Doing Disney: Tickets

r-1466051002-WaltDisneyWorld1We are in Orlando, home to Mickey Mouse! This is the first of a sporadic series on visiting the Mouse, especially during the holiday season.

We moved to Florida way back in 1984. I think the cost of a one-day park hopper ticket back then was in the $20-25 range. In today’s dollars, that’s about $50. However, ticket prices have risen far faster than inflation – a one day 4-Park Hopper pass can set you back upwards of $160! Yikes! And that doesn’t include parking at $25 per car! Add a hotel stay, meals, and souvenirs, and I wonder how families can afford a Disney vacation. It’s just super expensive.

So, what can you do to bring the admission ticket cost down? First, if you buy a “one park” ticket, rather than a park-hopper ticket, it is less costly. The difference is that a Park Hopper pass allows you to visit more than one Disney World Park in the same day, while the “one park” ticket does not. It’s not a bad idea to focus on only one park in a day, because getting from one park to another takes more time than you may think – anywhere from 1 to 2 hours. That’s time that you can be spending enjoying the park, rather than standing in line for the monorail or waiting for the bus. I find that one full day still isn’t enough to see everything in one park – especially if it’s busy. On the other hand, if you only have a couple of days and really want to see all 4 parks, a Park Hopper will at least allow you to see the highlights of each. Also, some parks stay open later than others (sometimes much later) and having the Hopper will let you maximize your day. It just depends how ambitious you want to be.

If you buy multi-day passes (3 or more days), the cost per day decreases. It used to be that unused days of multi-day passes never expired. About 3 years ago, we brought in a 1980’s era paper ticket (which used to be manually stamped with the date) that had one unused day left and Disney honored it. That is no longer the case. All Multi-day tickets purchased now have an expiration date and you have to be very sure that you’ll use all of the days within the allotted time. Read the fine print! (Older tickets purchased under the No Expiration option are still honored.)

Disney offers discounted ticket prices to members of the US Military, that’s another option to check out if it applies to you. I would not recommend buying theme park tickets from sources other than Disney! They may be counterfeit. You can research and purchase your tickets online direct from Disney and pick them up when you arrive. You can also purchase tickets at any of the Disney resorts, at the theme parks, or at guest relations at Disney Springs.

Despite our nomadic life, we have retained a Florida mailing address and our Florida residency. That qualifies us for the Disney Florida Resident special discounts! There’s no discount on a one-day pass, but the savings on multi-day and annual passes are substantial. Since we will be here in Central Florida for several months (and back next October), we have elected to purchase Annual Passes.

Several varieties of Annual Passes are available, depending upon whether you want to include the water parks, and whether black-out days are imposed. We went with the Florida Resident Silver Annual Pass. It’s a Park-Hopper pass, so we can go to multiple parks on the same day if we want. Annual passes include parking fees as well as grant modest discounts on selected dining and merchandise. There are black-out dates during the peak Christmas holiday and summer times, but we wouldn’t go then anyway. It wasn’t cheap ($510 each), but it is the best value for our time here, all things considered.

We have our passes, mouse ears at the ready – it’s time to go see Mickey!!


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