As of today, Oct 16, 2018, Walt Disney World ticket changes are in full effect. They have a newly implemented dynamic pricing model. This means that the amount you pay for tickets will vary depending on when you take your trip. Travel during peak season will result in more costly tickets while off season will be cheaper.
Here’s what you need to know about the changes.
Your ticket price now depends on your trip dates
For the most part, the ticket buying process is the same. If you’re buying from Disney, navigate to their website and “theme park tickets”. At that point, you choose what type of ticket you want (regular, park hopper, or park hopper plus). The thing that’s changed is after THAT point, you’re directed to a calendar. The calendar displays the average per day price of tickets for trips starting on a given day.
In the example above, a 4 day Magic Your Way ticket for a trip start date of 2/3 is $94 per day on average, while a 4 day Magic Your Way ticket starting on 2/17 is $99 per day on average.
I’m guessing these prices are dynamic, meaning they may change with availability and demand. What this means is if you’re going during off times you’ll save money compared to going during peak times. In the past, you’d pay the same for your tickets regardless of your trip dates.
Honestly, for the average user, Disney made this fairly straightforward. Pick your ticket length, pick your trip start date, and buy your tickets.
Tickets for off peak dates are cheaper than they were last year (and peak times are more expensive)
While this new system definitely has resulted in ticket price increases, for off peak dates they are actually cheaper in some instances. Take a 4 day Magic Your Way ticket starting on 2/3 as in the example above. Those tickets cost about $397 now, under the old system they cost about $404. So a $28 savings for a family of four.
Peak dates, however, will run you more. The absolute busiest time at Disney World is the week of Christmas and New Year’s. A 4 day Magic Your Way ticket where your trip starts on Dec 25th will set you back $462, almost $70 more! So it obviously pays now to visit during off peak times.
How do you determine off peak times? Avoid holidays and when the kids are out of school, basically! But another ancillary benefit of this ticket change is you can now figure out what times will have lower crowds – if the Disney ticket price is lower the crowds will be lower.
There’s no cost to change tickets but you CANNOT get a refund if you move to a lower ticket price
From Disney’s ticketing terms and conditions (bolding mine):
You can make changes to your tickets, including your ticket dates, prior to midnight ET of the day before your ticket’s first valid use date, XXX. There’s no change fee to modify, but an additional cost applies for dates with higher ticket prices. No refund or credit is given for changes from dates with higher prices to dates with lower prices.
This means that while changes are free, if your ticket price goes down (whether dynamically or because you choose new dates), you will not get a refund. But if you buy more expensive tickets you’ll get a credit for the value of the original tickets you bought. Something to bear in mind.
Tickets now have shorter expiration dates after first use
It used to be that if you bought a multiday Magic Your Way ticket, you had 14 days from first use to use up all your days. That means even if you bought a 4 day ticket, you could use your 4th day on day 14 of your trip. People would use this to their advantage and swing by Universal Studios or other local attractions while extending their time in Florida.
Disney has officially cut down their expiration dates. Basically, they’re building in some “off days” into your vacation, but you get a lot fewer. In fact, the only multiday ticket that still expires 14 days after first use is only the 10 day one! And remember, now when you buy tickets you have to state the first day of your trip, so you’ll have a hard “use by” date (Disney will tell you when you check out).
Also, if you buy the Park Hopper Plus option (includes waterparks) you get an extra day or two. You can also pay more for “flexible date” tickets, these basically are the old tickets with no start date and 14 day expirations.
Here are the new “use by” expiration in terms of days until expiration:
|# of days on ticket purchased||# days you have to use tickets||# days you have to use tickets (Park Hopper Plus)|
Parking and Annual Pass price increases
Also of note, parking at the parks now costs $25/day (up from $22). Annual passes have also increased in price, from $904.19 after tax for a Platinum Pass (the one without waterparks) to $952.11 after tax. The Platinum Pass Select (includes waterparks) now costs $1058.61.
I will update my Annual Pass Savings calculator soon, though for the most part it should work okay. You’ll have to account for whether you are traveling on peak dates or not, if yes, then it will make annual passes look more appealing on the whole for cost effectiveness.
Thoughts and analysis
Overall, I guess it could have been a lot worse. Time will tell how dynamically Disney prices (will prices drop/increase daily depending on demand, for example). For travelers who like to or can only visit Disney during peak times (when school is out), they’re going to need to pay more for tickets. For visitors who visit during off peak times, they’ll probably save a few bucks.
I should also note that in general, I give Disney IT, specifically the website and mobile app, a hard time because generally Disney IT is pretty bad. (Or, alternatively, they aren’t given the resources they need to make the website, you know, work.) But the website ran smoothly with no hiccups, at least as far as tickets were concerned, in all my searches today.
Like all things Disney, people who plan their Disney vacations far in advance will probably come out ahead on the whole while people planning last minute might get burned. If you need help with planning Disney vacation, feel free to check out my Disney planning podcast Disney Deciphered or the new site Miles to the Magic for miles and points savings opportunities.
Will the ticket changes affect your ticket purchasing plans? Or is it much to do about nothing? Let me know in the comments!
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