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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.
All our options:
Park Hopper option
Water Park option
No Expiration Option
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.
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.
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.