[Updated May 2016]
If you’re visiting the “Most Magical Place on Earth” anytime soon, you might have to dig a little deeper into your pockets to pay for park tickets: Walt Disney World recently raised the price of admission for all four of its theme parks.
But don’t fret! We have some ways you can save on admission.
1. Skip the add-ons
When purchasing tickets for any of Walt Disney World’s four theme parks, you can add options like “Park Hopper,” which allows you to visit more than one park in a single day, or the “Water Park Fun and More” option, which allows you to visit the resort’s two water parks, the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, among other things. Sticking to a budget? Purchase a base ticket with no frills and forgo these add-ons. You’ll only be allowed to visit one park per day, but at least you’ll be saving $35-$55 per ticket. And your feet will thank you for having to do less walking.
2. Stay longer
If one day isn’t enough for you to explore the parks, buy a multi-day pass. You’ll save a few dollars per day on each ticket, compared to buying only a one-day ticket. For example, a single-day Magic Kingdom ticket is priced from $105, but a two-day ticket costs $202 per day. It’s not a huge savings, but when you multiply that across a family of four, it adds up.
3. Find an authorized reseller
You’ll knock a few bucks off ticket prices if you purchase your theme park tickets through authorized resellers, such as Undercover Tourist, which has received positive reviews. Those who buy their tickets through this reseller can have them sent in the mail or pick them up at the parks themselves.
4. Spring for an annual pass
Can’t seem to stay away from Mickey Mouse and his pals? If you end up visiting him several times a year, consider buying an annual pass. Currently annual passes cost -- brace yourself -- $749 each but if you’re going to the resort more often than the average guest, it’s worth considering. Plus, you’ll have unlimited access to the parks, complimentary parking, and even discounts on dining, merchandise, and more. You’ll pay more up front, but save down the line.
5. Take advantage of a Florida resident discount
Disney offers discounts to those who live in the Sunshine State. Florida residents can take advantage of limited-time offers like specially-priced three- or four-day tickets for select dates, though some blackout dates apply. Floridians also have the option of buying a less-expensive annual pass.
6. Use a military discount
As a thank you to the brave men and women serving our country, Disney often offers members of the military and their families discounted park tickets. The company tends to offer reduced-price four-day tickets with “Park Hopper” included. These and other offers can be purchased at military bases.
7. Book a vacation package outside of the Walt Disney Travel Company
If you prefer to book your trip through a travel agency, such as Liberty Travel, you might find that packages that bundle airfare, hotel accommodations, and park tickets will also offer you a free additional theme park day, or other perks.
8. Choose your dates carefully
Ever since Disney World adopted a surge pricing system, tickets have become much pricier -- depending on the day you go. One-day Magic Kingdom tickets can go for as much as $124 on peak days and $114 at the other three gates. To save on one-day admission, use the ticket calendar to your advantage by seeking out days listed as "Value," during which tickets are from $97-$105. Those days are in late August and most of September.
A final note: if you’re buying tickets outside of the Disney parks, use caution. If a deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
And if you’re thinking of using an unused portion of a relative or friend’s pass to enter the parks, think again. Disney uses a biometric finger scan system at the park gates to keep track of whom the tickets belong to.
Lastly, if you don’t purchase your tickets directly through Disney, but would like to stay on-property, you won’t have the option of purchasing any of the Disney Dining Plans, so it’s best to weigh all of your options first.