In this post we will cover everything having to do with buying Military Tickets for Walt Disney World, Disneyland, Universal Studios, and other theme parks.
You might think, “It’s easy, I just buy them.” but there is a lot to consider and one very important step that no one thinks about, that you must do!
Be sure to read through to the end to see what this step is.
1. When to Buy Your Military Theme Park Tickets
UPDATE 3 March 2021 – Disney has clarified use rules for both 2020 and 2021 Disney Armed Forces Salute Tickets in 2021.
UPDATE 20 Dec 2020 – Disney has announced a limited extension to the 2020 Disney Armed Forces Salute Ticket Offer, with a very limited purchase window (now through 14 February 2021). These tickets are valid for use through 26 September 2021. See this post for full details!
(Updated February 2020) – Note to non-retired veterans; you do not qualify for the Disney Armed Forces Salute, however there are Disney Veteran Discounts that you do qualify for. Read this info first, then come back to this page.
You can either wait until you arrive at your destination to buy your tickets or buy them ahead of time.
Buying them ahead is almost always the best course of action!
There are many reasons that you might want or need to buy them ahead of time. These are:
- So that you can make your Theme Park Reservations
- Buying tickets that can only be sold on Base
- To get the best Military Discount that you can
- To avoid paying State sales tax
- To lock in ticket prices before an expected price increase
- Buying well ahead of time to spread out your cost
- Or a combination of any of these
Walt Disney World Theme Park Reservations – You must have your Disney Armed Forces Salute tickets or vouchers in hand in order to link them to your My Disney Experience account so that you can make your Theme Park Reservations. (Temporary measure during this managed attendance period, hopefully will be ended sometime in 2021)
The Best Military Discount – Some theme parks only sell their highest discounted tickets through base ticket offices.
For instance, Legoland Florida, sells at a slight discount at the gate and a much better discount at on Base Ticket Offices.
Tickets Only Sold On Base – There are some military tickets that are not sold at the theme park ticket windows; they are only through Base Ticket Offices.
For instance, SeaWorld Entertainment’s Parks do not sell military tickets at their ticket windows. The Regular Military Discounted Disney Tickets are not sold by Disney, only at a Military Ticket Office. The Universal Orlando 4-Day Special Military Tickets can only be purchased at a Military Ticket Office.
State Sales Tax – With some Military Tickets sold on Base you are only really saving the sales tax. But the is better than nothing…
Locking In Ticket Prices – Disney ticket prices are usually increased fairly regularly. But they honor all tickets bought at old prices, so buying before an increase will save you cash.
Spreading Out Your Cost – If you are budgeting or have limited room on your credit card, you can spread out your cost by buying your tickets ahead of time.
What ever the reason that you are buying tour ticket before your departure, do it well ahead of when you want your tickets in hand!
Many ticket offices do not keep all (or any) varieties of tickets on hand and have to order them from a regional office. If that office doesn’t have them in stock they work up the chain. They need time to do this.
My rule of thumb is to complete your part of the process (going in to purchase or sending your long distance purchase documents) at least 2 weeks prior to when you want the tickets in hand. You’ll most likely have the tickets right then or within days, but you don’t want to miss out an making your Theme Park Reservations on the earliest day possible!
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2. Where to Buy Your Military Theme Park Tickets
You can either buy your tickets from your local Base Ticket Office or from a Base Ticket Office that sells long distance.
Buying On Base – This is of course the easiest. Just go in well before you want your tickets tell them what you want and pay for them.
I’ve just got a bit of advice. Some ticket offices are excellent and totally on top of their game. They will advise you or have you read all of the rules (if any) associated with the particular tickets that you are purchasing, and probably (as my base does) have you sign a statement that you understand the rules.
But unfortunately there are some Base ticket Offices that are less than knowledgable. If they don’t offer any detailed information, ask “Are there any rules or restrictions that I should be aware of with these tickets?” But be aware that what they tell you might not be accurate, current, or correct. I’ve heard some doozies from readers that they have been told by their Ticket office and in some cases people have been sold tickets that they can’t use or return.
Always read up on the ticket that you want to purchase here on MDT first!
There are good reasons why a Base Ticket Office might not be not up to speed, such as a spouse newly arrived on base from a PCS is hired into the job after the predecessor has left, given no training other than being given a binder. This was the case at my last base. Fortunately she read MDT.
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3. How Can You Pay for Your Military Theme Park Tickets
What forms of payment can you use to pay for your military tickets?
I’m often asked about non-standard forms of payment such as Disney Gift Cards and the Military Star Card.
There are very limited situations where you can use these 2 forms of payment for your Military Discounted Tickets.
Disney Gift Cards – There is only one place that you can use this form of payment for military tickets and that is directly from Disney at a ticket window or if you are staying there at the front desk of Disneyland’s Hotels. This works great at Disneyland, where advance ticket purchase is not needed and there is no sales tax on tickets. But will not work for Walt Disney World due to the need to make your Theme Park Reservations in advance.
The Military Star Card – There is only one location that you can use your Star Card. You can use your Star Card to purchase all tickets sold by Shades of Green in person or long distance!
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4. After Your Ticket Purchase
This is one of the most important things to do that could potentially save you from having to purchase for a second time, tickets that you have lost prior to or while on your vacation.
You would be surprised, this does happen more often than you would think. Just this week I heard from 2 readers who lost their tickets!
Those 2 requests for help prompted me to write this post in order to emphasize this improtant of info. The other items above are good to know, but this step is non negotiable – Do It!
In the past a family forgot to pack their tickets and realized it after arriving in California from Hawaii.
Another family had their tickets stolen, along with their luggage when stopping for hotel supplies at a store near Disney World.
People have been known to lose tickets while on vacation too!
OK, So here is the one thing that will save you if catastrophe strikes:
Take a picture of your ticket(s) and receipt!
Take a pic of the back site of plastic tickets or thick paper ticket-like vouchers. You want to get the ticket numbers. I just lay them out next to each other face down and snap one pic.
If instead you have an 8.5″ x 11″ piece of paper as a voucher take a pic it it (getting the ticket numbers).
Then take a pic of your receipt from the ticket office.
Finally text or email those pics to one or more people in your travel party or someone else that you trust. Then even if your phone is lost, stolen, dies, or you delete the pics you are covered.
Then if disaster strikes these pictures can be used to get you new ticket(s) if needed upon arrival.
Just go to a Ticket or Guest Relations Window, explain the situation and let them see your pictures. You’ll be all set.
Note: Some Base Ticket offices do keep a record of your ticket numbers and some don’t, plus they might be closed when you need the info. Don’t count on them, have your own record!
This procedure is absolutely necessary for all non-Disney tickets and Disney tickets bought from all Base Ticket Offices except for Disney Armed Forces Salute Tickets bought from Shades of Green.
Shades of Green sells pre-activated Disney Armed Forces Salute Tickets. for these immediately link them to the individuals in your party with your My Disney Experience account (app or website). Once you do the tickets are ready for use on all active Magic Bands linked to that person. Having a ticket pic should not be needed at all, but go ahead and get one anyway, just for piece of mind.
This procedure should also be followed for physical tickets (when not using Disney Magic Bands) bought from/at a theme park. If you lose a multi-day ticket in the park your first day you will be covered.
After buying the tickets step off to a nearby place where you can lay the tickets out and get your pic.
A Last Bit of Ticket Advice
Don’t pack your tickets! Keep them in your carry-on, or better yet on your person (remember the stolen bags?).
More Links About Tickets
Well that’s it for our ticket purchasing post. Do you have any other tips or questions?
Let us know in the comments section below.
This MDT Post By: Steve Bell
Steve is the the Military Disney Tips Founder. He a retired U.S. Military Member who's been touring the Disney Parks since 1971! Steve's mission is to help military families with their Disney vacations in every way. Check out Steve's Bio.
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Planning a Disney Trip? Want to get the best military discounts that are available? Feeling a little confused? See Our Great Disney Discount and Planning Info:
- Disney Veteran & Military Discount Eligibility Guide
- The Military Family’s Walt Disney World Comprehensive Vacation Planning and Preparation Guide
- Military Disney Tips Disney Packing Checklist
- Disney Military Tickets – Your Start to Finish Guide
- Resorts/Hotel Overview Page
- Dining Overview Page
- Transportation Overview Page
- Technology Overview Page
- Shades of Green, WDW’s Military Only Resort
Military Disney Tips' Recommended Disney Travel Agent
Ears of Experience Disney Only Travel Agency. Military family owned and operated! They know all the ins and outs of Disney military discounts!