By Katie Penn & Stephen Ashley
How Annual Passes Can Save You a Lot of Money When Used Fully
We’ll go into depth about how to use an annual pass as a tool for almost anyone looking to save money at Disney World. First, the following are recent related announcements by Disney:
Disney World Annual Passholer – Updates
Disney is now selling the Disney Incredi-Pass, Disney Sorcerer Pass and the Disney Pirate Pass, in addition to the Pixie Dust Pass. The quantity of passes are limited and passes, or a pass type, may become unavailable for purchase at any time. For eligible DVC members, you are be able to buy the DVC Disney Sorcerer Pass online beginning 4-13-2023 as a part of their Magic Benefits.
Annual Passholders can now visit the theme parks after 2 PM without a park reservation, except on Saturdays and Sunday’s at Magic Kingdom. Pass blockout dates will continue to apply.
How Can Disney World Annual Passes Save You Money?
It’s common sense that if you’re going to Disney frequently, an annual pass is a great idea. There are others who should really consider it as well. While the different levels of annual passes vary your access to the park, the perks last throughout the year.
If you’re only going for only one trip or if you’re on the fence about needing an annual pass, consider these two good reasons for buying one:
- Annual passes get you discounts. Sometimes big!
- You can participate in things that are only for annual pass members.
TIP: Only one person needs to buy the Annual Pass to get discounts (and some perks) for your entire party.
To lower travel costs, some people buy regular tickets for everyone in their party except one person who gets an annual pass. This allows you to enjoy the discounts and even special annual pass member activities. However only the person who has the annual pass will be the only one who can get entry to the parks for the year.
When is an Annual Pass more economical than regular tickets?
Prices change so you’ll want to check to see if any of these still make sense given current pricing and availability of different types of annual passes. But as a general guide, here are some situations where an annual pass might be worth the cost.
1. You’ll be visiting the parks at least 10 days so that the annual pass cost is similar to the cost of tickets. To see if that’s true for you, you’ll want to:
Compare Ticket Price to (Annual Pass Price minus Discount Savings)
Discount Savings is something you’ll want to estimate in advance. Take a look below at all the potential ways you can save money using your annual pass. Then subtract that from the cost of the annual pass.
If you do this, you’ll be able to see if it’s cheaper to buy tickets or annual passes. This will take a little research on your part to determine what discounts you’re likely to take advantage of, but it can be worth the effort.
2. You’re planning numerous trips within a 12-month period. Again, you’ll want to compare, but with more trips comes more park days, and you’re likely to take advantage of more discounts. Of course, you’ll want to check the “blackout” days on the annual passes to make sure you can use them when you’re visiting.
DISCOUNTS AND PERKS THAT DISNEY CURRENTLY OFFERS ANNUAL PASSHOLDERS INCLUDE:
- Room rate discounts: Offered at various times in various resorts, usually for up to 30% off rack room rates.
- Dining Discounts: Many Disney World restaurants (10-20% off)
- Option to buy Tables in Wonderland discount dining
- Disney dinner show discounts (usually 10%)
- Merchandise discounts: Available in some Disney stores (usually 10% and sometimes 20%)
- Disney tours discounts (usually 10-15% discount)
- Movie theater discount: Available at the theater in Disney Springs (currently $2 off)
- Bowling discount: Available at Splitsville in Disney Springs (currently %10)
- Disney’s special ticketed party discounts: Available for special events on select nights.
- Ferrytale Fireworks Cruise discount (10%)
- Water Park admission discounts (up to $16)
- Entertainment discounts: Includes discounts on entertainment like Mini Golf, bike rentals, fitness club/salon/massage, surry bikes, boat rentals, horse drawn carriages, fishing.
- Free parking: Free standard parking in the Disney World parks (at this writing saving you $25 a day)
- PhotoPass: You can buy an add-on for your annual pass with unlimited downloads.
- Park entry when near capacity: Should parks start to reach “capacity” (the point at which Disney implements a phased closure policy) annual pass holders are one of the last groups to be denied entry, just before resort guests.
- Dedicated annual pass holder lines to enter the parks. These may or may not be shorter/quicker than regular lines.
- Special annual passholder events: Occasionally, throughout the year, Walt Disney World may hold pass holder events.
- Special passholder merchandise: At most festivals, parties and/or events they tend to have passholder specific merchandise, which is only available with a current annual pass. In the past there have also been free merchandise giveaways (such as magnets, a glass or coasters) to commemorate events.
- Run Disney Registration: Annual pass holders can also benefit from early registration at Run Disney events.
- After 2 PM park entry without a park reservation: With all passes you can visit any park without a park reservation, except Magic Kingdom on the weekends (and as long as park capacity allows). Only those guests with the annual pass can do this. It won’t apply to the rest of your party if they don’t have annual passes.
Check out the specific and most current discounts Annual Pass holders are getting on Disney’s site.
Even if you’re just staying in a Disney resort and taking advantage of the Annual Pass room discounts, you may make up your money from that alone. Especially if you’re staying in a deluxe resort.
If you’re a Floridian, check out the article called Florida Residents – Disney World Tickets and Annual Passes – What you need to know.
More about Annual Passholder Room Rate Discounts:
These discounts usually come out around 2-4 months before your travel dates, and they’re not always available. They can sell out quickly, but when you can get one, the discount is significant.
To get the Annual Passholder rate, you don’t have to have your annual pass(es) before reserving your room. So, before reserving a room with an annual pass rate, make sure annual passes are available. Then if you find a good Annual Passholder rate that you wish to reserve, buy the annual pass(es) immediately. This is important: DISNEY CAN STOP OFFERING ANNUAL PASSES AT ANY TIME. You don’t want to show up at Disney without an annual pass if you’ve reserved your room with an annual pass rate.
Also, since the Annual Passholder rates come out rather late, you can reserve your room without it and watch for it. Once it’s released, if you can get it for your dates, you can apply the discount then.
For those who are out of the country:
If you’re out of the country, when you’re trying to determine if an annual pass is for you, you’ll also want to look at the way the exchange rates impact ticket pricing.
So, should you buy a Disney World Annual Pass?
The answer will depend on you, what you plan to do, which benefits you plan on using, and how many days you plan on visiting Disney World.
It’s time to do a little math. You’ll want to go to Disney’s site to determine if there are annual pass discounts available on your travel dates. If so, figure out what a 20-30% discount on your room can save you. From there, you’ll want to “guestimate” savings based on which other discounts you might use, and what they’ll save you. Finally, you’ll want to take a look at the annual pass perks to determine if you’ll use them.
You’ll put this altogether and compare it against the price of the annual pass. This all should help you decide if it’s worth it for you to buy an annual pass.
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