Alright, this is probably the simplest advice I can give people. Unless you are staying on Disney Property, and buying tickets through Disney to get a bundle deal (like free dining), do not buy your tickets from Disney.
Be careful though. For every honest and legitimate place selling tickets, there are hundreds (especially in the Orlando area, beware the pop-up huts and the timeshare ploys), trying to scam people. Undercover Tourist is the place that I always recommend for a few reasons. First off, their pricing includes taxes and fees, so what you see is what you pay. Second, the price you see also includes free shipping, even to Canada. Keep that in mind if you compare prices online to Disney’s website, those prices don’t included the tax yet. Places like AAA or CAA are ok as well, but I’ve found Undercover Tourist to still be the cheapest. They also have more options for your tickets.
Before I give you the link to the Undercover Tourist website though, you need to go here, to Mousesavers and sign up for their newsletter. They send it out on the 15th of every month, and it includes a special partnership link to Undercover Tourist. Through this link, and this link only, the ticket prices are even further discounted. If you like Disney, you’ll like the newsletter too. They give you the latest news for the parks, like new attractions, changes to policies (like tickets, fastpass, etc), and a warning when ticket increases are coming so that you can buy in advance.
Now that you’re set up with Mousesavers, be patient and wait for the 15th before you buy your tickets through that link. If you want to check out the Undercover Tourist site now though, here’s the link to it. They’ve also developed a pretty good crowd calender that I’ll get into more in a later posting.
Now for a little advice on what tickets to buy, and what they all mean.
Disney’s Magic Your Way Tickets
If you are doing Disney world this year, and don’t know if you’ll be going back again, then you’ll be looking at the basic Magic Your Way (MYW) tickets.
The first thing you need to do is decide how many days you want to spend in the parks. There are 4 parks total (The Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios, and Animal Kingdom). If this is a one time trip you probably want to see them all once, but you still have options.
Park Hopper Option
If you add on the park hopper, then you can jump between the four parks on the same day, as many times as you want on each day of your ticket, without wasting a new day on your ticket. This is a basic fee of $60 that is added to your ticket of 4 days or more (1 day is $35, 2 and 3 days is $49). In our experience the Magic Kingdom is a full day park, especially if you have little ones. I would say that Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios are half day parks if you go in with a plan for the rides you want to do. For our family Epcot is a blip, we might pop in for a ride or two, but that’s it. However, if you love to walk around and explore, you could easily spend a full day touring the “world” and enjoying all the food and drinks.
Water Parks and More Option
On top of the 4 main parks are the secondary paid Disney attractions. These include the two water parks, Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach, DisneyQuest (a giant indoor arcade in Downtown Disney, great for pre-teens and teens), Disney’s Wide World of Sports, two miniature golf courses (Fantasia Gardens and Winter Summerland), and Disney’s Oak Trail 9 hole walking golf course. If some of these peak your interest (personally we LOVE the water parks), then you’ll want to add on the Water Parks and More option. This is a $60 option no matter if your ticket is 2 days or 10 days (on one day tickets it’s $55, more than entrance to some places). This option gets you entry to ONE of the 7 attractions listed above for every day of your ticket. So, if you buy a 5 day MYW base ticket and add on the Water Parks and More option, you’ll also get 5 days at the secondary attractions. Note that you can not “hop” between these, even if you’ve added on the Park Hopper.
Combining Options for Further Discounts
On that note, if you want both the Park Hopper and the Water Parks and More options, you’ll save some money. Adding both is $86 for 2-10 days ($81 for one day).
No Expiration Option
Now, all of the Magic Your Way tickets expire 14 days after first use. This is very important to understand.
If you are planning on visiting Disney with some regularity, every year, two years, even every five years, please consider the No Expiration option. This is a per day of ticket cost based on the original number of days on the ticket, not what you have remaining at the end of your trip (though you can decide to add it on as long as you’re within the original 14 days). Adding this on literally keeps your ticket active forever, and is a great way to save some money if you’re going to visit every few years. Disney does a yearly ticket price increase (usually every summer), so the price you can buy them for now will never be this cheap again.
You won’t see this option on the Disney ticket website any more, as they were having too much confusion with people staying onsite for two weeks and thinking they needed to add it, then wanting a refund when they arrived at the parks and realized they didn’t actually need it. If you call Disney to order your tickets, or buy them at the parks though, you can still select it.
How We Vacation
As an example, we buy the 10 day tickets MYW tickets with Park Hopper, Water Park and More, and No Expiration options. When I bought Bo and mine a few years ago they were around $630. I bought Oliver’s this spring and it was almost $750. We go for two weeks every year, and spend two days at the main parks, one full day at the Magic Kingdom, and one day park hopping, usually finishing the night off back at the Magic Kingdom. Then, we’ll spend one day at a water park, and either a second day at the water park, or DisneyQuest or mini golf. I look at it like that $750 gives us 5 years of vacations, doing 4 things per year, at a cost of $37.50 per day. I haven’t figured out a way to do it any cheaper than that. In the future, when the kids are big enough to want to do Universal or Bush Gardens for one day instead of two days at Disney, those tickets will last us 10 years.