With Disney ticket prices steadily rising, the cost of your family vacation could be pushing the limits of your budget. Disney offers a lot of ticket add-ons that add to the price, but also offers some tickets discounts which you can take advantage of to save money. Here are some tips on how to get discounted tickets for Disney and how to get the most “bang for your buck” from your vacation.
When To Buy Disney Tickets
A big part of getting tickets at a lower price is to buy tickets (and visit the Disney World or Disneyland Resort) at the right time of the year. Buying Disney tickets around down-times of the year where Disney has to advertise the parks can save you a lot of money on your vacation. If Disney isn’t at capacity, they are willing to discount their ticket prices just a little bit or offer special resort discounts and packages. These packages will focus on the Walt Disney World resort in Florida, but many of the same discounts are available for the Disneyland Resort in California.
Types of Ticket Discounts
Residents of the state of Florida get special access to deals and lower prices on theme park tickets. If you have a valid Florida state ID, you’re eligible for the discounts. Though short one or two day visits don’t get you any discount, the prices per day are lowered for 3-day or longer visits. Prices are typically reduced by about 20-30% and possibly even more for ticket add-ons like the Water Parks & More option. Specific discounted weekday ticket options are sometimes available for two to four-day visits.
Alternatively, if you’re a Florida resident, it could be more effective to buy an annual pass instead of the regular park tickets. Annual passes will allow you to park your car at the theme parks for free, saving money on the $25 daily parking fee. Prices for annual passes vary based on the type of annual pass, and Disney is currently limiting the options for annual passes. However, if you plan on visiting multiple days (particularly during the middle of the week), it could be cost-effective to consider purchasing an annual pass instead of regular tickets.
Military and Civil Service Ticket Discounts
Disney also offers discounts for military service members, both active and retired. These discounted tickets can be purchased using any eligible military ID by the service member or their spouse. Alternatively, to save the most money, you can buy Disney tickets at a military base (MWR/ITT office) completely tax free. For a long trip and multiple family members coming, the no-tax can be a huge discount!
Some large companies or agencies offer special Disney ticket offers if their organization is friendly with Disney. If you or someone you know works at a relatively large company, be sure to check around to see if any discounts are available. In the theme parks themselves, there are a few special lounges (Chase, Chevy, etc.) which can also be accessed based on company affiliation!
The Age of your Children
The age of your kids can be the difference between paying $400 for their 4-day ticket or getting them in completely free! Kids under 3 years old are able to enter the parks free of charge, and tickets for kids under the age of 10 cost a good bit less than tickets for older kids and adults. If you are planning your visit to Disney World and have some leeway in the time you’ll be visiting, be sure to keep these age thresholds in mind as a way to get discounted ticket prices.
Disney Vacation Packages
If you’re visiting Disney and planning to stay at one of their resort hotels, be sure to keep an eye out for vacation packages which can save you money when booking everything all in one place through Disney. These vacation bundles are typically offered during slower times of the year (late winter, early spring, and late fall). Though it is generally far more expensive to stay at a Disney Resort, some families are willing to splurge on the amenities and ease of planning their trip. If you plan to stay at a Disney Resort, be sure to book during a time when these discounts are offered!
Third Party Ticket Discounts: Undercover Tourist
As a general rule, you should avoid third-party ticket sellers who claim to sell tickets at a discount. Undercover Tourist is the exception. This vendor has been around for decades and buys tickets wholesale from Disney, then sells them at a slight profit, passing on a lot of the discount to the theme park visitor. These tickets are the exact same as the ones you can get from Disney (so you can still link them to My Disney Experience and such to organize your trip), and they’ll be shipped to you free of charge. Discounts for tickets can stack up while using Undercover Tourist, especially on multi-day visits. Be sure to check their site, especially if you don’t qualify for any other ticket discounts. Undercover Tourist has great customer service to answer any questions you have. The also offer full refunds on tickets, minus a 5% restocking fee.
Things to Remember about Tickets and Your Budget
Park visits require reservations for park entry… meaning you have to plan out the days you’re going to be entering the parks fairly precisely. Reservations for Disney’s parks, dining, and most other activities can be made 60 days in advance of your visit.
Since Disney offers ticket discounts and packages intermittently, you can purchase them for dates well before you plan on visiting – just be sure the package doesn’t contain special stipulations on when you have to visit.
Be sure to take some time calculating costs depending on how long your Disney vacation is going to be. Single day tickets prices, currently over $150, cost an arm and a leg! The best way to save money on your park tickets is to buy more park days, and therefore pay far less per day in the park. Each park visit you add on will save you more money per day, but there’s a huge difference once you reach five or more total park days. If you have the time available in your vacation, you can take relaxation days in between the park visits to extend your overall vacation and have more time to enjoy Florida. Even if you are paying more for the tickets overall, you will have enough time to get more done and can avoid paying extra fees for skip-the-line privileges from Genie+/Lightning Lanes. Combining a longer vacation with a cheaper resort stay is a great way to stay on budget and get the most out of your trip.
When Is the Cheapest , Most Cost-Effective Time to Visit Walt Disney World?
The time of year you visit the theme parks can make a huge difference in the value you’re getting out of your ticket. Your experience in the parks is sure to be much better when there are less people in the park getting in your way and extending the wait time for rides. You get a lot better value out of your ticket by visiting during a slower, less busy time of the year.
Visiting Disney at Christmas simply means you won’t be able to get much done at all, because the parks will be jam-packed with people. The same can be true during holidays and spring breaks. During the busiest times of the year, wait times for rides can be double what they are during other, slower times of the year. Your two-day ticket might be worth 20 rides one time of the year, and only 10 rides during another time of the year. Keep that in mind when planning your trip!
Also be sure to be informed of any Disney events taking place when you’d want to visit. Things like marathon events, event parties, and attraction openings can cause park hours and crowds to fluctuate drastically. Generally, here are the best times to visit the parks to get the most out of your trip:
Mid-January through February
February is the best month to visit Disney because of its excellent mix of low crowds and mild weather. While other areas of the United States will be snowed in, Florida is usually stays between 60- and 80-degrees Fahrenheit.
In the final two weeks in April, there is a gap between dissipating spring break crowds and beginning summer break crowds. The weather is still pretty good, since it isn’t into the sweltering heat of the summer months yet!
The very end of September and beginning of October is another great time to visit, again with lower crowd levels and favorable weather. Visiting at this time of the year can also give you the chance to visit Magic Kingdom’s Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party, which is a separately ticketed event. Though these tickets aren’t cheap, the party can be a great chance to cover a lot of ground in the parks with far less guests.
About the Author:As a local and former Disney Cast Member, I know EVERYTHING there is to know about Disney World and the company. I have a masters degree and frequently write within my full-time job. I write articles for fun and to ensure people get the best information or opinions they can on all things Disney!