#RWA17 at Walt Disney World Planning Guide – Tickets

#RWA17 Theme and Water Park Tickets

In this ‘chapter’ of my unofficial #RWA17 at Walt Disney World Resort planning guide, we’ll take a look at tickets to the theme and water parks. (Don’t worry, I didn’t leave out Universal.) Sure you’re coming to the Annual Conference to, well, attend the conference. Yet, how can you travel all this way and not experience the fireworks show at Magic Kingdom Park, or take a short walk to Epcot and eat (and drink!) your way around World Showcase? No matter if you’re a first-timer or have been visiting Walt Disney World since 1971, there’s something here for everyone!

I have some great news for you. Discounted and exclusive convention tickets are available to attendees of the Romance Writers of America® Annual Conference and those travelling with you. Theme park tickets provide you with admission to one of the four theme parks (Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park). 


Wait Up! Why Should I Get Tickets Before I Go?

If you want to hold off on purchasing tickets, I understand. But the latest I’d suggest waiting to get tickets is 70 days in advance of your resort check-in date. Why 70? If you’re a guest of the conference hotel, Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort (“Swolphin”), or a Disney-operated resort, you’ll be eligible to make FastPass+ reservations 60 days in advance. FastPass+ lets you reserve times to ride or view some of the most popular attractions with little to no wait. It can take a few days to receive your emailed confirmation code which then allows you to link your tickets in My Disney Experience. You’ll need to do this prior to making FastPass+ reservations. 

While I’ll be posting more about FastPass+ in the near future, please understand this is a fabulous benefit you won’t want to ignore! By ordering in advance of that 60-day window, you can ensure you’ll receive your tickets on time and that they’re associated with your My Disney Experience account (more on that later, too). You’ll want to iron out all the kinks prior to the opening of your FastPass+ window. Note: If you’re not staying at Swolphin or a Disney-operated resort, you’ll be able to make FastPass+reservations 30 days in advance.

Let’s Start Off With the Ticket that’s NOT Discounted: The 1-Day Theme Park Ticket. 

Walt Disney World encourages guests to spend more time at the Parks by reducing the cost of each additional day one adds to their tickets. That means those who spend one day at a theme park during their visit will not receive a discount. Tickets can be purchased online in advance (which I recommend doing regardless of what ticket you buy), at the theme park itself, and at Guest Relations. There’s a Guest Relations counter at “Swolphin.”

As with the other tickets I mention below, you can add on the Park Hopper Option which grants you access to all other theme parks that same day. Personally, I wouldn’t recommend adding this option to a 1-day ticket. There’s so much to experience in one park alone and you’ll lose valuable time traveling to another park.

Note: The conference takes place during regular season. Therefore, a 1-day ticket to Epcot, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, or Disney’s Animal Kingdom will run you $113.96 (Ages 10+) and $107.57 (Ages 3-9). Magic Kingdom has a higher gate entry at $122.48 (Ages 10+) and $116.09 (Ages 3-9). Prices include tax. Children 2 and under are free. You can add the Park Hopper Option or Water Parks and More Option to a 1-Day ticket for an additional fee. I describe those options in a little bit.

Tell Me More About Discounted Theme Park Tickets.

Convention and conference attendees can save 10% on multi-day base tickets by purchasing them in advance. Therefore, as an attendee at #RWA17, you can add theme park visits onto the front and back ends of the conference for a reduced price. While you could go during the days of the conference, why would you want to miss out on all those awesome workshops, speeches, and networking time?

The current ticket prices are listed on this chart and include tax and S&H. This chart has been updated to reflect new ticket pricing since early March ’17. Again, children 2 and under are free. Tickets are non-transferable and must be used by the same person on all days. Unless you pay for the Park Hopper Option (described shortly), you may enter one park per day. Keep in mind, prices are subject to change. (More on that below!) The tickets expire 14 days after the first time you enter one of the theme parks.


But that’s not all! When you purchase a multi-day convention ticket, the fine folks at Disney gift you with a bonus visit to one of the following: Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon Water Park, Disney’s Blizzard Beach Water Park, Disney’s Winter Summerland Miniature Golf Course, Disney’s Fantasia Gardens Miniature Golf Course (which is walking distance from Swolphin), ESPN Wild World of Sports, or a round of golf at Disney’s Oak Trail Golf Course. You cannot give this bonus visit to another person; it’s exclusive to the ticket holder. The bonus visit must occur within 14 days of your first visit to a theme park using your multi-day ticket.

If you would like to enjoy same-day access to any of the theme parks, you can add a Park Hopper Option. For those staying several days in addition to the conference, this could be a nice add-on. However, if you are squeezing in park visits in a short amount of time, I’d save my money. Here are the Park Hopper ticket prices.

For approximately $90 more per ticket (again, total, not per day), you can purchase the Water Parks and More Option which allows you to both park hop and visit the places I have listed in the bonus visit section. As I stated with the Park Hopper Option, I’d pass on adding this feature unless you’re wanting to spend significant time putting golf balls or coasting down water slides.

How Can I Purchase these Discounted Multi-Day Tickets?

If you’d like to take advantage of these specially priced multi-day tickets, you must purchase them in advance. The very latest you can purchase these particular tickets is the day before you arrive at your resort. Meaning, if you arrive Tuesday, July 25th, you must have purchased your ticket by the 24th.

Ticket can be purchased online or by calling 407-566-5600. If paying by phone, note the following office hours: M-F (8:30AM to 6PM EDT) and Sat-Sun (8:30AM-5PM EDT).

What if I Want to Visit a Theme Park But Can’t Devote an Entire Day?

I’d say, you’re in luck. Only conference attendees (and those traveling with them) can purchase a partial day ticket. For $84, you can enter a theme park starting at 2PM until park’s closing. Those who wish to visit starting at 5PM can purchase tickets for $59. Tickets can be purchased in advance (online or by phone as specified in the previous section) or upon your arrival. Advance purchase is not required.

To get the most out of the After 2PM or 5PM tickets I’d look at this calendar and choose a day where your desired park is open late. Want to get even more for your bucks? Read the following tip and take advantage of evening Extra Magic Hours. (Continue to check the calendar as Park hours may be extended as we get closer to July.)

Tip! Want to enjoy more hours at a theme or water park? As a guest at Swolphin or Disney-operated resorts, you’re entitled to a special perk—Extra Magic Hours! Each day, one of the theme parks opens an hour early or remains open up to 2 hours after normal closing. Sometimes, the water parks provide additional operating hours as well. Check out the Walt Disney World calendar. Disney ensures those in the parks during Extra Magic Hours meet eligibility requirements by scanning guests’ Magic Bands/resorts IDs.

How Can I Save Even More?

Here’s a nice money saving tip. If you purchase the multi-day discounted tickets or After 2PM or 5PM tickets over the phone, you can pay with a Disney gift card. Often, you can purchase Disney gift cards at a discount. For instance, you can receive 5% off if you have the Target Red debit or credit cards. If you’re a member of a wholesale club like Costco, they often sell Disney gift cards at a discounted price. Can you guess where I’m going here?

Stock up on Disney gift cards and then merge all the cards onto one using this official Disney Gift Card website. That way, when you go to pay over the phone or website, you only have one gift card number to give. When purchasing over the phone, this makes it much easier for the Cast Member. (Disney’s employees are called Cast Members.) You can have up to $1,000 on one gift card at a time. Using the Disney Gift Card website is also a great way to protect yourself. I highlighted my experience with the site in this post.


Even if you don’t purchase a multi-day or After 2PM or 5PM ticket, you can still use this strategy for other things. When I visit Walt Disney World, I always stock up on discounted gift cards and use them when paying for meals, souvenirs, and other experiences throughout the entire resort. (Keep in mind, since Swolphin is not a Disney-operated resort, you won’t be able to use the gift cards there.) By purchasing Disney gift cards way in advance, I can slowly save up for my vacation without the shock of a large bill at the end of my stay. 

What About the Water Parks at Walt Disney World?

If you buy a multi-day discounted ticket, you will already receive one complimentary visit to either Disney’s Blizzard Beach or Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon. This is a really nice bonus as tickets to the Water Parks are $66.03 for ages 10+ and $59.64 for ages 3-9 (including tax). Children 2 and under are free.

Disney's Typhoon Lagoon

Unlike the theme parks, unless you want to save a couple bucks, there’s no major advantage purchasing Water Park tickets in advance. That’s because FastPass+ is not available in the Water Parks. I’d hold off on purchasing tickets to ensure you have a good weather day.

Visiting Walt Disney World Again?

If you plan to visit Walt Disney World within a year of the conference, you might want to consider upgrading your ticket to an Annual Pass. You’ll also be entitled to some nice discounts as an Annual Passholder. By upgrading, I mean applying the cost of the ticket you’ve already purchased toward an Annual Pass. If you’d like to do this, there are some rules. Those with a 1-day ticket must upgrade no later than the date the ticket is used in a Park. Those with multi-day tickets can upgrade their ticket so long as there is at least one unused admission day remaining and they’re within the 14-day expiration window. If considering upgrading to an Annual Pass, stop by the Disney Guest Relations counter at Swolphin or in the Parks. They’ll be able to answer any questions as well as make the upgrade for you.

What if I Want to See Harry Potter?

So you’d rather spend some time with the Wizard? Well, you’re in luck as both Universal Studios Florida and Universal’s Islands of Adventure offer discounted convention tickets as well. However, it appears that discounted tickets are only available either for admission after 2PM or 4PM. If you want discounted full-day tickets, read the tip below.

Universal’s convention tickets can be purchased here. If you want to ride the Hogwart’s Express, you will need a park-to-park ticket. Should you have limited time, skip the train and purchase a base ticket for 1-park access. If you’d like to skip the lines, you can opt for Express Passes at an additional fee.

When purchasing discounted convention tickets, be sure to read the fine print. Universal requires you to show your conference badge upon picking up your tickets at will-call. 

Tip! Since I like you all so much, here’s a bonus tip. If you visit Walt Disney World or Universal Studios before or long after #RWA17 and you’re not part of a convention, I have some suggestions on where to get discounted tickets. Check out Parksavers.com and Undercover Tourist. Some AAA chapters also offer discounts, too. And if you’re a Florida resident? You’re golden. Mousesavers breaks down all the discounts including those offered to active and retired U.S. Military personnel. I’d avoid ticket brokers on nearby highway stops and online auction sites. You don’t want to be left heartbroken (and out some serious cash) if your tickets aren’t valid.

Other Topics

Visit here if you’ve missed other topics in this planning guide. There, you’ll find a calendar to help you keep track of key dates. Be sure to also heck out my Pinterest Board which complements this planning guide.

This unofficial guide is not associated with Romance Writers of America® . I am not receiving any compensation or gifts for these blog posts.

Please share this blog series on social media. I want to encourage many people to attend and make the most out of #RWA17. By planning ahead, you can experience all that the conference and Disney have to offer. To ensure you don’t miss the next topic in this planning guide, follow me on Twitter and Facebook. Links are up on top.

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