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Mike Scopa

Magic Your Way 101

Navigating the maze of Walt Disney World's new ticketing system

Friday, February 4, 2005
by Mike Scopa, staff writer

It's been a month or so since the new Magic Your Way ticket program was introduced and it might be a good time to take a closer look at this program. In this session, let's look closely into the basic components of the program and discover what components and combinations work best for you.

If you are planning a trip to Walt Disney World this year but have yet to purchase your tickets, this session can help you decide exactly what you need and hopefully make the most out of your money.

Let's look at the Magic Your Way tickets and options. They are pretty simple.

Base Ticket

The base ticket gives you admission to any one of the four Walt Disney World theme parks for each day of the ticket. The last time I looked, you could purchase from one to seven days on a ticket, as well as a 10-day ticket. It's important to remember that this base ticket is for one park per day and expires 14 days after the first day of use.

Park Hopper Option

This add-on option changes the base ticket into a park hopper ticket so you can enjoy all four theme parks for every day of the ticket. The 14-day expiration still exists. The cost is a flat fee of $37.28 (includes tax) regardless of how many days your ticket is good for.

Magic Plus Pack Option

Here's a big one. This option gives the guest a certain number of Plus visits to Typhoon Lagoon, Blizzard Beach, Pleasure Island, Disney Quest and Disney's Wide World of Sports. The number of Plus visits depends upon the length of the ticket. Guests receive:

  • Two Plus visits for 1-, 2-, or 3-day tickets
  • Three Plus visits for 4- and 5-day tickets
  • Four Plus visits for a 6-day ticket
  • Five Plus visits for 7- and 10-day tickets

The cost for the Plus option is a flat fee of $47.93.

No-Expiration Option

This option removes the 14-day expiration so that unused days never expire. The cost ranges from $10.65 for a 2-3 day ticket to $106.50 for a 10-day ticket.

Magic Your Way Premium Ticket

This is a base ticket with combination of Park Hopper and Magic Plus Pack Options. It does not include the no-expiration option. The cost is a flat rate of $82.50.

See? It's pretty simple. At least that part. “Base Hopper Plus No Expiration Premium.” The table below lists the most likely combinations of base ticket and options. The prices listed, as always, are subject to change. All prices include taxes.

Table 1: Price breakdown of ticket prices for various options.

Magic Your Way Base Ticket

 

1 Day

2 Day

3 Day

4 Day

5 Day

6 Day

7 Day

8 Day

9 Day

10 Day

Adult

$63.63

$126.74

$182.12

$197.03

$205.55

$208.74

$211.94

NA

NA

$221.52

Child

$51.12

$102.24

$145.91

$157.62

$165.08

$167.21

$170.40

NA

NA

$177.86

Base Ticket with Park-Hopper Option

Adult

$100.91

$164.01

$219.39

$234.30

$235.36

$236.43

$237.50

NA

NA

$247.08

Child

$88.40

$139.52

$183.18

$194.90

$195.96

$197.03

$198.10

NA

NA

$205.55

Base Ticket with Park-Hopper and No-Expiration Options

Adult

NA

$174.67

$230.05

$250.29

$280.11

$293.95

$307.80

NA

NA

$365.30

Child

NA

$150.17

$193.84

$210.88

$239.64

$252.42

$266.26

NA

NA

$321.64

Base Ticket with Park-Hopper, Magic Plus Pack, and No-Expiration Options

Adult

$148.84

$222.60

$277.98

$298.22

$328.04

$341.88

$355.73

NA

NA

$413.23

Child

$136.33

$198.10

$241.77

$258.81

$287.57

$300.35

$314.19

NA

NA

$369.57

Adult tickets are valid for persons age 10 and over. Child tickets are valid for children ages 3-9.

After I put this table together, I came to the conclusion that most of the time I personally would use only that portion that contains the base ticket and park hopper combos. That works for me because I have never left Orlando with unused days on my ticket and I rarely would have use for the Plus visits.

So my 10-day Park Hopper pass would cost me $247.08 or just under $25 per day for admission into the parks.

Of course that is best for me. What would be best for you?

For better or for worse

That seems to be on everyone's mind. Is this new ticket program better or worse than its predecessor? The answer is yes. Erhh. I mean no. Ahh. I mean sort of.

Time out. We need to talk.

This program offers guests flexibility in their ticket selection and also rewards those guests who elect to plan for an extended stay.

The flexibility of customizing tickets (to a point) allows guests to make some serious decisions on exactly what their admission needs are and more than ever will help them determine how best to use their admission budget.

If you look at the table above and do a cost-per-day comparison, you see how Disney is rewarding guests for staying longer. If you look at the bottom section of the table with the Base Ticket with Park Hopper, Magic Plus Pack, and No Expiration Options section you can see how the cost per day goes down as the length of stay goes up.

Table 2: Price comparison between length of stay and cost per day.

Length of Stay

3 Days

5 Days

7 Days

10 Days

Cost Per Day

$92.66

$65.60

$50.82

$41.32

You could almost say that for shorter trips the cost per day is prohibitive, while the cost per day for longer trips is quite palatable. That's what the brains behind this program want you to think. There is no doubt that Disney wants to convince guests to stay longer, and this program promotes the notion that the longer a guest stays the lower the cost per day.

This is true. However when it comes to a WDW vacation, it's not the cost per day that most guests look at, but cost per vacation.

A family of four (children over 10) would pay over $1,300 for 5-day tickets with the Park-Hopper, Magic Plus Pack, and No-Expiration options, with the pricetag exceeding $1,600 for 7-day tickets. Sure, the cost per day for admission is lower, but there is the matter of lodging and food. I'm sure those two expenses do not drop with extra days.

OK, I'm not saying this new ticket program is bad for guests. But what I am saying is that you have to put some thought into how to make the best of it for you. So let's put on our thinking caps and get right to it.

Plan, plan, and plan some more

With the Magic Your Way ticket plan and options it is more important than ever to take a look at your WDW vacation plans as closely as possible and have a clear understanding of your theme park and “Plus” touring habits.

Ask yourself these questions before deciding with Magic Your Way ticket and options to purchase:

How many days will I visit the theme parks? This may seem like an easy question but if you are throwing in visits to other Central Florida attractions like Sea World and Universal Studios it can get complicated. I say this because many guests who stay on the WDW property may visit these non-Disney parks during the day but then flock to a Disney park at night. Remember, as soon as you go through a Disney theme park turnstile you are using one full day on your ticket.

How many times during my stay will I visit places like… Typhoon Lagoon, Blizzard Beach, Pleasure Island, Disney Quest, and Disney's Wide World of Sports? If you are a big fan of these places then the Plus Pack Option should very well be in you plans. However, if you are planning to visit only one of these places then you are better off not buying the Plus Pack option and instead purchasing a separate admission.

Should I buy the No-Expiration option? This should be easy to answer but let's think about it. Have you ended up going home with unused days on your admission media? If so, do you bring those tickets back with you on your next trip, or do you lose them? This is the $45 question. My advice is to consider this option only if you are purchasing tickets for more than 5 days and you have plans to visit other Central Florida attractions that may alter your theme park touring plans.

Should I use the Park-Hopper option? For most people this is a no-brainer. However, if I were a young family with a tight budget I might think about this real carefully before purchasing this option. How would a young family best tour the parks? One at a time and one day at a time? For some families with tight budgets, they may forego the hopper route to save some money. For the older family, couples, and most guests however, the Park-Hopper option is a sure bet.

Focus on how you envision your vacation and how you see each day. The better you know your vacation, the better you will know as to what type of ticket you will need.

AP or not AP? That is the question

So you're saying, “Wait a minute Mike! What about Annual Passes?”

Thanks for asking. I'm sure this is a thought that has entered many minds. Would it be better to just purchase an Annual Pass?

Let's look at the Smith family. We have John and Mary and their two children, Balthazar and Desdemona, both over 10 years old. They have decided to go to Walt Disney World for seven days in late February during a school vacation week. They have decided they will leave on a Thursday night and start touring the parks on Friday (the next day). They will return home on a Sunday. Their length of stay is 10 days. They do not plan on doing any water parks but do plan to visit Disney Quest. Oh, one more thing, they are seriously thinking about a second trip in late July, probably 7 days with a visit to both Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach, and maybe DisneyQuest again.

They want to stay on-site in February and have chosen to stay at Coronado Springs.

John and Mary have come up with two scenarios for purchasing tickets:

Scenario #1

John and Mary think they will need at least a 7-day park-hopper pass for everyone and decide that they could purchase a 10-day ticket with the park-hopper and no-expiration options. They are thinking that since they plan to return in July, any unused days will come in handy during their summer trip. They have also thought about buying their DisneyQuest tickets separately and not via a Magic Plus Pack option.

The cost of the 4 10-day hoppers is $1,461. Four DisneyQuest tickets will cost them about $144.84. The cost of the 10-night stay in Coronado Springs is $1,653 (including tax). The cost of tickets and room comes to a whopping $3,258.

Scenario #2

If John purchases an annual pass for himself at $428.60 and 10-day hoppers for the others at a cost of $1,095.90 the cost would be $1,524.50, almost $75 more than scenario #1. However, the AP gets him discount DisneyQuest tickets. The DQ tickets now cost about $129. John can also get an AP discount for the room at Coronado Springs. Their 10-day room cost with this discount is now $1,154. This scenario totals $2,807. They will save over $400 with this scenario, which is about the cost of John's AP. Of course there are other perks to the AP as well such as discounts at certain WDW restaurants. so there are more potential savings with this scenario.

John and Mary will likely go with scenario #2.

Of course there are some factors that come into play here. First, since they are staying on-site the Annual Pass is more attractive because of the room discount. Would this be the case had they decided not to stay on the property? That is an important question, and my guess is no.

This question does bring out an important point and circles back to an earlier issue.

When going through the decision-making process on admission media, you not only have to consider your park-touring habits but your entire vacation. Where will you stay? How long will you stay? Will you return within a year? How about where you will eat?

If anything, the Magic Your Way Ticket Program has really made WDW guests sit up and take notice. More than ever before the Walt Disney World Resort now requires you to be an intelligent consumer.

Once this decision is behind you, everything should fall into place including a great vacation.

Vacations should be stress free, especially WDW vacations. Then you'll be able to easily…

Remember the Magic!

Next Time

We have more work ahead of us. Now that we have hopefully cleared up the Magic Your Way ticket program we might as well take the next leap and jump head first into a discussion on the Magic Your Way Vacation Packages. We'll do that next time.


Thoughts, questions, or comments? Contact Mike here.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Mike Scopa first visited Walt Disney World almost 30 years ago. Planning a trip was simple back in the 1970s, with only the Magic Kingdom and a few Disney-owned resorts in Orlando.

Over the past 11 years, Mike has been perfecting his WDW trip-planning skills as he has hosted chats and bulletin boards about Disney for a Fortune 100 company.

Mike brings his experience to MousePlanet in a series of lessons to help you with all the phases of planning a WDW trip.

Mike pays special attention to all the details that ensure your family has the best possible time at the Happiest Place on Earth.

You can contact Mike here.

OTHER LINKS

Here are trip reports that Mike has written that are part of MousePlanet's archives:

Michael Scopa -- August 1999 -- Walt Disney World (CSR)

Michael J. Scopa -- July 1997 -- Walt Disney World (WL/CBR)

Mike Scopa -- July 1994 -- Walt Disney World (WL / CBR)

Also, don't miss Lani Teshima's column, “The Trip Planner” for more travel planning information.

Get the latest info about the resort at “Park Update: Walt Disney World.”

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