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Coupon Abbreviations
  • SC = Store Coupon
  • MC = Manufacturer Coupon
  • SS = Smart Source
  • RP = Red Plum
  • PG = Proctor and Gamble
Coupon Terms
  • WYB = When You Buy
  • B1G1 = Buy One Get One Free
  • .75/1 = 75 cents off one item
  • .75/3 = 75 cents off three items
  • EXP = Expiration Date

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Saving on a disney vacation series ticketing packages

This is part of an ongoing guest post series on Disney World Savings, written by a life long Disney lover.

The next big step in planning your Disney Vacation effectively is to decide what type of ticket package your family needs.  Again, there is much to consider.  The goal here is to get the most value within your budget range.  Please note that the prices listed are subject to change.

Ticket Packages

All our options:

Park Hopper option
Water Park option
No Expiration Option
Dining Plan

Park Hopper

The Park Hopper option for ticket prices is a crucial element to your success at WDW.  For some, it may be better not to spend the extra money.  While for others, it may be essential to get a full WDW experience (and keep the kids happy).  Just like the base ticket price, the Park Hopper option per day cost is different depending on how many days you are staying (the more days you stay, the cheaper per day).  For a frame of reference, one 3-day Magic Your Way base ticket (without Park Hopper) is $242.  With the Park Hopper option, the price goes to $299.  That means for a 3-day ticket, the Park Hopper is an additional $19 per day.

What is the actual value of the Park Hopper option?  As the name suggests, you are allowed to “hop” or enter multiple parks in a single day.  The base ticket allows you entrance to only one park per day, meaning if you enter Magic Kingdom at 9:00 am, leave at 12:00 pm, you may not head to any of the other parks after lunch.  You can however return to that park after short nap or break, just hold onto your Magic Your Way ticket.

What does this mean?
If you are a family that likes to do everything in one park at once, then move on to another park the next day, you have no need for the Park Hopper option.  WDW parks offer tons to do and you can certainly fill your day up with one park.

However, the Park Hopper option allows you to do some interesting things.  I’ll get into dining and the parks more in depth later, but to me EPCOT has the best food while the other parks offer better rides and shows.  It is a lot of fun to ride rides in those parks and go to EPCOT for lunch and/or dinner.  Another positive to the Park Hopper is the ability leave a crowded park for another park that may be less crowded at the time.  For instance, Magic Kingdom gets very crowded during the peak of the day due to parades and its own popularity.  However, Hollywood Studios tends to be less crowded during lunch because the majority of guests eat elsewhere.

Final Opinion: The Park Hopper is absolutely a luxury, but it allows you to truly make the most of your WDW experience by switching from the most populated parks, eating the best food, and having the simple flexibility of being able to do whatever your children, or you want, whenever you want to do it.  For first timers, a park hopper option may not be as necessary as you will need more time in each park to find your way.  If you are returning and know what you want to do, the Park Hopper holds more value.

Water Park and Fun Option

The Water Park Option is the same price as the Park Hopper for a 3-day ticket, $19 additional per day.  So, if you want both Park Hopper and Water Park, that is an additional $38.  To give you an idea, a ticket at the gate for a one time admission to Blizzard Beach or Typhoon Lagoon is $55.  So, if you plan on going to the water parks, definitely add it on to your ticket package as it is much cheaper.  This option also grants you access to Disney Quest, a huge multiple level indoor arcade.  The WDW water parks have been featured on the Travel Channel as some of the most fun water parks to visit. During the winter months, even in Florida, these may be too cold or closed.  However, the pools are heated, so don’t count them out.  During the warm weather months they are extremely crowded. One other thing to consider is the ages of your kids.  Most of the water parks have limited activities for younger children.

Again, this is a total luxury.  If you are going during the right time and love water parks, Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon are among the best.  We prefer Blizzard Beach as it has a little more to offer.

No Expiration Option

This option enables you to use your tickets whenever you want, they will never expire.  If you plan on going at least once a year for several years, this may be a good option for you.  Not only will inflation rise the ticket prices, but the ticket prices also continue to rise as WDW offers more to do.  Also, the more tickets you buy at one time, the cheaper the cost per ticket (WDW wants you to stay in the parks as long as possible).  The no expiration cost is expensive, but if you were to buy a 10 day ticket with just the No Expiration option, the cost is about $59.30/day.  That’s much cheaper than if you were to get just a 3 day with no options ($80.67/day) or a 4 day with no options ($64/day).  It’s a larger upfront cost, but if you want to do multiple 3 or 4 day trips, then the no expiration option is definitely something to consider.

Prices Table
I’ve provided a cost breakdown of the prices for the different options.  Keep in mind that you can buy up to a 10 day ticket.  You may view more a more extensive price break down when you are booking online.

Military
Active and retired military personnel can receive heavily discounted tickets to Disney World and are able to stay at Shades of Green.  Shades of Green is a resort near Disney World, but is not owned by them.  You will get better rates at Shades of Green but are not forced to stay there.  You will also still get the extra magic hours perk.

Where to Buy
There are several options to buy.  Undercover tourist and other sites may offer slightly cheaper tickets (up to $10), but these have to be shipped to you.  According to comments on previous posts, AAA in Orlando apparently has good prices, but I’m not familiar with them.  You’ll want to strictly avoid sites or people who are selling you half used tickets.  Disney World tickets can only be used by the original buyer and Florida law says it is illegal to resell Theme Park attraction tickets.  This is why I like to buy directly from Disney World. I like the security and how easy it is to have the tickets waiting for you when you get to the resort (the tickets are actually your room key).  Another tip is to keep your receipt for the tickets you purchased as well as photo copy the back of your ticket.  If you were to lose a ticket, you’ll need a photocopy or a receipt from Disney to get a new one.  If you purchase from another site the receipt will not help.

How do you save on tickets?

Look for tomorrow’s post on the dining plan.

 

    • Paula

      If you decide the park hopper option is too $$ for you, but hate the idea of being “stuck” in a park that is crazy crowded, check the calendar of parks that have “extra magic hours”. The parks that tend to be the most crowded are the parks that have the extra magic hours or that are opened the latest. We avoid Hollywood Studios on EMH morning days for this very reason–that park often fills on those days.

      I’d also add that if you are staying off property, it may be beneficial to buy ONE annual pass that includes parking if buying passes–it’s $14/day to park and those savings add up!

    • Lesley P.

      Something to keep in mind when buying tickets is that if for some reason you lose your ticket and purchased it from somewhere other than Disney itself you are out of luck when it comes to replacing it. I learned this the hard way when visiting Disneyland and I had bought my tickets through Costco. Since the savings from other dealers is so small, it’s worth the peace of mind to buy directly from Disney so that tickets can easily be replaced at any Guest Services location.
      I would also say that the “Park Hopper” option is not as great as it seems. It really adds to the cost of the tickets and buy the time you get into a park and do the things that you want to do, your feet are sore and kids are tired that you really have no desire to “hop” on over to another park. Save yourself the money and just plan on doing one park a day :)

      • Susie

        Also, if you stay in one of the Disney resorts and buy a package deal from Disney you’re hotel key card is loaded with your ticket and charging privileges at all shops and restaurants in Disney World. Lots less to keep up with. I also agree the park hopper option is not worth it. Those parks are huge, especially with kids it’s hard to get through even one in a day. By the end of the day the last thing on my mind was standing in line for a bus to another park. There’s lotsa walking and everybody is so tired after working your way around just one park, especially with elementary school or younger children. When we first started going to Disney the hopper option didn’t cost extra. We learned then that we never used it anyway, so when they started charging extra, we never took that option.

        • Momof3

          Keep in mind that you are allowing yourself to be tracked and date mined if you wear those bracelets everywhere. We are there frequently and refuse them for that reason. (You can still get the cards if you request them.) Why hand over all that data to them willingly?

      • momof3

        We have been to Disney numerous times (well into the 100’s), and we find that the Park Hopper, for us, is the way to go. We don’t really want to sit at one park all day, and, with little ones, MGM is not an all day park, and Animal Kingdom closes so early….

      • Disney Lover

        I have traveled from Georgia to Orlando at least twice a year for the past 10 years with 2 children, and several trips in the years before that. I have ALWAYS been against the Park Hopper option. I find it to be another way for Disney to make some extra money on a ticket that I have already purchased. Having said that, I did find some value to it on our most recent trip. Although I still have never purchased it, there is a time where it might just work out! Right now, Magic Kingdom closes at 7pm on selected nights for Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party. When it closes early, there are no night time attractions (i.e. Mainstreet Electrical Parade and Wishes fireworks). On these days, the park is MUCH LESS crowded than days when the park is open until 1am (for resort guests). My thought was this…if we had purchased the “hopper” option, then we could have visited the MK on the day that it closed at 7pm, enjoyed the slightly less crowd, then “hopped” to another park that night for the rest of the evening. Any other park, or day, I say save your money! There is enough in each park to consume the day. :)

      • Momof3

        Here is the way around that: When you get your tickets, make a copy of the back, or even take a photo with your phone. That way, you have the numbers. We lost ours (purchased for a TON of savings at AAA) and they were replaced with absolutely no difficulty at all!

    • Susie

      Also, the absolute best deal for a package is to wait for Disney to offer “free dining” with the purchase of a package. That saves a ton of money because food is so expensive inside Disney parks and resorts. Important to note also that you can use a table service meal on the dining plan to pay for most character meals. Disney has the free dining promotion several times a year. We were able to eat at places that would have been way to expensive without it.

      • Goofy (guest post writer)

        Getting the free dining plan is absolutely the way to go! We always try to plan around that.

      • Do you know when they do that? What time of the year did you go when you got it?

        • Ann

          It’s going on right now and I have a friend that got free dining in May.

        • Susie

          They just had the free dining promo but the last day to book it was about a week ago. It was for stays through December. Just check disneyworld(dot) com about once a week and click on “special offers” to see what’s available. I’ve seen that offer at various times of the year.

        • Susie

          Disney posted a deal this morning that includes dining.

      • Momof3

        It’s a “shell game”-We have priced it out several times, during the year. If they give you a “free” dining plan, you pay more for the hotel stay, or tickets. If you pay for the dining plan, you pay a bit less. Get several quotes throughout the year, and you’ll see that the cost is within about $30 per person regardless of the “deal.”

    • Kelle Mccarthy

      You forgot to cover the Dining Plan option!!

      • Goofy (guest post writer)

        Don’t worry, that’s tomorrow’s post.

    • aimee

      What about homeschool deals? I know they have classes they offer and special times just for homeschool families. Could you share something about those?

    • gagirl

      We personally love the Park Hopper option. We often will go to a park in the morning and then hop over to the park having the Extra Magic Hours in the evening. The crowd will usually go down during EMH and we will have avoided some of the larger crowds that are there during the day.

    • brooke

      FL Residents can purchase 3 or 4 day passes that expire 6 months from first use, there are a few blackout dates, but for those of us nearby, it works out nicely to just make a day trip. Not quite the same experience, but definately saves a ton of money on the hotel.

    • I can say, from experience, that the Park Hopper option, plus the right season, can make for a great day. On Dec 9, 2005 (my 5th wedding anniversary) my wife and I used the Park Hopper option to ride EVERY ride in EVERY park in ONE day. (excluding the water parks – it was much too cold that day from what I remember).
      We didn’t stay in a Disney resort, and drove our car. I don’t remember all of the details of which park we went to and when, but I remember that we started at Epcot at 6am (it had an early open that day). We were done with Epcot by about 9am as there were no lines for any rides at all (being a weekday in December, as I recall). I remember that we ate lunch at McDonald’s at Downtown Disney (unfortunately no longer there :-( ) and we ended the day at midnight at the Magic Kingdom with the lighted Christmas parade and the fireworks.
      Now, we didn’t have kids at the time, and this is not how I would normally go to Disney (but I used to live in O-town and have been there countless times), but it was a fun day and makes a great story.

    • Just Jamie

      Also, if family from FL is staying with you for the trip, they can book your room at a Disney hotel for the Florida resident rate. I did this for my cousins’ in the past and it really saved them a lot. (I think you both have to be staying in the same hotel) You can also consider having the FL resident purchase your kids’ tickets (no id required), but the FL resident has to be with you each time you go in the parks (and it is not always cheaper, but worth checking.)

    • Victoria

      Military families need to check out this site: Disney tickets for 4 days for a huge discount and rooms up to 35% off currently. http://www.militarydisneytips.com/blog/disney-military-discounts/disney-military-discounted-ticket-price-increase/

    • Momof3

      As frequent Disney visitors, here are a few suggestions: We save about $250 purchasing our 7 day park hoppers for 5 with the water park rider. We purchase non-expiring, and our current set was actually used for 4 years. (Being from Florida, we don’t feel the urge to go full throttle to parks for each visit.) Also, STAY AWAY from the dining plan–We have a refrigerator in our room, go to the Walmart just past the premier outlets, and purchase breakfasts and lunches–We don’t cheap out, either. Croissants for sandwiches, the good lunch meat and cheese, and yummy breakfasts. Our family spent, for 6 days, $125 for all our breakfasts and lunches! Also, we cooked out at Saratoga Springs one night, and had pizza from Flippers one night…We also had a few $120 dinners, but so what?

    • twinstimes2

      what month is best to go to save money

    • deedee

      An inexpensive condo to stay at 2 miles from Disney, 3 bedrooms (1 mickey themed children’s bedroom), 2 bathrooms (1 mickey themed bathroom), full kitchen, 1450 sq ft, includes washer and dryer.

      http://www.vrbo.com/625656