Disney World Tickets 201: Don’t Let This Happen to You

Walt Disney World - March 2010http://www.flickr.com/photos/beleaveme/4420736670/

Last week I wrote about Disney’s Magic Your Way ticket options, and shared some of the ways that you can choose to create the right Disney park ticket for your vacation. This week I wanted to touch on a related…and no less important topic: actually buying your tickets and how to make sure you protect yourself in the process.

This topic really touches a nerve with me because nearly every day I read about someone who got ripped off trying to save money buying Disney tickets somewhere…only to find out that the tickets they bought were worthless. What a less-than-magical way to start a vacation…to say nothing of the money that was lost buying supposedly “discount Disney tickets” that were not valid. It’s sad….but unfortunately people just don’t know…and so they get taken advantage of.

I love talking about ways to save money on a Disney vacation, and I will tell you where you can save money. There are ways to save money on Disney tickets…and there are also places you need to steer clear of. I’ve written about this in the past, but it’s SUCH an important topic, I’m going to revisit it again today.

Buy From a Travel Agent or From Disney

It may seem obvious, but this is always where to start. Disney periodically offers packages that include tickets, and sometimes meals too…and you need to start by comparing what you would pay for a package vs. buying everything separately. In the past, for example, Disney has had a “Kids Stay and Play Free” offer that could be quite a savings for a family, especially with a number of children that received tickets at no cost. Ask your travel agent about current promotions, and for advice with choosing the right ticket for your family. You can also order your tickets from the Disney website in advance, if you already know what you want. The most important thing here is never wait and buy them at the gate: Disney tickets cost more at the gate! Buy them online in advance, and if there is not enough time for them to be sent to you, you can pick them up at Will Call when you get to Disney.

Buy From a Reputable Ticket Agency

Authorized ticket brokers are able to sell tickets for less money than gate prices because they buy tickets in bulk from each attraction and theme park, and these large quantities enable them to receive discounts which they then pass on to their customers. An authorized Disney ticket agency will display the Disney logo and the “authorized ticket agent” designation.

In addition, check to see if the business belongs to the local Chamber of Commerce or the Better Business Bureau, as this is a good indication of the company’s standing in the community. It’s also worth it to see that they have been in business for at least several years.

“If it Looks Too Good to be True…..”

They key to saving money on Disney tickets is frankly to remember what your mother always told you: “If it looks too good to be true, it probably is.” So when doing your research, know that you will find websites with prices that are lower than the gate prices at Disney…but use some caution: if they are so low they are unbelievable, you should assume that it’s a scam. You can also take a look at the URL on the website: many scams originate in Romania (you will see an .ro at the end of the URL), where they will usually request that you pay by wire transfer, which is a huge red flag. Always buy discount Walt Disney World tickets with a credit card, so that you can get your money back if there is any problem.

Do You Really Want to Sit Through a Timeshare Presentation?

A standard way that many ticket brokers provide tickets for practically nothing is to require the buyer to sit through a lengthy timeshare presentation first. Be sure to read the fine print at the bottom of the website where it will disclose if they are soliciting for timeshares. It’s certainly not a problem if they are, nor is it a problem if that’s something you want to do…just make certain you know upfront before you commit.

Never Buy From Craigslist and eBay

Anyone who is familiar with Craigslist or eBay will know that really cheap Disney theme park tickets are available on these sites on a regular basis. But buyer beware! The problem with buying discount Walt Disney World tickets from eBay or Craiglist is that there is literally no way that you can be certain that you will get tickets that are valid…until you get to the park gate and try to use them. Only once the ticket is scanned at the turnstile, will you know how many days, if any, are on your tickets.

Sadly, there are many con artists on eBay and Craigslist who are supposedly selling Disney tickets for less. And even if you, in good faith, get a “partially used” park pass, since Disney tickets are non-transferable (and Disney enforces this through a biometric finger scan), you would not be able use it, since it is illegal in the state of Florida to re-sell partially used multi-day admission tickets.

And Once You Have Your Tickets…

Have you ever thought about what would happen on your vacation if you lost your tickets? Think it won’t happen to you? Think again…it happens all the time, and I can’t think of many things that would ruin a vacation quicker than to spend hundreds of dollars on theme park tickets…only to lose them! Happily, there is one very simple way to make sure that your vacation is not ruined by lost theme park tickets: make a copy of the back of them.

The back side, with the magnetic strip, has coded information with all the details of your personal ticket. All these numbers, letters, and dates will actually help Disney replace the tickets if you lose them. And while the tickets do say “Disney is not responsible for misplaced, lost, or stolen tickets”, in all likelihood, if you can provide the coded information, they will usually re-issue the pass.

Alternate ideas for saving this valuable coded information include taking a photo of the backs, either with a digital camera or cell phone. By doing this, if you lose the tickets while at the park, you will have immediate access to the codes on your camera or cell phone.

It is important to note that receipts that you receive from ticket brokers, while important, will not help in getting your tickets replaced. You must have the codes from the back of your passes. For my family, I generally copy the tickets the minute we receive them.

Part of planning an affordable Disney vacation is saving money and planning to get the most for that money while you are there. Another equally important element, in my opinion, is to protect the vacation investment that you are making. When it comes to your Disney park tickets, shop smart, buy smart, and take two minutes to make copies so that you don’t have any unexpected and unwelcome ticket surprises when you get to the Disney parks.

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