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Planning: Walt Disney World Ticket Basics

If you’re reading here, you probably know exactly what kind of park ticket you want when you book a trip, but for Disney “newbies” the options can be overwhelming. Do you get a base ticket or a hopper? The water park option? And what does Magic Your Way mean anyway? While it may not look that way from the start, tickets really are the easiest decision you’ll make when you plan. Here are the top five things you need to know to buy the right ticket for you:

1. Magic Your Way is just Disney’s way of saying you can create any ticket you want. So add options or keep it basic. It’s your choice. (Hint: Go basic).

2. A Disney base ticket allows you to go into one park per day. You can buy anywhere from a 1-day ticket to 10-day option and you have complete freedom in how you use it, including the ability to go in and out of your chosen park as many times as you want that day. The only restriction is that you can’t “hop” from park to park.

3. The world of upgraded tickets is only slightly more complicated:

a) Adding the hopper option allows you to go to all four parks in one day in you wish. It’s a great option for guests who want to play in one park during the day and then finish off in another. The downside is that it’s expensive, a flat fee of about $60 per ticket regardless of the number of days. And even if the price doesn’t throw you off, hopping can be exhausting and time-consuming.
b) If you plan on visiting the water parks, consider adding the water parks and more option, which also gets you into DisneyQuest and mini golf. Adding it to a base ticket costs the same as the hopper, but if you already have a hopper, you can add this option for about $20 more making it a good deal—if the weather holds up.
c) Most tickets expire 14 days from the first day of use. If you want yours to last indefinitely, you can add the non-expiration option for around $300 for a five-day ticket. That’s a lot of money, so you better make sure you’ll use it—it’s estimated that half of all tickets with this option never get used!

4. Tickets can be upgraded at your resort concierge or ticket booth as long as there is one day left on the ticket. That means you can use the value of your Magic Your Way ticket to upgrade to an annual pass or just add more days or the hopper option.

5. You know the old adage, if it looks too good to be true, it probably is? Well this is definitely the case here. If you don’t buy directly from Disney, buy your tickets from a reputable seller, one who can easily replace them if they’re lost. Those “discount” ticket brokers you see on the roads around Disney are a terrible scam—don’t get taken!

I always recommend that guests start with a base ticket with a minimum number of days, say four park days on a seven day trip, for one simple reason: You can always add days and options, but you can’t get your money back once you’ve purchased the ticket. You don’t want to add a water park option for a February trip only to find out when you get there that it’s unseasonably cold. Likewise with park hoppers. If you’re on the fence, wait to see if you’ll need it. Upgrading takes no time at all, so it’s really a no-brainer.

In the end, tickets are easy: Go small and add later. Besides, you need to save your worry for more important things, like where you’re going to eat!