Preface: It is with a heavy heart that I returned to blogging about Disney World today. As a mother of a five-year-old and a seven-year-old, my heart continues to ache for the families and friends who lost their babies in Newtown, Connecticut last week. Suddenly, planning family vacations to Disney World seems so unimportant. After researching ways that I could possibly help, I’ve decided to donate at least 10% of the proceeds from my Disney vacation planning services in the months of December and January to the Sandy Hook School Support Fund set up by the United Way of Western Connecticut. This organization pledges that all donations will go directly to the victims’ families and the city of Newtown in an effort to help them heal. You can find them at https://newtown.uwwesternct.org/, if you’d like to help, too.
Base Tickets? Park Hoppers? No Expiration? Choosing the right theme park tickets for your Disney trip is perhaps the most complicated aspect of the entire vacation-planning process, requiring many decisions along the way.
First, you need to decide how many days of base tickets you want to purchase (between one and ten). You do not have to decide which parks you will visit on which day of your vacation at this point; Disney World base park tickets are valid for any of the four theme parks on property: Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Animal Kingdom, and Hollywood Studios. The more days that you purchase, the cheaper the ticket cost per day. For example, a one-day Disney World adult base ticket currently costs $89, but a five-day adult base ticket runs $53.60 per day.
Second, you will have to decide if you only want to visit one theme park per day or if you’d like to “hop” from one park in the morning to another in the evening. If “park hopping” sounds like fun, you need to add the Park Hopper option to your base tickets. Currently, the Park Hopper costs $57 per ticket, regardless of how many days of tickets you purchase. Therefore, if you are purchasing a five-day base ticket, the Park Hopper option averages out to a little over $10 additional per day.
Third, you’ll need to determine if any of the following are on your agenda: Disney’s two water parks, Disney’s two miniature golf courses, ESPN’s Wide World of Sports Complex, Disney’s Oak Trail Golf Course (nine holes) or DisneyQuest (an enormous indoor arcade in Downtown Disney). If you’d like to spend some time at any of these locations, you have two ticket choices. First, you can purchase a single-day ticket. Or, you can add the Water Park Fun and More option to your base tickets. This option covers the price of admission at any of these venues for the number of days on your base ticket. For example, if you’ve purchased a five-day base ticket, you will receive five admissions to any of these locations when you add the Water Park Fun and More. The Water Park Fun and More option currently costs $57 per ticket; again, this is the total price of the add-on, regardless of the number of days on your ticket. If you’d like to add both the Park Hopper and Water Park options, it will cost you $79 per ticket.
Finally, you’ll have to consider whether the No Expiration ticket option is right for you. Normally, unused Disney theme park tickets expire 14 days after first use. If you purchase the No Expiration option, however, your tickets will never expire. Keep in mind, however, that your tickets are non-transferable; in other words, you are the only person who will ever be able to use your No Expiration ticket. The price of the No Expiration option increases with each day, ranging from $30 for a two-day ticket to $275 for a 10-day ticket.
So, which of these ticket options is a good deal? The answer depends on many factors. First, I personally love the Park Hopper option. I think it provides more flexibility, allowing my family to enjoy a relatively uncrowded park in the morning and then “hop” over to a different park for evening entertainment. However, some people (particularly first-time visitors and guests with very young children) are content visiting only one park per day. Second, the Water Park Fun and More option is definitely an economical choice if you’re planning to visit more than one of these “extras” during your trip, as the single-day adult price of admission to any of these locations ranges from about $20 to about $55. Finally, in my opinion, the No Expiration option is not a good deal overall. When you crunch the numbers, this option may save you a minimal amount of money. In some cases, however, it’s actually more expensive per day to purchase the No Expiration option than it would be to buy two sets of tickets on separate vacations.
Any of these ticket options can be purchased separately or added to a Disney vacation package that includes accommodations, airport transfers, and (optionally) the Disney Dining Plan. If you’re overwhelmed, a good travel agent can help you sort through all of your choices.
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