Starting October 16th, 2018, Walt Disney World changed to date-based pricing, where the price of the ticket can vary depending on what day it is used first, this makes direct ticket price comparisons more of a challenge.
April 2023 Update: Annual Passes are once again on sale…unfortunately I haven’t had time to do any updates and comparisons due to a family health emergency. I hope to get to it later in May.
Any prices quoted below are as of August 2021, and do not include taxes and are the online order prices – prices may be higher when purchased at the gate. Prices are subject to change. Taxes except in rare circumstances are at the 6.5% rate when purchasing from from any source, regardless of method or location of purchase.
Note that when comparing prices to authorized resellers, the resellers often quote the price with tax included – so be sure to check and if needed add the 6.5% tax.
Prices quoted for Magic Your Way tickets below are used for example and based on the peak “start” price of a given ticket. See “Why do the prices change per day?” below.
If there are any additional questions, a great place to ask is the Theme Parks Attractions and Strategies forum on the DISboards.
General Information and Frequently Asked Questions
Magic Your Way Tickets
Magic Your Way (MYW) tickets were introduced in 2005 as a new way for guests to purchase tickets for the length they want, with the options they want. The longer the ticket, the more you saved per day. A MYW ticket can be purchased for up to 10 “park days” (see below).
Prior to 2005, days on tickets never expired. And as of October 2018, things are much more complicated.
If you have a WDW resort stay booked, MYW tickets expire on the 14th day after first use, including the day it is used. So, if you use a ticket the first time on a Sunday, you must have used all days/options on that ticket by the end of the second Saturday.
If you do NOT have a WDW resort reservation, then the standard MYW ticket will expire some number of days after the day of first use, depending on the length of the ticket. 2-3 Day tickets will expire in an additional two days from the date of first use (i.e. a 2-day ticket must be used within 4 days, a 3-day ticket within 5 days, etc.), 4-7 Day tickets have an additional 3 days, and 8-10 Day tickets have an additional 4 days.
On February 22nd, 2015, WDW discontinued selling the No Expiration option on MYW tickets, but tickets that already have the option are still good. That said, we won’t discuss them here further.
Also, as of February 12th, 2017, all Magic Your Way tickets will now have a “use by” expiration date, where the ticket must be first used by that date. Previously, all unused MYW tickets did not expire. That date is not based entirely on the date of purchase, so it isn’t known exactly how far in advance, but roughly all tickets that are purchased need to be used no sooner than the end of December of the year following their purchase. Pay close attention when purchasing to be sure if you are buying tickets in advance. Note that if an unused ticket reaches its expiration date, you do not lose the purchase price of the ticket – it can be traded in for an updated ticket, paying the difference in the current price.
Why do the prices change per day?
As of October 16th, 2018, Walt Disney World has moved to a pricing system that depends on the first day you plan to enter a park. The total price of the ticket depends what the “start” price (for lack of a better term right now) is for that first day – if that is, say, a $60 day for a 10-day Park Hopper ticket, then the price is roughly $60/day for all 10 days – even if later days might be a cheaper “start” price. Actual total price of the ticket might be a bit cheaper. For instance, the 10-day Park Hopper with a $58 start day price might actually be $571…I haven’t figured out exactly how these numbers change, but it will always be somewhat less than the start price times the number of days. Because of the slight variances, we will use the simple math and what the “maximum” price is for any comparisons below.
What is a “park day”?
A “park day” is an admission to one of the four major parks – Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and Animal Kingdom. A park day allows you entrance into ONE of those parks for the entire day. You can leave and re-enter the same park that day as many times as you want, but you cannot visit another park unless you also have the Park Hopper option.
What is the Park Hopper Option?
Park Hopper (PH) is an option that allows you to enter more than one of the four main parks on the same day, while only using a single park day on your ticket. For instance, if you went to the Magic Kingdom in the morning, then went back to your room in the afternoon, and then decided to go to Epcot in the evening, you can only do that with the PH option on your ticket. The turnstiles will not let you in otherwise.
As of the February 2020 price changes, Park Hopper pricing now depends on how many days are on your ticket. A 1-Day Park Hopper option is an additional $65. 2- and 3-Day Park Hopper is $75, and 4- 10-Day Park Hopper is roughly an additional $80=$88.
Untangled Tip: If you are unsure if you need or will use the Park Hopper option, do not get it in advance – you can always add it when you need it (see “Upgrading Magic Your Way tickets”), as long as you do it within the upgrade period of the ticket (see below).
Can I just use two days on my ticket, instead of getting the Park Hopper option?
No. Major park admissions are based on “park days”, and you can only use one “park day” per day per ticket. You MUST get the Park Hopper (PH for short) option if you want to go to a different major park that day.
A park “day” is considered to be from the time the park opens to guests until it closes to guests. Even if there is an Evening Extra Magic Hours that runs until 3am, the hours from midnight to 3am are considered part of the previous day.
If for some reason you happen to have two separate park tickets (say, one from a previous trip that was non-expiring), then you could use a day from each ticket instead – but this may not be the most cost effective use of a second ticket.
What is the Water Parks and Sports Option?
In February 2020, WDW brought back the ticket option that included the water parks and other options, now called the “Water Parks And Sports Option” (WPS for short). It adds a number of “minor” park admissions that is equal to the number of park days on your MYW ticket – so for a 7-Day MYW ticket with the Park Hopper Plus option, you also get 7 admissions to the minor parks, which include both Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon water parks, the Oak Trail golf course (greens fees only), FootGolf experience at Oak Trail, Fantasia Gardens and Winter Summerland miniature golf courses (one round prior to 4pm only), and ESPN Wide World of Sports complex (excluding special events that are separately ticketed).
The price of the option is $70 regardless of length of ticket.
Note that it appears that a 1-Day ticket with the option no longer receives 2 visits as it did previously.
Unlike park days, each one of these visits count as true “admissions”, and you can use more than one a day. So if you did a round of golf at Oak Trail in the morning, Blizzard Beach afterwards then a round of mini-golf at Winter Summerland next door, it would cost you three visits.
Another thing to note is that if you add additional park days to a ticket that already has this option, you also get the additional admissions.
What is the Park Hopper Plus Option?
Park Hopper Plus (PHP for short) is a combination of the Park Hopper and Water Parks and Sports options.
The cost of the option is $20 above the Park Hopper option (see above for prices), for any length ticket. If you add the Plus option to a ticket that already has Park Hopper, you only pay the additional $20. If you add it to a ticket that already has the Water Parks and Sports option, it will depend on the length of the ticket.
Upgrading Magic Your Way tickets
All upgrades to Magic Your Way tickets must be done within 14 days of first use of the ticket, including the first day. For example, if you first use the ticket on a Sunday, you can still upgrade the ticket up to and including the second Saturday. This even applies if the original ticket has the No Expiration option – you CANNOT upgrade it after 14 days regardless of that option. In addition, you cannot upgrade the ticket if all the entitlements have been used. You can upgrade the day you used the last entitlement, but not the day after. For example, if you had a 5-day base MYW ticket, you can still upgrade any time before or on the 5th day you entered a park, but not the day after you used the 5th day.
You can add any of the ticket options like Park Hopper within the same upgrade period by simply paying the amount it would have cost as if you had gotten it in the first place – nothing is pro-rated. Note that if you only have a day left on your ticket and/or and only plan to visit one minor venue, it may not be a good value to add the WPS or PHP options at the price vs. just getting and individual ticket for the intended venue – check pricing.
You can add days to a MYW ticket, so long as the total number of days on the ticket (used or not) does not exceed 10. If you need more than 10 days, you either need to purchase an additional ticket, or more probably get/upgrade to an Annual Pass.
Upgrades do NOT extend the expiration time or upgrade window of a ticket – it remains 14 days of first use, regardless of what upgrades you perform when. The exception is when upgrading to a non-MYW ticket that does not have the 14 day limit, like an Annual Pass. However, when upgrading to tickets that expire based on a particular date, the date of expiration is based on the first use of the original ticket, not the upgrade date. For example, if you have a 7-day MYW ticket you first use on May 1st, and add the Park Hopper option on May 5th, the ticket still expires on May 14th. If you then upgrade to an Annual Pass on May 11th, the expiration of the AP is May 1st of the next year.
If your original ticket includes the Water Parks and Sports or Park Hopper Plus options, and you have _used_ any of those Plus admissions, you can only upgrade to a ticket that still has those options. For instance, if you had an 8-Day Park Hopper Plus ticket, and wanted a 10-day Park Hopper ticket instead, you can still do it unless you have used one of the Plus options (like you went to Blizzard Beach for a day), in which case you could only upgrade to another MYW ticket with the Plus options. You can also upgrade to an Annual Pass, but again if you’ve used a Plus option, you can only upgrade to a Pass with the WPS option added as well.
Untangled Tip: If there is any chance the ticket you have was discounted from the “gate” price (the price you’d pay if you were purchasing right at the park), such as ticket purchased through an authorized reseller, use it at least once first, and THEN upgrade it. A used discounted MYW ticket should (and I say should – some CMs do not always do this properly) be credited at the full gate price, not the purchase price, when applied to a new ticket. This is referred to unofficially as “price bridging”.
Note that as of June 3rd, 2012, price bridging does not apply to tickets purchased from Disney at the full gate price but prior to a ticket price increase – upgrading will require paying the difference in purchase price and the new ticket. This does not apply to tickets purchased as part of a package.
Also as of February 2017, Disney appears to have changed the price the ticket will be bridged to. If the ticket was purchased from stock issued by Disney prior to a Disney increase (you may have gotten a ticket from a reseller after that date but they purchased it from Disney before that date), the ticket would be bridged to the price that Disney sold that ticket prior to the increase, not the current price. You still get to keep the savings from purchasing the ticket at a discount, but there is no “bonus” from the price increase. So, if you purchased a ticket from a discount reseller for $380 that normally costs $400 from Disney (a savings of $20), then Disney raises price to $420, your upgrade cost will be based on the $400 price, not the $420. Previously, it was bridged to whatever the current price was at the time of upgrade. Now, with the current day-dependent price structures, it is difficult to know what the old prices were – so be sure to record what the current WDW gate price is of the ticket you purchased.
Tickets that existed prior to Magic Your Way
Standard “per-day” park tickets issued prior to 2005 did not expire, and you can still use them. However, you cannot modify them in any way. If the ticket is completely unused, you CAN get credit for its original purchase price towards any current ticket of equal or greater value, but it may not be worth doing so as prices have gone up since then.
If the ticket fails to read at the turnstile or it is old enough to not have the RFID chip, you can get it re-issued at any ticket booth or Guest Relations on new media at no charge.
As a general rule, any ticket issued prior to a park that existed can only be used at parks that existed at the time the ticket was issued, but the rules have been fairly relaxed so almost any ticket issued prior to Animal Kingdom’s opening can be used there.
An Annual Pass (AP) option is also available to the general public. The pass offers unlimited major park admissions (including park hopping) for one year. As of August 2021, there is only one option, the Disney Incredi-Pass, which gets you into the four main parks, but you can purchase the Water Parks and Sports option , which adds in unlimited admissions to Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon water parks, the Oak Trail golf course (greens fees only), FootGolf experience at Oak Trail, Fantasia Gardens and Winter Summerland miniature golf courses (one round prior to 4pm only), and ESPN Wide World of Sports complex (excluding special events that are separately ticketed).
These Annual Passes also include free parking at the theme parks, so if you are staying somewhere other than a Walt Disney World Resort, this could factor in to your decision to purchase as well. And that is just among the various other perks that an AP holder can get, such as room discounts, dining discounts, and more, which can vary and are too numerous to list here.
The Disney Incredi-Pass price is $1299 and an additional $99 for the Water Parks and Sports option, and the same price for all guests 3 and over. DVC Members and Florida Residents may have different pricing (not as of August 2021), and they may also have additional Annual Pass options as well that may be cheaper but with more restrictions.
Annual Pass Vouchers/Exchange Certificates
You can purchase an Annual Pass in advance and get a “voucher”, also called an “exchange certificate”, which does not expire. When you are ready to get your AP, you turn in the voucher at a ticket booth or Guest Relations, and you will be provided your AP which will then expire one year from the date you exchanged the voucher (“activated” the AP).
You can also access the WDW Passholder web site even before the pass is activated to see all your benefits, and even make plans based on discounts. You can always book AP discounted rooms, even though you do not yet have an active Annual Pass, but if you do not show a valid AP to the resort staff by about 24 hours after check-in, you may lose the discount.
When you order an Annual Pass online or over the phone, you are also getting an exchange certificate. You must activate the Pass by going to a ticket kiosk or Guest Relations location prior to entering a park, and all adults must present valid photo ID. In the past, when you activated the certificate the expiration date was set one year later from the date of activation – even if you didn’t enter a park that day. New procedures with the expiration date being set electronically allow for it to automatically be set when you first enter a park. Bonus – the pass can be used throughout the same day one year later – that is, if you activate and use your pass on May 16th this year, you can use the pass anytime through the end of the day on May 16th next year – you actually get one year and a day!
Renewing Annual Passes
Annual Passholders can renew their APs for another calendar year at a discount over the full price. The renewal can take place anytime between 60 days prior to expiration up until 30 days after expiration to get the discount. When you renew an Annual Pass, the expiration date remains the same, but one year later. It does not matter when you renew the pass. You are also free to upgrade or downgrade your pass at renewal time, paying the renewal price for the chosen pass.
DVC and Florida Resident Annual Passes
[Note: As of the August 30th, 2021 announcement of the new annual passes, DVC members and Florida Residents do not get a discount on the Disney Incredi-Pass, but have other options available]
Disney Vacation Club members and Florida Residents may be able get Annual Passes for a lower price than the general public In order to get these prices, the DVC member must have their blue DVC Member ID card and personal ID when picking up the active pass at a ticket kiosk or Guest Relations location, and FL Residents must present proof of residency (check with WDW on valid documents). Note that when ordering an Annual Pass online or on the phone, you MUST go to a ticket booth or Guest Relations location before entering a park to activate the pass.
These DVC/FL Resident Annual Passes are otherwise the same as their counterparts.
Also available is the Disney Sorcerer Pass for DVC Members and Florida Residents, at $899. It is the same as the Disney Incredi-Pass, except for some blockout dates where it cannot be used. As of 2021 blockout dates are the Wednesday-Saturday around Thanksgiving, and the last 14 days of December. Time around Easter was restricted on previous versions of the pass, but not currently.
A DVC Member can only purchase APs at this price for themselves and members of their immediate family who reside in the same household. All adults must be present at time of purchase/activation, and must have valid personal ID with their address matching that of the DVC member. The DVC member MUST be present and also present their Member ID and Photo ID to receive the discounted tickets.
Note that these prices are not considered a discount by WDW Ticketing, but a specific ticket price – it is technically a different ticket – so if other discounts are available, they can usually be used in conjunction with the DVC price.
There is some confusion as to whether being a DVC Member makes you eligible for Florida Resident prices in general. Although these Annual Pass prices for DVC Members happens to be the same as for Florida Residents, being a DVC Member (or owning any sort of timeshare) does NOT grant Florida Resident rights such as the purchase of tickets that are only available to them. Florida Resident pricing requires having a Florida Resident drivers license or state-issued ID or certain other types of documents that WDW will accept. DVC and Florida Resident passes and tickets are distinctly different classes of tickets. Florida Residents have additional Annual Pass options at lower prices but with more restrictions and blockout dates.
At which point does an Annual Pass make more sense?
It depends on how often during a calendar year you will visit and for how long.
Because of the Magic Your Way pricing structure, you pay more per day if buying shorter tickets than longer ones. So if your typical trip length is 2-3 days, an AP will almost certainly make more sense after 2-4 trips.
What if you are taking an “extra-long” WDW vacation longer than 10 days? Only some foreign country residents are eligible for tickets longer than 10 days. If you were to do this with Magic Your Way tickets you would need to purchase at least two tickets, which means you have to pay front loaded cost for the first few days again.
With the variable ticket pricing now it is difficult to say for sure, but on average 12 days total across 2 visits at at peak start prices would cost more than a Disney Incredi-Pass at $1299. You might need to play around with pricing calculators to determine if it makes sense for you, as the exact MYW prices depend on the start day, etc. And remember that Annual Passes include park hopping by default and other benefits. If you are making three or more visits of more than a few days each, an annual pass is almost certainly cheaper.
For DVC members or Florida Residents it is even less if the other pass options work for you and your dates.
Untangled Tip: If you are staying longer than 10 days but no more than 14, you can consider getting the Park Hopper Plus option instead of a longer ticket, and on some of the days go to one of the Water Parks, etc. instead of one of the main parks. The two water parks can take a good portion of a day, plus you can visit the resorts, Disney Springs, use your resort pool, etc.
There are many other types of tickets that are generally only available to certain groups like Florida Residents, residents of the U.K., etc. I couldn’t possibly list out all the options and answer all the questions as I am not as familiar with them, so if you are looking for those types of tickets, you may need to research on your own.
All entrances at WDW utilize a single finger scan to tie the ticket user to the ticket. When a ticket is first used, the scan is read and tied to the ticket in the computer. Subsequent admissions then use the scan to compare against the previous scan. If there is a match, you are allowed in. If there isn’t, then you have a problem…
You must always use the same finger. It should be the index finger on your right hand (the side the scanner is on), but if for some reason you did not use that one, make sure you always use the same one. Some CMs might try to “correct” you to use your index finger even if you know which one is the right one.
Untangled Tip: With the new entrances and the RFID touchpoint scanners, put your finger on the scanner at the same time as you place your MagicBand/ticket against the touchpoint – you’ll want to wear your MagicBand on the left wrist to do this as most of the finger scanners are on the right side. This will speed things up.
Previously guests on child tickets (3-9) did not need to use the finger scanner at all. Since September 2016, Disney has now required a finger scanner on all guests who require a ticket. Parents can opt to use their own finger in lieu of the child’s.
According to Disney (and I also know about the technology typically used), it is NOT a full fingerprint scanner. It is relatively low resolution, and after normalization (to account for rotation, distortion, etc.) some data points are chosen and turned into a numerical value, which is what is actually stored in the ticketing computer. The likelihood of two people being identified with the same finger scan is on the order of 1:10000 – much more common than a true fingerprint match. The technology used is actually fairly common and what Disney says is pretty much correct. Full fingerprint scanning would be difficult and slow.
Sometimes, and under what circumstances is unclear, tickets that are purchased together may be linked together in the ticketing computer such that a finger scan for one ticket might be accepted for another. This can help prevent “turnstile confusion” wondering whose ticket is whose – but this cannot be relied on, so it is highly recommended that you somehow identify which ticket belongs to which person in your group.
Also, at times the scanners may actually be turned off to help the flow of people, and you may not be required to scan your finger.
I heard the finger scanners are just for show and really don’t do anything…
As anyone who has actually had problems with them will tell you…they DO work – usually. I have personal experience with it. They aren’t necessarily used all the time (as mentioned above), and are really just meant to prevent people from sharing a ticket or unscrupulous ticket “dealers” who purchase tickets with unused days left on them and then sell them to unsuspecting tourists as if they are new.
Save the ticket info
Always keep a photocopy of the backs of your tickets, or at least record the ticket ID information (the series of letters and numbers on the back), and keep this separate from your tickets. If your tickets ever get lost, they can be reissued at any ticket booth or Guest Relations, and this information can help speed things up.
Kids do not grow up while at WDW!
Actually, NO ONE grows up while at WDW. For all intents and purposes, you are the age you are when you check in for the entire trip. That means if a child is 2 at check-in, and has a birthday during the trip, there is no need to purchase a ticket for the remaining days of their stay, or add them to the dining plan, etc. Similarly, if they turn 10 during the trip, there is no need to upgrade to an adult ticket.
In addition, if they obtained an Annual Pass or Non-Expiring ticket or other similar long-term ticket that was used before turning 10, you can upgrade that ticket to an Adult ticket at no extra charge. The child needs to be present during the upgrade, and the age difference needs to be reasonable – if the ticket was obtained within the past year, but the child is obviously 16, then it can be denied.
If the ticket is unused, however, you can only receive purchase credit towards the price of an adult ticket.
Right-size or under-size your tickets
If you are not an “uber-planner” who plans out the details of each day of your trip and thus know for certain how many park days you need, and you want to potentially save some money, it might make sense to “under-size” your ticket – that is, get a day or two less than the max you need, and/or leave off the Park Hopper option. Take advantage of the fact that you can add more later. Skipping the Park Hopper option especially, at its cost, if you’re not sure you really need it, could save quite a bit if you wait if it turns out you don’t end up needing it.
Often when you get a package from Disney via their web site, it by default will match the tickets to the length of stay. So if you are going to plan to have “down” days, or travel days, or things like that, be sure to select the tickets of the appropriate length.