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


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.

Walt Disney World ticket prices last went up on December 8, 2022. Annual Pass prices last went up on October 11, 2023. 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 tiered pricing. 

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 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.

Another option is to take a picture of the back with your phone, 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 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:

  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; 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:

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. 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 that were shoplifted, 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. 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.

A few other 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 TypeCheapest Sources
1-Day or 2-Day regular Disney World Ticketat 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 TicketsUndercover Tourist

1-Day, 2-Day and 3-Day Tickets – Adding Value

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: $15-$35 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 $67.10 and $101.18, depending on the ticket). But if you use it for admission to two or more parks per day, it can be a decent value.

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.

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 Oak Trail golf course.

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 grueling, 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 on the sixth day round of mini golf at Fantasia Gardens. That’s a good deal for $436.68-$602.74 (depending on season) per adult, tax included — about $72-$101 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.

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 $26.62 to $47.93, depending on ticket length and season. To add Park Hopper Plus to a Base Ticket ranges from $88.40 to $122.48, depending on ticket length and season.

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.

Water Park & Sports or Park Hopper Plus Hints

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.

Making Changes to Disney World Tickets

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.

Expiration, Change and Upgrade Policies For Disney World Tickets

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Understanding Ticket Expiration

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.

Upgrading and Changing Tickets

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.

Upgrade Policies

Calculating Upgrade Cost

Little-Known Tip for No-Expiration Children’s Tickets

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.

Using Pre-2005 “Park Hopper” Passes

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.

Many people aren’t aware of some important facts about the pre-2005 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 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.

Are Annual Passes For You?

For some people an annual pass is the most economical choice. Whether a pass will be cheaper than tickets depends somewhat on the time(s) of year you will be going to the parks. If you have two trips planned in one year (or one very long trip), it’s worth calculating it all out; depending on exactly how many days you plan to visit in each trip, an annual pass might price out lower or higher than tickets.

If you are not a Florida resident or DVC member, you can only get the top-level Incredi-Pass. As a rule of thumb, that annual pass might pay off if you plan to visit the parks 18 days or more in 1-2 trips, or 14 days or more on 3+ trips.

If you are a DVC member or Florida resident, and don’t want to visit during the Christmas season, the Sorcerer Pass is a better deal, but it still won’t pay off until roughly 12 days in 1-2 visits, or 11 days in 3+ visits.

If you’re a Florida resident, then the lower-priced passes get even more attractive. As a broad generalization, if you tend to go for 2-4 days, on trips that are several months apart, getting Florida resident tickets is probably a better option. If you tend to visit several times a month all year long, an annual pass will be a better deal. Choosing between the Pixie Dust Pass and the Pirate Pass depends almost entirely on whether you want to be able to visit on the weekends. If you can come on non-holiday weekdays, the Pixie Dust pass is a tremendous bargain. If you can’t get to the parks on weekdays, you’ll need to get, at minimum, the Pirate pass.

After your second year of passholding, you get renewal prices (roughly 15% off), and the numbers get better.

An Annual Pass is good for 365 days. If you buy one on January 8, 2023, it will be valid through January 7, 2024. 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, 2023 and vacationed January 8-14, 2023, come back the next year from January 1-7, 2024 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, restaurant discounts and free parking. You may find it’s worthwhile to purchase an Annual Pass for at least one person in your party, just for those benefits.

Learn more about buying Disney World Annual Passes.

Working Around Annual Pass Blockout Dates (no longer allowed)

Some of the Annual Passes available to Florida residents and DVC members have blackout dates when they can’t be used. In the past, you could buy a regular ticket, use it on dates that would be blacked out for the annual pass you want, then upgrade it to that annual pass on the last day of your trip. We have multiple reports that Disney has closed that loophole – now if you use a ticket, you can’t use it to upgrade to an annual pass if you have used the ticket to visit a theme park on a date that was not valid for that annual pass. 

If you’re thinking of upgrading a ticket you have to an annual pass, be sure to read our tips about upgrading tickets before starting this process.