With four huge theme parks plus two water parks, Disney World vacations can get complicated! For starters, what type of admission pass should you buy?
Magic Your Way
"Magic Your Way" is the current way to buy passes at Disney World, and is structured as a base ticket plus options. A key point to note is that the price per day drops as your number of days increases.
With the base ticket, guests can visit one theme park per day.
(Note to first-timers: you'll definitely find plenty to keep your family busy for a whole day, in a single theme park!)
An example of how the price-per-day shrinks the longer you play: the daily price might be $105*/day for a two-day ticket to a single theme park, and drop to $60*/day for a 7-day ticket.
If you can afford the time and money, staying longer is definitely preferable. Walt Disney World is a vast destination: staying a week would allow one day for each of the four theme parks, one day at one of the two waterparks, one day to return to your favorite park, and one day to relax and enjoy your resort.
Keep in mind, all multi-day tickets must all be used within 14 days! Magic Your Way tickets expire 14 days from first use. If you are a Florida resident the tickets expire after 180 days.
Magic Your Way Packages
Magic Your Way packages for Disney World include accommodation at a Disney World resort plus theme park admissions; a number of Dining and other options are also available.
Magic Your Way packages also typically include discounts for certain activities such as boat rentals at Disney World marinas, or miniature golf, or discounts at the kids' clubs located at certain Disney World resorts. Because of these accommodations, this package is best for those planning on staying at the resort for about a week.
Magic Your Way Premium and Platinum Packages
Additional types of Magic Your Way packages are available, that include daily meals plus additional experiences, such as the La Nouba Cirque du Soleil show.
The Park Hopper option lets guests come and go at multiple theme parks on any and all days for the length of your ticket. Cost is about $175* per ticket, depending on the season, regardless of the number of days.
Water Park Fun & More
The Water Park Fun & More option adds visits to the Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon water parks, miniature golf courses, Disney's ESPN Wide World of Sports complex, and more; cost is $65* a ticket, and the number of visits varies depending on the length of the base ticket.
The Dining Options for Magic Your Way Packages receive a fair bit of attention and are generally considered to be a good deal, and it gets even better when a free dining option promotion is offered. A side benefit of purchasing this option is that families have a better grip on their budget: they know in advance what the cost will be for accommodations and most meals.
With the regular Dining option, on each day, guests get one table-service meal, one quick-service meal, and one snack, and guests can choose from more than 100 restaurants in Walt Disney World parks and hotels.
A "table service meal" typically has an entrée, dessert, and non-alcoholic beverage, or a full buffet plus a non-alcoholic beverage. A "counter-service meal" might offer an entrée and a side dish, or a combo meal plus dessert and non-alcoholic beverage. A "snack" might be fruit, or a frozen ice-cream novelty, or a popcorn scoop, or a large beverage.
Meal coupons can be used in flexible ways: a guest could use three snack coupons in one day. Also, two table service meals might be exchanged for a signature and premium-priced meal.
Guests must be booking a stay at a Disney World Resort to buy a Dining option. Resorts come in Value, Moderate, and Deluxe categories; all offer a fun experience and come with a number of special perks such as Extra Magic Hours in at least one of the theme parks every day.
*Ticket prices and details of the Dining Option vary year to year, so check for the latest info!