If you pay attention to the news it all, you likely saw that Disney World has raised prices (again), and a one day ticket to the Magic Kingdom now sits at an all-time high of $99 + tax for those aged 10 and up.  In reality, this is just a $4 increase, but that is a bunch of money all-in to have some fun at the Mouse House.  Reminds me a lot of the cost of lift tickets… Of course, most people don’t go to Disney for one day, so your per day cost is lower than that via the multi-day tickets, but it isn’t inexpensive by any stretch.

I’m not the kind of mom that thinks Disney should be the only place our family goes every year, but I’m also not the kind of mom that thinks it sounds terrible and should be avoided at all costs.  We’ve been to both Disney World (several times) and Disneyland, and hopefully have several more trips in our future.  It’s pretty fun and obviously a very family friendly destination.

 Travel Kid 3 Disney

With this price increase, I think it is a good time to review some ways to save when going to Disney World.

Subscribe to Mouse Savers monthly newsletter for discounted park tickets:

The newsletter comes out on the 15th of each month, so you need to plan accordingly and subscribe in time to get it the next month.  They provide a private link to Undercover Tourist who is an official seller of Disney tickets at the lowest prices that are publicly available (that I know of) when you use that link.

Here’s an example of a few of their prices:

Adult Five Day “Magic Your Way” ticket $290.95 ($323.76 from Disney)
Child (3-9) Five Day “Magic Your Way” ticket: $270.95 ($302.46 from Disney)

Adult Park Hopper Five Day ticket: $341.87 ($387.66 from Disney)

Child (3-9)Park Hopper Five Day ticket: $322.70 ($366.36 from Disney)

Their one and two day tickets are currently a couple of dollars less than buying at the gate. I have personally used Undercover Tourist myself for Disney tickets and they arrived on time and worked just fine for my family.

Sign up for a credit card that gives a large sign-up bonus that can be used for Disney tickets:

Some rewards credit cards offer sign-up bonuses that can be used as cash toward travel expenses. One current example is the Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard® that provides $440 toward travel charges after spending $3,000 in the first 90 days (40,000 points for hitting the spending bonus, and then 10% of those points back to use once you redeem). The $89 annual fee is waived the first year. I imagine if you bought your Disney tickets through a travel agent they would code as a travel expense. They may even code as a travel expense directly from Disney. If you included them with a hotel or other package I think you would also safely be in the clear as having them be a “travel” expense. I think this is a great way to knock some of the cost off of a family Disney trip.

Buy tickets that never expire and save days unused for a future trip:

Warning: This tip is only for the well organized family as it will be a waste of money if you can’t keep up with your tickets.  Most multi-day Disney ticket purchases expire within 14 days from the date the ticket was first used, but you can pay extra to get a version that never expires.  For example, from Undercover Tourist you can buy a 10 day “Magic Your Way” ticket that never expires for $ 678.95.  Disney tickets only get pricier each year, so in theory you could use the days you want for your trip this year, and then save the remaining days for a trip in a future year.  That way you benefit from having the discount that comes from multiple days, and you guard against price increases in the coming years.  Of course, you have to be willing to shell out a bunch of cash now, bank on going to Disney again in the future, and not losing your tickets.

Buy Disney gift cards at retailers that are part of a credit card’s bonus categories.

You can get cash back or earn points on Disney expenses by buying Disney gift cards with a rewards earning card that pays a category bonus.  For example, my local grocery store sells Disney Gift cards that can be used at Disneyland, Walt Disney World, Disney Cruise Line, Disney Store locations in the US, and DisneyStore.com. For example, if you bought the gift cards at a grocery store using the  Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express that gives 6% cash back at grocery stores, up to the first $6,000 spent per year, you could save 6% on the Disney expenses you pay for with a gift card.  I have also seen these gift cards at drug stores, and it wouldn’t shock me if they were at other types of retailers as well.  Saving 6% back isn’t a ton, but every little bit helps with Disney charges that often are not discounted!

Tack the ticket cost onto your hotel stay and room charge.

I did this recently at the Hyatt Grand Cypress. There was a fee of a couple of dollars per ticket to do this, but it lumped it in as a hotel charge on my credit card so you could maximize with a card that gives a bonus at hotels. I paid with my Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express and earned one SPG point per dollar for the charge, but I also received a 5% statement credit for the charge thanks to the Amex OPEN program. I did not earn bonus Hyatt points for the room charge, but it’s always possible that your luck may vary with that.

Other Ways to Save:

  • Some AAA offices offer discount Disney tickets, but some don’t offer Disney tickets at all. It is worth checking with your local AAA office to find out.
  • If you are active or retired military you can get some great discounted Disney tickets for you and your family. I believe the current offer is a four day Park Hopper tickets for $169+ tax which is about half-off.
  • Those who live in Florida and Disney Vacation Club owners can also have access to discounted tickets. I recommend heading to MouseSavers for more details for those two special groups.

Travel Kid Disney Princess

New FastPass+ System:

While we are on the topic of Disney, I also want to mention that a new FastPass+ system is being “tested” (aka implemented) at Disney World.  It involves reserving your FastPass times either when you arrive at the parks for non-Disney resort guests or up to 60 days in advance for Disney resort guests.  The individual FastPass kiosks and paper FastPass tickets each attraction are becoming a thing of the past.  You can read more about this change here.  From what I have gathered, Swan and Dolphin guests can only do same-day in park Fastpass+ reservations in all the parks, but this seems to be a fluid situation.

Other Disney Related Posts:

Ten Tips When Taking Kids to Disney

Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress Orlando Part 1

Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress Orlando Part 2

Disney World with a Three Year Old

Tips for Enjoying the New Fantasyland at Disney World

If you have any other Disney money saving tips, I’d love to hear them!

 

Disclosure: I do receive a commission if you are approved for a credit card using one of my affiliate links.  As always, thanks for your support. 

Posted by Mommy Points | 16 Comments

16 Responses to “Disney World Prices Increase…How to Save Money on Disney Park Tickets”

  1. iahphx says:

    For most families, the obvious solution to Disney’s pricing (especially for Disney WORLD) is to go less frequently but stay longer. Disney is strongly incentivizing visitors to stay longer — like a week. They are dis-incentivizing short visits (3 days or less). A 10-day ticket is almost as cheap as a 3-day ticket!

    This is not a bad thing if you’re willing to roll with it. A longer visit to Disney is actually more pleasant than a short visit because there’s less need to rush and cram everything in. There’s plenty to do in Disney World for a week.

    By far the best way to do Disney is with free Disney dining. There is not an offer currently available, but it is expected to return. See, for example:

    http://www.disneytouristblog.com/disney-world-free-dining-dates/

    Spending a week or more at Disney where you can get great and interesting meals and not really pay for them makes for a fantastic, good-value family vacation.

    Your advice to buy no-expiration tickets isn’t really valid anymore. Up until a few years ago, this was a fantastic loophole. You could buy a 10-day Disney World ticket and pay something like $50 for no-expiration. It reduced the per-day cost of visiting Disney to something like $30, and you could even use those days in Disney Land! Alas, Disney closed this loophole and now adds a very steep surcharge to no-expiration tickets, making the cost something like $70/day. You are MUCH better off keeping that money in your pocket and following my “go less frequently/stay longer/get free meals” strategy.

  2. AMJ says:

    Ebates had a great deal going on earlier this week. They were offering 20% back on activities and Disney/Universal tickets were classified as activities. In addition, they had a “buy three day, get two days free” deal for Walt Disney World and a buy a 3 or 4 day ticket get an extra day free deal for Disneyland. I picked up Disneyland tickets for my family with this promotion. The gate price for our tickets would have been $1100, but between the promotion and increased Ebates offer, the total for our tickets was $806. Ebates is back to 10% for Orbitz, but I’m going to keep my eyes out for this to happen again to snag Walt Disney World or Universal Tickets.

  3. You covered most of the ones I had thought of – especially using cards like the Barclay Card or the US Bank Flex Perks card to cover the ticket cost.

    The other Disney-related tip I recently saw is that there are 2 Starwood hotels that are there on-property, so you can use points to cover your hotel expenses

  4. Chuck says:

    Don’t ignore the potential value in getting an Annual Pass. Depending on your visit plans, it could be much less expensive than getting two separate rounds of tickets. Plus, extra perks and discounts come with this passes that could make them even more financially attractive. Sometimes, getting one for a member of the traveling party can yield discounts for the entire group on rooms, merchandise purchases, etc.

    Of course, like all option, it does depend on your circumstances.

  5. AlohaDaveKennedy says:

    And don’t forget the Disney Debit card from Chase…

    •Save 10% on select merchandise purchases of $50 or more at DisneyStore.com and Disney Store locations.
    •Character Meet ‘N’ Greet at a private Cardmember location at Walt Disney World® and the Disneyland® Resorts. Get a complimentary 5 x 7 photo, too!
    •10% off on select merchandise purchases of $50 or more at select locations at Walt Disney World® and the Disneyland® Resorts.
    •10% off select dining locations at Walt Disney World® and the Disneyland® Resorts (restrictions may apply).
    •20% off the non-discounted price of select guided tours at Walt Disney World® and the Disneyland® Resorts.

  6. Kathy says:

    I am so glad you posted this today because we were discussing Disney World this week. We went back in 2001 with our boys that were then 6,8, and 12 years old. We all had 5 day Park Hopper passes that don’t expire ever. We only used 4 days. Believe it or not, there was one day that we were on the way to the park and the kids started crying and begged to stay at the condo for the day because they were so exhausted from going from morning til night. So, we have a day left on all of our passes. The oldest son had an adult pass but the other two had children passes ofcourse. How do we handle this if we decide to go down to Disney this summer and use the passes now that they are all adult (18, 20, and 24) or can my husband and I go and use the passes and pay the difference in price that was paid on the children’s tickets. I don’t know if they really want to go. I definitely still have the tickets. I have kept them in a safe place ever since our trip. Thanks for any tips.

  7. mauricio says:

    A few tips:
    1) take a picture of the back of your disney tickets where the code is. that way if you lose them, disney can look them up and replace them.
    2) we stayed at the dolphin recently, when they were testing fastpass+. As currently configured, think hard before spending the extra money on park hopper tickets. You only get 3 fastpasses a day in one park, so unless you are going to Epcot for dinner every night, a park hopper may not make sense.

  8. winger13 says:

    Buy Disney stock.

    For World, buy 10 day non-expiration tix with fun add-on (allows access to places like the water parks)-that equals 20 days at Disney. Then break trips up over a decade or more (there are other things to see in Orlando, you know) and you still can enjoy at a decent price.

    For Land, just get a set of multi-day tix when $ allows or during promos. Annual pass for us in Calif also works.

    My DW frequently say ‘shame on Disney’ for pricing out many, many hard working families. For a family-oriented theme operation, they sure aren’t keeping to the spirit.

  9. iahphx says:

    Kathy & Winger –

    Double check on Disboards, but Disney has historically allowed you to convert unusued days on a kid’s no-expiration ticket to an adult ticket when they get older. I’ve done it, and it’s obviously a nice perk.

    Of course, this made the purchase of multi-day tickets a BONANZA a decade ago (you should have bought the ten day ticket :)). Alas, Disney wised up to this bonanza and closed the loophole. As I mentioned above, it’s now generally bad advice to buy no-expiration tickets because they’re taking on a huge surcharge — as opposed to the nominal fee that they charged in the past.

  10. momtraveler says:

    @winger13 I agree that Disney is outpricing families, but I suppose it is a case of supply and demand. They have a hot product and people are willing to pay. You have to religiously watch their deals. I would love to go this summer, but I can’t justify a week’s worth of time to do just that and the day rate kills me to pay.

  11. SamL says:

    We were able to take part in the Fastpass+ test in December. I loved being able to pick the attractions and time before hand, but didn’t like that you only got one e-ticket (headliner attraction) per day. And you can only do one park per day. Happily, for now, both systems are still in place, so you can get regular Fasspasses in addition to the Fastpass+ selections.

    I did see WDW cast members set up in front of guest relations to help Swan and Dolphin make Fasspass+ reservations, but I don’t know what is involved in that process.

    One of our strategies for maximizing our Disney budget is to buy annual passes. It can be a good value if you take a long trip each year. Just schedule your trip for one or two calendar weeks earlier the second year. We are DVC members, so we get a discount on annual passes. I haven’t crunched the numbers on the regular priced passes vs. multi-day tickets. But if you’re staying off site and driving, the free parking that comes with annual passes are an additional savings to factor in. The only downfall of annual passes is the urge to fit in little trips (and spend more money/points) throughout the year. It’s addictive!

  12. Shannon says:

    I also took advantage of the ebates shopping portal for the 20% back by buying through Orbitz. This has become a yearly trip for us. I opted out of the park hopper option this time. It can make sense for families with older kids to use. I originally purchased park hopper on a 10 day park hopper/water fun and more package. So far I’ve used the non expiration tickets for 2 trips. I still have four days left. One of my friends breaks the trip into 5 separate trips on the 10 day pass. That way, she gives herself and the kids a day off after each park. They spend the off day enjoying their resort. I lucked out and was able to buy the tickets before the price increase. On Sunday, I ended up purchasing the 10 day non expiration pass with the water parks. So, we’ll have 20 days to enjoy Disney. In the past, I’ve used Undercover Tourist with the Mouseowner’s link. This was a much better deal. Combine that with purchasing them with the Barclay Arrival card, it was a big savings.

  13. AMJ says:

    SamL- Legacy Fastpass has been gone for a couple of weeks. It’s all FP+ now. If you stay at a Disney owned hotel, you are able to book FP+ 60 days in advance. If you stay offsite (including Swan and Dolphin), you won’t be able to book FP+ until you are in the park. This is something to consider when deciding to stay on or off property.

  14. Matt Diggs says:

    I had the bad luck of buying season passes today – $100 more today than yesterday for a family of four. Ahh well, you win some, you lose some.

    I bought a lot of $15-$25 dollar cards at Office Max – and used the Disney Vacation Account (which gives $20 for every $1000 you add) – put in 3k for the annual passes. That returned $60 dollars in future giftcards and 15,000 points.

    Every little bit helps. I’ll value the 15,000 points at $300 bucks, so effectively 12% off on an annual pass. Might pay for a character dinner, as my three year olds definitely don’t eat $20 worth of food.

  15. Tana says:

    If you are staying at the Swan or Dolphin and want access to FPP early early booking online/through app – book 1 night onsite at disney (campgrounds is cheapest). Buy tickets for number of days you are going – either through Disney or somewhere else. Link tickets into the My Disney Experience website and you now have access to book advance FPP reservations. It opens up with resort stay, and number of days to book tied to number of days on tickets. I am doing exactly this for Spring Break.
    Also you can buy unlimited disney gift cards at Target with the Redcard for 5% off, only thing is the highest value is $50. Too much of a hassle for me :).

  16. Rob says:

    So the greater debate here is wether or not to make it a lengthy vacation. It might be worth it to just do a longer stay here and then spend the rest of the time at the beach!

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