Understanding Disney Tickets

Disney tickets can be very confusing, and are not as simple as you may think. I have discussed almost (if not every) week that there is no cookie cutter Disney Vacation. Your perfect vacation is MUCH different than the next person. Disney wants to make their offering flexible so everyone can build what they need. They call their program “Magic Your Way.” With so many options it can be easy  to either spend too much, or not enough. I will try to make it simple to understand and but feel free to contact me so I can help you make the right decision for your family.

Tickets are often one of–if not the–most expensive aspects of any Disney vacation and they are rarely discounted so knowing you’ve purchased the right tickets for your needs is crucial. Knowing that you’ve done everything you can to save money is important so you can actually enjoy your vacation. Ticket prices raise on a yearly basis typically in Mid- February and this year was no exception.  I will detail the options available as well as the changes made for 2017.

One of the changes made LAST year was the introduction of tiered pricing on a one day ticket.

The three tiers are called Value, Regular and Peak. Value tickets are for off-season dates in early spring and early fall. Peak tickets are for midsummer, spring break and big holiday seasons like Christmas and Thanksgiving. All One Day tickets expire Dec 31st 2018.

You can use a Regular ticket on Value days as well, and you can use a Peak ticket on any day, but you can’t get a refund of the difference in cost if you use, say, a Peak ticket on a Value date. You can upgrade a Value or Regular ticket if you decide to go on a higher-tier day, by paying the price difference at any ticket booth or Guest Services location.

Multi-day tickets (2-day tickets or longer) do not have tiers and are good any day of the year.

New for 2017 is the Ticket Booth Upcharge. Tickets of 3 days or longer now cost $21.30 more (including tax) when purchased in person at the Disney World ticket booths, hotel desks or guest services. 

Disney multi-day tickets start with a Base Ticket. The base ticket allows you to enter one major theme park per day. You can leave and reenter the same theme park. This ticket expires 14-days after the first use and first use must be before Dec 31 2018.

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. For example a 2 day ticket for an adult is $99.50 per day- for 4 days it drops to 87.50 per day and 10 days is only $44.00 per day– Which means a 6 additional days is only $90 TOTAL.  

Consider A Base Ticket if: 

  • You have young children: One park per day is usually plenty for small children. If you leave and come back to the same park, they usually enjoy the familiarity of it more than starting over at a different park.
  • It’s your first time: If it’s your first visit, you’ll have enough to do staying in one park the entire day without the added stress of visiting a second park.
  • You are incorporating other activities into your vacation: If you have nighttime activities planned such as visiting Disney Springs or trying the resort restaurants one park per day is plenty. You can also break it up with other on property activities or pool time. 
  • You want to save the most money possible:  Base tickets are cheaper than Park Hopper tickets, so if your main goal is to spend the least amount of money possible, it’s an easy choice. 


One of the options you can add to your ticket is the park hopper option. Adding the Park Hopper option to tickets allows you to visit more than 1 park per day.If you are here for a first visit for a short time you will be totally fine focusing on one park per day. I recommend adding if

Consider A Park Hopper if: 

  • You have less days than parks. For visitors with trips of 3 days or less this is the only way you can get to all the parks. 
  • It’s an adult-only trip or you’re traveling with teenagers: Grown-ups and big kids can move through the parks much faster than families with small children without getting too exhausted. 
  • You have visited Disney before: If you’re a Disney regular, you know which attractions you want to see in each park and then hop to the next.
  • You want to make the most of Extra Magic Hours: Morning Extra Magic Hours are really only useful if you are there before the park opens. Crowds tend to flock to the EMH park even if they don’t utilize them and it can get very crowded. You can make the most of them about spending the day in an non EMH park before/after the scheduled extra time in the park. 
  • If you’re staying at an Epcot-area resort: OR are visiting during the F& W festival it’s convenient to have Park Hopper tickets so you can spend the first part of the day at any park and then go into Epcot in the evening for dinner. 
  • Those visiting during off-season:  During slower times not all entertainment runs nightly. If you want to see all the evening spectaculars but the shows aren’t scheduled for every night of your trip, park hoppers will allow you to visit any park for the first part of the day and then hop to the park with the nighttime show when it’s scheduled.
  • You want maximum flexibility for ADRs and FastPass+ reservations: The most popular restaurants and attractions need to be booked as early as possible (180 Days for Advanced Dining Reservations) and (60 Days for FastPass+)  which means you are often committing to a park months in advance of your trip and final decisions about your day-to-day itinerary. Park Hoppers give you the flexibility to keep existing reservations, even if you decide to spend most of your day somewhere else.

The extra cost for a Park Hopper on top of the base-price ticket is $53.25- $67.10 for a  1-day ticket (price depends on park and price tier); $63.90 for add-on to 2- or 3-day tickets; or $79.88 for add-on to any 4-day or longer ticket. This works out to a little over $11 per day on a 7-day ticket.

Not sure you made the right choice. Start with the base ticket. The good thing to know is you can upgrade your ticket at any time, provided you upgrade within 14 days of first use and you have additional entitlements on the ticket;  If on day three of your ten day vacation you realize you want to start hopping, you can take your ticket to any ticket counter and pay for the upgrade at that time.  The cost will remain the same regardless of how many days are left on your ticket, so it’s best to decide as  soon as possible

As a part of the ticket changes put into effect a few weeks ago Disney discontinued the Water Parks and More option.  They now require the you to have a Park Hopper to add Water Parks with the new  Park Hopper Plus option.

The Park Hopper Plus option adds one visit to the following destinations 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 visits to your choice of the following: 

  • Blizzard Beach water park
  • Typhoon Lagoon water park
  • ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex (doesn’t include event ticket cost)
  • round of mini golf at Fantasia Gardens (before 4:00 pm)
  • round of mini golf at Winter Summerland (before 4:00 pm)
  • round of golf at Oak Trail family walking course (advance reservations required, clubs not included for adults, pull cart not included)

The extra cost on top of a Park Hopper ticket is a flat rate of $15.98, no matter how long the ticket. If you want to add this option to a Base Ticket, you need to also add Park Hopper.

Here’s the best part: the Park Hopper Plus “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 and it helps to break up your grueling theme park days, which can be with some more-relaxing activities.

You may also want to consider an Annual Pass. While it is expensive it may make 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 March 8, 2017, it will be valid through March 9, 2018! 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 March 8 and vacationed March 8- 16  this year, come back next year from March 1-8 and your passes will still be valid. 

Even for somewhat shorter stays, consider the benefits  that are often available to Annual Passholders: hotel deals, restaurant discounts, entertainment savings, and free parking 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 – especially if you are staying offsite as it includes free parking as well as free Photopass downloads. (We will talk about memory maker in an upcoming video.)


Understanding all of the different choices can be difficult for a first-time Walt Disney World guest. Disney representatives often only make matters worse, as they upsell or subtly “encourage” guests into buying the more expensive tickets, always encouraging guests add the Park Hopper option, among other things. I value my clients money and want to make sure they are getting the most value out of their vacation. I build my business on repeat customers and referrals so trying to upsell for my own commission is definitely not in my best interest.

Also be wary of buying tickets online –  While there is a small handful of certified Disney resellers there are hundreds of scams out there. Do not buy partially used passes. You may see online or even have a friend who went to Disney and only used 5 days out of their 7 day ticket and they want to sell you the remaining 2 days. DONT! 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. This is also a huge risk in buying on ebay or Craigslist. You might even come across a website that offer super low prices on Disney tickets. They are almost guaranteed to be scams. 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.

This is a lot of information if you would like to talk to me about what option would be best for your family contact me christina@aywvacations.com. Join me next week for Walt Disney World 101 a short primer on everything the property has to offer. Don’t forget to subscribe to my channel and follow me on social media @aywchristina for more tips and tricks.  Thanks for watching and I hope all your vacations are exactly As You Wish.


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