Saving Money On Disney World Tickets

Disney World Tickets

If you’ve set your mind on a trip to Walt Disney World, you know there’s a lot to consider. Besides deciding is where to stay at Disney World, you have to figure out what you’re going to do so you can buy the right tickets. You can have Magic Your Way, but it comes at a price. And while there are ways to save on Disney Park tickets you can be easily overwhelmed and just throw in the towel.

Disney World theme park tickets come in a variety of options. Besides the standard Magic Your Way tickets, Disney does offer special tickets for Florida residents as well as military personnel and their family. Since those are special types of tickets I won’t mention them in much detail. Disney World tickets for military personnel and their family are discounted and require appropriate identification. They can not be purchased at the gate but can be purchased at Shades of Green. Many military base exchanges also sell the special discounted military tickets as well. Florida residents can purchase their tickets at Disney World or as part of their travel package from an authorized Disney World travel agent.

Regardless of the whether you are a Florida resident or military, you’ll need to know some basics about the Magic Your Way park tickets so you know what to purchase. Of course, your Disney World travel agent can help you with this but if you’re trying to plan ahead and budget knowing your ticket options will be helpful. Keep in mind that ticket prices can change at any time until they are purchased, and, historically, if Disney raises the prices it will be done without much notice and likely over a weekend in June.

So, where to start?

Base tickets are called Magic Your Way tickets and can be purchased for one day up to 10 days. (Note: the ticket options for UK residents are different). These Magic Your Way tickets will get you in to one park each day for as many days as your purchase. You can not enter more than one park in a day so you would need to be aware of this when considering your dining options.

Now for all the add-ons. If you want to enter more than one park in a day you’ll need to add the Park Hopper options. If you want to go to the water parks, Disney Quest, golfing or the sports complex you’ll need the Water Park, Fun and More option. Finally, since Disney park tickets expire 14-days after their first use you may add the No Expiration option so your unused days will never expire.

How do you know if you want the Park Hopper option? If you plan on going to more than one park each day, you will need the Park Hopper feature on your ticket. You may not just use another day. So if you buy a 10 day ticket but will only be there for 7 days you can’t use one of your 3 “extra days” to enter a second park in the same day. When you buy the Park Hopper option it is applied to every day on your ticket, whether you use it or not. That’s why it’s important to know if you’re going to park-hop. If you’re not, then why pay for something you won’t use.

You want to go to one of Disney’s amazing water parks, but is the Water Park, Fun & More (WPF&M) option the best value? The WPF&M option provides the choice of admission to Disney’s Blizzard Beach water park, Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon water park, DisneyQuest, a round of golf at Disney’s nine hole Oak Trail Golf Course , or entry to Disney’s Wide World of Sports Complex. The WPF&M option is equal to the days of your ticket. With the exception of the 1-Day ticket which gets 2 Water Park Fun and More visits, a 2-Day gets 2 Water Park Fun and More visits, 3-Days 3 Water Park Fun and More visits, and so forth. This is not a cheap add-on so you’ll want to be sure you can take advantage of all the extras you get with this option.

If you take short trips to Disney World on a regular basis, buying an extended multi-day ticket with the no-expiration option might be a better deal over the long term. The more days you buy, the cheaper the per-day price. The price per day on a 10-day ticket is less than that for a 2-day ticket. The No Expiration option would allow you to buy a longer term ticket to take advantage of that lower per-day price and still use it from time to time without that 14-day expiration policy. You would also not need to pay anything additional if ticket prices increase. Your tickets with the No Expiration option are good until they are all used. For some, this may be an excellent option.

If you’re purchasing a travel package through your authorized Disney World travel agent, you still get to choose which kind of tickets you want. So while a lot of the decision-making is handled, you’ll still need to know what kind of tickets you’ll need. One good thing, though, is that if you just buy the base Magic Your Way tickets you can upgrade them if you need. You can not, however, get your money back if you buy an add-on but don’t use it.

You can also combine the options. You can get the Magic Your Way with Park Hopper (with our without No Expiration), Magic Your Way with Water Park, Fun & More (with or without No Expiration), Magic Your Way with No-Expiration, Magic Your Way with Park Hoper and Water Park Fun & More and of course the base Magic Your Way (with or without No Expiration). See, right there you have 9 options!

And let’s not forget that Disney World offers Annual Passes. There are quite a few options with the annual pass but I’ll talk about those another time. However, if you plan on going to Disney World more than 14 days in a one-year time period then you should definitely consider an annual pass.

One you decide which type of Disney Parks ticket you want, you’ll need to actually purchase it. Even this decision brings you a variety of options. Of course you can purchase it at the gate of any of the four parks or at any of the Disney World resorts. In addition, if you are using an authorized Disney World travel agent you can purchase the tickets with you travel package if you stay on-property. There are also a number of reputable authorized Disney World ticket resellers. I’ve personally purchased from Undercover Tourist and find them to have excellent customer service as well as some of the best discounted Disney World tickets. Since they purchase in volume, they’re able to offer a small discount (3-5%, depending on the type of ticket). I am not an affiliate, nor do I get compensated if you buy from Undercover Tourist. But, I’ve purchased from them myself and have been very pleased. I know there are others, but I have no personal experience with them.

So now, you’ve started your Disney World vacation planning and have decided where to stay at Disney World. Once you determine your Disney World ticket choice you’re well on your way to the most magical vacation.

When is your next trip to Disney World?


Disney World Vacation Planning – Do I Stay ON property or OFF-site?

Disney World Cinderella Coach

If Disney World is your vacation destination, you’ll likely need a place to stay while you’re visiting (besides the castle since we’re all princesses!). Disney World travel planning can instill fear in even the best vacation planners. There are hundreds of options within a few miles of the parks. While there are condo and home rentals as well as timeshare options, I wanted to focus on hotels today. Unlike other vacation destinations, this is where an informed certified Disney travel agent can be your best friend.

When I was planning my first trip to Disney World, the Grand Floridian was the only property I was interested in. But when I was told it wasn’t available for my dates of travel I had a little panic because I hadn’t researched any other options. I was so intent on that one property it never dawned on me that I wouldn’t be able to reserve my dates. That’s when I discovered that hotel options at Disney abound. Whatever your budget there is something for you!

While staying at the Grand Floridian isn’t for everyone, when it comes to visiting Walt Disney World the first decision about hotels you make is this: Do you stay on-property or off-property? (Oops, I jumped the real first question which is do you want to stay in a hotel or other type of property. For this discussion, we’ve decided to stay in a hotel.)

So, back to the discussion. We’re staying at a hotel, now to determine if it will be on-site (a Disney-owned accommodation) or off-site (owned by another company but close to Disney World). There are benefits and drawbacks to both decisions. I’ve stayed at both types and both worked well for my family. You know your family and your travel needs, so don’t believe that one or the other the only option. Disney’s all about options!

Staying on-site means you’re staying at one of the 25 resorts, villas or campground in the Value, Moderate or Deluxe and Villas categories of accommodations. Disney also has a campground facility for those who wish to camp or are traveling by camper or RV and want to enjoy the benefits offered to guest staying at Disney properties.

With over 30,000 rooms, you’ll definitely find a Disney Resort to fit your needs. This is where working with a certified Disney World Travel Agent like The Affordable Mouse can really help. With so many options, and possibly special needs due to size of family or need for certain types of amenities, it’s nice to have someone to prompt you and narrow down your options quickly.

The benefits of staying at a Disney Resort are many. They include Extra Magic Hours (getting to enter the parks early or stay later), complimentary airport shuttle service on Disney’s Magical Express, in-park package delivery back to your room (who wants to carry around bags all day?), using your room key for in-park charges, convenient and complimentary transportation to and from the parks to your hotel, the option of using one of the Disney Dining plans as well as the 24-hours a day Disney magic sprinkled throughout your stay.

Of course, there can be drawbacks to staying on-site which could be a deciding factor. The magic does not come free. Disney resorts are often at a premium when compared to other similar area resorts. However, it’s not an apples to apples comparison and you’ll need to prioritize your needs to make sure you’re getting what is best for you. One other concern I’ve heard from people is that they don’t like having to pay a deposit equal to one-nights stay when they book a Disney property. Over the past few years, though, that policy has begun to carry over to off-site hotels as well so it may not be a factor.

For many people, the benefits to staying off-property when traveling to Disney World far outweigh the drawbacks. While I missed the convenience of Disney’s Magical Express it was nice to arrange my own times for transportation. And since my family doesn’t do the Extra Magic Hours that was a benefit we were willing to forego. Overall, staying off-property for my family wasn’t a big deal. Then again, we stayed at the Swan hotel so we were close to both Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios and were able to use the Disney resort transportation services.

If reading this has you  concerned about choosing the right resort when you visit Disney World, don’t fret. Like most other hotel decisions these days, when you get online and start researching options the choices can become overwhelming. Nancy from The Affordable Mouse did an excellent step by step plan to help you decide which hotel option is best for you when planning your Disney World vacation. It’s a great first step to helping you create a magical Disney vacation.

If you’re planning a Disney vacation, using a certified Disney World travel agent is free to you and will not increase the price of your vacation. Nancy is terrific and can help you maximize your magic!

When planning your Disney World vacation, do you think you’d stay on-site or off-site?

Disclosure: Using The Affordable Mouse will NOT increase the price of your trip. If anything, it may save you money. Please let them know I sent you!



Disney World Travel Planning

Disney World Travel

As much as I love Disney, many are surprised to find that I did not visit Walt Disney World until I was nearly 40. I know! Why would I have wait so long? Was there something about it that made it a non-priority?

Having been to Disneyland well over 500 times, I have a special affection for ‘the land’. I can close my eyes and envision the entire park. Getting there has always been pretty easy since I’ve spent most of my life within driving distance to the land. For me, Disneyland was less of a vacation spot than it was just a place to go. It never screamed ‘big vacation’. That was what Disney World was for.

When I got married in 1994, I wanted a Disney wedding. Unfortunately, with my mom gone, my uncle dying and my grandfather becoming more and more frail, my dream wedding was in need of re-imagineering. No coach, no castle. And because I had my eye on the Grand Floridian, and only the Grand Floridian, my dream wedding took on another vision.

After I got married, work, life, school, mortgage, and retirement all started to take priority over my Disney World vacation (which was going to happen “someday”!). See, I wasn’t going to go to Disney World unless I could stay at the Grand Floridian. Pretty high goals. And during the 90s, a pretty hefty price tag too. The economy was good and prices were, for the time, definitely very premium.

Then something happened and CycleGuy and I decided that our Disney World trip was no longer a want but more of a need. Since I had been researching a Disney vacation for pretty much all my adult life you’d think it would be easy to plan a week-long trip to Disney World at the drop of a hat.

Uh, no! While I was intent on the Grand Floridian, it was not available for our dates. Dejection! What to do? I outsourced my stress! I’ve only once before used a travel agent and that was for our honeymoon. Other than that, I’ve always been one to plan and organize. But when it comes to Disney World, an authorized Disney travel planner was my savior. Disney has three tiers of resorts, various dining plans, ticket options for every family and a variety of extras if you stay on property. I just wanted to go Disney World. I didn’t want to think about how many permutations and combinations were possible. I was already dealing with a stressful situation, planning a vacation had to be easy.

When it comes to a Disney World trip, many people save for a long time and want to make sure they do everything right. Other times, they’re crazy and plan the trip in just a few weeks. Either way, a perfect Disney vacation is simply a phone call or email away. Seriously!

Since that first trip in 2007, we’ve gone back each year and have spent 10 days at Disney World, and I’ve planned a girl’s trip for a long weekend. I’ve tried the DIY planning, the travel agent, online with the Disney World travel website, and combinations of these. For the money (FREE!), a Disney World travel agent is the best way to go. So when Nancy at The Affordable Mouse approached me to explore a relationship to help my readers with their Disney travel planning it was easy to say YES!

No matter the size of your family, if there is a special occasion (Disney loves to celebrate your birthday and anniversary with you), short trips or long, using a travel agent can make for affordable Disney vacations. When I first went I had no idea there was “free dining”, but my travel planner did! Saved me big bucks right there and sold me on the value of having a Disney travel planning partner.

We’re a very DIY society when it comes to travel planning. But sometimes, using a travel agent who is in the know about the destination can be a big benefit. Now, with a short email to Nancy you can count on her and her staff to plan your ultimate Disney vacation! Whether you’re a (self-admitted) Disney snob like me and must stay at a deluxe resort or you love the music and movies themes at the value resorts, if you’re considering a Disney World vacation talk to Nancy first!

Since I’ve fully admitted to my love of Disney I’ll be writing more about my trips and travel planning. And I have put up a little button on the right side with a direct link to The Affordable Mouse so you won’t need to hunt down this post. Anytime you’re here you’ll see that little button to remind you that free Disney travel planning is just a click away.

When you fill out your trip details, if you could tell Nancy that you found out about her from me that would be terrific. The Affordable Mouse can help you all your Disney travel needs – even big groups (like family reunions). I look forward to hearing about your Disney trip!

So, when are you going to Disney World?

Disclosure: Using The Affordable Mouse will NOT increase the price of your trip. If anything, it may save you money. Please let them know I sent you!


Disney Dreaming

Millions of people love Disney. I’m one of them. Have been since the first time I walked down Main Street USA holding my grandpa’s hand when I was 7. When I lived in Long Beach when I was a tween and teen my parents would take me to Disneyland and drop me off for the day. Sometimes I would take the bus and meet my friends.

My first away trip with Cycle Guy was to Disneyland for a weekend. It was very different than it is today, but the memories of how it originally was is something we both hold dear. Before fastpasses and touring plans and staking out the parade route there was just going. Yes, even back then I had a plan on how I rode all the rides. And, honestly, not much of my plan changed when they started offering fastpasses. Always Indiana Jones first. That’s what BabyGirl knows too. Mainstreet to Adventureland past the Jungle Cruise and down the winding hallway.

Years past and while I knew I wouldn’t get married at Disney, my mind went crazy thinking about a Disneymoon. That was back in the day of the Disney Institute and when the only option available in my mind was staying at the Del Coronado inspired Grand Floridian. It would be nearly 15 years in the making before I’d walk through the doors of the Grand Floridian to be welcomed as a guest. But that wait was worth it.

I’m a bit of a ‘go big or go home’ kinda girl sometimes. While I’ve been to Disneyland over 500 times, my first trip to Walt Disney World would need to be everything I ever dreamed. And that included staying at one of the deluxe resorts. So when the time came, it was not as I had anticipated. There was no year-long planning or decision making. Instead, my family was in need of an opportunity to forget the villains and walk into a magical world where goodness always prevails.

When you call a mere 3 weeks before you intend to spend a weeklong vacation at Walt Disney World, you may not get exactly what you want. Instead of the Grand Floridian we stayed at The Beach Club because it was closer to Epcot and we wanted to spend more time there. Not that it was a downgrade by any means, but it wasn’t The Grand Floridian. That would wait a year.

My first trip to Walt Disney World included meeting my friend Shifra. An online friend turned real live friend who is more like a sister than a friend. It was just meant to be because her husband had a business meeting in the area at the same time and decided to make it a family trip just so Shifra and I could meet. Now that’s an awesome husband!

This year we’re heading back to Disney World thanks to my grandmother who knows the power Disney Magic holds for her great granddaughter. We’re not going back to The Grand Floridian because we’ll be slummin’ it at The Contemporary. I know, I know. Not really slummin’. But it sounded funny to a friend of mine and it’s become a bit of a joke. Oh, and guess who’ll be in Orlando at the same time? Yep, you guessed it – 5 years after our first in real life meeting, Shifra and I will meet again. *Magic!*

BabyGirl really isn’t a baby any more. She’s growing up, creating her own memories. And yet she still believes magic, real princesses, and the ability to dream big stretched out over hundreds of acres are just waiting for her. Walt Disney was a visionary. And in his vision each of us would feel the softness of pixie dust sprinkled upon us helping to transport ourselves to a time and place where happiness was the currency.

A lot has happened to my family and me since we first decided to visit the Most Magical Place on Earth. But one thing has been constant. My belief that if I can dream it, I can do it!

Where will your dreams take you?


Attention Disney Lovers! Free Planning DVD

I’ve confessed my love of Disney. And, as crazy as it may seem I order a planning DVD every year because I love seeing what Disney has done with their marketing. This is legitimate and for reals, but you will likely be put on a list to receive email from Disney. So sign up for your Disney Vacation Planning DVD with your special email. Even if you don’t plan on going to Disney for a few years, this is a great DVD. And, in the past, those email Disney sends often have discount codes for hotels or shopping. Bonus!

Order your Disney Vacation Planning DVD today and bring the magic into your home!