Where Do You Buy Discount Theme Park Tickets?
You can't tell anyone that you cover theme parks for a living without being asked: "How do I get cheap tickets for Disney World?" (Or Disneyland, if you're talking with someone on the west coast.) People have been conditioned by hotels and airlines never to pay the "full price" and always to look for discounts. But theme parks don't change their prices from customer to customer like hotels and airlines do.
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.
Links to theme parks' online tickets:
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.
Disneyland: Recreation Connection sells one park per day and Park Hopper tickets to Disneyland, at prices $8-29 off the gate price of those multi-day tickets.
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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If you're a member of Sam's Club, you can get huge discounts at Universal Studios, Wet & Wild, Legoland Orlando, Busch Gardens Tampa and other top attractions around Orlando just not Disney. Sam's Club travel has Universal Studios Orlando tickets priced at $168 for 2 Day w/ 3rd Day free. Legoland tickets at $57, Seaworld, Busch Gardens Tampa, & Aquatica tickets listed at $98. I'm gonna buy the tickets this Friday because I'm heading down to Orlando next week.
I usually get our tickets from Undercover Tourist. The discounts are good and the customer service is awesome. One time I had tickets shipped to a different address. Their customer service called me to verify that I authorized the purchase. THEN they upgraded my shipping for free because they felt they had delayed the delivery because of it.
We get ours from the Department of Defense (Pentagon) since my wife works as a contractor for a DoD agency. I believe most people with some sort of military connection can purchase the discount tickets, and it's not limited to those living in the DC area with Pentagon access.
I agree on Undercover Tourist, their customer service is great, I've bought WDW tickets a bunch of times from them. They don't have Disneyland, but they had a great deal for the Disneyland express to get there from the airport.
Never forget the discounts that Disney offers itself. Currently, the Southern California Residents Discount is good till May. The Halloween Party is such a good deal and cheaper than a day pass.
Russell's point about looking for park promotions is well taken. Six Flags was running a promotion over the Labor Day weekend whereby the cost of a season pass with parking was only about $65 per person after tax if a minimum of 2 season passes were purchased - so a friend and I jumped on it. (Six Flags offered the same deal several months later.) B/c I visit Six Flags parks about 15 times per season, that works out to $4.33 per visit. I couldn't ask for a better deal, especially with the cost of parking alone ranging from $20 to $22 depending upon which park you visit. Also, I find that the holidays are a good time to find park promotions.
Tickets at Work / Lifecare is offered through my (very large) employer. Good deals year round.
I'm a member of Club TPR mainly because they offer some great discounts. It costs $40 a year, but you can get discounts on many parks in the USA and around the world. They do not offer Disney discounts, but for every other park chain there's usually a pretty good price break. For example, I've gotten a three-day pass (three days over one year) to USH for about $80 and I've gotten tickets to Six Flags and Cedar Fair parks for under $30. There are even a handful of parks (mostly small parks) that offer free admission to club members.
All of the above suggestions are great ways to save at the big parks. We love to buy season passes for chains like 6 Flags or Cedar Fair, since there are versions that you can use all across the US and Canada.
I use either The Official Ticket Center or the UK WDW Tickets (14 days unlimited with Hopper and water parks for less than a 10 days equivalent).
AAA does offer discounted tickets to Walt Disney World you just need to purchase more than 3 days at the park to receive a discount. -Disney obsessed AAA Oregon employee
I use Undercover Tourist. They have been great. I've also signed up for Mousesavers newsletters and you get an additional discount on the Undercover Tourist tickets. It's only a few dollars but still a deal.
If you're eligible, Shades of Green MWR sells the cheapest tickets.
Costco, Sam's Club & Southern California City Pass!
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