Advice, Tips and Tricks for Walt Disney World Tickets and Passes
LAST UPDATE: 2/21/17
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.
- 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 Magic Your Way Tickets – Adding Value
- Park Hopper Plus Tips
- Expiration And Upgrade Policies For Magic Your Way 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 DisneyQuest Tickets
- Discounts on Water Park Tickets
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
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:
- 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: 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:
- 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 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.
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.
A few 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. Once you hit 4 days, extra ticket days are only $21.30/day up to 7 days, and after that extra days are only $10.65/day. If you need to save money, we recommend focusing first on staying off property and saving money on food. 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 days, not including travel time. 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. Keep in mind that you can always add Park Hopper to your ticket at any Guest Services 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.
- 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. You can go any days you want in 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 Park Hopper Plus ostensibly has 20 days worth of admissions on it, it still expires 14 days after first use.
- For stays where you will visit the main theme parks for 12 days or more in one trip, or 9 days or more in two trips within a year, you will usually save money with a Platinum Pass. Even if it’s a few dollars more than two regular tickets, you’ll get discounts at a significant number of shops and restaurants that will probably make it worth your while.
- If you will be buying Magic Your Way Base Tickets and plan to visit the water parks at least twice, adding the Park Hopper Plus option for $69.23-$95.85 is always cheaper than buying two water park admissions, and you’ll get the Park Hopper option as well.
- If you will be buying Magic Your Way Tickets with the Park Hopper option 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 $15.98 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 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, Platinum Pass, Platinum Plus Pass||Auto Club South|
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: $21.30 for days 5-7, and $10.65 to add each additional day up to 10.
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 the Park Hopper option adds quite a bit to the cost (between $53.25 and $79.88, 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 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 Park Hopper Plus option.
The Park Hopper Plus 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 (with the exception of 1-day tickets, where it includes 2 visits). So for a 3-Day Ticket, it adds three water park visits. To do this upgrade, you first have to add Park Hopper.
The cost to add “Plus” to a Park Hopper ticket is a flat $15.98, for any length of ticket. To add Park Hopper Plus to a Base Ticket ranges from $69.23 to $95.85. Two adult peak-season water park admissions purchased separately would normally cost $132.06 with tax, so if you want to visit the water parks twice, it’s still a good deal to add Park Hopper Plus even if you don’t plan to do any park hopping.
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 and they are good for 14 days from the first use of your ticket. You can visit the theme parks and the water parks in any order.
In other words, you could buy a 3-Day Base Ticket, add the Park Hopper Plus (which gives you three visits to water parks) 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 do a round of golf at Oak Trail, fourth day at Magic Kingdom, fifth day at Animal Kingdom and sixth day at Blizzard Beach water park. That’s a good deal for $387.66 per adult, tax included — you’re spending a little over $60 a day. It also helps to break up your theme park days, which can be gruelling, with some more-relaxing water park days.
The Park Hopper Plus 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 Magic Your Way ticket.
Park Hopper Plus “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 have an old No Expiration ticket). For example, you could buy a 7-Day Base Ticket, add the Park Hopper Plus option (which gives you 7 water park admissions), and use that ticket on up to 14 different days! You can visit the theme parks and the water parks in any order.
Tip: if you use a “visit” from your Park Hopper Plus 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 Park Hopper Plus 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.
- Understanding Ticket Expiration
- Little-Known Tip for No-Expiration Childrens’ Tickets
- Upgrading Tickets
Current Walt Disney World tickets have two ways they can “expire,” which are subtly different.
- Any Magic Your Way ticket expires after every admission on the ticket has been used, or 14 days after the first use, whichever comes first. 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. On February 15, the ticket is no longer valid. 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. Either way, the expiration is final, and the ticket ceases to have any value for admission or upgrade.
- A newly purchased Magic Your Way ticket has an expiration date of December 31 of the year after it was issued. For example, tickets bought in 2017 must have their first use by December 31, 2018. If they’re used on or before that date, they will expire normally after 14 days or all the admissions are used up (see above). So, in theory, you could use a ticket that “expires” on December 31, 2018 until January 13, 2019, as long as you use it first on December 31, and thus activate the ticket. If tickets are not used by the expiration date, they “expire” but still retain some value. They’re no longer useful for admission, but they can be upgraded to new tickets, effectively forever. You can always turn in an expired, unused ticket toward a new ticket of the same or higher price.
- Older Magic Your Way tickets that didn’t have an expiration date when purchased (sold 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 (see the first bullet point above). 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.
- 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.
A neat thing about leftover days on a 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.
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 (including renewals), subject to some restrictions.
Besides adding days to a Magic Your Way ticket or trading in a ticket towards an annual pass, you can also upgrade by adding additional options. For instance:
- You buy a Magic Your Way 7-Day Base Ticket without any added options. On the second day of your vacation, you realize you would prefer to be able to “hop” between parks on the same day. You can add the Park Hopper option for $79.88 and “hop” for the rest of your vacation.
- You are in Orlando for a two week vacation. You buy a Magic Your Way 5-Day ticket without any added options. You visit the Disney theme parks on the first 4 days of your trip, go to Universal and SeaWorld for a few days, and on the seventh day of your trip, with only one day remaining on your Magic Your Way ticket, it suddenly gets very hot outside, so you want to spend a few days at the water parks. You can add the Park Hopper Plus option for $95.85 and get 5 water park admissions to use during the rest of your vacation.
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. 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.
- You must upgrade partially used Magic Your Way tickets within 14 days of first use OR before the admissions on the original tickets are used up, whichever comes first. The admissions are considered “used up” on midnight of the day you use the last admission day of the ticket. So, for example, you can use your last day on a ticket to enter a park, then upgrade it later that day, either inside or outside the park. But the next day, the ticket is no longer valid, even if it’s within the 14-day limit.
- All upgrades must be done in person at a Walt Disney World ticket booth (outside all four major parks and the two water parks) or a Guest Relations location (inside and outside all four major parks and two locations in Disney Springs). You can’t upgrade over the phone, online or at a hotel desk.
- A ticket that was never used, but is past its expiration date, can always be upgraded to a new ticket or annual pass. The new ticket will have a new expiration date of December 31 of the next calendar year. The cost of the upgrade varies depending on how the ticket was purchased; read below for more.
- 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. You may be able to upgrade one to an annual pass, 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.
- Magic Your Way 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 upgrade that will add more days is to an Annual Pass.
- When upgrading tickets with the 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 visits, you must purchase a Platinum Plus Pass (which includes the water parks). If you have never used any Park Hopper Plus visits, you can upgrade to a regular Platinum Pass or other pass that doesn’t include water park admission.
- Tickets purchased prior to 1/2/05 (“Park Hoppers”) cannot be upgraded or converted to Magic Your Way 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 Park Hopper tickets to adult tickets mentioned above; that’s the only “upgrade” possible.
Calculating Upgrade Cost
- We highly recommend doing your own calculations of what your upgrade should cost. Write your calculations down and bring them with you when you do the upgrade. If a cast member says it will cost more than you calculated, politely ask them why, and show them your calculations. Sometimes they’ll find that they made a mistake and will correct it, or will bring over a more experienced cast member who can figure out the discrepancy.
- Magic Your Way tickets that were purchased directly from Walt Disney Ticketing, either online, on the phone or at a theme park window or Disney hotel desk, and not as part of a Magic Your Way Vacation Package are considered “direct-purchased” tickets.
- A direct-purchased ticket, whether partially used or not, is worth exactly what you paid for it as a credit toward an upgraded ticket or pass. If the price has gone up since the ticket was issued, that doesn’t matter; the ticket is only worth what it originally cost. Subtract the current gate price of the new ticket or pass from the amount you paid, and that’s what the upgrade will cost. They are never supposed to be “bridged” (see the section below for more details about bridging).
- Magic Your Way tickets that were purchased from a third-party reseller like Undercover Tourist, a travel agent, or from Disney as part of a Magic Your Way Vacation Package are considered “wholesale” tickets. The rules for how to credit wholesale tickets toward an upgrade are more complicated.
- For newer Magic Your Way tickets that have an expiration date, there is both a gate price and an advance-purchase price. The advance purchase price is $21.30 less than the gate price for any 3-day or longer Magic Your Way ticket that has an expiration date. For older tickets that didn’t have an expiration date, or for 1- or 2-day tickets, this doesn’t apply – the gate price and the advance purchase price are the same. For most upgrades, the gate price is the important price to know, but for some, the advance-purchase price applies.
- When upgrading a wholesale ticket, you should always be credited at least the advance-purchase price as of the date it was issued. Thus you’ll always keep your discount, if you bought the ticket at a discount. For example, if you bought the ticket for $300 and the advance-purchase price on the day you bought it was $340, then you should get at least $340 in credit toward a new ticket. You might get more than that; keep reading.
- You may be credited for the current gate price of a wholesale ticket when doing an upgrade, or possibly just a higher price than the price on the date you bought it, even if the ticket was bought many years before. The process of crediting an older wholesale ticket at a higher price is called “bridging.” This is an operation that is built into Disney’s ticketing system, but it takes a few steps and there are complicated rules about when it applies.
- If you are upgrading a wholesale Magic Your Way ticket that has no expiration date, the maximum you should expect to be credited is the gate price as of 2/11/17 (i.e. prior to the price increase on February 12, 2017). This is because that ticket is technically a different ticket than the equivalent ticket sold today. Because Disney eliminated the Water Park Fun & More add-on, added expiration dates, and introduced a Park Hopper Plus option, they created a new set of tickets in their computer system and discontinued selling the old tickets. When upgrading a ticket that has been discontinued, the maximum they will credit is the last gate price of that ticket before they stopped selling it.
- If you are upgrading a wholesale Magic Your Way ticket, originally purchased on or after 2/12/17, to add days or features, and the ticket is unexpired and unused or partially used but still valid, the ticket you are turning in should be bridged to the current gate price. Subtract the current gate price of the ticket you’re buying from the current gate price of the ticket you’re turning in, and that’s what you should be charged.
- If you are upgrading a wholesale Magic Your Way ticket, originally purchased on or after 2/12/17, to an annual pass, and the ticket is unexpired and unused or partially used but still valid, the ticket you are turning in should be bridged to the current advance-purchase price. Subtract the current price of the annual pass from the current advance-purchase price of the ticket you’re turning in, and that’s what you should be charged.
- If a wholesale ticket has never been used, but has expired, it’s unclear what it’s worth. We have been told it should be bridged to the gate price as of the date it was issued (or advance-purchase price if you’re getting an annual pass). Since Disney just started selling regular tickets with an expiration date and the first ones won’t expire until December 31, 2018, no one has tested this policy yet. But in general, don’t expect to get credited for the current price if you let a ticket expire. If it does happen, consider it a bonus.
- There’s no way to guarantee that a cast member will bridge the ticket, but we have some reports that it is more likely to happen if you use the ticket first, so our advice is to use the ticket to enter a park, and then do the upgrade. It can’t hurt, and it might very well help. If that’s not convenient, go ahead and try to do the upgrade with the unused ticket. If the amount you’re credited is lower than the current gate price (or advance-purchase price if you’re getting an annual pass), you can always ask if the ticket was bridged, and sometimes the cast member will redo the transaction. If they don’t, our advice is not to argue; they either can’t or won’t bridge the ticket. If you have time, you may want to try a different window or location, or wait until after you’ve used the ticket once.
- If a cast member tells you that they don’t bridge tickets any more, you may want to take your upgrade to a different window and try again. There is a lot of misinformation out there about bridging policy, and many people have been incorrectly told that Disney has stopped bridging. Don’t insist that they’re wrong. Just thank them and say you don’t want to do the upgrade. Then go to a different ticket booth or Guest Relations location and try again, if you have time and inclination.
- All of the above ticket upgrade policies are unpublished, and Disney can change them at any point. We feel confident that Disney will continue to allow you to upgrade tickets in the future, but we can’t guarantee that the above policies will stay exactly the same.
Before 2005, the standard tickets for Walt Disney World were called “Park Hopper” and “Park Hopper PLUS.” Those were replaced by the new Magic Your Way tickets on January 2, 2005. 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 present-day 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 Magic Your Way tickets. All you can do is use up the remaining days on them.
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 9 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 April 8, 2016, it will be valid through April 8, 2017! (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.
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 (after using the ticket to enter the park). Be sure to read our tips about upgrading tickets before starting this process.
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 Signature Plus Passport at Disneyland and a Platinum Plus Pass at Walt Disney World.
While it’s very expensive at $1,485.77 (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:
- a Platinum Pass (or Platinum Plus) at Walt Disney World AND a Signature Passport (or Signature Plus) at Disneyland
- a Signature Plus Passport at Disneyland AND a 4-Day or longer ticket with Park Hopper or Park Hopper Plus or a 7-day Base Ticket at Walt Disney World
In both of the examples above, it’s cheaper to buy the Premier Passport, plus it includes water parks at Walt Disney World and gives you better discounts and no blockout dates at Disneyland.
One minor downside to the Premier Passport is that it must be purchased in person, unlike the other Annual Passes that can be purchased over the phone or online. If you plan to keep it continuously, you either need to live near Disneyland or Walt Disney World or plan a trip every year within 40 days before it expires to do a renewal. On the other hand, since there’s no discount for renewal, you can just let it expire, and buy a new one when you need it.
There are no additional discounts, including renewal discounts, on the Premier Passport.