Everything You Need to Know About Booking the Best Disney World Park Tickets for Yourself.
Planning a trip to Walt Disney World? Congratulations! You’re in for an unforgettable experience. Once you book your hotel, you’ll want to look into purchasing those Disney World park tickets. This is where a lot of people get confused. To accommodate for all types of trips, travelers, and budgets, Disney strives to make these tickets and experiences individualized. Unfortunately, this results in a lot of confusion when purchasing Disney World park tickets.
What makes me an expert? Well, not only have I visited Walt Disney World at least 20 times, but I am a Disney Vacation Club member and an Annual Passholder. I’ve gained quite a bit of knowledge about the most magical place on earth through the years. Here is a complete break down of all the Disney World park tickets that you can purchase, and which types of travelers each ticket will be best suited for.
Magic Your Way Tickets:
So Disney calls their tickets “Magic Your Way,” and that is because you can completely customize your party’s experience to meet your needs. Rather than charging you for every possible experience that you may or may not be consuming, Disney only charges you for the parks that you will visit. That’s why they’re called “Magic Your Way”. Now, while I use my annual pass to enter the parks (which made financial sense to me given the amount of times a year I visit Disney World), this is not a reasonable option for all travelers.
The options that we will go over here include theme park tickets, park hopper tickets, and park hopper plus tickets. Here is a breakdown of each of the options and which types of travelers each ticket is best suited for.
1 Park Per Day Ticket:
Overview: This ticket is the most economical for the budget traveler. This ticket is exactly what it sounds like: You get entry (and reentry) into one park, any park of your choice, per day. That means if you enter Epcot at 9 AM on Tuesday and want to visit Hollywood Studios to see Fantasmic that night, you’ll be turned away at the gate.
The more days your purchase, the cheaper they get. These tickets start at about $99 per day and get cheaper as you add more days. If you’re only purchasing a one day ticket, check the website to verify your price. The cost of a 1 day Disney World park pass fluctuates depending on the day of the week and the peak season.
Benefits: You save a lot of money by opting to visit one park per day. This also helps with fully experiencing each park, since you won’t waste any time traveling from one park to another.
Disadvantages: Committing to one park can be a big decision depending on your situation. If you’re a go-getter and like to hit the ground running first thing in the morning, you could get bored with what the park has to offer. Or, if you realize that the park has become unbearably crowded and you need to escape, your only choice will be to either upgrade your tickets or head back to the hotel.
Who This Ticket is Best For: Budget travelers, families with small children, and first-time Disney travelers. If you have small children and are going to be slowed down by toddlers with small legs that insist on walking or nap times/feedings, this will be your best bet. Enjoy your time with your family without worrying about taking advantage of the park hopper that you paid extra for. Also, if you’ve never visited Disney World before, I recommend doing just one park per day and taking in all of the magic.
Browse through the stores, take photos with characters, and do the attractions that aren’t as popular. You’d be surprised how fun the underrated attractions are!
Lastly, budget travelers should opt for this ticket. It’s a great way to leisurely see the parks without feeling rushed to see everything in one day while saving money.
If you get a 1 Park ticket, I recommend making dinner reservations and stopping for pictures at every photographer. With the money you saved on tickets, consider purchasing a Photo Pass to preserve the memories you made on your trip!
Park Hopper Ticket:
Overview: Perhaps you only have 2 days and want to see everything that Disney offers. Or maybe you enjoy international cuisine and like the idea of eating dinner in Epcot every night. A park hopper is most certainly the Disney World park ticket for you! A park hopper tickets grants you entry into multiple parks per day with no limitations. Though it comes at an extra price (about $60 per person for your whole trip), it is worth it!
Benefits: HELLO!! You can enter multiple parks in a single day! On my last trip to Disney World, I visited every major attraction in 3 of the 4 parks in one day! By being strategic with our fast passes (a technique I cover in this blog post), we were able to get NINE fast passes in 3 different parks.
That’s right, in one day we booked Fast Passes for Rockin’ Roller Coaster, Test Track, Avatar’s Navii River Journey, Expedition Everest, Dinosaur, Tower of Terror, Star Tours, Soarin’, and Fantasmic! by exclusively using fast passes and our Park Hopper tickets to our advantage.
While using your park hopper ticket to this much of an advantage takes a bit of experience, you can have a day like ours if you plan ahead. By taking Disney transportation from one park to the next (and with a bit of luck), we experienced the most in-demand rides without a wait.
I also love the flexibility a Park Hopper ticket provides for meal time. It’s super easy to find a reservation when you don’t have to limit your options to one park. With easy transport to Epcot, there’s no reason that you can’t eat around the world every day!
Disadvantages: Firstly, it is more expensive. If you’re really on a tight budget, this isn’t something that I recommend. Secondly, it can be intimidating to have so many options at your fingertips.
I must note that you cannot reserve Fast Passes in multiple parks at the same time. I recommend getting your first 3 fast passes in the same park in the morning. Once you’ve used your first 3, plan your conquest of other parks based on fast pass availability.
Note that you can only book one fast pass at a time after you use your first 3. Be sure you check wait times on other rides so you don’t waste your time traveling to a new park for only one ride.
New security screenings tack on extra time getting from point A to point B. If you despise going through security, a Park Hopper ticket may not be for you. I personally dread having to go through security several times a day when I’m park hopping.
Who This Ticket is Best for: Couples traveling without children, Disney experts, travelers on a time crunch, and anyone that likes flexibility. For an extra $60, this ticket really can change your entire trip. There is nothing quite better than the flexibility to race to a park when the wait times dip or to eat in whichever restaurant you’re craving.
Park Hopper Plus Ticket:
Overview: The Park Hopper Plus Ticket gives you everything that a park hopper ticket does, but includes water parks. Disney has two amazing water parks: Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon. For about $20 per person, you can add access to these water parks to your experience.
Benefits: This ticket really provides you with the full Disney World experience. You literally have access to every corner of the park! The water parks are very underrated, especially between seasons. The best part is you get this extra access for hardly any extra money at all.
Disadvantages: If you visit a water park, it takes away a day that you can visit one of the 4 major theme parks. Also, the water parks are closed during the winter, so be sure to check the Disney website for closing dates.
If you’re looking to save money and still want to visit the water parks, I recommend purchasing a separate, one-day water park ticket for $57 a person. Just be sure to subtract one day from the number of days you’ll be booking a Disney World park ticket for. Mathematically, this will save you about $50 per person if you are staying for less than a week.
Note that if you opt for the above technique, that you will not be able to enter the park that evening for fireworks or rides. If you want to use fast passes and see fireworks that day, you will need to book the Park Hopper Plus Disney World park ticket.
Who This Ticket is Best for: Families that are staying for 5-7 days in the summer. If you aren’t staying for a long trip, I don’t recommend visiting the water parks. It simply doesn’t compare to the magic of the 4 major theme parks. If you are staying for a longer vacation, a trip to the water parks is a great way to cool off and break up your week in the parks.
Overview: An annual pass gives you admission to all 4 parks with unlimited park hopping with no block out dates. The pass also gives you hundreds of benefits and discounts that are updated throughout the year. You even get free parking!
The Platinum Plus Pass goes for $869 and includes access to water parks, golf courses, and ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.
The Platinum Pass is $779 and is limited to the 4 major parks.
There is also a Water Park annual pass for $125
Note: There used to be a gold pass for eligible Florida residents that is no longer sold
Who This Ticket is Best for: Start by visiting the ticketing website to adding up how much your park tickets would cost for your separate planned trips. If it is more than the cost of an annual pass, you should get an annual pass! Also, Florida residents could consider an annual pass to the water parks to cool off in that humid Florida heat.
Note: if you have multiple trips planned in the same year, you cannot get a park pass for more days. If you purchase a multi day Disney World park ticket, you must use those days within 14 days of first use.
I hope this cleared up some of your confusion about Disney World park tickets! Now you’re ready to plan your trip to Disney World! Read the article linked above for some expert tips guaranteed to save you time and money.