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Epcot Walkway

Epcot Walkway

Top 5 Disney Vacation Complaints and How to Avoid Them: Part 4 Understanding Ticket Options & Admission
If you missed Part 1 about FastPass+.
Please check it out here: http://wp.me/p1RJwY-gT

If you missed Part 2 about Disney Food Expectations.
Please check it out here: http://wp.me/p1RJwY-hg

If you missed Part 3 about Advanced Dining Reservations.
Please check it out here: http://wp.me/p1RJwY-hB

Continuing on my 5 part series…

Introduction…

After spending a considerable amount of time on identifying and tackling these top 5 Disney complaints, I have decided to split this into 5 parts, a 5 post series.

What are the biggies? I’ve selected five major points that come up repeatedly: FastPass+, Disney Food Expectations, Advanced Dining Reservations, Understanding Ticket Options & Admission, and Theft.

Chances are you have heard or read negative feedback about Disney at one time or another. Possibly you have left a negative review about Disney at some point in your life. Sometimes the complaints can be totally justified, and I get that; unfortunately, those situations are not in your control, believe me, I’ve been there too and it sucks (cough…Magic Bands).

Simply put, there seems to be two types of complaints a) situations that are out of your control b) situations that are within your control. I’ve read so many complaints and they usually fall into these two categories. After reading so many “b” type complaints, you can’t help but wonder how some people ended up having such a bad time or what planet are they living on? Especially when the things they are complaining about are aspects that are practically 100% in their control! With a little research, forethought, and planning, some of the problems, confusion, unrealistic expectations can be avoided.

Have you ever heard the phrase “Know before you go”? I’m sure you have. You need to remember that and you will end up having a much better time if you live by that motto. Some people refuse to take any responsibility for their crappy time, and blame Disney for not magically whisking them away on a non-stop fantastic vacation. They see the commercials on TV and think that magic just happens, and that it’s included in the price of their vacation. It’s not. You have to do it yourself. You have to do the planning and legwork.

Part 4: Understanding Ticket Options & Admission

4) Understanding Ticket Options & Admission

There are lots of complaints about Park Hopping, Ticket Expiration, Block Out Dates, Special Event Tickets, Pricing. A lot of anger and confusion seems to come from not understanding what you are buying, ticket wise. Disney offers so many different options for admission, it could be confusing to some people, especially if you don’t know what you are buying or what you even want ahead of time. There are One Day – One Park tickets, Multi-day (2-10 days – One Park) tickets, and Annual Passes or varying types. Disney just recently phased out the No Expiration option, they are no longer offering it. Tickets and any options purchased must be used within 14 days of first use. There are also Special Event Tickets. If you want to do more than one park per day, you would have to add the Park Hopper option to the ticket, which is costly.

Before you travel you should be aware that the highest attendance are around the holidays, Christmas break, Spring break, and throughout summer. Most families don’t have a choice about when to visit, all families are usually stuck with traveling during peak seasons due to school schedules. But, if don’t have kids, you may want to consider travelling in when schools are in session. The parks are still crowded, but less so.

Special Events Require Special Tickets:
During some days of the year, Disney hosts special events. Special events have their own ticket pricing, tickets can be purchase online in advance. The major two events are Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party and Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, these two events occur during the months of September/October and November/December respectively. Special Events require special admission tickets. The park closes early on those days to general admission guests. At 7 pm on those nights, anyone without the special event ticket must leave the park.
One of the benefits of a Special Event ticket is that although the event starts at 7 pm, you can actually enter the park at 4 pm, which gives you 3 extra hours to enjoy the park. Not a bad perk if you ask me, especially considering that a special event ticket costs less than the one-day Magic Kingdom ticket ($105). For example, the Halloween and Christmas tickets run about $65-75 each, slightly less (I believe it’s about $4 off) if you qualify for annual passholder discount or DVC (Disney Vacation Club Member) discount. Also, if you are military, they offer a pretty sizable discount on the Halloween and Christmas events, I believe it’s in the $45 range.

Check the park schedules before you plan your trip or your schedule and make sure you don’t waste a general admission ticket at the park when they are closing early. The information is out there. If you are planning on attending a special event, buy your tickets in advance to avoid it getting sold out. Be aware that special event tickets are non-refundable. If you happen to get rained out, see Guest Relations if there is anything they can do to compensate you.

What is Park Hopping?
Park Hopping is when you go from one of the four parks to another park (let’s just leave the water parks out of this for the sake of simplicity). The four parks are Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Animal Kingdom, and Hollywood Studios.

If you go from Magic Kingdom to Epcot in the same day (or any combo) you would need a Park Hopper option on your ticket to enter the second park. If you don’t have that option and you have a multi-day ticket – Disney will want to use up a WHOLE DAY ADMISSION just to let you in the second park. That is not good. I have seen this happen so many times right at the gate. Gosh, and so many times I’ve heard the cast members explain this in Spanish. It must be so frustrating if you found out something like this at the gate. I know I would be angry and confused.

The best way to avoid this problem is to make sure you are dedicating to a whole day at the park you started with. Don’t make conflicting dining plans in multiple parks on the same day. If you plan ahead, you can decide whether or not you will need this option and plan accordingly, right now the Park Hopper option is an extra $64 per day per ticket. Ouch. If you did get the Park Hopper Option, then yes, by all means use that to your advantage and plan ahead to do things at those parks. Keep in mind, you can only do 3 FP+ selections at one park – choose wisely.

One Day Tickets:
A One-Day 1 Park pass is the worst value your money can buy. There are no discounts for this option. There is no park hopping. Also, the Magic Kingdom one day adult admission price ($105) is higher that the other parks ($97). So, you can’t buy an Epcot, Hollywood Studios, or Animal Kingdom ticket and use it at Magic Kingdom. The One-Day ticket is what I like to think of as the “once in a lifetime” ticket, you would only buy this type of ticket if you are only going to go once, for example, you are taking your Grandma or Grandpa for a special one day trip. You have some out-of-town relative who wants to see the park once in their lifetime. This isn’t the type of ticket a family wants to get, most families are planning a multiple day stay and will be looking at going to several parks or spending several days at Magic Kingdom. There are multi-day ticket options ranging from 2 – 10 days and they are a better value. If you plan an extended vacation or are planning 2 or more separate trips in one year, approximately 14 days or more, you might want to consider an Annual Pass.

Why is Magic Kingdom more expensive than the other parks, probably because it has the most live entertainment: including the opening Welcome Show, the barber shop quartet the Dapper Dans, a day parade the Festival of Fantasy, the Main Street Electrical Parade twice a day, plus all the Character Meet and Greets, and more. Magic Kingdom also added a Fantasyland Expansion and Storybook Circus overhaul: Be Our Guest restaurant, Journey Under the Sea ride, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, Gaston’s Tavern, twin Dumbo rides, etc.

Annual Passes:
Florida Residents can choose from a variety of annual passes. Complete information can be found at Disney’s website. Basically you can choose what level of pass you want. Epcot after 4pm pass – The Epcot after 4pm pass is only good at Epcot, you would have no access to any other park. The Week Day Select – all four parks, but only Monday through Friday and subject to additional block out dates. The Seasonal Pass – access to all four parks, but subject to block out dates. None of the passes I mentioned previously include parking. You have to pay additional for parking (unless you are currently staying at a Disney hotel and can show the parking attendant your hotel parking pass).

The remaining passes are the Annual Pass or the Premium Annual Pass, these don’t have block out dates and parking is included. Block out dates are there to keep the park attendance lower during peak times. Each year they block out Easter/Spring Break, Summer, and the Christmas Holidays including several dates around New Year.

Non-Florida Residents:
Annual park options are limited, you are able to choose from the Annual Pass or Premium Annual Pass. These can be worth the price if you are planning on spending more than 14 days in Disney theme parks during the year.

Ticket Scams:
Be careful where you purchase your tickets from. I would not recommend buying them through 3rd parties, just to save a few dollars you could be taking a risk and ruin your vacation completely.

I would recommend purchasing your tickets directly from Disney either online at the Disney website, in person at Guest Relations, or by phone with a Disney cast member. If you call by phone, you can ask about any special offers and talk to a Disney Cast Member to help figure out what might be your best options. Sometimes Disney offers incentives like Free Dining Plans with your hotel and ticket package. If Disney is offering Free Dining, that means you will be paying full rate for the hotel room, but they are comping you the dining offer. Some people prefer to look for Disney hotel discount offers or promotions, and then pay for food out of pocket.

The only other place I personally would consider would be AAA, but I don’t believe they offer much of a discount on Disney tickets, but perhaps you may be able to find a bundle deal with airfare and hotel. Most of our Disney friends are annual passholders and DVC members, so they purchase their airfare separately and use their passes for admission and DVC points for their hotel stay. So, I’m not sure how competitive their pricing is. Before you commit to purchasing any vacation package, make sure you know all the details of what is and what is not included.

Maintenance & Construction:

Please be advised that Disney is constantly doing maintenance and construction. At any given time throughout the year, there are going to be rides or attractions that may be down. There may be restaurant closures, sidewalk closures, major construction, attraction closures or removal, pool closures, and renovations throughout the parks, hotels, etc.

For approximately the last two years, Disney has been working on renovating and expanding Downtown Disney. It is a mess down there in Downtown Disney. It has been, and probably will be for the next two years.

Also, Disney is currently working on building the new Avatar land in Animal Kingdom theme park. For example, Disney recently removed the Sorcerer’s Hat from Hollywood Studios, with very little advanced notice.

Your ticket prices will not be discounted and you will not be compensated in any way. If you are unhappy about maintenance and construction, then you need to check ahead of time and find out if you will be effected by anything going on.  These things are a normal part of Disney operations.  Most construction and maintenance effecting the parks is notated online with applicable dates next to the items being effected. If you have questions about closures, you can always contact a cast member by phone at WDW for more information.

Hollywood Studios Entrance Sign

Hollywood Studios Entrance Sign

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