Scammers Target Tourists With Fake Disney World Tickets—Here’s How to Protect Yourself

PHOTO: Tom Dowd/Dreamstime

If the deals are too good to be true, they are. Here’s what you need to know so can avoid being scammed.

In Orange County, Fla., investigators are claiming a woman made hundreds of dollars through a fake theme park ticket bargain scheme. Tabreshia Hendry, 22, allegedly scammed several people with fake tickets to Disney World, Universal Studios, and SeaWorld between November 2017 to May 2018.

One of the victims, Angel Vega, said he bought nine tickets, which were being advertised on a Facebook Marketplace page called “Offer Up.” Vega, who thought he was saving $450, asked to see Hendry’s ID when they met up to confirm she was legitimate. After she obliged and showed him her license, he paid her $270.

Hendry was selling each ticket with a price tag of $30. By comparison, one Disney World “Park Per Day” ticket runs $109, a Universal Orlando Studios one-day ticket runs $114, and a standard SeaWorld ticket price will run you $79.99 for a single day.

It’s Happened Before

This isn’t the only time an Orlando theme park ticket scheme has made headlines. In 2017, a man was accused of selling 13 fake tickets to Walt Disney World on Craigslist to a family who bought them for $1,000.

A simple Craigslist search for Disney tickets in Orlando shows 338 pages, the first of which sees prices range from $1 to $35. A similar search for SeaWorld tickets shows 101 pages on Craigslist, with tickets also advertised as low as one $1.

Scams aren’t limited to the theme parks. The Better Business Bureau received more than 300 reports on ticket scams in 2017 for events including concerts and theater performances. The BBB recommends you purchase your tickets directly from the retailer’s ticket store if possible. If you do choose to go through a separate seller, we recommend you look them up on the BBB’s website and also pay with a credit card, that way you can refute any charges.

universal scam
Kamira/Shutterstock

There Are Legitimate Ways to Save at Theme Parks

If you’re looking for a sure-fire, above board way to save money on a theme park vacations, MouseSavers.com has multiple pages of Disney deals, including 30 percent off room rates for spring and summer. SeaWorld, where you can save 20 percent on a ticket if you buy at least three days before your visit, and Universal Orlando have their own pages as well. Orlando Fun Tickets and Undercover Tourist, which offers savings of up to $107 on tickets to Universal Orlando Resort, are also worth checking out.

With entrance prices rising—a single-park ticket for a regular day at Disneyland is up more than 17 percent compared to this time last year—there are practical ways to manage costs at the parks. Avoid peak periods to visit (obviously), consider buying tickets as far in advance of your planned visit as possible, and, if you have children, take them before they turn three—tickets are free for those under that age. Disney’s Special Offer page is definitely worth a look as you can take advantage of free meals and get 30 percent off on rooms at select Disney hotels. Last but certainly not least, The House of Mouse offers its own Visa cards via Chase. The Disney Visa Premier currently allows new card members to earn a $250 credit.