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Disney World to Give Free Water Park Tickets in 2025! But There’s a Big Catch

You might have seen some breathless proclamation this week about Walt Disney World’s newly announced freebie.

“Guests staying at Disney World’s resort hotels to get free water park entry,” USA Today trumpeted. 

Yeah, about that. There’s a huge catch that will keep most vacationers from being able to use the offer. 

It’s true that Disney World, which is located near Orlando, Florida, will grant guests free entry to one of the Disney water parks in 2025, but there are some significant strings attached.

First, free admission will only be valid on the day of arrival

The water parks close much earlier than Disney’s theme parks do. In the last week of February 2024, for example, the sole water park open at Walt Disney World, Blizzard Beach, is only open from 10am to 5pm. 

In practical terms, most people will only be able to use the water park freebie for a few hours—if at all. People who fly to Disney from another city are highly unlikely to be able to land and then transfer from the airport in time to make it into a water park, particularly if they’re coming from one of the country’s western time zones.

Maybe if your flight leaves at dawn and you’re flying within the Eastern time zone, you’ll have a chance of getting into a water park for at least a couple hours at the end of the operating day. But you’ll definitely have to plan ahead and push the pedal for maximum speed. Check-in at the Disney hotels is not generally until 3pm, so you will almost surely be unable to check into your hotel room to suit up and make it to the water park in time to do much.

It would have been far more thoughtful to allow guests to redeem their free water park visit on the day of departure, when they could simply schedule an evening flight home and enjoy the park all day. But that’s not what Disney did. 

Single tickets to Disney World water parks normally cost $74 per adult or $68 per child ages 3–9.

The second caveat for the free admission perk: It will only be for people who book a Disney-run hotel. The benefit will not apply if you’re staying at any other type of hotel.

Also, as Frommer’s pointed out in December, Walt Disney World may have two lavish water parks, Typhoon Lagoon (pictured above) and Blizzard Beach, but for years the company has only operated one of them at a time. (See “Disney World Has Quietly Removed an Entire Park from Its Daily Lineup.”) So you will not have your choice of water parks—unless that policy changes by 2025, you will only be able to hit the park that happens to be open.

If you intend to use the free entry perk for your 2025 vacation, it’s imperative that you plan to start travel to Orlando as early in the day as possible. You might even have to travel all night. In your swimsuits.

Jason Cochran is the author of the award-winning Frommer’s Disney World, Universal & Orlando guidebook.