If you click a link in this post and make a purchase, we may earn a small commission, at no additional cost to you. Read our full disclosure here.
When it comes to buying theme park tickets for Walt Disney World, I have good news and bad news. First some good news: I have lots of tricks for how to save money on Disney World tickets!
Now some bad news: tickets are likely going to be the single biggest expense of your trip. They are downright pricey at $400 for a base 4-day adult ticket.
But don’t worry – you will get incredible value from the money you spend on tickets to Walt Disney World – there is real bang for your buck in the parks!
In this post, I’ll share my top eight tips on how to save money on Disney World tickets.
1) Visit On The Cheapest Dates
In 2018 Disney World moved to a date-based ticket pricing system. Some days are MUCH cheaper than others to visit. I family of four will pay hundreds less to visit during the cheapest time of year compared to peak travel time.
This is another attempt by Disney to distribute crowds evenly throughout the year. It can help you because if you are flexible with your travel dates, you can potentially save money on your park tickets!
2) Buy Your Tickets At A Discount!
If you are not getting tickets as part of a Disney vacation package (such as a free dining package) then make sure you know the cheapest way to get Disney tickets online.
In this post on buying Disney tickets I break down exactly where to go for the best prices on Disney World tickets based on how long you are visiting.
And don’t worry – when you buy discount tickets online you will be able to link your tickets to your My Disney Experience account and make FastPass+ reservations without any trouble!
3) Don’t Buy More Ticket Than You Need
First, here are some ticket basics. A base ticket to Walt Disney World is called a “Magic Your Way” ticket. It lets you enter one park (and one park only) each day for a particular number of days. You can also add the “Park Hopper” option to your ticket, which allows you to visit more than one park on a single day.
I almost always recommend sticking with the Magic Your Way base ticket as opposed to adding on any options.
Here’s why: adding the Park Hopper option to any 4-day or more ticket costs $75, but adding an additional day to a 4-day or more ticket costs $20.
So if you want an extra half day visit to the Magic Kingdom, just add one more day to your ticket and go for part of your arrival or departure day. Your price difference will be $55 per ticket by doing this, which adds up to a savings of $220 for a family of four, and you will get just as much time in the parks.
As of February 12th, 2017, you can no longer add “Water Parks Fun & More” as a stand-alone option. If you purchase a Park Hopper, you can add the “Park Hopper Plus” and add a set number of visits to the water parks to your ticket for $15.
If you are already buying the Park Hopper tickets and have any interest in visiting the water parks, this is a great way to do it for little extra money.
So, for most visitors, the base Magic Your Way ticket offers the best value and plenty of options for visiting the theme parks on your own schedule. If you were planning a 5-night, 6-day trip to Disney World, I would recommend either a 5- or 6-day Magic Your Way ticket.
This is not because I think you should spend 6 full days in the theme parks – goodness no! Extra days offer you the chance to visit the parks at a more leisurely pace for half days instead of trying to go commando-style, park-hopping from dusk till dawn.
4) Use Discounted Disney Gift Cards to Save on Tickets
Since you can use Disney gift cards to purchase your park tickets from Disney, I suggest purchasing gift cards at a discount to save money on your park tickets. This works well if you are buying 1- or 2-day tickets since the best price is through Disney.
BJ’s Wholesale Club sells $100 Disney gift cards for $95 on their website. You can get a BJ’s membership to buy tickets at this price for only $10, which will pay for itself with two gift cards. This is a quick way to save 5% on Disney tickets and you can get all of the details on how to get discount Disney gift cards in this post.
If you have a Target RedCard (debit or credit) you can save 5% on Disney gift cards when you buy them at Target. You just have to pay for the gift cards with your RedCard and the discount will apply at checkout!
You can read about this strategy in more detail in this post. A family of four would save about $100 on five-day tickets, so it can add up to substantial savings.
5) Take Your Kids Before They Turn Three
Tip #5 for how to save money on Disney World tickets is to take your kiddos BEFORE they turn three!
Being the world’s #1 family vacation destination, it is not surprising that Disney World caters to families with young children.
While many entertainment venues start charging admission when kids turn two years old (some even start when they turn one!), you can take your little ones to the Disney theme parks for free up until their third birthday. Many families take advantage of this policy and plan a trip right before their child turns three!
We did this ourselves and it was one of our favorite trips. You don’t have to show any proof of age when taking the little ones into the parks as Disney operates on the honor system.
So if you want to take your kiddo on his/her first trip to Disney World during the toddler or preschool years, I suggest doing so just prior to junior’s third birthday to save yourself a few hundred dollars.
6) Buy Tickets Before the Annual Price Increase
As you could probably guess, ticket prices rise reliably each year. In recent years, Disney hasn’t even waited a year before raising prices. If you know that you will be going to Disney, a money-saving tip is to buy tickets for an upcoming trip before ticket prices increase.
Disney theme parks tickets purchased this year won’t expire until the end of 2018. Most people plan a trip to Disney well in advance.
If you know you are taking a trip in November, yet ticket prices are going to rise in March, buy your tickets before the price increase to save anywhere from $5 to $25 per ticket. Just subscribe to the newsletter for my Disney-only site, The Budget Mouse and I will be sure to let you know when ticket prices are going to increase!
7) Consider Special Event Tickets for Shorter Trips
One frustrating aspect of visiting the parks during a shorter trip is that 1-day and 2-day park tickets are so darn expensive per day. Prices don’t start to drop much below $100/day until you hit the 4-day and up mark.
Obviously, this is to encourage folks to make longer visits, but that’s just not possible for everyone.
If you are planning a short trip anytime from September through December, you may want to consider buying a ticket for one of the special events held at the Magic Kingdom during those months.
On select evenings in September and October, Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party is held at the Magic Kingdom. It is a “hard-ticketed” event, which means you need a special ticket to enter the park – these tickets start at $79.
Most main attractions are open, plus the party features parades, stage shows, character meet and greets, complimentary food and more.
The official time for the party is from 7 p.m. to midnight, though many folks don’t know that you can actually enter the Magic Kingdom any time after 4 pm with your special event ticket. (Check out my full post about the Halloween party here!)
So you can get a full eight hours in Magic Kingdom during the party (if you can hang until midnight) with much lower crowds than normal. Plus, with 1-day Magic Kingdom tickets now around $120 each, you’ll save close to $50 per person by visiting during the party. That would save you about $200 for a family of four!
In November and December Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, a similar hard-ticketed event takes place in the Magic Kingdom. Tickets to this popular event start at $99.
These events are a great way to save on park admission if you are a frequent visitor, want to spend some time in the Magic Kingdom, and don’t want to cough up $120 for a 1-day pass.
8) Get a Park Hopper Plus If You Want To Visit A Water Park
If you plan on visiting one of the two Disney World water parks during your visit and are getting park hopper tickets anyway, you will save quite a bit of money by upgrading to the “Park Hopper Plus” ticket.
A ticket to a water park costs about $60 per person, but it only costs about $22 to upgrade your Park Hopper ticket to include multiple visits to the water parks.
Plus, if you buy a 4-day Park Hopper Plus ticket you’ll get up to FOUR visits to the incredible Disney Word water parks, so you can check each one out if you’d like!
9) If You Qualify, Take Advantage of the Best Discounts
The best discounts that Disney offers on park tickets are for Florida residents and members of the Armed Forces. If you are a Florida resident, check out all of the discounts available here, which include discounted Magic Your Way base tickets through discounted annual passes.
If you are an active or retired member of our military, first of all, thank you for your service.
Second, you can get a fantastic discount on Disney World park tickets for yourself, your family or friends. Until 12/19/2016, military members can get up to six 4-day Park Hopper tickets for only $208 each (regularly $393).
You can read all of the details here. If you have a friend or family member who qualifies for the discount, let him/her know. They may be up for a trip and may be willing to get you some discounted tickets, too!
Well, I hope you found some helpful tips for how to save money on Disney World tickets in this post! Any questions? Please leave a comment below or join the discussion in my free private Facebook group!