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Trip Planning 101: Choosing the Right Park Admission Option

Purchasing Disney park tickets can be a little bit overwhelming.  There are so many options and so many different things to consider.  Here is a great checklist of the items to consider and help you navigate making this choice for you and your family so that you get the best value and have an amazing visit to the parks:


8 – Understand the ticket options.

The ticket options can be overwhelming, so do yourself a favor and do a little bit of research on the options that are available to you and how they stack up against your stay. Here are the usual ticket options and add-ons that you may be offered:

  • 1-Day Regular Ticket: The price for this ticket is dependent on the season with tiered pricing.
  • Multi-Day Ticket with Admission to 1 Park per Day: You select the number of days, and the price per day goes down with each additional day that is added. You can only enter 1 park on a given day. The price for this ticket is dependent on the season with tiered pricing.
  • Park Hopper Option: This gives you the ability to visit any of the 4 theme parks in the same day. This can be added on no matter whether you purchase a 1-day ticket or a 10-day ticket. 
  • Water Park and Sports OptionWhen this is added, it gives access to each of the Disney water parks, ESPN Wide World of Sports, Disney’s Oak Trail Golf Course, and Disney’s Fantasia Gardens and Winter Summerland Miniature Golf Courses. Note that it does not include a park hopper option. 
  • Park Hopper Plus Option: When this is added, it gives access to each of the Disney water parks, ESPN Wide World of Sports, Disney’s Oak Trail Golf Course, and Disney’s Fantasia Gardens and Winter Summerland Miniature Golf Courses. This option gives you the water park and sports option and the park hopper. 
  • Annual Pass Options: There are various options available with prices and access varying with different blackout dates and entry options.

7 – Are you visiting for one day or multiple days?

If you will be visiting a Disney park for only one day, then your best bet would likely be to select the park that you want to attend (usually the Magic Kingdom for most guests) and buy a 1-Day Regular Ticket without park hopper. If you plan on going for multiple days, it would benefit you cost wise to buy a multi-day ticket since the cost per day goes down based on the number of days that you purchase.

6 – Are you planning to visit more than one park in a day?

If you don’t like feeling constrained to one park or you have plans that mean you will need to visit multiple parks in the same day, then you will definitely want to purchase the park hopper add on. It gives you the convenience and flexibility that you will be looking for. If you know you want to stay in one park and don’t have any plans on hopping, then you can save the money and stick to single-park admission. We have always liked the flexibility of being able to hop around even if we don’t necessarily plan to do so, but you can always add it later. The cost to have park hopper isn’t outrageous, but can add up if you have a large group to purchase for, so it is a great way to cut costs if you don’t need it.


5 – Do you plan to visit the water parks?

If you plan to visit the water parks, especially more than one time, then you definitely want to consider either the Water Park and Sports Option or the Park Hopper Plus option. This gives you access to other locations plus both water parks for a certain number of visits. This is great so that you can experience both water parks and not feel obligated to stay all day if you want to only visit during a certain part of the day. If you don’t plan on visiting the water parks, then you might want to skip this option unless then other inclusions with the add-on will provide enough value.

4 – Do you plan to visit ESPN Wide World of Sports or golf/miniature golf locations?

If you already plan on visiting the water parks, plus any of these locations, then the Park Hopper Plus option definitely makes sense for you, especially if you were already planning on upgrading to a Park Hopper. You will get a lot of value out of it. If you don’t plan on visiting the waterparks, but you do have an interest in these locations, then you will have to do the math and determine if the per person add-on will provide you enough value. The other locations that you have access to outside of the water parks are ESPN Wide World of Sports, Disney’s Oak Trail Golf Course, and Disney’s Fantasia Gardens and Winter Summerland Miniature Golf Courses:

  • ESPN Wide World of Sports: Adults – $19 / Children $14
  • Oak Trail Golf Course: prices vary
  • Fantasia Gardens: Adults – $14 / Children $12
  • Winter Summerland: Adults – $14 / Children $12

Note: When you purchase the add-on, your number of “visits” is determined by the number of days that you purchase. For example, if you purchase a 5-day ticket and add Park Hopper Plus, then you get 5 “visits” total during your stay. So consider that when you do the math to determine what makes the most sense for you.

Winter Summerland Golf

3 – Are you staying at a Disney resort?

The reason this is important is that when you are staying on property, the additional flexibility of Park Hopper or Park Hopper Plus option can make a lot of sense. You will be very close to your resort, so you can easily go back and break, change clothes, get around property, etc. Also, as a resort guest, you get Extra Magic Hours at one of the parks each day. If you have Park Hopper, you can take advantage of Extra Magic Hours but have the flexibility to visit a different park for the other part of the day. I always advise guests staying on property to consider the flexibility that they think they will need or want while on vacation. That flexibility can be worth the added cost.

2 – Have you planned dining reservations?

If you have dining reservations, be sure to keep that in mind when making decisions on Park Hopper. If you are dining in one of the parks, you will either have to stay at that park all day or add on Park Hopper so that you can head to another park later. It is good to consider this in advance so you can either plan for Park Hopper or move around your reservations if it won’t work with your plans for the rest of the day.

1 – Will you be visiting multiple times within 365 days?

If you are a frequent Disney visitor or you know you plan to visit again within 365 calendar days, then you should do the math to determine if one of the annual pass options would make more sense. There are various options, so be sure to compare your planned dates with the blackout dates on the different levels of passes so that you know which one is right for you. Then total the number of days of each trip and see which works out more in your favor. Annual Passholders also receive merchandise, dining, salon, recreation, experience, and many other discounts around property, so those savings should also be considered to determine if the annual pass makes sense. It may even help you justify visiting more often! Here is an excellent article for you to read if you are considering purchasing an annual pass.

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About Christy Caby

Hi! I’m Christy, and I am a wife and mother of 2 young boys (ages 5 and 2). I first fell in love with Disney when my mom took me when I was a child. After that I proceeded to go to WDW for my senior trip with my friends, and I completed a year in the Disney College Program (working in merchandise at Mickey’s of Hollywood at Disney’s Hollywood Studios). I shared my love of Disney with my now husband and sucked him in. He proposed at Disney, we honeymooned at Disney, we started bringing our boys before they were born and then as early as 8 weeks old. We then continued to vacation to Walt Disney World 2-3 times per year. We decided that what makes more sense than just moving to Orlando so that we could live the Disney life and be here for all of our favorite events and seasons every year. That is exactly what we did! Now we are at the parks a couple times a week and go for most events and major holidays. We can’t get enough and get to experience Disney in a whole different way. I love to share this love and passion for all things Disney with the world and hope that I can help others appreciate the magic that Walt Disney World has to offer!