What is the best way to find cheap tickets to Disney, Universal Studios, and other theme parks?
With prices for one-day tickets costing more than $100 for many top parks, a day at places such as Walt Disney World might seem too expensive. But almost no one pays that much money for each day they spend in the parks. With discounts, multi-day tickets, and annual passes, you can enjoy a day at Disney, Universal, Six Flags, or any other theme park for much, much less.
How do can you find discounts and deals on theme park tickets? Just follow these steps!
Price tickets in advance, online
Walt Disney World, Universal Orlando, Disneyland, and Universal Studios Hollywood all charge different prices for one-day tickets on different days — based on what they expect attendance to be at their parks. More expensive tickets = more crowded days. That means you can use the parks' online ticket stores as free crowd calendars, telling you when the parks will be busiest.
Universal, Six Flags, and the Cedar Fair amusement parks also give you discounts for buying your tickets in advance through their websites. Always start with the park's official website to price tickets for the days you wish to visit. That will be your baseline to compare as you look for tickets from other sources. (Be sure to look for local resident deals on the website if you live close to the park, too!)
Disney Parks' online ticket stores:
Consider annual passes
Parks don't sell just one-day tickets. They also sell a variety of multi-day and season-long passes. If you are planning to visit a park for more than one day in a year, you almost always will find a better deal than buying one-day tickets. Parks want you to extend your stay, so they price tickets so that the daily cost of getting in to the park decreases with the more days you buy.
Seasonal and annual passes typically also include discounts on in-park purchases, such as food, merchandise and even parking. Theme parks also might bundle dining plan and front-of-line pass discount options with their annual passes. If you are a big eater, or have limited time in a park, you might find value in upgrading to a dining plan or a front-of-line option. But if you are looking for the lowest possible price to visit, skip those and bring a snack and plan to wait in the lines.
Six Flags' season passes also are valid for all parks in the Six Flags chain. So if you are planning to visit more than one Six Flags park in a year, definitely go with a season pass option. You can get admission to all Cedar Fair parks with a Platinum pass from any of its parks. And the SeaWorld/Busch Gardens parks offer admission to all of their properties with a Premium Membership from any of their parks, too.
The ultimate theme park annual pass is Disney's Premier Passport, which includes 365 days of admission and a slew of discounts at all the Walt Disney World and Disneyland theme parks. But it is pricey — setting you back $1,579, plus tax.
Check with authorized resellers
Now that you know what the park will charge you for tickets, it's time to look for a better deal. Our readers recommend Undercover Tourist as the best source for discounted theme park tickets. They also recommend checking VisitOrlando, the website of the official tourism association for Orlando, if you will be visiting the world's theme park capital. Finally, you might check with your local AAA/CAA auto club to see if they offer discounted tickets, as well.
Each of these are authorized resellers, offering legitimate tickets from the parks themselves. Fake or invalid tickets abound for sale online and in roadside stands outside the parks, so stick with the authorized resellers or the parks' official websites. Never buy tickets on Craigslist or eBay!
Theme parks use photos and finger scans to associate multi-day tickets and passes to their original user, so unused days on tickets cannot be used by anyone else. And parks track their inventory rigorously. Stolen tickets are often immediately canceled and duplicate tickets simply won't work. Don't waste money on deals that seem too good to be true. They are.
Follow the parks on social media
Now that you know the going rate for tickets from the parks and from authorized resellers, there's one more step to take before you commit and buy your tickets. Follow your favorite theme parks on Twitter and Facebook to see if they announce any additional discounts to their fans.
Regional theme parks often offer deals with Coke cans and fast food restaurants that might be cheaper than their best online prices. Disney and Universal almost never offer lower prices than you can find online, but they do use their social media accounts to announce ticket sales for special events, such as their Halloween parties, and on vacation packages.
Official theme park social media accounts:
Once you have all this information, then you can rest easy knowing that you have really have found what truly is the best deal and the best discount for you and your family. Have a great visit!Tweet
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