Decoding Walt Disney World’s Ticket Options: The Basics

Lisa Fritscher March 7, 2015 No Comments

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Earful Tower Disney's Hollywood Studios

Buying tickets to Walt Disney World requires a great deal of research and planning.

In 2005, Disney completely dismantled its previous ticket structure in favor of a new program called Magic Your Way. Although a few things have changed since then, the essence of the program remains the same. The more days you buy, the cheaper your per-day price. Special add-ons allow you to further customize your vacation. Decoding the system and figuring out the best option for your family requires a great deal of planning and research.

Magic Your Way Tickets and Options
Everyone starts with a Base Ticket, which is available in increments from 1 day to 10 days. This allows you to enter any one of the four major theme parks per day. If you want to visit, say, Epcot and the Magic Kingdom on the same day, you need to add the Park Hopper option.

The Water Park Fun & More option adds admission to Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach, as well as the Wide World of Sports, DisneyQuest, the two miniature golf courses and one championship golf course. However, you only get the same number of entries as you have days on your ticket. While theme park visits are counted in days, WPF&M visits are counted in entries. If you go to Typhoon Lagoon and DisneyQuest on the same day, you will use two WPF&M entries. If you have a Park Hopper ticket, and visit the Magic Kingdom and Epcot on the same day, you will only use one park day.

Disney Ticket Vending Machine

You can buy Magic Your Way tickets online and pick them up at a vending machine at any of the four parks. Thanks to Michael Gray for the photo!

Magic Your Way tickets expire 14 days after the first use unless you pay for No Expiration. Many people buy more days than they need, with No Expiration, in anticipation of a future trip. If you know that you will visit again in the future, this can be a cost-effective way to lock in your next trip at today’s prices.

You can upgrade your tickets at any time within 14 days of the first use, but Disney typically does not give refunds for downgrades. Start by buying the lowest-tier ticket you know you will you use, and go to Guest Relations to upgrade it if needed.

Annual Passes
The factors that go into deciding whether to purchase an annual pass are highly subjective, but one thing is certain. Unless you are buying your tickets in another country, you cannot purchase a Magic Your Way ticket that is valid for more than 10 days. An annual pass is roughly the same price as two 10-day tickets, or a little less if you qualify for discounts. If you know you will visit again within a year, an annual pass is generally the way to go.

Additionally, if you will drive to the parks from a non-Disney hotel, an annual pass saves you the parking fee, which is $15 per day as of 2014. Annual passes also provide a variety of discounts throughout Walt Disney World. Some people buy one member of their party an annual pass specifically to take advantage of the savings.

Discounts

Shades of Green Ticket Counter

If someone in your family is military or DoD, active or retired, you can buy discount tickets at Shades of Green.

Discounted tickets for those who qualify are available at military installations including Shades of Green, an official military retreat on Disney property, as well as at AAA offices around the country. If you are a Disney Vacation Club owner or Florida resident, you are eligible for special ticket offers. If you know an annual passholder or cast member, that person might be able to get you a small discount.

Some ticket wholesalers are legitimate, but always do your due diligence. Steer clear of anyone holding a sign on the side of the road or who approaches you in an odd location. Scams are rampant, and there is no way to find out if a particular ticket is valid until you arrive at the park and try to use it for admission. By the time you find out your ticket is no good, the person who sold it to you might be long gone.

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Lisa is a full-time travel writer. She lives in an RV with her disabled father and writes about their experiences. Although she has no children of her own, Lisa loves being an Aunt to her own relatives and the children of all her friends. You can follow her adventures on her blog, Travel Confessions.

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