Decoding Disney Ticket Options: Upgrades and Exchanges

Lisa Fritscher April 1, 2015 No Comments

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Magic Kingdom Overview

You can still use tickets that were issued when the Magic Kingdom was new!

The Walt Disney World admissions system is highly complex. Besides making a brand-new purchase, you can also upgrade your current tickets or even exchange older passes for new RFID-enabled plastic cards. These transactions are complicated and, depending on the type of ticket you have, you might be unable to verify how many days of admission are left without visiting Guest Relations. If you are willing to put in the legwork, however, upgrades and exchanges can result in significant savings.

Upgrades
You can upgrade your ticket at any Guest Relations location within 14 days of your first use. If the ticket is completely unused, you can upgrade it at any time. In addition, official Walt Disney World resort hotels can handle upgrades that do not involve annual or seasonal passes. However, a number of special rules apply.

You will receive the full value that you paid as a credit toward the price of the new ticket, but if you bought your original ticket through a wholesaler or other discount program, you will effectively lose the discount. For example, if you bought a 5 day Park Hopper at the 4 day Park Hopper price, you will not receive credit for the extra day you received but did not pay for. A program called price bridging, which brought the ticket value up to full current gate price, is no longer in effect.

RFID Disney Pass

All tickets must be converted to RFID for admission.

Unless you are a Florida resident, your ticket must have at least one entitlement remaining in order to upgrade it, even if you are within the 14-day window. You may upgrade on the last day of validity as long as you do so before leaving the parks that day. Florida resident Magic Your Way tickets do not have to have entitlements remaining, but must be within the 14-day window. Some special Florida resident tickets are eligible for upgrades for up to six months after first use.

When upgrading, you must choose a similar ticket type. For example, if the original ticket had the Park Hopper option, the new ticket must have that option. If the original ticket had Water Parks Fun & More, so must the new ticket. This gets particularly sticky if you want to upgrade to an annual pass. If you have the Water Parks Fun & More option, but have NOT used any of those admissions, you may upgrade to a regular annual pass. If you have used even a single WPF&M option, you are only eligible to upgrade to a premium annual pass. The difference in price between a regular annual pass and a premium is more than $125 as of 2014, a sizeable amount to pay for one day at Blizzard Beach or a round of mini-golf!

Note that prices are not prorated. If you add Park Hopping or WPF&M, you will pay the full price based on the length of the ticket, even if you have already used some days. Likewise, if you upgrade from an annual pass to a premium annual pass, you will pay the entire difference between the two, but your expiration date will remain the same.

Exchanging Old Tickets

MagicBands

If you prefer, you can move your park tickets to the all-in-one MagicBands.

Before Magic Your Way tickets were introduced in 2005, all Walt Disney World tickets were automatically non-expiring. Disney continues to honor those tickets, as well as older Magic Your Way tickets with the No Expiration option, but not in their original form. In 2013, Disney switched to RFID-equipped plastic tickets, and changed the turnstiles accordingly. To use an older ticket, you must first visit a ticket booth, Guest Relations location or Disney hotel concierge desk to convert it to the new format.

All older tickets will be exchanged to exactly what they were before. For example, if your old ticket had two park days and three WPF&M options (previously under other names, such as Plus options), that is exactly what your new ticket will have. You cannot upgrade old tickets.

Disney’s policy has always been not to punish children for growing up. If you have an old child’s ticket, your child can still use it for admission, even if he or she is now an adult. The only rules are that the child must be present, and his or her current age must make sense with the date on the ticket. For example, in 2014, a child’s ticket from 1984 should be accompanied by someone who is now in his or her 30s. The ticket will be exchanged for an RFID adult ticket with exactly the same entitlements as those remaining on the original ticket.

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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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