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Discount Hacks: Disney Discounts for Military Families

Discount Hacks: Disney Discounts for Military Families

Military families make a lot of sacrifices for our nation’s freedom. Between long-term separations, constant moving, and always living in the unknown for Uncle Sam, military families need family bonding time more than most. As an Army wife myself, I can say that there is no bonding better than a family vacation to Walt Disney World.

In the 12 years that my husband has been in the military, we have spent cumulative YEARS apart. Years, plural. During those times that we separated for deployments, training, exercises, or schools, we love to dive into planning a Disney vacation. We use our trip countdown as a light at the end of the tunnel! Of course, the expense of Disney can add up fast so we put together all the Disney Discounts for Military families.

Disney Supports Our Troops

Did you know that Walt Disney World has great deals for Military families? It’s true that military discounts are the deepest discounts that Disney World offers. There are military discounts on park tickets and hotels.

NOTE: Military discounts are so good that they cannot be combined with any other offer through Disney.

Disney World Military Park Ticket Pricing

First and foremost, to have a Disney World vacation, you need to have park tickets, of course! There are a few different types of tickets for Walt Disney World for military members, retirees, and their families. The best ticket is the Military Promotional ticket, called the Disney Armed Forces Salute,  available in 4-day or 5-day passes with park hopper. There is also the option to add water parks (PLUS).

Military Promotional Ticket 2023Ages 3+
4-Day Park Hopper Promotional Ticket$ 349.00
4-Day Park Hopper Plus Promotional Ticket$ 379.00
5-Day Park Hopper Promotional Ticket$ 369.00
5-Day Park Hopper Plus Promotional Ticket$ 399.00
2023 Disney Military Salute Ticket Prices

Quantity Limits on Disney Military Park Tickets

These ticket prices are so good that there are limits. Each service member can purchase up to 6 per calendar year. The spouse can also purchase these tickets, but that 6 ticket limit is for the whole family. Discount Hacks: Disney Discounts for Military Families 2

Disney Armed Forces Salute is the best deal available on Disney tickets, outside of Florida resident passes, but there are other options as well. Other military tickets are available through Shades of Green, an authorized military ticket dealer, and military only Disney resort. These other options are great for families that need more than the 6 allotted Armed Forces Salute tickets, or go to Disney for much longer trips.

The other tickets available through Shades of Green are not nearly as discounted, in fact, some are even the same as the gate price, however, they are tax free. Across the board, we noticed 10% savings.

See the full list of park tickets available to military families here.

Blackout Dates for Military Disney Tickets

NEW FOR  2023 – Never before have the military promo tickets had blackout dates through the year until now. Disney’s Armed Forces Salute tickets have always excluded Christmas, and unlike regular Disney tickets they DO EXPIRE.

Military discount tickets expire on December 16th every year, so military families – Beware of December trips! We both know that Uncle Sam likes to plan surprise TDY’s or mission readiness training right when you least expect them, and block leave can be rescinded at the last minute.

What is new this year is that there are also blockout dates for Spring Break AND Thanksgiving. Ouch. The 2023 Disney Armed Forces Salute tickets blackout dates are:

  • April 2-15 2023
  • November 19-25 2023
  • December 16 – 31 2023

So, yes, if you buy your tickets on December 1st your tickets will expire just two weeks later. Pay attention to your travel dates when purchasing your tickets. The tickets are non-transferable and non-refundable.

How to Buy Discounted Military Disney Tickets

Because of how great the discounts are, you have to do a few steps to get them. If you live on or near a military installation worldwide, check out your ITT office, Travel & Leisure Services, or call your MWR about Disney tickets. They will have to be purchased in person by the service member or their spouse. You will need your Military ID to purchase and they will be assigned to each person in your party. Remember, when you buy most things on base, there’s no tax!

Don’t live near a large installation? No problem! Shades of Green is a special military-only resort at Disney that sells tickets as well. But you want to purchase tickets prior to your trip. They have an online order form and have their own verification process. Be sure to do this long before your trip because it can be anywhere from a week to a couple of months before you receive your tickets! It is dependent on how busy they are.

Disney does not sell military park tickets directly.

How to ACTIVATE Your Military TICKETS!

Disney Discounts for Military

Unless you buy your tickets from Shades of Green, you are going to have to activate them at Guest Services before entering the park. This is the final step to preventing ticket fraud. It sounds intimidating, but it is a really simple process. BE SURE TO HAVE YOUR MILITARY ID WITH YOU! I know, it is the most complicated document to replace if lost, but you must have it to activate your tickets.

Getting Military Tickets

Different installation’s tickets look different… Don’t ask us why. It is confusing, but bear with us!

Some post’s Disney tickets are a green paper tickets that will be stapled to the officially sealed document that says you’re legit. (Disney, don’t you think it’s a bit overkill, like there’s a Disney military black market?)

Other, often larger posts, will give you the paperwork with an envelope that has white credit card-like tickets. Both are exactly the same and can be added to your My Disney Experience by using the ticket numbers printed. On the green tickets, it’s the number above the bar code. On the cards, you need to scratch them off like a gift card.

IMPORTANT: The MWR will try to tell you that the card tickets are different and that they are activated. They will tell you that you can just go right in the parks. False. This is a lie. They still need to be activated just like the green tickets.

Activating Your Disney Military Tickets

Activating your tickets is really very simple. Before you go through the turnstiles to enter whatever park you have chosen, go visit the Cast Members at Guest Services first. Here they will verify your tickets with your ID and give you the real Disney tickets. Then you can have the tickets on Disney cards, your Magic Band, or on your Magic Mobile.

What you need to activate:

  • The tickets you received from the MWR (green paper or white cards)
  • Military ID / Military Dependent ID for the Soldier that sponsored the tickets

It only takes one ID to activate all of your tickets. Once they are activated, they are good to go like any Disney ticket.

Disney Party Tickets Military Discount

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Disney World will sell discounted party tickets, like Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party and Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party through Shades of Green. Ok, they are sort of discounted… Really the discount is that they are tax-free, so they are around $10 cheaper than through Disney. Don’t get me wrong, with a place as expensive as Disney, I like to find savings where I can, but don’t get too excited about this “discount”.

Military Disney Hotel Discounts

A secret hack for military families is the Armed Forces Salute discount on Disney Resort hotels! This discount can be between 20% – 40%. You cannot book rooms with this discount online yourself. To take advantage of the Armed Forces Salute discount you need to call Disney directly or use an authorized Disney travel agent.

Disney travel agents are able to access all Disney military discounts on Disney World resort hotels. They cannot obtain discounted Disney Military tickets.

A cast member has confirmed that the military discount on resort stays is the steepest discount offered! Discounts vary by resort and time of year, but it hovers around 35%. It is important to know that you are not guaranteed this discount! There are only a select number of rooms at a resort each day available at the military price. Book early!

In order to book a resort stay using a military discount, you have to call the dreaded 407 number and sit on hold for hours… Or! You can use a totally free Disney travel agent to arrange the reservation for you. You are not able to reserve a room with a military discount yourself online. Take a deep breath, you will need to people for this, but the discount is TOTALLY worth it!

Speaking of Hotels… Shades of Green

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Shades of Green is an exclusive military resort on Disney property. Disney buses are available for use at this resort, and there is even a Mini Exchange on site. This is a moderate-level resort with value pricing, however, this resort would not be your first choice if budget is your main concern. The All-Star resorts are generally cheaper (and better transportation). The big draw for military families to Shades of Green is the atmosphere. This is a beautiful, tranquil, and fairly quiet resort. You are still in Disney, but not in Disney.

Shades of Green is a great option if your family is on an immediate post-deployment vacation.

This resort is perfect for a family working through reunification after a long deployment. Enjoy the parks with your family and then come back to this serene resort and decompress. Shades of Green also has great restaurants! Plus, after a long day at the parks Shades of Green has its own Class 6… #iykyk

Disney Discounts for Military: Memory Maker

If you have ever been on the fence about purchasing Memory Maker, first of all, don’t be! It is worth every penny, but if you’re military, you get a great discount! While it usually costs $169 for unlimited Photopass photos, with the military discount you pay only $98! To purchase, just go to guest services with your military ID. Service members can only purchase Memory Maker at this promotional price 2 times per calendar year.

Who Qualifies for Military Discounts?

Now that you have read all of the great discounts available to military families, let’s discuss who qualifies for these discounts. According to Disney, “Eligible Service Members” are active or retired members of the US Military, including the National Guard, Reservists, the US Coast Guard, the US Space Force, the Commissioned Corps of the Public Health Service (PHS), and the Commissioned Corps of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

Spouses of Military Service Members also qualify if they are able to present valid and active US Military IDs in the absence of active or retired Military Personnel or Commissioned Corps Members.

Can a Military Spouse Take Family to Disney Without Their Service Member?

YES! YES! YES! A military spouse with the proper military ID can purchase and activate Disney’s Salute tickets. Tickets are tracked via the service member, and each service member is allotted 6 tickets per year.

The 6 tickets can be purchased for friends and family, too! Take a special trip with Grandma, friends, or just your kids!

Can a Different Service Member Activate the Tickets?

The Disney Salute tickets are tracked and documented to a service member via their Department of Defense identification number. It is the policy that whatever service member purchased the tickets, they or their spouse is the the person who has to activate them in Disney World.

Can You Get More Than Disney Salute Tickets?

There is a firm limit on the number of military tickets allotted to a service member and their family. Each DOD ID number is alotted 6 tickets. Because of the steep discount, there are no exceptions to this policy. Even if you have more people in your immediate family than this, you cannot get more than 6 per year.

For more 2023 military information read this.

Disney Dining Plan 2024

Are you as excited as we are that the Disney Dining Plan is returning in 2024? When planning your next Disney vacation it’s important to know all of the discounts available to you, and places where there are no discounts.

Disney offers steep discounts on the tickets and resort rooms for military families, but there is no discount for the Disney Dining Plan. When purchasing a full vacation package, the discount percentage is taken off of just the resort portion of the package.

Regardless, we still love the Disney Dining Plan, especially to enjoy all of the character dining in Disney! See all of the details about the new DDP coming in 2024 here!

Restaurant and Shop Guide with Military Discounts in Disney Springs

No Disney-owned shops or restaurants offer military discounts, however, many places inside Disney Springs do!  Companies change discount policies often, so even if you don’t see the restaurant that you want to try on this list, it doesn’t hurt to ask!

Make sure any place that you plan on using a military discount you have your ID handy!

Military Discount on Merchandise

There are no additional discounts for military or first responders in the Disney Parks, however…

If you are a fan of discounted and clearance Disney merchandise you have to check out the Disney Character Warehouse at the Vineland Outlets in Orlando, Florida. And guess what?

THERE IS A MILITARY DISCOUNT AT THE DISNEY CHARACTER WAREHOUSE! Go ahead and buy the spirit jersey, Loungefly, mug, AND the hat. With deep clearance discounts and 10% military discount, there’s no reason not to say yes to everything!

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History of the Disney Company with the Military

Did you know that Walt’s brother Roy joined the Navy during World War I, and Walt drove ambulances for the Red Cross? When Walt and Roy were running the Disney Company with some of the most recognizable characters in the world, they created military unit characters, patches, and public information videos about the war all for free. Walt and Roy sought to boost morale for the troops with our favorite angry duck, and many other friends.

Fun fact: the only character to not be used in any military insignia was Bambi.

If you want to learn more about the rich history between Walt and Roy Disney with the United States military and the U.S. Government, be sure to walk through the hidden gem Walt Disney Presents in Hollywood Studios. This walk through museum will share all about Walt’s love of country and the efforts of the Walt Disney Company to support the men and women in uniform.