In recent years, many of Florida’s theme parks and attractions have started to show support for the military with special discounts and free tickets.
In July 2013 both SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment and Walt Disney announced new programs supporting the US military and their families.
See details about all the programmes for both serving and retired personnel including discounts at Universal and Legoland Florida below.
SeaWorld and Busch Gardens
For a number of years now, SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment has run their “Here’s To The Heroes” programme which offered one free admission ticket to serving US military personnel and up to three direct family dependents.
This programme has now been superseded by “Waves of Honor” which runs until December 31, 2013.
Like Here’s To The Heroes, Waves of Honor allows any active duty military, activated or drilling reservist, National Guardsman or foreign military personnel serving with US units, one complimentary admission per year to either SeaWorld®, Busch Gardens® or Adventure Island® parks in Florida plus some other parks in the SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment group.
Note that the offer does not apply to civilian defence contractors or retired military personnel nor does it include special events like Howl-O-Scream or Christmas Town at Busch Gardens.
Aquatica and Discovery Cove are excluded from the Waves of Honor programme.
Family dependents do not need to visit with the main military member but must present their Department of Defense (DoD) issued dependent photo ID. Guests can register online at www.wavesofhonor.com.
In August the programme was extended offering half price single-day tickets to both active and retired military personnel. Up to six discounted tickets can be purchased online or through participating military bases. The offer runs until November 11, 2013 and tickets must be redeemed by December 20, 2013. You must show a valid military ID or proof of service such as a Veteran’s Administration card.
Walt Disney World
The US DoD has operated its Shades of Green hotel at the Walt Disney World Resort for military personnel since 1994 and offers discounts on both the rooms and park admission tickets. As an Armed Forces Recreation Center Resort it is available to both serving and retired military personnel but guests are not eligible to take advantage of the Disney Dining Plan or the Disney Magical Express bus service from Orlando Airport.
Unlike SeaWorld and Legoland, Disney does not give out free admission tickets to the serving military. However between August 12, 2013 and September 24, 2014, both serving and retired US military personnel and their spouses will be able to purchase heavily discounted Disney 4-Day Military Promotional Tickets.
The tickets can be used any time between September 29, 2013 and September 27, 2014 except for blackout periods around Christmas (December 20 to 31, 2013), Easter (April 13 to 20, 2014) and on July 4, 2014 only the Magic Kingdom is accessible.
The three ticket options are:
- 4 day with Park Hopper Option for $169 plus tax (normal gate price would be $338)
- 4 day with Water Park Fun and More Option for $169 plus tax
- 4 day with Park Hopper Option plus Water Park Fun and More Option for $198 plus tax
Guests can also get discounts on specially priced rooms at selected Disney Resort hotels. Disney is also promoting a similar offer at Disneyland California.
Universal Orlando offers discounts to military personnel through the Leisure Travel (Information, Ticket and Travel or ITT) offices at various military bases. Prices vary by location.
Active military personnel can also get a discount at the front gates on presentation of their current military or DoD identification.
For 2013, like SeaWorld, Legoland Florida is also offering free one day admission to active US military personnel; this is for both Legoland Florida and the Legoland Water Park. Military personnel and their families can also purchase heavily discounted tickets through their military base ITT Offices or get a 10% discount at the front gate.