We've long warned bargain-hunting theme park fans that a deal that looks too good to be true probably is. Don't bother looking for discounted theme park tickets on Craigslist and other online communities. Your best bet is to buy your tickets directly from the parks or authorized resellers. (A bit on that in a moment.)
Why should you avoid buying Disney or other theme park tickets from someone else? Because there's just too much risk that the tickets you buy won't work. Here's the latest case.
The California Highway Patrol is investigating the theft of 8,000 Disneyland tickets in the Sacramento area this week. The tickets were stolen from a Future Farmers of America parking lot and had been intended for people attending an FFA leadership conference in Anaheim this weekend, local media reported.
Disneyland has cancelled the tickets and issued replacements, authorities said. But that might not stop whoever stole the tickets from trying to make quite a few bucks by selling them. After all, these are going to look like legitimate Disneyland tickets because, up until Disney cancelled them, they were legit Disney tickets.
That's why you can't trust the "look" test when buying Disney or other theme park tickets from anyone other than the park or an authorized retailer. Multiday Disney and Universal tickets are associated with the original user's finger scan or photo the first time they go through the gate. Those tickets cannot be used by anyone else for their unused days. Unused days on legit theme park tickets also often expire after a certain amount of time, too. And even legit tickets can be cancelled by the park, as we see in this case.
So where can you safely buy discounted theme park tickets? We recently surveyed our readers, and in addition to buying tickets directly from theme parks' official websites (where many parks offer advance-purchase discounts), our readers recommend checking with your local AAA or CAA auto club, Costco, your employer's human resources department, or going to official online resellers such as Visit Orlando and Undercover Tourist.
Because the last thing you want on a theme park vacation is to get stopped at the gate and hauled into a police investigation.Tweet
The only way to be sure is to call Disney and give them the info on the ticket. Of course, do that BEFORE paying good money for the tickets!
Robert didn't mention hotels but that's another option. The La Quinta facility across the highway from Kings Dominion was offering discount tickets to the park last weekend and although I didn't need any, having a Cedar Fair platinum pass, I have no doubt that they are legitimate. I've seen tickets to theme parks offered at other hotels where I've stayed. This option is obviously viable for only those who don't mind waiting until the last minute to get tickets.
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The counterfeit ticket market is as serious in the theme park business as it is in the sports business. It's really sad, but the advances in printing technology and the ease/convenience of electronic transactions make "scalping" a very lucrative venture. Immoral people have no issue taking advantage of families and foreigners trying to save some money, and yet it's those "victims" that are treated like criminals at the entry gate, not the thieves selling fake tickets and passes.
We were in Boston a couple of weeks ago for the NCAA Men's Basketball Regional Final between Villanova and Texas Tech, and even the tickets we received directly from an event sponsor came up initially as invalid at the turnstile. We had to go back and forth to the box office twice before the system finally recognized the tickets as legitimate (and even then the message given to the ticket taker on their scanning device was to "proceed with caution"). While standing at the box office trying to sort out our ticket problem, we noticed a family of four decked out in 'Nova gear with the mom drenched in tears learning that the tickets they bought on the street (and probably spent hundreds of dollars for) were fakes even when they had holograms and were printed on legitimate-looking card stock. It's really sad that there are so many unscrupulous people out there taking advantage of people like this, but they're out there, and sometimes trying to save a few bucks (or paying whatever it takes to get into a sold out event), can cause great dismay and embarrassment. Caveat emptor!!