By Katie Penn
- Age Requirements
- USA Non-Florida Resident Ticket Options
- UK Ticket Options
- Military Tickets
- Annual Passes
- Ticket Pricing Fluctuations
- Where to Buy Tickets
Planning a Walt Disney World holiday can be confusing, especially when you start to look at tickets. There are so many options, it’s difficult to know which one is the best option for you. There are numerous combinations, and some are dependent on where you live.
- Florida resident options
- US ticket options
- UK ticket options
The common format for all tickets is that they are available to purchase by the number of days you require. This allows you to select a ticket for the specific number of days you intend to be in the parks. If you exceed a certain number of days, or are planning numerous trips within a 12 month period, an annual pass may be a more economical option.
Now we’ll talk about all the ticket options below. Remember, there’s no right or wrong answer when it comes to tickets. It’s more about finding what suits you best as you design your own vacation. And for some people it’s also about finding the most cost-efficient solution. So we’ll talk about the various options, requirements and discounts to get you started.
You’ll need to decide how many days you’ll need. For help planning out how many park days you’ll want, take a look at this article called How Long Should My Disney World Trip Be?
Age requirements for Disney World Tickets
Ticket prices can vary depending up on age. A guest’s age for the trip is based on their age at check in, so if your 9 year old turns 10 mid trip, they are classed as a child for the full trip. Here’s what you need to know:
- Adult tickets are required for all guests ages 10 and over i.e. from their 10th birthday.
- Child tickets are required for all guests aged 3-9 (the same birthday rule applies). Naturally, adult tickets will cost more than child tickets.
- Children under the age of 3 are free. If they’re under three on the first day and they turn 3 during the trip, they’ll still be treated as under 3 years old.
- Annual passes do not have separate pricing for children.
Park Reservations for the Disney World parks are now required in addition to tickets.
Now in order to enter a park you may be required to have a park reservation in addition to a valid ticket. To see who needs it, and when, visit our page on Disney’s new Park Reservation System here.
Where can you buy your Disney World tickets? There are many options:
- Direct from Disney in advance. Check out the Disney World site for pricing and purchase here.
- At the parks. You can buy your tickets at the gate when you arrive at the parks, but if you’re buying tickets for more than two days, they are slightly more expensive than buying in advance.
- Discount locations in advance. You can buy discounted tickets in advance from many different places. But be careful. Read on below.
More on buying tickets from discount non-Disney sources:
There are a lot of scammers out there. Some even look legit. Check out our article called How to Get Discounts on Disney World Tickets. You’ll also want to read the article called Where NOT to Buy Your Disney World Tickets (Avoiding Scammers).
Here’s an example of a discount opportunity on a trusted site, Undercovertourist.com: Save $53 on a Disney World 4-Day Park Hopper! Hop through all 4 parks. This site is one of the few sellers of Disney World tickets that have good reputations.
And here’s one warning here. Don’t ever be tempted to buy ‘second hand’ tickets. That includes:
- Unused tickets from someone who says they can no longer use them.
- Tickets someone has partially used that still have some unused days remaining that they can’t use.
It will be unlikely that these tickets are valid and they may not work. Used tickets are non-transferable and entry to the park is based on a biometric finger scan assigned to the ticket. This also applies to tickets advertised on sites such as ebay or gumtree. You cannot confirm that the tickets are unassigned and/or unused.
Real discounts on Disney tickets are usually quite small. Also, it’s not always the case that discount sites and businesses are cheaper than buying direct from Disney. So, you might want to shop around before committing to buy.
Some sites will send you tickets directly, others will send you a confirmation with a reference number, which you need to convert to a ticket at the park.
TIP: If you buy tickets direct from Disney, there are a couple of perks.
First, if you buy them while logged into My Disney Experience on their site or in the app on your mobile device, they will be automatically linked to your account. This saves time trying to ‘link’ your tickets yourself. It also means, if you have magic bands already, or you are staying in a Disney resort, you do not need to spend time in line to collect your physical tickets.
Also, if you lose your tickets Disney will have you in their system and can find you. If you bought your tickets from someone else, and you realize you’ve lost them when you get to Disney, Disney can’t help you.
U.S.A. Disney World Ticket Options and Pricing
Of course ticket prices can change at any time, so be sure to check with Disney.
For non-Florida U.S.A. residents, tickets are available for 1-10 days. Also, for non-Florida residents there are 3 options for tickets purchased in the US.
You can also buy these tickets ‘at the gate’ (when you arrive at the parks), but if buying more than two days, they are slightly more expensive than buying in advance.
Keep in mind that for pricing, when it comes to Disney World tickets:
- The more days you buy, the more your tickets cost (naturally).
- The more days you buy, the less you pay for each day.
Disney Ticket Prices Change Based on Projected Crowd Conditions
Tickets for Disney World are now subject to seasonal pricing. This means that the dates you visit determines the price you pay. For example, a one-day ticket might cost you around $20 more on a projected high crowd day, compared to low crowd day.
You’ll want to check Disney’s site to get an idea of pricing for the dates you’re planning to visit. Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving week, July 4th week and most weekends are peak pricing. Low pricing is mostly weekdays in January, February, September and November.
Most people do not have the luxury of choosing when they visit, due to work or school schedules. So the important thing is to find pricing for your dates, and to determine how many park days your budget will allow for.
Types of Disney World Tickets for U.S.A. Visitors:
Base tickets – These are the simplest tickets available. You can:
- Enter one park per day.
- Leave and re-enter the same park, as long as the park is open, and has not reached capacity (i.e. it is full).
You cannot visit two parks in one day, and there are no water parks or other options included.
Park Hopper tickets – Going from one park to another is referred to as ‘hopping’ e.g. ‘I’m hopping from Magic Kingdom to Epcot’. With a Park Hopper ticket, you can:
- Stay in the same park for one day.
- Leave and return to the same park.
- Leave and go on to another park (as long as the park you choose has not reached capacity)
- Visit three or more of the four parks in one day. You can even visit all four of the main parks if you feel like a challenge, and if parks have not reached capacity.
However, there are rules.
Currently, Park Hoppers allow travelling from one park to another on the same day, but only after 2 PM. However, beginning January 9, 2024, guests who have a Park Hopper ticket (or an annual pass), can visit any park, any time of the day.
Be aware that even with the new rule, on dates where reservations are required for Annual Passholders and for some non-dated tickets, you’ll have to visit your first park that has the reservation, before moving on to the next park. So, for example, if you have a Park Reservation for Epcot, you have to go there first. It doesn’t matter how long you stay. After you’ve checked in, you can move on to any other park.
So to sum up, guests must have a ticket and a park reservation if required, for the first park. They must also have checked into the first park in order to hop to the second park. You do not need park reservations at the parks you hop to. However, if a park has reached capacity, you can be turned away.
You can make dining reservations at a park other than the one you reserved for that day. However, that does not guarantee you’ll get in the park. There’s always the chance it’s reached capacity and you could be turned away. That seems to happen only during peak visitor days, such as holidays. The only park you’re guaranteed to get into is the one you made your reservation for, for that day.
Why would you want to visit more than one park in a day?
- You’re unable to make a park reservation for a particular park, but you may be allowed to hop there in the afternoon after visiting another park you were able to get a reservation for.
- You want to redo rides and shows that you really enjoyed, but you don’t need a full park day to do it.
- You want to go back to a certain park to do things you missed, and you don’t need a full park day to do it.
- Some very experienced Disney World fans enjoy visiting all four parks on the same day as a kind of challenge.
You can check Disney’s Park Hopper hours here by finding your dates. Hours are subject to change. Although Park Hopping is permitted currently from 2 PM and beyond, it’s changing as of January 9th, 2024. Currently, Park Hopper hours may be different for each park.
Park Hopper Plus tickets – These tickets offer you a set number of park days (during which you can hop) plus the same number of ‘Plus’ visits. What’s the “Plus” part about? You can enjoy a number of additional entertainment spots at Disney. At this time, this includes:
- Blizzard Beach
- Typhoon Lagoon
- Oak Trail Golf Course (FootGolf included)
- Winter Summerland Miniature Golf Course
- Fantasia Gardens Miniature Golf Course
- ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex
The number of ‘Plus’ visits you have are the same as the number of days on your ticket. So if you bought 4 days of tickets, you could use 4 ‘Plus’ visits. Now you have 4 days to go to the parks, and you can hop to any of the parks each day… PLUS you have 4 days that you can also visit the places listed above.
You can visit those:
- On the same day as a park(s)
- On a separate day
- On the same day as another ‘plus’ option.
This could be used in a variety of ways. You can do more one or more ‘plus’ options on the same day, or on a day you also visit the theme parks. For example, you could visit Epcot and then visit Blizzard Beach. Or you could take one day to visit Blizzard Beach and then play a round of golf at Winter Summerland. With that you would have used up two of your ‘Plus’ visits. Or you could essentially spend 8 days at Disney – 4 in the parks and 4 doing your ‘plus’ visits.
While you do not have to use all your days consecutively, you do need to use them all within 14 days of the first day of use. This is useful if you want to combine your trip with the other attractions in the area, or you want to take rest/pool days in between your park days.
Annual Pass Tickets – Annual Pass tickets last a year, but park access varies depending on the level you choose. Annual passes are also available with different options. All annual passes offer complimentary parking, park hopping, and discounts such as reduced room rates (upon availability).
If you’ve already bought tickets, you can upgrade to an annual pass at any point before they expire.
Some of the cheaper passes are subject to ‘black out days’ which are days that the pass is not valid. For example, Christmas & New Years. So, if you are looking to purchase one of the less expensive passes, make sure you’re aware of the blackout days beforehand.
Annual Passes are split into two types:
- Florida Resident Annual Passes
- Non-Florida Resident Passes
To learn all about Annual Passes, visit here: Annual Passes for Disney World – All You Need to Know! (for USA, UK & Ireland)
Florida Annual Pass information can be found in this article here: Florida Resident Tickets & Annual Passes.
Why should everyone consider an annual pass (Even if you’re only going on one trip)?
Sometimes an annual pass can be worth the investment, even if you’re only planning one trip. To determine if the annual pass is worth it for you, check out this article here: Why an Annual Pass Can Save You Money (Even on one trip)!
Florida Resident Discount Tickets – Florida Residents Get Discounts on Disney World Tickets and certain types of annual passes are only available to them. Disney likes it’s Florida residents and has crafted all kinds of discount ticket offers to bring in Floridians. Visit here to explore the Florida Resident Ticket and Annual Pass options.
Military Tickets – Walt Disney World offers military personnel dedicated military tickets. These tickets are available to serving and retired military personnel, and retired National Guard, US Coast Guard, Reservists, PHS and NOAA personnel.
There are strict rules to avoid abuse of these special tickets, so ensure you understand these before you purchase. The most important is that while the eligible member or their spouse, is allowed to purchase up to 6 tickets at a time, they (or the spouse) must also attend the ticket window at a Walt Disney World park to activate the tickets. Up to that point the tickets cannot be used.
Tickets are available for either 4 or 5 days and can be purchased as either Hopper or Hopper plus tickets.
Anyone buying military tickets in advance, either in base or over the phone will be issued with a voucher or temporary ticket. These will need to be exchanged for real tickets when arriving at Walt Disney World. However, both have a reference to link to My Disney Experience (MDE), which allows holders to participate in any online activities that require a ticket.
Visit this article for information on Discounts For Military.
UK & Ireland Disney World Ticket Options
Disney offers tickets for 7, 14 or 21 days. These tickets are for UK and Ireland residents only. They are available in advance. You cannot buy these tickets once you arrive in Orlando. If you’d like to see pricing or buy your tickets, visit Disney’s UK ticket sales page here.
Disney’s U.K. tickets for 7, 14 or 21 days gives you:
- No blackout days
- Disney Memory Maker
- Unlimited entry to all 4 parks, even on the same day after 2 PM (hopper), every day (this will be all day starting January 9th, 2024)
- Admission to the 2 water parks
- Admission to ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex
- Admission to Disney’s Oak Trail Golf Course
- Admission to the two Mini Golf
Tip for UK visitors: Disney does not offer special UK annual pass pricing, but you can buy their regular annual pass. Check out our page on Disney World Annual Passes. At this time we’re finding that for most people it’s not worth the investment.
When you buy your tickets, you are required to give a start date for your trip, and your tickets will not be valid before. They are usually valid until the 31st December of the year you travel, so if you buy tickets for a trip in July 2022, but don’t use them at that time, they will expire 31st December 2022.
If you buy a 7 day ticket, it is valid for 7 days of entry, within a 14 day period. However, 14 and 21 day tickets are valid for 14 days or 21 days respectively, from the first day they are used. Therefore if you’re going for 3 weeks, but only plan to enter the parks 14 times, you cannot buy a 14 day ticket and use this on your first and last day, as it will expire after 14 days.
If you are from the UK and planning on doing less than 7 days in the parks, it is worth bearing in mind that a 7 day UK ticket is cheaper than a 6 day Base ticket, peak season. It is also cheaper to buy a 7 day UK ticket, than a 2 day Hopper Plus, with memory maker added (this is the option which offers the same as a UK ticket). It is not always cost effective to buy a ticket less than the 7 day UK ticket, just because you won’t use all 7 days.
Additionally, if you are planning more than one trip in 12 months, or you are staying off site for more than 18 days, an annual pass is cheaper than buying two sets of UK tickets. It’s also cheaper than buying the 21 day pass and paying for parking at the parks. In order to book anything in advance that requires a ticket, if you are in the UK and wish to by an annual pass, you can ‘upgrade’ your UK ticket to an annual pass for the value of the remaining days on the ticket. It’s best to upgrade on your first day, and this gives you all the perks for the trip too. All you need to do is visit guest relations and pay the difference between your UK ticket and the annual pass you choose.
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Edited by Stephen Ashley