site — it probably says something like “This advertising material is being used for the purpose of soliciting sales of vacation ownership interests.” That means you would have to attend a timeshare presentation in order to get tickets at the advertised price.

Yes, many timeshare resorts will give you some sort of discount on Disney World passes — or maybe even a couple of free one-day passes — if you will sit through a hard-sell “90-minute presentation” (which usually takes 2 hours or more). Some people don’t mind spending part of their vacation doing this, but to us this is not worthwhile. We do not list any ticket discounts that involve timeshares.

Thank you to Ron L for suggesting this topic.

Deciding Which Tickets to Buy

We wish we could give you a quick and easy way to decide, but picking which tickets to purchase is complicated because every vacation is different.

It’s always wise to spend some time developing an itinerary BEFORE you buy your passes, because the right passes for you really depend on how you plan to spend your days. Some (actually, most) people will spend each day in only one theme park. Others like to “hop” between parks and water parks in one day. Some families with teenagers find themselves going to DisneyQuest a lot, and only certain passes include that option. And so on…

It’s important to get out your calculator, take a look at the prices and figure out which tickets make sense for your situation.

A few hints:

Where to Get the Lowest Prices – In a Nutshell

The chart below lists the best place to buy the most popular tickets sold to the general public.

However, be sure to check all your options. You may be overlooking a special deal for which you qualify, such as Florida resident, military/civil service, Disney Vacation Club and corporate discounts, which are not included in this chart. There are also some special tickets for visitors from UK/Ireland that we don’t list on the chart.

Ticket Type Cheapest Sources
1-Day Magic Your Way Ticket at the gate – there are no discounts for the general public
2-Day Magic Your Way Ticket at the gate – there are no discounts for the general public
3-Day, 4-Day, 5-Day, 6-Day, 7-Day, 8-Day, 9-Day or 10-Day Magic Your Way Tickets Undercover Tourist, AAA (rarely)
Seasonal Pass, Annual Pass, Premium Annual Pass Auto Club South

1-Day, 2-Day and 3-Day Magic Your Way Tickets – Adding Value

If you’re not already familiar with Magic Your Way Tickets, click here to learn the basics.

1-Day, 2-Day and 3-Day tickets are the least economical option because Disney “front loads” the cost of its tickets: the first 3 days on the Base Ticket are by far the most expensive. After the first 3 days, the cost of adding extra days is much lower: only $20 + tax to add Day 4 and $10 + tax per day for each additonal day, up to a total of 10 days. Obviously Disney wants you to stay for 4 days or longer.

So you get the most value out of a 4-day or longer ticket, but perhaps you want a shorter ticket for one reason or another. Maybe two or three days in a major theme park is all you can handle during one vacation, for example. Here are some ways to stretch the value of the shorter tickets.

You can add the Park Hopper option.

If you want to “hop” between parks on the same day, you can add the Park Hopper option to your Base Ticket. It is true that at a flat rate of $35 ($37.28 with tax) for add-on to a 1 day Magic Kingdom ticket; $40 ($42.60 with tax) for add-on to a 1 day Epcot, Disney’s Hollywood Studios or Animal Kingdom ticket; or $49 ($52.19 with tax) for tickets of 2 or 3 days, the Park Hopper option adds quite a bit to the cost. But if you use it for admission to two or more parks per day, it can be a decent value.

Ideally you’ll be adding the Park Hopper option to your ticket on a day when one of the parks you want to visit stays open late. That way you get more hours to use the full value of the ticket. Depending on the season, you may be able to enter one theme park as early as 8:00 am and stay until the closing of a different park as late as midnight.

It is possible to “hit the highlights” of all four parks in two days if you travel during a time when the parks are open extended hours, and if you have a ton of energy. This is definitely not optimal for a first-time visitor, but it can be done.

With the Park Hopper option, some people have managed to hit all 4 parks (though only a few attractions in each) in one day. However, it’s a terrible idea for a first-time visitor or for anyone without superhuman endurance.

You can add the Water Park Fun & More option.

The Water Park Fun & More option adds one visit to a water park or DisneyQuest (or you can choose from other options, most of which are less valuable) for each day of main theme park admission included on the ticket. So for a 3-Day Ticket, it adds three water park or DisneyQuest visits.

The cost is a flat rate of $55 ($58.58 with tax) for add-on to a 1 day Magic Kingdom ticket and $60 ($63.90 with tax) for add-on to a 1 day Epcot, Disney’s Hollywood Studios or Animal Kingdom ticket or any 2-day or longer ticket. Two adult DisneyQuest admissions purchased separately would normally cost $95.86 with tax. Two adult water park admissions purchased separately would normally cost $112.90 with tax.

Here’s the best part: the Water Park Fun & More “visits” DO NOT have to be used on the same day as your main theme park admission! They are completely separate admissions and they are good for 14 days from the first use of your ticket. You can visit the theme parks and the water parks/DisneyQuest/etc. in any order.

In other words, you could buy a 3-Day Base Ticket, add the Water Park Fun & More (which gives you three visits to water park/DisneyQuest/etc.) and use that ticket on up to six different days! For example, you could spend your first day at Epcot, second day at Typhoon Lagoon water park, third day at DisneyQuest, fourth day at Magic Kingdom, fifth day at Animal Kingdom and sixth day at Blizzard Beach water park. That’s a good deal for $355.71 per adult, tax included — you’re spending about $59 a day. It also helps to break up your theme park days, which can be gruelling, with some more-relaxing water park and DisneyQuest days.

For more tips on getting the most value from the Water Park Fun & More add-on, click here.

You can add both the Park Hopper and the Water Park Fun & More options.

You can add BOTH the Park Hopper and Water Park & More options to your ticket for a flat rate of just $81 ($86.27 with tax) for add-on to a 1 day Magic Kingdom ticket and $86 ($91.59 with tax) for add-on to a 1 day Epcot, Disney’s Hollywood Studios or Animal Kingdom ticket or any 2-day or longer ticket.

You could buy a 2-Day Base Ticket, add the Park Hopper and the Water Park Fun & More options, and use that ticket on up to four different days, plus you could “hop” between the major parks on the days when you visit those. For example, you could spend your first day at Animal Kingdom in the morning and Magic Kingdom in the evening, second day at a water park, third day at DisneyQuest and fourth day at Hollywood Studios in the morning and Epcot in the evening. You could do all that for $291.81 per adult, tax included, which works out to $72.95 per day.

We recommend this option only for people with a lot of energy who don’t mind cramming a few days full of activity.

Maximizing the Value of Magic Your Way Tickets

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Best Deal for Repeat Visitors

Two things to consider if you visit Walt Disney World regularly:

  1. The per-admission cost is much lower on the longer Magic Your Way tickets; in other words, the more days you buy, the less you pay per admission.
  2. Ticket prices have typically increased annually, at a rate higher than the rate of inflation.

If you know you will be visiting at least three times in the future, you may be able to save money by purchasing a longer ticket and adding the No Expiration option. Use some days now and some on future trips, and benefit from the discounted per-admission cost and the locked-in price.

The 10-day Magic Your Way tickets are usually the best deal for those who “buy and hold” tickets as described above.

If a 10-day No Expiration ticket will not fully cover your ticket needs for at least three vacations, it is not a good buy. If you will have to “supplement” it by purchasing another 1-, 2- or 3-day ticket for one of your vacations, it will cost you more than just buying separate tickets for each vacation.

Important note: it is difficult to find out how many theme park days and water park admissions remain on a ticket until you arrive at Walt Disney World and check with Guest Services, so it’s important to keep track of this information if you are going to use the tickets during multiple trips. We put a sticky note on each ticket and write down how many theme park days and water park admissions remain.

If you will use up the days on a 10-day Magic Your Way ticket with Park Hopper and No Expiration within 366 days, an Annual Pass is cheaper.

“No Expiration” Ticket Option Harder to Get

If you are a repeat visitor to Walt Disney World and you like to use “No Expiration” tickets over the course of multiple visits, be aware that the “No Expiration” option was removed from the ticket booth signs at Disney World, though you can still have the option added at the ticket booths if you ask for it specifically.

Disney says this is to avoid “confusion” and that the option is not very popular. Hmm, we wonder how popular it will be now that almost no one knows it exists? We suspect Disney plans to phase out the option eventually. In any case, your only options for buying “No Expiration” on your Walt Disney World tickets are to go to the ticket booth and ask for it, to buy tickets online or to buy from a licensed ticket vendor such as Undercover Tourist.

Water Park Fun & More Hints

The Water Park Fun & More option gives you a certain number of “visits” to the water parks and/or DisneyQuest (as well as other options, most of which are less valuable). It can be added to any Magic Your Way ticket.

Water Park Fun & More “visits” DO NOT have to be used on the same day as your main theme park admissions! They are completely separate admissions and they are good for 14 days from the first use of your ticket (or forever, if you purchase the No Expiration option). For example, you could buy a 7-Day Base Ticket, add the Water Park Fun & More option (which gives you 7 water park or DisneyQuest admissions), and use that ticket on up to 14 different days! You can visit the theme parks and the water parks/DisneyQuest in any order.

MouseSavers.com reader Tim G offers a different perspective: he likes the Water Park Fun & More add-on because you can use the water park “visits” on the same day as the theme park admissions, so you can effectively “hop” (between a water park and a theme park, not between major theme parks) without buying the Park Hopper option. He points out that for some people it may make sense to visit a water park all day and when it closes (typically around 5:00 pm), “hop” to a theme park and spend the evening there. He particularly likes to schedule those post-water park evenings to correspond with showings of special theme park events that are only offered on limited dates, such as the Main Street Electrical Parade and Fantasmic!. He points out that since he’s already done those special evening events on his water park days, on a different day he can visit that theme park all day when the special event (i.e., Fantasmic!) is not showing, which means lower crowd levels that day.

Tip: if you use a “visit” from your Water Park Fun & More add-on for the Oak Trail golf course, you must make a tee time reservation in advance. Ask the front desk of your Disney hotel for a free cab voucher to and from the course. The Water Park Fun & More covers your green fee and kids under 18 can borrow clubs for free. Adults will have to rent clubs if they don’t bring their own. Oak Trail is a walking course, but a pull cart can be rented for a small fee.

Little-Known Tip for Childrens’ Tickets

A neat thing about leftover days on a child’s “no expiration” ticket: if the child has turned 10 since you bought the ticket, he or she will need an “adult” ticket to enter the theme parks. In these circumstances, the child’s ticket may be presented at any Guest Services location, in person only, to have it exchanged for the required “adult” ticket — at no additional charge! This only applies to partially used tickets that have not expired. Thanks to Lois H for the info.

Upgrading Tickets

You can apply the value of an unused Magic Your Way ticket, or even a partially-used one with days left on it, toward the purchase of a higher-priced ticket or seasonal/annual pass, subject to some restrictions (see below). To upgrade a ticket, you must go in person to a Walt Disney World ticket booth (outside all four major parks and the two water parks) or a Guest Services location (inside and outside all four major parks and two locations in Downtown Disney).

You should know going in that ticket upgrades are a complicated subject. We once asked six different Disney employees a seemingly simple question about how much credit toward an upgrade you would get from an older ticket, and got six subtly different answers. The tips below represent our best understanding based on many reader reports and our own experiences with ticket upgrades. You may find that a cast member will insist that the information we give here is all wrong. Our advice is not to argue. You can ask nicely if there’s a supervisor there who can help you understand it better, and sometimes that will help. If not, you can either accept what they’re offering or politely decline to do the upgrade and take the ticket to another Guest Services location or ticket window, where you may get a better answer.

Old tickets purchased prior to 1/2/05 (“Park Hoppers”) can no longer be upgraded, or converted to Magic Your Way tickets. All you can do is use up the remaining days on them.

Besides adding days to a Magic Your Way ticket, you can also upgrade by adding additional options within 14 days of first use, OR before the admissions on the original tickets are used up, whichever comes first. For instance:

Using Old Park Hopper Passes

The old Park Hopper and Park Hopper PLUS tickets were no longer sold after January 1, 2005. However, Park Hopper and Park Hopper PLUS tickets that have already been purchased will be honored.

Many people aren’t aware of some important facts about the regular Walt Disney World Park Hopper and Park Hopper PLUS passes:

  1. Unused days and “plus” options on the old Park Hopper and Park Hopper PLUS passes never expire, except for a few very rare types, which will have an expiration date printed on them. So don’t waste them! Even though you may have paid much less per day for your admission, Disney will honor the remaining days without any upcharge. If the magnetic stripe on your old ticket is ruined (or it’s so old it doesn’t have a magnetic stripe), Disney will reissue the ticket on new ticket stock, with the same number of days and PLUS options that were remaining on the old ticket.
  2. The “plus” options on a Park Hopper PLUS pass do not have to be used on days when you go to the theme parks. That means you can use a 5-Day Park Hopper PLUS (which gives you five days of theme park admission and two “plus” options good at the water parks) on a total of 7 days if you wish! The theme park days and “plus” admissions don’t have to be consecutive and they don’t have to be used in any particular order. For instance, you could spend 2 days in the theme parks, take two days off, visit the water parks on 2 other days and then use the final 2 theme park days.
  3. Even if one of the current theme parks did not exist when the Park Hopper ticket was sold, it will be honored for all four of the main theme parks now. However, the PLUS options on old Park Hopper PLUS tickets have not been upgraded to include all of the same admissions included in the present-day Water Park Fun & More add-on. The PLUS options are good only at the water parks, Wide World of Sports and Oak Trail golf course. (Oak Trail is Disney’s substitution for Pleasure Island admission, which was included in PLUS but no longer exists.)

Old Park Hopper tickets purchased prior to 1/2/05 can no longer be upgraded, or converted to Magic Your Way tickets. All you can do is use up the remaining days on them.

Are Annual Passes For You?

For some people an Annual Pass is the most economical choice. Generally speaking, if you will be going into the Walt Disney World theme parks for at least 12 days in a year, an Annual Pass is well worth considering.

An Annual Pass is good for 366 days. If you buy one on April 8, 2013, it will be valid through April 8, 2014! (Yes, you get an extra day, except in Leap Years.) So if you take an annual vacation to Walt Disney World, just make it a little earlier the second year, and you can use the previous year’s pass. For instance, if you bought and activated your pass on April 8 and vacationed April 8-14 this year, come back next year from April 2-8 and your passes will still be valid. Bingo – “free” admission on your second vacation!

Even for somewhat shorter stays, consider the substantial benefits that are often available to Annual Passholders: hotel discounts, discounts on entertainment, free parking and the opportunity to buy a Tables in Wonderland card that saves 20% on most of Disney’s full-service restaurants. You may find it’s worthwhile to purchase an Annual Pass for at least one person in your party, just for those benefits.

To learn more about buying Disney World Annual Passes, click here.

Premier Passport

If you plan to visit Walt Disney World and Disneyland in the same year, it may be worth considering the Premier Passport, which is good for one year of unlimited admission at both Disneyland and Walt Disney World. It offers the same privileges and discounts as a Premium Annual Passport at Disneyland and a Premium Annual Pass at Walt Disney World.

While it’s very expensive at $1010.82 (including tax), in certain cases the Premier Passport is a great deal. It’s a better deal than buying separate tickets if you would otherwise buy one of these combinations within a one-year period:

In all of the examples above, it’s cheaper to buy the Premier Passport, plus it includes water parks and DisneyQuest at Walt Disney World and gives you better discounts and no blockout dates at Disneyland.

There are no additional discounts on the Premier Passport.