If you’re planning a trip to Disney World you’ll need to think about several big things — Where will you stay? How many days will you be there? How will you get there? Do you want to rent a car? What time of the year will you visit? And, perhaps most importantly, what tickets will you buy?
You might be surprised to learn that there’s more that goes into buying tickets than simply clicking “Add to Cart.” There are a few important decisions you and your family need to make prior to purchasing the tickets for your trip. Today we’re breaking down some big things you should consider when deciding what tickets to buy.
How Many Days Do You Need?
Most guests traveling to Disney World (especially if they’ll be traveling from across the country or around the globe) will likely need more than one day in Disney World. Let’s not forget, Disney World is HUGE. We’re talking 4 pretty giant parks, each full of its own popular attractions and shows to see (and snacks to eat!). One of the most common misconceptions about Disney World is that it can all be done in 1-2 days, but in reality you could visit the parks across several days and still not see every single thing they have to offer.
So deciding just how many days you’ll need tickets for can be a big thing. But you have to remember that staying in the parks for more days = more money. If you know you’ll be purchasing a multi-day ticket, but you aren’t quite sure how many days you need, there are a few things to keep in mind.
In general, the more days you add, the less a ticket costs per day. So adding a fifth or sixth day to your ticket won’t be as much of a jump in price as, say, making your one-day ticket a two-day ticket. A 1-day ticket can be priced as low as $109 (though exact ticket prices depend on what days you choose to visit). A 2-day ticket could be priced as low as $107 per day. And if you go all the way to a 10-day ticket, that is priced as low as $54 per day.
Keep in mind that while the per day price might be lower, you still need to multiply that cost across the days of your trip (i.e. $54 x 10 days).
And it’s not just ticket prices you’ll need to consider. The more days you add, the more you’ll spend on food in the parks, souvenirs, nights at your hotel, etc.
Take the time to really figure out with your family how many days you need in each park. This can vary depending on your priorities, how long your trip is, etc. For example, some families might really want to get a second Magic Kingdom day in on their trip, while others may only feel they need a half day at Disney’s Hollywood Studios to accomplish what they want and they’ll then have time to hop to another park in the afternoon (more on Park Hopping in just a sec!).
Our advice? Sit down with the family and take a look at each park map and a list of rides in each park. Have each family member circle the 2-3 rides that are must-dos for them in each park. Then, sit down and see how things fall into place. Will you need more than one day to get all of your must-dos done at EPCOT? Is there a park that doesn’t have as many must-dos for you? This can help you decide how many days you’ll need to accomplish most of your goals.
Also ask yourself: Do you NEED to go to a park every day on vacation? Or can you do a resort day, a day at Disney Springs, or maybe even a day doing cheaper activities like mini golf? If your trip is longer in length, a day off from the parks may be a great idea to give your family some time to re-charge and save a bit on park tickets.
Also keep in mind those dated and tiered ticket prices — not all days cost the same! Disney utilizes a system that assigns each day a different ticket price. So certain days during your proposed trip might be more expensive than others. That could impact your decision regarding when to visit and also how many days will be able to fit in your budget.
Also be sure to keep in mind Disney World’s Park Pass Reservation availability — as of this writing guests still need them in addition to their ticket in order to visit a park.
Do You Want/Need the Park Hopper Option?
Park Hopping gives you the ability to “Hop” from park to park, allowing you to visit more than one of Disney World’s theme parks in a day. It is not a required add-on, but it can give families a ton of flexibility in planning their day. Otherwise, guests are restricted to visiting only one park per day (cheaper, but less flexible!).
Adding the Park Hopper option can increase the cost of your ticket significantly, so you’ll want to make sure you’re actually going to use it before you buy it. There’s so much to see and do in each of the theme parks that it’s easy to spend all day in Magic Kingdom when you were originally planning on hopping to EPCOT in the evening.
If you add on Park Hopping to your ticket in advance, you generally cannot later have it removed. But you can add Park Hopping onto your ticket AFTER you arrive. Just note that you’ll be charged for the total number of days on your ticket, even if you add it on your last day.
So if you’re going to add on the Park Hopper option, add it on during an early part of your trip so you can get the most use of out it (if you’re paying for it, you might as well squeeze out every bit of benefit from it right?).
Also keep in mind that right now Park Hopping is different than it was prior to Disney World’s temporary closures. These days, you cannot Hop to another park until after 2PM each day. Does that change your thoughts on whether it’s worth it? It might!
Our advice? Just like we suggested above, sit down and see what things your family must do in each park. Then think about how many days you’ll realistically need in each park to accomplish those goals. Do you need park hopping to get those things done? Or are you really only going to visit 1 park per day?
If park hopping isn’t a necessity for you, you could skip out on that extra cost and use it for things like food, merchandise, and more. If you’re unsure, we recommend waiting to add it to your ticket until you’re closer to your trip or until your trip begins (remember you can add it on but generally can’t take it off).
Do You Want/Need Any Other Add-Ons?
Park Hoppers aren’t the only add-ons for your Disney World tickets. The other main add-on is the Water Park & Sports option! According to Disney, with this add-on “you get a certain number of visits to other Walt Disney World fun based on the length of your ticket. For example, a 4-day ticket allows 4 visits and a 5-day ticket allows 5 visits.”
For each of those visits, you can pick one of the following:
- Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon Water Park
- Disney’s Blizzard Beach Water Park (temporarily unavailable)
- ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex (temporarily unavailable)
- Disney’s Oak Trail Golf Course – FootGolf
- Disney’s Oak Trail Golf Course
- Disney’s Fantasia Gardens Miniature Golf Course (prior to 4PM)
- Disney’s Winter Summerland Miniature Golf Course (prior to 4PM)
If you know ahead of time that you want to visit these locations, the Water Park & Sports option may be a worthy investment. Take a look at how much these tickets cost on their own, how many of these experiences your family wanted to go to, and how many times during your trip your family was planning on visiting these spots. Then it’s just about crunching the numbers to see if getting this as an add-on works out financially.
If you weren’t planning on visiting any of these spots, then you likely won’t miss out if you don’t add this option to your ticket. Skipping this add-on means you’ll get to save a bit of cash.
There’s also the Park Hopper Plus option, which is simply the Park Hopper add-on in addition to the Water Park & Sports option.
Is Buying an Annual Pass Worth It? (If Available)
Finally, there’s another option you may have not even considered in the past, but could be worth crunching the numbers: rather than purchasing regular park tickets, is buying an Annual Pass worth it (assuming the Annual Pass you’d want to buy is available at the time)?
As of this writing, sales have been paused on most Annual Pass options, except the Pixie Dust Pass (the cheapest Annual Pass with the most restrictions). The Pixie Dust Pass is only available for Florida Residents, so that pass might not be something you can buy and/or it might not work out for you given its restrictions.
But we still wanted to mention the possibility of Annual Passes so you can keep this option in mind if/when Disney World does resume the sale of the remaining passes.
How often do you plan on visiting Disney World each year? If you find that you’re visiting enough times that the cost of an Annual Pass is less than the cost of your multi-day tickets, then it may be worth it to make the upgrade.
Also remember that only one member of your family needs an Annual Pass in order to take advantage of all of the discounts. Free theme park parking, food discounts, merchandise discounts, hotel discounts, etc. — only one member of your party needs to have that Annual Pass to generally apply the discount to several other members.
Crunching these numbers to see whether or not it’s worth it for you might require an hour or two at the kitchen table with your calculator and a spreadsheet. But it can be worth it to do the work and see what makes the most financial sense for you.
Overview & More Tips
A few other tips to keep in mind when purchasing park tickets — First, always make sure to look for discounts. Sometimes Disney will offer discounted ticket options for Florida Residents, members of the U.S. military, or other groups. These discounts might not always be available, but it’s worth it to check and see if any special deals are being offered that could help you save some cash on your ticket purchase!
The other thing you want to remember is that the day you pick as the start date for your multi-day tickets can affect the price of your tickets. For example, say you want to visit the parks from March 18-20. If you pick a start date of the 16th (which technically includes those dates in the available usage date range) it’ll cost you $399.72 for the ticket. If you select the 17th as the start date, the ticket price changes to $397.48. Changing it to the 18th changes the price to $395.23.
Sometimes moving tickets back or forward in terms of the start date for the ticket date range can make a difference in price. Just play around with that before you settle on your purchase.
Hopefully, after reading this article you’ll feel better equipped to determine just what tickets you need to get for your trip. In short, you’ll need to decide (1) how many days you want/need tickets for, (2) whether or not you want to add on the Park Hopper option, (3) whether or not you want to add on the Water Park & Sports option, and (4) if it’s worth it to upgrade to an Annual Pass (if the pass you want is available). As we mentioned above, you’ll also want to look for discounts and see how to get the best deal.
Remember that some of these options (like the Park Hopper option, etc.) can be altered and added after you arrive, so be sure to speak with a Cast Member at the ticket booth or with the concierge at your Disney World Resort hotel for more information!