Theme Park Insider

Where to find discounted theme park tickets

January 23, 2017, 12:12 AM · Most long-time theme park fans have a "go to" place where they buy their theme park tickets. But if you're new to theme parks such as Walt Disney World, Disneyland, or Universal — or don't visit them very often — you're probably wondering where to find the best deals on admission. As with many consumer products, there's no one right answer. You'll need to shop around.

But if there is no single correct answer for where to buy cheap theme park tickets, there are many very wrong answers. Don't wait to buy your tickets at the front gate. You'll get the worst possible price there, with no chance for a discount. And worse, you will waste valuable time waiting and buying tickets when you could be going straight to the rides before the lines get long. Also... don't buy second-hand tickets on eBay or Craigslist. Fake tickets litter those websites. In addition, most major parks use finger scans or photos to associate tickets with a single user, so you cannot use someone else's unused days on even a legitimate ticket.

So where should you look? Start with the parks' official websites, along with authorized resellers. We've listed those choices below. Keep in mind that Disney and Universal now charge different prices for their one-day theme park tickets on different days of the year, making shopping around in advance even more important than before.

Decide which parks you want to visit, then start with their official sites to see which types of tickets they sell and what the baseline prices are. Then visit the resellers to see if you can find a better deal. Keep in mind that major resorts such as Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando offer vacation packages that include theme park tickets and hotel rooms. They can provide great value, but if you're on a tight budget, staying at an off-site hotel and skipping the official packages almost always gets you a lower total price, though you'll have to go without perks like extended park hours and on-site convenience.

Walt Disney World, Disneyland, and Universal Orlando each offer multiple theme parks in their resorts, so you will have the option to buy "Park Hopper" (Disney's term) or "Park to Park" tickets (Universal's term) at those resorts. Those allow you to visit all the resort's parks on a given day, as opposed to visiting one of the parks on each day. For first-time visitors, especially to the sprawling Walt Disney World Resort, you're probably better off skipping the Park Hopper option until you have the experience to make the most of it. But at Universal Orlando, you will have to buy the Park to Park option to ride the resort's popular Hogwarts Express ride, which travels between the two parks. If you're not a big Harry Potter fan, though, skip it.

If you live in Florida or Southern California, you can get local resident discounts on tickets and annual passes. And if you buy an annual pass to a Six Flags theme park, you can use that pass for admission at any other Six Flags park, too. Cedar Fair and SeaWorld/Busch Gardens parks offer annual pass levels with that same perk for the other parks in their chains, as well. Depending upon the park, buying an annual pass might be a better deal than buying even two one-day tickets in the same season. So, again, look at all your options before buying.

Here's where to look, including official park websites plus authorized resellers aRestravel, KGS Tickets, Recreation Connection, and Undercover Tourist:

Walt Disney World

Disneyland

Universal Orlando

Universal Studios Hollywood

For other theme parks

You also can often find discounted tickets at your local Costco or Sam's Club warehouse store. Members of the armed forces also can obtain discounts through your local ITT office.

If you are a member of AAA, ask your local office about discounted theme park tickets, too. Visit your local auto club's website to start, or follow this link to the Southern California AAA's attraction discount page.

If you are visiting the Southern California theme parks, the Southern California CityPASS includes admission to Disneyland, Disney California, Adventure, Legoland California, and SeaWorld San Diego. It might end up being a better deal than buying tickets to each park individually, depending upon your plans.

Finally, during the spring and summer, actually pay attention to local ads, as many regional theme parks offer discounts for bringing specially marked soda cans or coupons from local fast food chains. Signing up for parks' email lists and following them on social media can get you news about their last-minute discounts, as well. Follow the links above to get started.

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Replies (10)

January 23, 2017 at 2:23 AM · Two years ago we decided to go to Universal Orlando 2 years in a row. If we planned the last day of our second trip before the end of that year we where paying significantly less. ALso one of the tickets we bought with parking what was a significant save on parking. We ended up getting 3 months extra due to a promotion (same one is going on right now) so we were even more flexible. We also got a great discount on food and souvenirs. So depending on your situation it may be much cheaper.
January 23, 2017 at 9:26 AM · Many insiders know that business clients of Disney and Universal are not paying the same rates as the public on theme park tickets. Please note that doesn't mean they pay nothing. Their profit margins on park tickets are often slim to moderate and their real profits come from air, hotel, and car rental bookings.

So if you have to buy more than park tickets (hotel, air, rental etc...) you have the potential to save more.. but that's a only potential.

January 23, 2017 at 9:30 AM · Lots of discounts in the Winter before Spring break, which is only 3 months away, and in early May. Enjoy it while you can.
January 23, 2017 at 10:14 AM · I would tell everyone that Sams Club has amazing deals on theme park tickets for Universal, Sea World, Busch Gardens, & Disneyland. But Sams Club shut down their travel website for some unknown reason.
January 23, 2017 at 10:14 AM · If you're a member of the military or you work for the DoD, the Morale, Welfare, and Recreation organization on base usually has discounted tickets that can save you a fair amount of money.

There are also the "Salute to the Military" type of promotions at the various parks where active duty military can get a free one-day pass to the parks. I don't know if any of these are active right now, but in the past, several of my co-workers got free days at Busch Gardens and Six Flags.

January 23, 2017 at 11:08 AM · Just wait outside Universal for a hairy knuckled dude named Vito - Tell him "the Monkey sent you" and he will give you the insiders discount on Tickets.. oh, But he is only there on the 30th of February each year...

How about going to one of those 6 hour time share presentation for "Free tickets".....
January 23, 2017 at 11:42 AM · Last Minute Travel is the place to go. You can find free 1 year membership codes online. I got my Disneyland tickets there last fall so I know they are legit. I just checked prices for an Orlando trip this October and they were more than $200 cheaper for a family of 4 for 2 days Universal and 4 days Disney than the Undercover Tourist discount!
January 23, 2017 at 12:47 PM · Look up what times of the year are the least crowded for whatever park you're visiting. In addition too shorter lines and such, I usually find that discounted ticket prices are easiest to find during that time.


January 23, 2017 at 1:24 PM · The theme park tickets at the time share presentations are only "free" if you do not value your time.

Do not go into one of those sales offices thinking you will get out quickly. It will take all day to get the tickets, and the sell will be *VERY* hard, especially at Westgate.

Watch "The Queen of Versailles" on Netflix. Someone's gotta pay for that house.

January 25, 2017 at 11:49 PM · 1 Year Membership Codes??

And this aaa.com Link always makes me angry - just Advertising - not ANY Ticket!

And every time this Artikle just cover the Chains! What is with all those smaller Parks?

It should be mentioned that Tickets many times at those smaller Parks are cheaper during a special sell around Christmas or Black Friday! For that this Artikle comes to late!

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