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Which Disney Ticket is Right for You?



Since I first started my Disney World obsession, much has changed in the types of tickets you can purchase. My guide to Disney World tickets offers a condensed digest on DTB's pros & cons of tickets at Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios & Animal Kingdom. Plus, price increase predictions, which is likely to happen before the 50th Anniversary starts.

Since mid-2020, guests are required to make a theme park reservation in addition to purchasing valid tickets. Typically, most parks and dates have wide-open availability, and reservations are mostly a formality. However, it would be wise to book your park reservations far in advance once purchasing tickets for either spring of Easter break 2022.

The next big news is that the new paid line-skipping system that replaces free FastPass+ has now launched at Walt Disney World. You can either purchase Genie+ each day of your Walt Disney World vacation, or buy it in advance as a length-of-ticket add-on. Whether you should buy it in advance or each day really depends upon the duration of your trip and budget. Most people visiting most days of the year will only need Genie+ at Magic Kingdom and Disney’s Hollywood Studios–it’s pretty rare that we recommend it for Epcot or Animal Kingdom.


2022 TICKET NEWS & RUMORS

Typically, Walt Disney World’s annual ticket price increase occurs in February or October–sometimes both. Prices did not increase last October for regular tickets, so all signs point to an increase on the horizon next month. Accordingly, our expectation is that the next increase on ticket prices will occur towards the beginning of February 2022.

Regardless, if you have a Walt Disney World trip planned for now through December 2022, we highly recommend buying tickets sooner rather than later to lock-in current prices (beyond the scope of this post, but we’d advise doing the same with your hotel room). There’s zero downside to buying now–it’s all upside. You avoid paying more money later if or when prices increase.

WHICH TICKETS TO BUY?

Assuming you are planning a full week in the Disney World bubble, you probably won’t spend every moment in the park. You’ll want a rest day in the middle to spend recovering poolside, and maybe a shopping day (or morning) at Disney Springs. With that said, we recommend buying a ticket that is 1-2 days shorter than the duration of your vacation–unless you’re visiting for 4 days or fewer, in which case you should purchase a ticket for every day. Always get at least a 4-day ticket. Ideally, get nothing less than a 5-day ticket.

Meaning, if your vacation is 8 days, we recommend the 6-day or 7-day ticket. If you are visiting for 6 days, get the 5-day ticket. In our experience, a 6-day Walt Disney World vacation is about the sweet spot for first-timers. That means either a 4-day or 5-day ticket is going to be a smart bet for most people reading this.

ARE PARK HOPPER TICKETS WORTH IT?

The Park Hopper add-on allows you to visit multiple parks in the same day. You can bounce around the parks and maximize your time in the parks. Some guests can skip the Park Hopper option: particularly those with small children and those who won’t stay out late.

On the other hand, Park Hopping can be really beneficial if you want to revisit favorite attractions or head over to a certain park for the evening for dinner. Since each park has different opening and closing hours, getting a Park Hopper is a good way to extend your day (particularly in the off-season when parks close earlier) or spend more time in Magic Kingdom. Magic Kingdom often closes later than the other parks, so you squeeze a couple more hours out of day by starting your day in Animal Kingdom (for example) and heading to Magic Kingdom once Animal Kingdom closes.

While it does cost more, if you’re buying multiple day tickets, you might be surprised to learn that the extra cost is insignificant. Currently, a discounted 7-day Walt Disney World Adult Park Hopper Ticket will cost around $500 after tax, with some dates costing more and some costing less. Obviously, that’s a lot of money.


However, compare it to a 1-day Park Hopper ticket directly from Disney, which cost over $180 after tax. For less than the price of three 1-day tickets, you can purchase a 7-day discounted Park Hopper. That 7-day ticket works out to being less than $70/day!

Other multi-day tickets offer similar savings, so be sure to look at the prices of other multi-day Walt Disney World tickets and do some comparison shopping to see just how much you can save. Walt Disney World advertises that “the more you play, the less you pay per day” and this is definitely true.

WHAT ABOUT PARK HOPPER PLUS TICKETS?

The Park Hopper Plus ticket option offers everything included with Park Hopper Tickets mentioned above, plus access to Typhoon Lagoon or Blizzard Beach water parks, ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, Disney’s Oak Trail Golf Course, and Winter Summerland or Fantasia Gardens mini golf.

With Park Hopper Plus tickets, you are eligible for the same number of “Plus” admissions as the number of days on your ticket. Meaning that if you have a 7-day Park Hopper Plus ticket, you also have 7 entrances the water parks, mini golf course, etc. (Be mindful of operating schedules, as not all of these options are open year-round.)

Whether this ticket is right for you really depends upon whether you want to do any of the parks beyond the 4 main theme parks. If you want to do one of the other things even once or twice, you come out ahead to purchase the Park Hopper Plus Tickets. We love both Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach, and enjoy both of the mini golf courses (albeit less so than the water parks) and recommend this ticket option to anyone who will be spending 6 days or more at Walt Disney World.

WHAT ABOUT THE WATER PARK AND SPORTS OPTION?

The Water Park and Sports Option is available as an add-on to select Walt Disney World theme park tickets for $70 plus tax. This option allows guests to visit one theme park each day, plus various water park or sports experiences that same number of times.

The Water Park & Sports Option is valid at Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon or Disney’s Blizzard Beach water parks, ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, Disney’s Oak Trail Golf Course, FootGolf at Disney’s Oak Trail Golf Course, Disney’s Fantasia Gardens Miniature Golf Course, or Disney’s Winter Summerland Miniature Golf Course.


Basically, this ticket is the non-park hopper version of the aforementioned Park Hopper Plus ticket option. The analysis for the Water Park and Sports Ticket Option is identical to the Park Hopper Plus, but for those who only want to do one theme park per day. We generally favor the Park Hopper Plus option as it offers great flexibility and the upgrade cost to that is insignificant, but that’s just us.

WHAT ABOUT AN ANNUAL PASS?

In the past, it has made sense to consider an AP for your trip to Walt Disney World. After Annual Pass tiers changed, that now is typically not true unless you are a Florida resident or are a Disney super fan who will travel to Florida 3-4 times per year. For an Annual Pass to be a better value than normal park tickets, most prospective buyers would need to spend over two weeks in the parks.

Beyond that, there is a 10% discount on food and non-alcoholic beverages at participating restaurants at Walt Disney World. Additionally, APs now receive 20% off most merchandise purchases.

Thanks to these benefits, if you’re taking a trip slightly shorter than 15 days or if you’re visiting for two 5+ day trips within a 12-month window it still might make sense to buy Annual Passes.

CONCLUSION

Hopefully the above info helped you determine which Walt Disney World park ticket you should buy and how to save money on those tickets. If you still have some questions, here are some general rules:

  • We recommend the Park Hopper option for most people, but if you definitely won’t visit more than one park per day, you can save additional money by skipping the Park Hopper option.

  • By purchasing via an authorized ticket broker, you can make park reservations ahead of time. If you buy tickets once you arrive to Walt Disney World, you’re at a disadvantage in two ways: you pay more for tickets and you cannot make park reservations in advance.

  • Do not consider an Annual Pass unless you will visit Walt Disney World for roughly 15+ days in a 365 day window, or will take multiple shorter trips.

  • If you are planning a vacation and definitely going to Walt Disney World before December 31, 2022, it’s always best to buy tickets as far in advance as possible to lock-in current prices and avoid future increases.



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Hello, I'm Kelly Nixon

I'm a Disney-loving mom and teacher who has dedicated a ridiculous amount of time to researching the best way to do Disney-to maximize the quality of time and minimize the dollars spent!

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