We recently spent the better part of a week on vacation at Disney World, and I thought that I’d write a few words about how we got a ‘discount’ on our park tickets. First off, I should say that Disney is pretty stingy when it comes to getting a ‘deal’ on park admission — people will pretty much pay what they’re asking when it comes to ticket prices, and they know it (although they do offer an advance purchase discount on certain tickets). But if you vacation there fairly regularly, you can create your own deal by buying a multi-day pass and splitting it across trips. Here’s how it works…
Disney World offers what they call ‘Magic Your Way’ tickets that vary in terms of both duration and options. The price per day is on a sliding scale, such that you pay progressively less for each day that you purchase. You can then ‘upgrade’ your tickets to include things like Park Hopper privileges, as well as a non-expiring option. Park Hopper refers the ability to go in and out of any of their parks each day, rather than being restricted to just one. Thus, you can visit the Magic Kingdom, Epcot, the Animal Kingdom, and MGM Studios all in the same day. And the non-expiring option means just that — you can spread the days on your pass over as much time as you wish, rather than having your tickets expire two weeks after your first use. You can also add access to their water parks, Pleasure Island (their night club complex), etc. if that’s your thing. So how do you make your own discount? Simple. Just buy enough days for two visits and add the non-expiring option. As I said above, this really only works if you’re a semi-regular visitor. But if you are, you can save a bundle. Just don’t lose your tickets! (Actually, you can get replacements as long as you save the pertinent paperwork.)
In our case, I’ve long since realized that we fall into the ‘frequent Disney World visitor’ category (it doesn’t hurt that we’re within a day’s drive), so we went ahead and purchased eight day passes such that we can make two four day visits. All in all, we saved around $300 as compared to buying two separate four day tickets without the non-expiration option for each person (note that we have a pretty big family, so you might not save as much if you do this yourself). We also locked in the current price, so our savings might end up being a bit higher if Disney bumps ticket prices up in the next year (and they almost certainly will). Yes, we could be earning interest on the money that we put toward our next visit. But there’s no way we’d come anywhere near earning $300 on this amount in the next year, so buying the longer-term tickets and stashing them in our safe deposit box in between trips really was a no-brainer.
Oh, and for those of you thinking about buying a longer-term ticket, using part of it, and then selling the remaining days to cover a portion of your vacation expenses, think again. They now use a biometric hand-reader-thingy at the gate to make sure you’re using your own ticket.