Demystifying the myriad of ticket options available for your next Walt Disney World Resort vacation
Selecting the perfect Walt Disney World ticket options for your vacation is not as straightforward as one may think. With a variety of ticket lengths, add-ons, and the need to make park reservations, purchasing tickets that will work for your family can be a daunting task. To help you plan your next Walt Disney World vacation, I am going to break down the choices you have when purchasing tickets for your next Walt Disney World vacation. Note: this applies only to visitors from the United States, as travelers from outside the U.S. may have ticket options and promotions available to them that U.S.-based travelers do not.
Related: When Can I Purchase a Walt Disney World Annual Pass?
Purchasing Walt Disney World Tickets generally starts with a base ticket. Your base ticket is the ticket that affords park entry. Base tickets come in two categories: single-day tickets, which afford access to a single park on a single day, and multi-day tickets, which provide cost savings by allowing you to purchase multiple day’s worth of tickets in a single transaction at a lower price per day than purchasing multiple single-day tickets.
When purchasing a single-day ticket, you will select the day and the park you wish to visit. A theme park reservation (discussed in more detail below) is automatically made for you at the time of purchase. Single-day tickets are also available for the Walt Disney World waterparks. The waterpark tickets are specific to the water park (Typhoon Lagoon or Blizzard Beach) and the date selected.
If you are unable to visit the theme park on your selected day, the amount paid for an unused, expired ticket may be applied towards the purchase of a new ticket at the current price so long as the new ticket purchase price is equal to or greater than the amount paid for the original ticket.
Multi-day tickets afford access to the Walt Disney World theme parks for multiple days and can be purchased for as few as 2 days and as many as 10 days. When purchasing multi-day tickets, a valid date range will be provided; for 2-day tickets, you are afforded a window of 4 days to use your two park visits, while a 10-day ticket will afford you a two-week time frame in which to use your 10 park days. Unlike single-day tickets, a separate theme park reservation must be made after purchasing your multi-day tickets.
Here is a breakdown of ticket duration based on the number of ticket days:
- 1-day – The ticket expires on the selected start date.
- 2-day – The ticket expires 4 days after the selected start date.
- 3-day – The ticket expires 5 days after the selected start date.
- 4-day – The ticket expires 7 days after the selected start date.
- 5-day – The ticket expires 8 days after the selected start date.
- 6-day – The ticket expires 9 days after the selected start date.
- 7-day – The ticket expires 10 days after the selected start date.
- 8-day – The ticket expires 12 days after the selected start date.
- 9-day – The ticket expires 13 days after the selected start date.
- 10-day – The ticket expires 14 days after the selected start date.
Note these tickets are non-refundable, including any unused park visits during your allotted window. You can only use one multi-day ticket per day, which means you cannot use one of your 10 days’ worth of tickets to visit Hollywood Studios and then another day to visit Magic Kingdom, as a park hopper is required to visit more than one park in a single day.
Tickets Purchased As Part of a Package
Multi-day tickets can be purchased as part of a Walt Disney World resort package, which combines your park tickets with a Walt Disney World resort hotel stay (and, if/when it returns, the Disney Dining Plan). Tickets included in a package can be purchased in lengths of 2-10 days and both the Park Hopper and Water Park and Sports options can be added. Separate theme park reservations are required for tickets purchased as part of a package.
Unlike tickets purchased separately, tickets purchased as part of a package are good for the length of stay OR the duration noted above (whichever is longer). This means a 2-day ticket purchased as part of a week-long resort stay would be good for the entire week, while you would have 14 days to use a 10-day ticket even if your resort stay is only for 5 nights.
Theme Park Reservations
In order to use your park tickets, you will need to make a separate theme park reservation. The reservation system requires you to select a specific park for a specific day that you wish to attend, and you will not be able to enter a Walt Disney World theme park without having both a valid park ticket and a reservation. When purchasing your tickets, an availability calendar is provided so you can check to be sure your desired parks are available on the days you wish to travel.
Theme park reservations are limited, so it is essential that you make your theme park reservations immediately after purchasing your admission. Theme park reservations are currently not required to visit a water park. When you purchase a 1-Day ticket for a specific date and theme park, a theme park reservation will automatically be made at the time of purchase.
The Park Hopper is an add-on option for Walt Disney World base tickets that allows you to visit more than one park in a single day. To use Park Hopper, you must still make a theme park reservation via the Disney Park Pass reservation system for the first park you plan to visit, and must actually visit that park. You can then begin to park hop starting at 2:00 PM without needing additional park passes. Disney does note park hopping may be limited for parks if there are capacity issues that arise.
Water Parks and Sports Option
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The Water Parks and Sports option provides a very affordable way to extend the value of your Walt Disney World tickets. Like the Park Hopper option, Water Park and Sports is an add-on option to your Walt Disney World base tickets. This option allows you to add on visits to the Disney Water parks, ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, both Disney Minigolf Oak Trail Footgolf, or Oak Trail Golf Course.
The number of visits to these attractions is based on the number of days in your base tickets. A 4-day ticket, for example, allows 4 visits to the above options in addition to 4 days in the theme parks, so during a week you can hit up the 4 Disney theme parks as well as a visit to one of the above options for up to 4 total visits.
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