Theme Park Insider

Where Do You Buy Discount Theme Park Tickets?

January 27, 2015, 9:22 PM · 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.

Theme park tickets

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.

AAA

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.

aResTravel

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.

Kijubi

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

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.

Undercover Tourist

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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Replies (14)

January 28, 2015 at 3:23 AM · 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.
January 28, 2015 at 7:28 AM · 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.

I asked my HR supervisor to look into Tickets at Work.

January 28, 2015 at 8:29 AM · 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.

We have used Undercover Tourist before, and find them to be very good. It's also important to hedge your costs be purchasing early in the year before price increases kick in. If you're planning a trip within 8-12 months of an announced price increase, it's worth seeking out the discounters before the price increases trickle down to them (usually less than a month).

It's also worth keeping up with the discounts from the parks themselves. Universal used to do sales all the time (not so much anymore with WWoHP), and depending upon what you're doing, it might be cheaper to just buy from the park with a promotion. For instance, my HHN Stay and Scream Ticket last October was purchased directly from the ticket booth, because the cost of a Stay and Scream add-on to my already purchased multi-day pass from the Pentagon was cheaper than buying a separate HHN day from any other source.

On our most recent trip to Southern Californa, we had considered the City Pass, which grants access to DL, DCA, USH, and SW (and other attractions like Legoland and the SD Zoo I believe) for one price. However, since we already have Platinum passes for Sea World Parks, the City Pass did not make sense for us at the time.

The Orlando Flex Ticket can also be a good deal for admissions other than WDW. Again those with annual passes to any of the parks included may not find the Flex Ticket a very good deal, and may not be a good deal if you're not going to spend 4-5 days amongst the participating parks.

January 28, 2015 at 8:32 AM · 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.
For Disneyland, discounts are harder to find, but the best deal I found was parksavers.com, better than AAA was offering at the time.
One other thing to remember, pay attention to whether the totals include taxes our not. That can be misleading when some sites show the total including taxes, others don't until you check out.
January 28, 2015 at 8:44 AM · 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.

Since Disney doesn't offer much discounts at all in the high season, it is wiser to visit the other theme parks in the summer and fall.

January 28, 2015 at 9:24 AM · 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.
January 28, 2015 at 11:08 AM · Tickets at Work / Lifecare is offered through my (very large) employer. Good deals year round.
January 28, 2015 at 12:38 PM · 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.

Since most of my travel outside of Southern California has been done as part of a group trip, I haven't looked too much into other discount options. However, for travel to Six Flags or Cedar Fair parks your best discount is likely a season pass. Unlike Disney passes, if you visit one of these parks twice you'll usually pay off the pass (Cedar Fair's Platinum Pass takes a bit longer). However, if you're visiting several parks in the chain it won't take long to hit that point.

January 28, 2015 at 3:11 PM · 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.
For smaller parks, always check their website for a coupon or information on where to get one (many have ticket deals with local grocery stores or restaurants). If you don't see anything, call Guest Services- they're usually happy to help!
January 29, 2015 at 11:40 AM · 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).
January 29, 2015 at 5:04 PM · 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
January 30, 2015 at 4:34 PM · 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.
February 1, 2015 at 7:47 AM · If you're eligible, Shades of Green MWR sells the cheapest tickets.
February 3, 2015 at 2:47 PM · Costco, Sam's Club & Southern California City Pass!

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