If you are planning a trip to Walt Disney World, you might be curious about the various Walt Disney World ticket options for the theme parks. It definitely isn’t as simple as just walking to the front gate and purchasing theme park tickets (although that is an option). There are lots of different choices, including the park hopper, multi-day tickets, and special event tickets as well as annual passes.
So, what do you need to know about Walt Disney World tickets for the theme parks? Here’s our guide to help.
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. A purchase through one of these links may result in a small commission that helps to run this site. In the past, I was a Disney Parks Moms Panelist, but all opinions are my own. I’ve been to WDW over the years on multiple press trips at no cost.
Walt Disney World Park Tickets: What You Need to Know
Types of Disney World Park Tickets
Multi-day Magic Your Way tickets are available for guests. In general, expect to pay less money per day the more days on your ticket. Currently, you can get tickets for one day to ten days.
These tickets are valid for the four theme parks:
- Magic Kingdom
- Disney’s Hollywood Studios
- Disney’s Animal Kingdom
One day ticket prices are date-based and vary depending on the park you’ve chosen (the Magic Kingdom ticket is more money), and whether you are traveling during value, regular, or peak season. Walt Disney World offers an online calendar so that you can see the dates that fall under each season.
There are also expiration dates that apply to these tickets, so be sure that you check the fine print before purchasing. You’ll want to know when you are traveling before purchasing.
Multi-day tickets (along with options purchased with them) must be used within 14 days of first use. So you’ll really need to use them for one vacation – you can’t just buy a 10-day ticket and use it across several family vacations.
An expiration date also will apply for these tickets. Figure out the number of days that you plan to visit the Disney World theme parks before you purchase your tickets so you can get the best value for your money. You’ll want to time it right – because you definitely want to get enough days on your ticket, but not too many.
When you purchase your tickets, you’ll also have the option to add on the park hopper option. Having that option means that you can use tickets to visit more than one Disney theme park per day. See the next section for information on whether or not you’ll need the park hopper for your trip.
You also have the option to upgrade to the Park Hopper Plus option, which means you’ll also get visits (the amount depends on the number of days on your ticket) to a Disney water park (Blizzard Beach or Typhoon Lagoon), the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, one of the mini-golf courses (restrictions apply), or the Oak Trails Golf Course (green fees only).
There are other Walt Disney World ticket options including Florida resident tickets, and Disney Vacation Club member tickets.
In addition, if you are attending a conference at Walt Disney World, you may be able to purchase discounted tickets that can be used in the late afternoon/evening. Your conference coordinator should have more information on those tickets, including pricing, usage, and how to purchase.
There is a limited-time option available to guests called Mid Day Magic. This ticket is best for guests who like to sleep in because you won’t be able to enter the parks until 12 pm each day. The park hopper and park hopper plus option are offered on these tickets too, but you won’t be able to use those options until 12 pm also.
Another limited option is the 4-park Magic Ticket. This ticket offers you admission to the four parks – one park per day. Like the Mid-Day Magic ticket, this is considered a special offer and may not always be available.
Do You Need The Park Hopper Option?
Guests to Walt Disney World frequently ask whether they need the park hopper option. That really depends on your specific plans. Keep in mind that you’ll need valid park admission to dine at a specific park.
Say, for instance, that you visit the Magic Kingdom for the day but want to dine at Epcot‘s World Showcase. You’ll need the park hopper option on your ticket to enter Epcot that evening. You aren’t able to use a second day on your multi-day ticket. You do not, however, need the park hopper if you leave the park for a while but return to the same park later that day.
We typically do like to get the park hopper, because it gives us a good amount of flexibility. I can make my dining reservations well in advance without worrying about which park we are visiting. Since we enjoy staying at the Beach Club Resort, it’s nice to eat at the World Showcase at night, even if we aren’t visiting Epcot that day.
Keep in mind that you do not need park tickets to visit Disney Springs, or to eat at any of the Disney World resort restaurants, so those restaurants are a good option if you don’t want to go to another park for dinner.
Walt Disney World Tickets For Kids
If you are traveling with kids, you may be wondering if you are able to get kids’ tickets for less money. Walt Disney World admission is currently free for those under the age of 3. There’s a kids’ rate for those aged 3-9, while everyone aged 10 and over pays the adult rates.
Where to Purchase Disney World Tickets
You have lots of options for purchasing Walt Disney World park tickets. If you are purchasing a Disney vacation package directly through Disney, you’ll add the tickets right to the package. That can often be the easiest way, especially if you are already booking a room through Disney.
Otherwise, you may purchase tickets online at the Disney World site without booking a room (discounts may apply for online purchases). There are also other options for discounted tickets, including AAA, your employers (some offer discounts). Just be sure that you are checking prices and restrictions when comparing the various options.
One of the more popular places to purchase discount Disney World tickets is Undercover Tourist. They have a variety of different ticket options.
If you are looking to get the best discount, I’d definitely recommend checking prices. Be sure that you know exactly what type of tickets you are looking for and how many days you want to include. Then, you can make sure you are getting the best deal when you compare.
You’ll want to link any tickets that you buy in the My Disney Experience app so they are available when you are making your FastPass+ reservations. If you are staying at an on-property Walt Disney World resort hotel, you’ll also receive complimentary MagicBand 2s.
Once your tickets are linked to your reservation, and your FastPass booking window opens, you’ll be able to get online and book your FastPass+ reservations. You can use your MagicBands to enter the parks and use your FastPasses.
Disney Annual Passes
If you are visiting Walt Disney World for more than 10 days during one trip (and are a US resident), or are planning multiple trips in a 12 month period, an annual pass may make more sense. With an annual pass, you’ll get admission to the parks and have the park hopper option.
The Platinum Pass offers admission to the four theme parks, while the Platinum Plus Pass offers that plus admission to the two water parks, the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex and Disney’s Oak Trail Golf Course.
In addition to park admission, you’ll get some discounts. These include complimentary standard theme park parking, 20% off select merchandise, and 20% off select dining.
Special Event Disney World Tickets
In addition to the regular Walt Disney World park tickets, there are also special event tickets. These tickets are required for entry into the special parties, including Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party and Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party.
These events do sometimes sell out, so it’s a good idea to purchase them online. They can be bought through the Disney website, or Undercover Tourist also offers them.
If you haven’t been to one of these events, they are so much fun. They are usually (but not always) less crowded than the parks typically are. You’ll get the most value if you can stay for most of the event. Therefore, it’s usually best not to go with younger children who may want to go to bed early.
There is also the Disney After Hours events, which are held throughout the year. These can be a fun way to experience the parks with fewer crowds. After Hours events generally run for about three hours and include snacks.
A relatively new addition to the Disney event roster is Early Morning Magic. This is similar to the Disney After Hours event, but it takes place in the morning at Fantasyland in the Magic Kingdom. You’ll also be able to have breakfast.
In general, I’d recommend Early Morning Magic for those with younger kids. You’ll likely be awake earlier, and these rides typically appeal to younger kids.
Wondering what Disney resort to stay at? If you are looking for a hotel for your Walt Disney World vacation, I recommend the following hotels. Note that I have stayed in some of these resorts as part of press trips, but all opinions are my own.