Published: January 27, 2015 at 9:22 PM
Still, you can find discounts if you take the time and know where to look. Always start with theme parks' own websites to learn about ticket options and to find what you should consider the "baseline" price. We've linked the online ticket stores for all the major U.S. theme parks on our How to Save Money on a Theme Park Vacation page, so start your search there. You'll find links on that page to the parks' current vacation package specials, as well as to discounted admissions for convention attendees.
Many other retailers sell theme park tickets, too. If you buy from the parks themselves, you know that you're getting legitimate tickets that will work. When you buy elsewhere, that might not always be the case. Never buy theme park tickets from Craigslist, eBay, or people on the street. Multi-day Disney and Universal theme park tickets are linked to photos or finger scans of the people who first use them, so unused days are worthless to anyone else. If you try to use the unused days on someone else's theme park ticket, the park won't let you in.
Fortunately for deal-seekers, theme parks do work with a small group of authorized sellers who will provide tickets every bit as legit as those you can buy from the parks themselves. Here are links to the online stores of five major authorized theme park ticket resellers. No single retailer offers the best available deals on tickets to all of America's three major multi-park resorts — Walt Disney World, Disneyland, and Universal Orlando — so be sure to look around to find the best deal. (Discount levels might vary over time, too.) We've focused on the Disney and Universal resorts here, but many of these retailers also sell tickets to SeaWorld, Busch Gardens, Cedar Fair, Six Flags, and Legoland parks, too.
The American Automobile Association sells a wide selection of discounted attraction tickets to its members. That link is to the Southern California Auto Club's website, but if AAA doesn't redirect you automatically to your club via that link, just look for the "Not Your Club?" link at the top of the page to find your local AAA chapter's discount page.
Walt Disney World: AAA does not provide discounted tickets to Disney World, but does offer travel agents who specialize in setting up Disney vacations, via aaa.com/disney.
Universal Orlando: AAA sells Universal Orlando tickets online at aaa.com/universal, but the prices there are the same as you will find on Universal Orlando's online ticket store — which are $20 off the gate price for multi-day tickets.
Disneyland: AAA sells Disneyland tickets in person at its branches, for $4.75-8.50 off the gate price. That discount might not be enough to entice you to make an extra trip, but if you're already in or near a branch anyway, go ahead and get your tickets in advance and save a few bucks while you do.
This online travel agency also sells a variety of attraction tickets.
Walt Disney World: Not currently available.
Universal Orlando: You can find discounted Universal Orlando tickets here for up to $23 off on certain multi-day tickets.
Disneyland: aResTravel sells Disneyland tickets for up to $24 off the gate price of a multi-day ticket.
Another online travel agency, Kijubi lists several online theme park ticket deals.
Walt Disney World: No discounts, but you can buy Disney World tickets at the same price as you can get from Disney, at the gate or online.
Universal Orlando: Same deal with Universal Orlando. The prices here are the same as on the Universal Orlando website.
Disneyland: You will find some Disneyland discounts here, with prices $3-6 off the gate price per ticket.
Recreation Connection handles ticket discounts for many corporate HR departments across the country. If your employer offers things such as discounted movie and attraction tickets, they might becoming through Recreation Connection. But deal-seekers also can buy direct through Recreation Connection's website. For what it's worth, we've found that the lineup of attractions sold through this source changes more often than with other resellers.
Walt Disney World: Not currently available.
Universal Orlando: Not currently available.
Once pretty much limited to the Orlando area parks, Undercover Tourist now is an authorized reseller for a wide variety of theme parks across the country.
Walt Disney World: Undercover Tourist's Walt Disney World tickets will save you up to $27 per multi-day ticket, though be careful as the site's prices on one- and two-day tickets are actually more expensive than the gate prices. (To give Undercover Tourist credit, it does note that fact on its sales page.)
Universal Orlando: These Universal Orlando tickets are prices up to $10 off the prices for multi-day tickets available on the Universal Orlando website.
Disneyland: Not currently available.
What's your favorite sources for buying theme park tickets? Tell us in the comments whom we should be using... or whom we should be avoiding when we want to find the best deals on theme park tickets.
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