Go to Disney Without Going Broke

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Disney has raised some prices at its Florida and California theme parks. Here's how to compensate by reducing other related costs.

Visiting the “Happiest Place on Earth” will now cost you about 6 percent more per daily ticket. Disney recently announced the rate hike, which has taken effect.

This isn’t the first time the house of the mouse has disappointed its adoring fans. Remember the lackluster opening of Euro Disney? But this is the first time Disney is charging a higher price for Magic Kingdom than it is for the other parks at Walt Disney World, Theme Park Insider says.

Here are the new prices (taxes not included):

Walt Disney World

  • Magic Kingdom — $95 for adults for one day, up from $89; $89 for children 3 to 9.
  • Epcot, Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios — $90 for adults for one day; $84 for children.
  • Four-day base ticket (one park per day) — $279, up from $256; adults and children pay the same price.


  • $92 for a one-day pass for adults, up from $87.
  • $87, up from $82, for children 3 to 9.
  • One-day Park Hopper (with entrance to Disney California Adventure) — $137, up from $125; adults and children pay the same price.

The Premiere Pass, good for 12 months at all Walt Disney World and Disneyland theme parks, increased by $130 to $979. That’s a 15 percent jump.

More than likely these increases are not going to stop people from visiting Mickey and Minnie. Good luck explaining that decision to your little ones.

Here are some tips to help cover the higher ticket costs:

1. Go in the off-season

Going when it’s less crowded allows you to ride It’s a Small World a few more times than you otherwise would during the peak season.

This could also help with other costs such as airfare and hotels, which are often priced higher during high-traffic times like school breaks. The times to avoid are around Christmas, Easter and all three-day holiday weekends. Summertime is obviously busier as well.

If you can swing it, visit on a weekday.

2. Check the Net

Discounted tickets and promotions may save you some cash to spend on one of those adorable Mickey Mouse ear hats. MSN Money suggests exploring unofficial sites such as MouseSavers, All Ears and Theme Park Insider. “Pay attention to expiration dates and other details that could limit the usefulness of the discounted offers. You don’t want to get to the gate and find your ticket has expired,” MSN Money adds.

Sometimes, Disney itself offers deals.

3. Buy an annual pass

This works best for those who live close enough to visit several times in a year.

A four-park annual pass for Disney World resorts for Florida residents is now $464, up from $425. Visitors to the Sunshine State will pony up $609 for an annual pass.

Considering you’d pay $90 or $95 a pop for daily tickets, it wouldn’t take long to get your money’s worth.

4. Opt for a multi-park pass

If your trip to Disneyland involves at least a week, a great way to see more and save more is through the CityPass. A $319 adult pass ($279 for a child) gets you a three-day Park Hopper ticket for Disneyland and Disney California Adventure, and one-day admission to both Universal Studios Hollywood and Sea World in San Diego.

The three-day Disney access is worth $260. When you add the $84 for Universal and $79 for a ticket to see Shamu, that’s a savings of more than $100.

5. Stay off-site

Spending Thursday and Friday night at Disneyland Hotel would run you about $850. The same stay would be about $325 at Ramada Maingate at the Park. Many of the nearby hotels also offer free shuttles.

If Disney World is your destination, Travel and Leisure says, “The least expensive Disney rooms have a four-person limit, so families of five or more must pay double to rent two. But a few miles away, the whole family can have the run of one of hundreds of dedicated vacation McMansions complete with pools, grills, and big-screen TVs. Three-bedroom rentals cost as little as $165 a night through companies such as All-Star Vacation Homes and IPG Florida Vacation Homes.” 

6. Pack necessities

Pack snacks, Band Aids, sunscreen and anything else you’ll potentially need. This will avoid the headache of trying to find an aspirin at the park and the migraine you’ll get when you see the inflated prices.

7. B.Y.O. souvenirs

My Frugal Adventures suggests purchasing Disney-related paraphernalia in advance from the Disney Store or local discount stores. One of the common attractions for kids is getting photos with and autographs from Mickey and friends. Come prepared with an adorable little book instead of purchasing an expensive one at the parks.

Another tip from My Frugal Adventures is to arm yourself with glow sticks, light-up spinners and the like from the dollar store. “The glow stuff is beautiful in the park and really hard to say no to, but just one balloon is $20,” the blog adds.

8. Download an app

Offerings such as Undercover Tourist will help you maximize your time in the parks. The free app will let you know how long the wait is at the main entrance as well as how long you’ll be in line to bobsled Matterhorn or shiver your timbers on Pirates of the Caribbean.

9. Don’t spring for bottled water

Any Quick-Service restaurant in the parks will give you a large cup of water free of charge, if you ask for one.

10. Free Disney attractions

Travel and Leisure says a few activities cost nothing to enjoy: the monorail through the Contemporary Resort or over Epcot and the ferry across the water to the gates of the Magic Kingdom.

Do you have any other tips for reducing your expenditures at Disney? Please share them on our Facebook page.

Stacy Johnson

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