Advice, Tips and Tricks for Walt Disney World Tickets and Passes
LAST UPDATE: 2/16/21
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.
Disney World ticket and annual pass prices changed February 11, 2020. If you haven’t bought tickets since Disney went to a variable price per day for multi-day tickets, you may want to read our guide to Disney World tiered ticket pricing to get up to speed on the big pricing change.
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.
- Very Important Tip!
- Where NOT to Buy Disney World Tickets
- Deciding Which Tickets to Buy
- Where to Get the Lowest Prices – In a Nutshell
- 1-Day, 2-Day and 3-Day Disney World Tickets – Adding Value
- Water Park & Sports and Park Hopper Plus Tips
- Making Changes to Disney World Tickets
- Expiration And Upgrade Policies For Disney World Tickets
- Using Pre-2005 “Park Hopper” Passes
- Are Annual Passes For You?
Other Walt Disney World Ticket Information Pages
- Regular Ticket Prices
- Discounts on Standard Tickets and Passes
- Discounts on Tickets for International Visitors
- Discounts on Water Park Tickets
The first thing you should do when you buy physical Walt Disney World tickets is link them to your MyDisneyExperience account or make a photocopy or take a picture of the reverse side (the side with all the numbers). We tend to do both. 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 and they’re linked to your MyDisneyExperience account, you can get a new ticket card or MagicBand at Guest Relations by giving them the email address or other info associated with your MyDisneyExperience account and showing them an ID. If you haven’t yet linked them, 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 tickets 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 e-tickets, save the receipt with the will-call numbers on it, because that can be used to re-issue the tickets if you ever lose them or if they expire unused and drop out of your MyDisneyExperience account.
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
There are lots of legitimate ways to get discounted Walt Disney World tickets. 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:
- 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.
- 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.
- In Florida it is illegal to resell partly-used multi-day admission tickets; 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.
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:
- Disney does not allow its authorized ticket dealers to use the word Disney in their URLs (domain names or website addresses). If the site’s URL has the word Disney in it and it is not a site operated by Disney, do not buy tickets there.
- Disney does not allow legitimate ticket brokers to sell discounted 1-Day tickets. If you see a site offering those at a discount, run away fast.
- Some sites require you to pay by Western Union or other cash-equivalent services, which means you’ll never be able to get the money back. That should be a huge red flag. ALWAYS pay by credit card (not debit card) when making purchases on the Internet!
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 non-refundable 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.
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.
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. 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.
Remember that a multi-day ticket doesn’t have to be used consecutively, so even if you’re planning to go for 8 days, you don’t absolutely need an 8-Day ticket. A 5-Day, 1 Park Per Day or Park Hopper ticket is valid for 8 days, and a 4-Day Park Hopper Plus is also good for 8 days. On the days you don’t go to the main theme parks, you can go to water parks, golf, swim in the pool, go to Universal Orlando or Legoland, etc. See our complete guide to Disney World ticket validity length for more.
Special note: during this coronavirus situation, you also need to get Disney theme park reservations for the first Walt Disney World theme park you want to visit each day. Before buying tickets, you’ll want to check the park reservation calendar to make sure you can get into the parks you want to visit, then buy your tickets, link the tickets to MyDisneyExperience, then go back to the park reservation calendar to lock in your park reservations. If your plans change, you can change your park reservations later, assuming there’s availability at the park you want to switch to. Park hopping is available from 2:00 pm until park closing; read more about how Park Hopper currently works. Walt Disney World plans to reopen Blizzard Beach water park on March 7, 2021.
A few other hints:
- Plan to go for more than one day. It’s a terrible deal to buy 1-Day tickets, and the new price tiers make the value proposition even worse. 1-Day Park Hoppers are practically highway robbery. Obviously if you happen to be in Orlando for 1 day and really want to see the Magic Kingdom, go for it, but if you’re planning a family trip to Orlando, it makes good sense to stay in the Walt Disney World area for several days. 1-, 2-, 3- and 4-Day tickets are pretty expensive, but adding day 5 only costs around $25-$30 (depending on ticket type and season), and each additional day after that is $15-$25 additional. If you need to save money, we recommend focusing first on staying off property and saving money on food rather than shortening your stay. More days are always better, because you’re not trying to pack in every last ride in each park in one day or less. It’s amazing how much more relaxing it is to visit a Disney theme park when you know you will have a chance to come back if you miss something. If you can possibly swing it, we recommend 5-6 full park days. You have time to devote a full day to each park, plus one or two days to pick up the attractions you missed or want to ride again.
- If you’re not sure whether you need the Park Hopper option, get tickets without it. It’s easy to underestimate how much time it takes to hop between parks. From the time you make the decision to leave the first park to the time you’re fully into the second park is often more than an hour, and that hour is time you could be spending in a park. We think that Park Hopper is most useful for folks who tend to take a break in the middle of the day. That way it’s really no loss to go to one park in the morning and a different park in the evening. We are in that camp – we almost always take a break in the middle of the day, and we almost always buy Park Hoppers. We have also used base tickets and stuck to a single park per day on some trips, and still had a great time. Keep in mind that you can always add Park Hopper to your ticket at any Guest Relations location or ticket booth, so if you decide that you really want to go to a second park one day, you can pay for the Park Hopper option right then, when you know you need it. That said, upgrading your tickets takes valuable time, so in the end it’s all about your own instincts as to the time/money question.
- If you plan to stay more than 10 days, you run into the problem of Disney not offering tickets longer than 10 days (except to EU residents). Disney will suggest getting two tickets or buying an annual pass, both of which are extremely pricey for a single trip, and may not be necessary. Consider just not going into the parks at all on some of the days. You are not required to use the days right in a row. With a 10-Day base ticket you can go any days you want within a 14-day period, and do other things on the days you don’t go into the theme parks. There are lots of free and low-cost things to do at Disney World like mini-golf, touring the deluxe resorts, etc. Or you might want to rent a car and visit some other Orlando-area attractions like Universal Orlando or Legoland. Or you could add the Park Hopper Plus option to a ticket and use the fun visits for some of your days. Keep in mind that even though a 10-Day ticket with Water Park & Sports or Park Hopper Plus ostensibly has 20 days worth of admissions on it, it still is only valid for 15 days.
- If you are planning one very long stay (13+ nights), or two stays that add up to 11 nights or more, you should consider a Platinum Pass. The exact break-even point where the pass becomes cheaper than two tickets will vary based on what season the dates in question fall on. Even if the Platinum Pass is a few dollars more, you’ll get discounts at a significant number of shops and restaurants that could make it worth your while.
- If you will be buying Base (1 Park Per Day) Tickets and plan to visit the water parks at least twice, adding the Water Park & Sports option for $74.55 is always cheaper than buying two water park admissions, and you’ll get the Park Hopper option as well.
- If you will be buying Water Park & Sports Tickets, upgrading to Park Hopper Plus is very cheap at $15.98-$37.28 depending on ticket length, which might change your assessment of whether park hopping is worth the money.
- If you will be buying Park Hopper Tickets and plan to visit a water park at least once, adding the Park Hopper Plus option is always cheaper than buying a single water park admission. Cost of the Park Hopper Plus upgrade (over and above the Park Hopper) is only $21.30 for any ticket.
- If you will be spending a lot of time at the water parks, consider buying a specialized annual pass for that one option (i.e. Water Park Annual Pass). It may be cheaper than buying individual admissions or upgrading to a Platinum Plus Pass, though it’s never cheaper than adding Park Hopper Plus to a ticket.
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 regular Disney World Ticket||at the gate – there are no discounts for the general public|
|2-Day, 3-Day, 4-Day, 5-Day, 6-Day, 7-Day, 8-Day, 9-Day or 10-Day Tickets||Undercover Tourist|
|Platinum Pass, Platinum Plus Pass||Auto Club South|
If you’re not already familiar with regular Disney World Tickets, you can read our overview of Disney World tickets and Park Hopper options.
1-Day to 4-Day tickets are the least economical option because Disney “front loads” the cost of its tickets: the first 4 days on the Base Ticket are by far the most expensive. After the first 4 days, the cost of adding extra days is much lower: $7-$12 for day 5 and beyond.
So you get the most value out of a 5-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 the Park Hopper option adds quite a bit to the cost (between $69.23 and $90.53, depending on the ticket). But if you use it for admission to two or more parks per day, it can be a decent value.
Special note: Park hopping is available from 2:00 pm until park closing; read more about how Park Hopper currently works.
Ideally you’ll be using the Park Hopper options on days 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 7:00 am and stay until the closing of a different park as late as 1 am.
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 & Sports option.
The Water Park & Sports option adds one visit to a water park (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, and extends the valid length of the ticket by one day. So for a 3-Day Ticket, it adds three water park visits.
Special note: Walt Disney World plans to reopen Blizzard Beach water park on March 7, 2021. If you already have a 2020 ticket with the Water Park & Sports option, you can trade it in toward a different base ticket, possibly covering more days or different days if that makes sense for you. If that new ticket costs less than the one you current hold, Disney will not typically refund any money, but in this unusual situation where Disney can’t honor all the Water Park & Sports options, Disney might offer some kind of accommodation.
The cost to add Water Park & Sports to a Base ticket is a flat $74.55, for any length of ticket. Two adult peak-season water park admissions purchased separately would normally cost $146.98 with tax, so if you want to visit the water parks twice, the Water Park & Sports add-on for any 2-Day or longer ticket is a great deal. It’s also a good deal if you want to visit a water park at least once and use at least one other visit such as NBA Experience or Oak Trail.
Here’s the best part: the water park or other “visits” DO NOT have to be used on the same day as your main theme park admission! They are completely separate admissions. You can visit the theme parks and the water parks in any order. Also, buying a Water Park & Sports ticket extends the valid length of your ticket by 1 day, giving you some extra time to use your extra admissions. It also helps to break up your theme park days, which can be gruelling, with some more-relaxing water park days.
In other words, you could buy a 3-Day Base Ticket, add the Water Park & Sports option (which gives you three visits to water parks) and use that ticket on up to 6 different days! For example, you could spend your first day at Epcot, second day at Typhoon Lagoon water park, third day do a round of golf at Oak Trail, fourth day at Magic Kingdom, fifth day at Animal Kingdom and sixth day at the NBA Experience. That’s a good deal for $410.44-$550.55 (depending on season) per adult, tax included — about $72-$95 per day. Obviously, it helps a lot to go in low season when the tickets are cheaper.
You can add the Park Hopper Plus option.
The Park Hopper Plus option adds the park hopping feature of the Park Hopper option and the water park visits of the Water Park & Sports option.
Special note: Park hopping is available from 2:00 pm until park closing; read more about how Park Hopper currently works. Walt Disney World plans to reopen Blizzard Beach water park on March 7, 2021. If you already have a 2020 ticket with this option, you can trade it in toward a different base ticket, possibly covering more days or different days if that makes sense for you. If that new ticket costs less than the one you current hold, Disney will not typically refund any money, but in this unusual situation where Disney can’t honor all the ticket options, Disney might offer some kind of accommodation.
The cost to add “Plus” to a Park Hopper ticket is a flat $21.30, for any length of ticket. Adding Park Hopper Plus to a Water Park & Sports Ticket ranges from $15.98 to $37.28, depending on ticket length. To add Park Hopper Plus to a Base Ticket ranges from $90.53 to $111.83, depending on ticket length.
If you are already planning to get either a Park Hopper or a Water Park & Sports ticket, upgrading to Park Hopper Plus is really pretty amazingly cheap. If you can use any of the features even once, it’s a remarkably good deal.
The Water Park & Sports option (formerly called “Water Park Fun & More”) gives you a certain number of “visits” to the water parks (as well as other options, most of which are less valuable). It can be added to any regular Disney World ticket.
Water Park & Sports “visits” DO NOT have to be used on the same day as your main theme park admissions! For example, you could buy a 7-Day Base Ticket, add the Water Park & Sports option (which gives you 7 water park admissions), and use that ticket on up to 11 different days! You can visit the theme parks and the water parks in any order.
Tip: if you use a “visit” from your Water Park & Sports add-on for the Oak Trail golf course, you must make a tee time reservation in advance. Ask the front desk of any Disney hotel for a free cab voucher to and from the course. The Water Park & Sports ticket 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.
If you have already purchased park tickets and find that your plans have changed, you can usually make changes to your tickets such as adding days or features. You can usually apply the value of an unused ticket (or one that’s partially used, but not yet fully used up) toward the purchase of any higher-priced ticket or annual pass (including renewals), subject to some restrictions. You can add days to a Disney World ticket, or add additional options (such as Water Park & Sports, Park Hopper or Park Hopper Plus), or both. This is a complicated subject that we cover in our Upgrading & Changing Tickets section, just below.
- Understanding Ticket Expiration
- Upgrading and Changing Tickets
- Little-Known Tip for No-Expiration Childrens’ Tickets
Disney’s current theme-park tickets are similar to the previous “Magic Your Way” tickets, but with some subtly different policies. We cover both the old and new policies below.
- Important: even if a ticket has expired, if it has never been used, you can still apply its value towards a new ticket. See Upgrading and Changing Tickets below.
- Any current-issue standard Disney World ticket expires after every admission on the ticket has been used, or on the listed expiration date, whichever comes first. When you buy current tickets, you choose a start date and a length, which sets a hard set of dates that the ticket can be used for. Before the start date or after the expiration date, the ticket cannot be used for admission.
- Any older “Magic Your Way” ticket (purchased from stock created prior to October 16, 2018) or current “Flexible” ticket expires after every admission on the ticket has been used, or 14 days after it is first used, or the listed expiration date, whichever comes first. With these tickets, you don’t have to choose a start date – the start date is set when you enter a park for the first time. The 14 days is inclusive, so if your first use of the ticket is February 1, the last day the ticket is valid is February 14. Or, if it’s a 3-Day ticket, and you use up that third day of admission, the ticket is expired as of the end of that day, even if it hasn’t been 14 days since you first used it.
- Older tickets that didn’t have an expiration date when purchased (issued on or before February 11, 2017) do not expire if unused, but do expire 14 days after first use or when all admissions have been used up. The exception is tickets that were purchased with the “No Expiration” option, which was available until February 22, 2015; those tickets expire only when the last admission is used, no matter how long it takes. You can’t get these tickets any more, but if you have some in a drawer, they’re valid and don’t expire. Usually they’ll say “No Expiration” on them, but not always. When in doubt, try to link them to MyDisneyExperience, which will tell you what kind of ticket they are.
- Really old pre-2005 Walt Disney World tickets don’t expire until the last admission is used, unless they were special complimentary or other special-purpose tickets, which will typically have an expiration date printed on them. Again, if you find some of the pre-2005 tickets in a drawer, they’re still potentially good if all the admissions aren’t used up.
- Some uncommon tickets have different expiration dates printed on them. They tend to be for school groups or foreign tour groups, and they must be fully used before the date listed.
- If you know a ticket will expire unused, take action! If at all possible, change the dates on the ticket to new dates far in the future, hopefully one that doesn’t cost much more than the current value. If you get close to the new expiration date, push the dates out again, and keep doing it until you plan a new trip. If you let the ticket expire, it will no longer show up in your MyDisneyExperience account and it becomes more complicated to trade it in for a new ticket. Also, since you don’t necessarily have a physical ticket, MyDisneyExperience may be the only place you can see that you own it. Unused tickets still have value in trade toward a new ticket or annual pass purchase, and Disney customer service should still be able to find an expired ticket in your account and help you do an upgrade. But it’s much easier if the ticket never expires in the first place.
You can apply the value of an unused Disney World ticket (or one that’s partially used but not yet fully used up) toward the purchase of any higher-priced ticket or annual pass (including renewals), subject to some restrictions. You can add days to a ticket, or add additional options (such as Park Hopper or Park Hopper Plus), or both. Some other kinds of special tickets such as Florida Resident, DVC Member, or Military can be upgraded and some can’t, and the rules for when they can be upgraded are different, but in most cases, if it can be upgraded, the upgrades will follow the rules we list below.
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. Remember that being polite and friendly to the Cast Member raises the likelihood of getting a better outcome.
Keep in mind that sometimes Cast Members will do something special for a guest based on their assessment of whether it’s warranted. Just because you heard that someone else was able to get a particular deal or upgrade doesn’t always mean you can get the same deal or upgrade.
- A ticket that has never been used can be traded in toward a new ticket or annual pass forever, even after the expiration date. Keep in mind that you need to keep track of the fact that this expired ticket exists – Disney will drop an expired ticket from your “tickets” view in MyDisneyExperience because it’s no longer a ticket valid for admission or booking FastPass+. If you call Disney, they still should be able to find the ticket in your account history and either process an upgrade or tell you the numbers you need to do an upgrade, but if you forget about the ticket, it’s basically gone.
- A ticket that has been used must be upgraded before it expires. You have until midnight on the expiration date to upgrade it. A summary of expiration rules:
- Any ticket expires at the end of the day the last admission is used, no matter what kind of ticket it is or what expiration date is printed on it. If it’s a 3-Day ticket and you use the 3rd day, it expires at the end of that day. If it’s a Park Hopper Plus or Water Park & Sports ticket, it only expires once the park days and the Plus visits have all been used.
- Current standard tickets have a specific range of valid dates, and after the last day in that range, they are expired.
- Older “Magic Your Way” and current “Flexible Date” tickets expire 14 days after the first day they are used (counting that first day as day 1).
- Some “Magic Your Way” tickets have a printed expiration date, typically December 31, 2018 or 2019. They have to be used the first time by that given expiration date, but then if they are, they expire 14 days later. If they aren’t used, they expire on the given expiration date.
- Quick rule of thumb: As long as the ticket was valid to enter a park that morning, you can still upgrade it that day.
- If a ticket expires and has been used, it’s done and can’t be used in trade, changed or upgraded.
- Most upgrades of current tickets can now be done online, using the Disney World app or over the phone. This is new; for a long time you had to upgrade in person. But now once you’ve linked your ticket to MyDisneyExperience, you should be able to change it yourself, whether you’ve purchased it directly from Disney or from a third-party retailer like Undercover Tourist. Odd situations (upgrading older tickets, upgrading to specialty annual passes, etc.) still need to be done by a Cast Member, but they may be able to do it on the phone. Try to do your upgrade in MyDisneyExperience first, and if you can’t get it to work, call Disney World ticketing directly at (407) 566-4985, during normal daytime hours in Florida. Don’t just call the main Disney number – you’re likely to get a Cast Member that only knows how to do the most basic upgrades.
- Most upgrades of previous vintage tickets must be done in person at a ticket booth or guest relations location. That includes almost all tickets issued before October 16, 2018. If you have tickets from this vintage, it’s still worth trying to upgrade them in the MyDisneyExperience application, website or over the phone, since Disney may start offering those upgrades at some point. For now, though, don’t count on being able to upgrade those tickets until you get to Walt Disney World.
- Tickets with the “No Expiration” option typically cannot be upgraded by adding days or options, because Disney no longer offers those tickets and they can’t issue new ones. If the ticket is completely unused, you may be able to upgrade one to an annual pass, or trade it in towards a higher-priced regular ticket, but it’s not guaranteed, and you should expect to be credited no more than the gate price as of the last date they offered that ticket. Usually the best thing to do with these tickets us just use the days on them.
- Disney World tickets cannot be upgraded beyond 10 days total (i.e. if you purchase a 7-Day ticket and want to add 3 days, that’s fine, but you can’t add 4 days). Once a ticket has been maxed out at 10 days of admission, the only way to add more days of admission is to add Park Hopper Plus or Water Park & Sports (both of which add water park admissions) or upgrade to an annual pass. Note that this doesn’t apply to UK & EU tickets, which can go all the way up to 21 days of admission.
- When upgrading tickets with the Water Park & Sports or Park Hopper Plus feature (or older tickets with Water Park Fun & More) to an Annual Pass, if you have used any of the Park Hopper Plus/Water Park visits, you can only upgrade to a Platinum Plus Pass (which includes the water parks). If you have never used any “Plus” features, you can upgrade to a regular Platinum Pass or other pass that doesn’t include water park admission.
- You can subtract options, with some caveats. For example, if you have a 4-Day Park Hopper Plus ticket and you want to convert it to a 7-Day Base Ticket, that would be OK, as long as you haven’t used any of the “Plus” features and as long as you haven’t park-hopped yet. Once you use a ticket in two parks on one day, you can only upgrade that ticket to another Park Hopper or Park Hopper Plus. And once you’ve used a “Plus” feature like a water park admission, you can only upgrade that ticket to a Water Park & Sports or Park Hopper Plus ticket. In addition, you will never get money back, even if the new ticket is cheaper than the ticket you’re turning in. In the example given earlier, if the 4-Day Park Hopper Plus is significantly more expensive than the 7-Day Base Ticket, you’ll pay nothing to make the change, but you won’t get a refund. Note that this kind of “downgrade” cannot be done online or in the app; you have to call in to do it, or do it in person.
- Tickets purchased prior to 1/2/05 (the very old paper “Park Hoppers”) cannot be upgraded or converted to regular Disney World tickets. All you can do is use up the remaining days on them. Note that Disney will do the FREE conversion of old children’s old-style Park Hopper tickets to adult tickets mentioned below; that’s the only “upgrade” possible.
- If you have an unusual situation, you can try calling Disney ticketing at (407) 566-4985. You are more likely to reach experienced ticket staff from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm Eastern Time; after that your calls get routed to a generic customer service center where they don’t necessarily know ticketing inside and out.
Calculating Upgrade Cost
- Tickets that were purchased by themselves (not with a package) directly from Walt Disney Ticketing, either online, on the phone or at a theme park window or Disney hotel desk are considered “direct-purchased” tickets.
- When you upgrade a direct-purchased ticket you will be credited what you paid for it as a credit toward an upgraded ticket or annual pass. Subtract the current price of the new ticket or pass from the amount you paid originally, and that’s what the upgrade will cost. These direct-purchased tickets are not typically eligible to be “bridged” (see the section below for more details about bridging). If you bought the ticket at a discount because of a special sale or DVC membership or something along those lines, you will not be credited the full price; you’ll be credited what you paid.
- Tickets that were purchased from a reseller like Undercover Tourist or a travel agent, or included with an official Disney Vacation Package, are considered “wholesale” or “third-party” tickets.
- When you upgrade a third-party ticket using the app or online, you will be credited for the full advance-purchase price of the ticket as of the date it was issued, even if you bought the ticket from a discount source like Undercover Tourist. (Last we checked, you could only do upgrades of current-issue tickets using the app or online. But if you need to upgrade an older Magic Your Way ticket, try doing it online first; they might add that feature at some point.)
- When you upgrade a third-party ticket in person or over the phone, you should be credited with the full advance-purchase price as of the date the ticket was issued, but there are several manual steps involved in handling the upgrade, so it’s possible you’ll be credited a lower amount, most commonly Disney’s wholesale price. This is not a good thing for you, so it’s a good idea to have an idea of what the upgrade should cost worked out, so if you get quoted a higher price you can ask how that price was calculated and see what the discrepancy is.
- Special caveat: third-party ticket sellers have a “grace period” after a ticket price increase is announced where they can sell their old stock of tickets. For a few days, they are selling, effectively, ticket prices from the previous price batch, and Disney may even issue them “new” tickets under the old price scheme, depending on the ticket seller’s contract with Disney. The net result is that under certain circumstances, a ticket that was issued after a price increase could be pre-increase ticket stock, and this can even be true with e-tickets. So if you upgrade a ticket that was issued within a few days after a price increase, it’s not necessarily wrong if Disney credits you the pre-increase price.
- The short version: when upgrading or changing a ticket, subtract the current advance-purchase price of the new ticket from the advance-purchase price of the existing ticket as of the date it was issued. That’s what you should expect to pay. If you are quoted a different price, it may be worthwhile to explain your calculations and ask where you made the mistake; sometimes that will cause the cast member doing the transaction to realize they forgot a step.
- If you are quoted a lower price than you expected, it’s possible your calculations are in error, or it’s possible that the cast member handling the upgrade is spreading some “pixie dust” and giving you extra credit. Smile and graciously accept your good fortune.
A neat thing about leftover days on a partially-used child’s “no expiration” ticket (including old pre-2005 tickets, all of which didn’t expire): 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.
Before 2005, the standard tickets for Walt Disney World were called “Park Hopper” and “Park Hopper PLUS.” As of October 16, 2018, standard tickets are simply called “regular Disney World tickets.” However, Pre-2005 Park Hopper and Park Hopper PLUS tickets that have already been purchased will be honored.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 recent “Magic Your Way” ticket with Park Hopper Plus 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.)
Park Hopper tickets purchased prior to 1/2/05 cannot be upgraded or converted to regular Disney World tickets. All you can do is use up the remaining days on them.
Special Note: Walt Disney World is not currently selling new Annual Passes. Current Annual Passholders can renew their annual pass.
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 on one trip or 10 days in two or more trips more than 14 days apart, an Annual Pass is well worth considering.
An Annual Pass is good for 366 days. If you buy one on January 8, 2021, it will be valid through January 8, 2022! (Yes, you get an extra day, except in Leap Years, like 2024.) 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 January 8, 2021 and vacationed January 8-14, 2021, come back the next year from January 2-8, 2022 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.
Working Around Annual Pass Blockout Dates
Some of the Annual Passes available to Florida residents and DVC members have blockout dates when they can’t be used. If you want to buy one of those annual passes, but your next visit is going to be during one of the blockout periods, you can buy a regular ticket, use it for the dates you can’t use the annual pass, and then upgrade the ticket to an annual pass on the last day. (if your last day is a blockout day, remember to do the upgrade after enjoying the park!) Be sure to read our tips about upgrading tickets before starting this process.