A couple of weeks ago, Points to Neverland wrote about a backdoor method for booking Disney World tickets on the Chase travel portal. At the time, we internally marked the news as “developing” for reasons I’ll get into in a moment. But since the miles and points world is mildly abuzz with the news that Disney might be coming back to Chase, we thought we’d share our findings. And let’s not bury the lede: at time of writing only Disney tickets are available again. We haven’t had any luck booking hotels (though you can still use agency exclusives for that), packages, or Disney cruises – so although Disney and Chase have a heartbeat, we’re definitely not back up to full capacity. 🙁
Update 1/9/2019: Looks like they shut the backdoor. 🙁
We’ll start by discussing how to find Disney tickets on the travel portal and then we’ll talk about how prices look compared to what you can get on the Disney website. Our bottom line is, it’s great to have the option back, but you can still save a lot of money using NON Chase miles and points. Let’s dig into it.
How to find Disney tickets on the Chase travel portal
So we haven’t had any luck finding Disney tickets directly but they aren’t too hard to find. The way to find them is simple although a bit annoying.
1 – Login to your Chase Travel Portal (just click on your Ultimate Rewards balance in your Chase credit card online portfolio)
2 – Click on “Travel”
3 – Search for “Things to Do” in Orlando (Disney World) of Anaheim (Disney Land)
4 – Disney will NOT show up. Click ANOTHER theme park (we use Universal in Florida and Legoland in California)
5 – Give the website a second to populate options for buying tickets to these theme parks. After everything fully loads, at the bottom you should see a link to Disney tickets under “people also viewed”
6 – Click on Disney World or Disneyland tickets and find the tickets you want!
So once you know the backdoor trick, it’s pretty straightforward to find these tickets. And we’ve been successful using Reserve, Freedom, and Ink portals (though since we have all the cards we can’t confirm what would happen if we only had one of them).
The real question, of course, is will you actually save any money? Let’s take a look at what we found
How do Chase travel’s prices compare with Disney’s prices?
Let’s get this out of the way up front – if you can get at least more than 1 cent per point out of your Ultimate Rewards, you can argue you’re saving some money. But what we want to look at here is how the prices on Chase’s travel portal compare to Disney’s prices. Then you can make the decision about how to best allocate your resources when buying Disney tickets.
Remember, with Chase Sapphire Reserve you can get 1.5 cents per point, Ink and Sapphire Preferred can get 1.25 cents per point, and Freedom gets 1 cent per point applied to Disney (or any travel).
For Disneyland, we found that Chase Travel and Disney’s prices match up exactly!
Good news first. For Disneyland, Chase and Disney prices match up exactly (at least on the searches we did, I’m sure there are a couple exceptions). That means if you use your Reserve at 1.5 cents per point you can save some real money buying Disneyland tickets. Here are some screenshots for proof:
A three day park-hopper at Disneyland is $330, same as the Disneyland website:
Even MORE promising, Chase Travel is mirroring at least some of the special offers on the Disneyland website. They currently have a discount on some tickets that are to be used before next May. The discount is available on Chase Travel as well, which is pretty great.
This is the closest we were able to recreate the “good old days”, since using Chase Ultimate Rewards with uplift for Disney provided discounts is the ultimate dream.
Unfortunately, the picture wasn’t as rosy for Disney World (though it’s not horrible)
Disney World tickets are the “flexible” tickets (aka the expensive ones)
Most people know that Disney World moved to date based ticketing – you now need to indicate the first day of your trip. However, you can still buy tickets that don’t need to start on a specific date. This is called the “flexible date” option and it’ll cost you a few bucks compared to peak season prices and a lot more if you’re going during off peak times. For example, a 4 day non park-hopper at Christmas still costs $12 less than the flexible 4 day ticket if you select your start date. During off peak times, selecting your date costs $70 less than a flexible ticket.
When you backdoor into Walt Disney World tickets, the only options we found were the flexible tickets. That means that the cash price Chase is offering is more than what you’d probably pay on Disney’s website (assuming that like an average user you’d indicate your start date).
On Chase Travel, the aforementioned 4 day ticket would cost $473.93.
While it’s great to get the 1.5 cents uplift, it’s still not as good as paying the cheapest rate that Disney’s offering. The peak price for the date selected ticket is $461.62 and the cheapest off peak ticket is $395.16. You “save” by using points, but you’re buying the most expensive tickets. So not ideal, but I still think I might use this option to save some money overall. Using 31,595 Ultimate Rewards points would probably be better than using $395 cash if I was going off peak, but it’d be pretty close.
But let’s not completely celebrate – Chase Travel only offers the most expensive Disney tickets. And while I tend to be a pessimistic person, something is nagging me that Disney tickets showing up on Chase Travel is a bug, not a feature.
What we think is happening
There’s one question that’s been bothering me. Why do we need to “backdoor” to find these tickets on the Chase Travel portal? The optimistic version is that Chase is getting things set up on the backend but nothing we heard when Chase originally killed Disney would indicate that they planned to bring it back.
A pessimistic view, and my current hypothesis, is that when they migrated the Expedia back end over to Chase Travel they didn’t realize they left this backdoor open. Because you have to ask – how could people on the Chase Travel Portal be “also viewing” Disney tickets if it’s not an option when you search for it? Probably because they’re not! People on Expedia’s normal website are searching for Universal and Disney tickets at the same time, and since Chase and Expedia share a backend, we’re seeing the results. Chase probably created some rule that hard coded Disney showing up in a MAIN search but didn’t block it from showing up at the bottom in “also viewed”. This is my current operating theory. Take a look at this screenshot from the bottom of a Universal tickets search:
Look familiar? Well, I grabbed that from Expedia’s website, where I bet thousands of people search for Disney and Universal in the same session every single day.
So my guess is, if Chase gets wise, they might figure out how to shut it down. Hopefully I’m wrong and the floodgates will open and we’ll get back to the way things used to be. Chase has been pretty stringent in a variety of areas lately and if it hurts their bottom line they might loosen up again. I guess only time will tell!
I don’t mean to be a Debbie Downer, my goal is just to present all of our findings and to posit a possible explanation for what’s going on. I’ll be so happy to eat crow if I’m wrong and Chase is bringing Disney back in full. Until then, I’ll happily book my Disneyland tickets and my peak pricing Disney World tickets through this backdoor method. And remember you can still book the range of Disney activities using Citi Thank You points at a 1.25 cent per point uplift (including vacation packages) if Chase isn’t doing it for you.
Am I wrong to be so pessimistic? Are you excited Disney tickets are back at Chase? Let us know in the comments!
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