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Disney Parks: Season Passes Versus Daily Tickets

English: Epcot Spaceship Earth Walt Disney Wor...

English: Epcot Spaceship Earth Walt Disney World Orlando 2010 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If you’re a regular visitor to Walt Disney World in Orlando, you’ve probably shelled out a pretty penny for Disney park tickets. For all the family fun and Disney magic, Disney theme parks can be well worth the price of admission. But repeat visits can become a strain on the family budget. What’s the best and most affordable way to enjoy repeat visits?

Disney park tickets in Orlando start at $75 for a one-day pass ($63 for kids under 9). That gets you admission to one theme park. For example, you could spend the day either at Epcot or at the Magic Kingdom, or at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, or at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, but not visit more than one. Park-hopper Disney park tickets, which allow you to go to any or all of the four main theme parks, cost an additional $50 per ticket. If you want to add the water parks, it’ll be yet another $50 per ticket. That’s for a one-day visit.

There is relief for those planning a longer trip. The more days of admission you buy, the less expensive your Disney park tickets will be. A ten-day ticket costs only $24 per day for an adult, and $20 for a child under nine. The park-hopper and water park options will only add $10 per day to the total cost. It sounds so much more affordable, although at about $300 per person, you’re talking about spending more than a thousand dollars for Disney park tickets for a family of four. That can be the smartest option for families traveling from afar, who plan to spend your whole vacation at Disney World.

Some visitors, however, like to make repeat visits. Instead of one long, multi-day trip, they prefer to visit a Disney park once a month, or once every two weeks. Maybe you live in the Orlando area, or travel there often. It could become financially onerous to pay $75 per person for Disney park tickets if you’re doing it several times a year.

For those regular Disney park-goers, there is another option: the season pass. The basic annual pass goes for $469 ($414 for children under 9). This gets you same-day admission to all four major theme parks at Disney World. The premium pass also includes admissions to the water parks and golf course, and costs $599 ($528 for kids under nine). If you consider that regular one-day Disney park tickets, without the park-hopper option or the water park option, cost $75, that means that your annual pass will pay for itself in about eight visits. That’s not including the park-hopping and the other attractions, which are effectively free!

For most Disney visitors, the standard single or multi-day Disney park tickets make the most sense, keeping in mind that the longer the visit, the lower the cost-per-day. But if you’re a frequent Disney World guest planning to visit more than 7 or 8 times in a year, your only sensible option is the annual pass.