A trip to Disney World is one of the more expensive vacation options families can choose from. But it doesn’t have to be. Knowing
a few tricks of the trade can help you shave off a significant portion of your total expense. Today we discuss one of the most significant portions of your Disney vacation expenses – park tickets.
So sit back, take some notes, and enjoy our favorite money saving tips for Disney World vacations!
Disney park tickets are fast becoming so expensive that many families may opt to avoid the House of Mouse altogether. Single day park tickets are nearly $100 these days, with prices rising at a pace much faster than inflation. A family of four can expect to pay $400 just to enter the parks for one day.
But with a little knowledge of how Disney’s ticket pricing works, we can shave anywhere from 30% to nearly 70% off the daily price.
The first thing you need to know about Disney park tickets is that the more days you purchase, the cheaper the price per day is. This is great if you plan on visiting the parks for an entire week. Whereas a 1-day ticket to a single park costs $89 as of today, a 7-day ticket costs $288, which is just $41 per day. Many people prefer to “park hop”, moving between the various theme parks during the day as they see fit. This luxury brings additional cost to a 7-day ticket, pushing the price to $345, or about $49 per day.
For example, here is a screen capture of Disney World ticket price options as of 6/3/2012:
The cheapest option is the 10-day pass to the parks for $318, which equals less than $32 per day if the Park Hopper option isn’t important to you. The bottom line…the more days you purchase, the cheaper the ticket price per day will be. But how many people really spend 10 days in the parks on their trip?
In their quest to maximize every last dollar Disney can squeeze out of your wallet, Disney expires your park tickets 14 days after their first use. So don’t think you can buy 10 days worth of tickets, use 5 in April, then use the other 5 in July. This is one of those things which makes a lot of us shake our heads at Disney the corporate entity, and makes us wonder if these policies would exist if Walt were alive.
If you want 10 days worth of tickets spread across two separate vacations, your only options are separate purchases, no expiration options, and annual passports.
No Expiration Option
We used to tell people to purchase the “No Expiration Option” for park tickets. But unfortunately these ticket options are no longer a very good deal. The non-expiring ticket option increases the 7-day ticket cost from $41 per day to $68 per day, which in our opinion is simply not a very good deal anymore.
Let’s say you plan to visit Disney two years in a row, spending 5 days in the park each yearly trip. In the past it made sense to purchase the non-expiring ticket option and buy 10 days worth. Disney has increased the cost so much for this luxury that you no longer get a worthwhile advantage from the non-expiring tickets. It would be simpler to purchase 5 days each trip, and store the additional money in a money market fund between vacation trips.
Annual passes run several hundred dollars per person depending on whether you want the water parks added on. The annual passport is significantly cheaper for Florida residents.
If you spend two weeks or more per year in the parks, the annual passport option makes a lot of sense.
We really like annual passports. The best way to take advantage of them, if you visit Disney annually, is to ensure the vacations fall within 365 days of each other. For instance, if you vacation from August 1 to August 7 this year, plan your vacation from July 25 to July 31 (or sooner) next year. See how easy that works?
If you visit multiple times per year, the annual passport is almost certainly the best option for park tickets.
News Flash – You Don’t Have to Go in Parks Everyday!
Here’s our favorite money saving option on park tickets. Don’t go in the parks everyday. Yeah it sounds like a cop out, but it really isn’t. Disney resorts make wonderful vacation destinations, but most people don’t spend much time in them. With plenty to do at the resorts (swimming, award winning restaurants, etc), you would do well to work days off from the park into your touring plan. Buy 5 days of tickets for a 7 day vacation, and give yourself time to relax with a few days off. Your bank account will thank you.
Disney Park Ticket Discounts
There are reputable sites which sell Disney park tickets. Unfortunately there also some shady sites which you want to avoid. You’ve probably seen signs up and down I-95 and I-4 boasting of huge discounts on Disney World park tickets. Most of these are scams of one sort or another.
One place you can find discounts is Undercover Tourist (which we have no affiliation with). Discounts generally run 5 to 10 percent. No, you won’t find “free Disney tickets.” But you will find a nice little discount to save you a few dollars.
That’s our take on park tickets. What are your favorite ways to save money WDW park tickets?