Even before you arrive in Orlando you are bombarded by signs promoting cheap tickets. And after you get here, the promotions for cheap tickets are relentless.
There are cheap prices offered for Disney tickets, for Seaworld tickets, Busch Garden tickets, and more. Discounted cheap tickets are being offered for almost every major attraction or theme park around Orlando, and everywhere else in Florida, it seems.
Are discounted cheap tickets the same as the saying about the “free lunch” … that there ain’t no such thing?
There are a number of outlets for purportedly cheap tickets in and around Orlando, tickets for the various theme parks and attractions. To help you decide what is best for you and your family when you decide to visit Orlando Florida attractions, three options of buying tickets are examined in detail below.
1) The Theme Park Ticket Resellers
When we asked the vendor behind the counter where they got their tickets to sell at such a discount, his response sounded reasonable enough.
He said that they buy tickets from the theme parks based on the longest, best value package, available. If a five day ticket was available, for example, then they would buy that five day ticket, which includes quite a substantial per-day discount over a single or two day pass.
Then, they would sell single days from these five-day passes to individuals that wanted a one-day or two-day pass, at a substantial mark up from what they had paid for the five day pass, but a markup that resulted in the customer’s price that was still quite a bit less than the single or two day pass at the theme park ticket window.
He also said that quite often people bought multiple-day passes to theme parks, and for whatever reason, they couldn’t use all of the days. If they showed up at his door with a pass that had some days left on it, he would consider buying that pass for an even more deeply discounted price. These tickets would become part of his inventory to sell to the next tourist looking for discount tickets.
“Was it legit?” we asked.
“Yes, but to be “perfectly honest” some of the theme parks are tightening up their pass scrutiny to try and stop the ticket resellers. If the customer has purchased a ticket that was not usable, they only had to visit him and he would refund their money.”
The truth is that reselling theme park tickets is illegal. The local police forces have task forces with the sole purpose of finding the cheap tickets resellers and putting them out of business.
Cheap ticket reselling is illegal
When researching this topic, we found news reports on the westorlandonews.com website describing how the police had arrested and charged five persons, and seized over $100,000 worth of theme park tickets that these folks were reselling. “Osceola County Sheriff’s deputies … (undertook) an undercover operation targeting illegal sales of theme park tickets. ”
And in another article from West Orlando News “an undercover operation targeting illegal sales of theme park tickets, valued at over $1000,000 … 14 people arrested and charged with the illegal sales of theme park tickets”.
These undercover investigations and arrests occurred along the 192 highway corridor, not far from the Disney complex.
Resold tickets worth it?
Even though the buying and reselling of cheap tickets is illegal, it goes on.
While we were in one ticket resellers establishment two tourists entered, both from England. They bought the local theme park tickets at about a 25% discount from the gate prices, and were provided those passes.
In another case we know of another group all of whom bought cheap tickets from a reseller, all visited the local major theme park, and all of whom entered the park, had a great visit, and the next day went back to the ticket reseller, returned the day passes with a number of days left on it (as was agreed up front) and were refunded a portion of the money that they had paid. They were very satisfied with the transaction.
Things that concern us about this type of theme park cheap tickets discounting are;
- do we want to support this criminal activity
- does the loss of millions of dollars in revenue through illegal ticket sales contribute to keeping legitimate buyer’s ticket prices higher
- would you be unlucky enough to be buying tickets when the establishment was raided by the police – what fun for you and the kids
- will you even be able to use the tickets you purchase or will they be rejected at the gate
- even if the ticket reseller refunds your money for tickets you were not allowed to use, what was your time worth versus the dollars you might have saved – and is this worth it
When we took all our kids to the local major theme park, we decided that since our vacation was so short and we did not want to waste one minute of our time doing other than vacationing with the kids, we opted to pay full gate price at the gate. That saved us some time, and gave us a level of comfort that was, for us, worth the extra money spent over trying to acquire and use cheap tickets.
Disney World’s Take on Ticket Transferring
This is from the Disney website:
Question: Are theme park tickets transferable? May I give them to someone else to use the remaining days?
Answer: No. Once a person uses a Magic Your Way ticket, all subsequent admissions are specific to that person and cannot be transferred to anyone else. If you have not yet used a ticket, you may transfer it to another person. You may also buy a new theme park ticket online or at the theme park Main Entrance.
Question: What happens if I don′t use all the days on my ticket?
Answer: Magic Your Way Base Tickets expire 14 days after their first use. If you purchased the No Expiration Option, unused days never expire. Ticket components are specific to you and may not be transferred to another person.
That seems pretty straightforward to us. But, when it comes to cheap tickets, it’s your money so it’s your decision.
2) The Timeshare – Resort – Condo Promo Discount Ticket
While it will not be obvious from the signs, or it may be so if you read all the signs, one way to get discounted theme park tickets is to agree to spend a couple of hours of your too-short vacation sitting through a sales pitch about a timeshare, a new condo-opportunity, a newer resort type hotel, and so on.
Some of these opportunities include a complimentary buffet style breakfast or lunch as well.
Some offer two-for-one tickets deals, as this on-line ad (shown below) suggests. That’s an awesome discount, and if real, gives the recipient the equivalent of 50% off the price of the theme park.
Nothing we have uncovered suggests that this type of resort, condo or timeshare promotion is illegal, things that concern us about this type of theme park cheap tickets discounting are;
- do we want to spend some of our vacation time receiving what may be a high-pressure type sales pitch
- how much of a discount from the theme park’s regular prices are these tickets
- what happens to the availability of the discounted tickets if, after the presentation, you decide not to buy whatever it is that they are selling
- what is the source of the discounted tickets – can they confirm that the tickets are legitimate
- will these tickets actually be accepted by the theme parks or attractions in question, and if not, what happens then
The choice of taking in a timeshare, hotel or condo sales pitch to get better prices on theme park tickets is yours.
If it were us, we would want to make very sure that the vacation time we used up in the pursuit of cheap tickets would result in enough real value to offset the vacation time we would lose in chasing this avenue to cheap tickets.
3) Legitimate Ticket Distribution
According to one vendor we spoke to, the major theme parks and attractions have a legitimate ticket distribution system. One of those systems is direct on line selling by the attraction. Another is their own ticket windows where you can buy tickets after you have arrived at the attraction.
Authorized ticket distributors
There are also the authorized ticket distributors, many of which are in hotels, established vacation rental outlets, travel information booths, and so on.
Like any other product that is sold through distribution, the distributor – or the legitimate ticket outlet – buys or is consigned blocks of tickets at a discounted price, and then sells those tickets to their customers at, or nearly at, the ticket booth price of the theme park or attraction.
In other words, the legitimate ticket distributor is providing a service. They are making it convenient for you to acquire your tickets, perhaps at your hotel, without having to order them on line and wait for delivery, or stand in lines at the attraction to buy tickets when you go.
Some of these ticket distributors will provide a small discount, making their ticket prices for a specific attraction or theme park a bit lower than the ticket booth pricing. Some do not.
One vendor suggests that they are not allowed to sell a one day or two day pass to a specific park at any discount at all!
So, buying your tickets in advance from a legitimate ticket distributor – at your hotel, for example – can save you a bit of time, and perhaps, a couple of percentage points off the gate price, depending on the attraction.
That seems reasonable to us.
We expect that the theme parks and attractions have done their homework, and they know the averages relating to how many one day passes are sold, how many two day passes are sold, and so on.
We also expect that the majority of tickets sales fall into the one or two day category. It is not by accident that these are typically the most expensive tickets.
That being the case, the theme parks and attractions have a significant financial interest in preventing fraudulent use of their tickets, and some of them are going to great lengths, including requiring guests to have I.D. matching the name on the ticket.
Another park is reputedly using bio-metrics; a finger print scanner, to be exact, to be sure that the ticket user is the ticket owner.
There are millions of dollars in ticket sales at stake, whether they are legitimate tickets sales or those sold through theft and scams.
Caveat emptor – let the buyer beware!
We welcome your comments about your ticket buying experiences, and invite the participation of the major theme parks in describing how their park or attraction is ensuring that ticket holders are ticket owners.