Often you will find lists of pros and cons for your Walt Disney World vacation. This list is a little bit different, because when it comes to buying an Annual Pass, there really is no con. I’ve been an Annual Passholder for years, and I never hesitate to renew when my year is ending. I’m local now, but I did have a pass when I lived out of state, and I still got my money’s worth. Here are ten pros (and no cons) for purchasing a Walt Disney World Annual Pass.
The closest thing to a con as far as an Annual Pass is concerned is the cost. It’s expensive when you look only at the price. That said, it can also be a great value. If you visit Walt Disney World a couple of times a year it could be a better deal than purchasing tickets the old fashioned way. When you add in all of the extras and benefits, it can be surprisingly affordable. If you can’t see buying passes for your whole family, do the math and see if it will be worth it to buy only one pass so that you’ll receive the benefits. You just might be surprised.
9. Pass Options
There are options when it comes to purchasing an Annual Pass. Disney Platinum Plus Pass includes admission to the theme parks and the water parks, plus ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex and Disney’s Oak Trail Golf Course. If that’s too much, Disney Platinum Pass is for admission only to the four theme parks. If you are a Florida Resident, there are even more options that include blockout dates. If you live in Florida, you can also pay monthly. If you live outside of the state a payment plan is not offered.
8. Free Theme Park Parking
If you stay at a Walt Disney World owned resort, your theme park parking is included. If you’re not staying on property, paying the daily parking fee will add quite a bit to your vacation costs. With an Annual Pass, that will not be a problem, because your parking is free. This is one instance where purchasing one pass could save you hundreds of dollars, depending on how many days you visit.
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7. Park Hopper
Another extra that you will not have to purchase with an Annual Pass is Park Hopper. It is included with your pass. You can come and go as much as you would like, even hit all four parks and both water parks in one day if you want and you have the Platinum Plus Pass. If you decide that the Magic Kingdom is too crowded, head to Epcot instead. It’s as simple as that.
The addition of Park Hopper gives you the ability to change your plans at a moment’s notice, but that is not the only place where an Annual Pass will give you flexibility. With a regular park ticket, there’s an urgency to spend every possible moment in a park because you only have so many days. With an Annual Pass, that sense of urgency is gone, because you have 365 days to enjoy it. Sleep in if you want, spend the day by the pool, then head to the Magic Kingdom for Happily Ever After. There’s less of a feeling that you need to do it all, and this flexibility can be a very nice thing.
5. Memory Maker
Another expense that is included with an Annual Pass is all of your PhotoPass downloads. This includes ride photos, Magic Shots, and any other PhotoPass picture that you have taken. You will not need to purchase Memory Maker! When you add the cost of Memory Maker and parking together, you’ve knocked off a large chunk of the cost of the pass. If you live in Florida, your downloads are included only for Gold Passes and higher.
4. Special Passholder Events
Disney has lately been rolling out special events that are only for Annual Passholders. V.I.Passholder Nights have been held at Epcot and the Magic Kingdom, the parks were open only for Passholders who preregistered. Passholders were given a preview for Pandora, and a chance to visit Toy Story Land alone in September. There have also been pop-up shops that Annual Passholders were given early access to. These types of offerings have proven to be popular, so there is a good chance that they will continue to be offered.
3. Passholder Merchandise
Disney wants Passholders to be able to show off, so there is often Passholder-only merchandise sold at special events such as the festivals at Epcot. T-shirts are usually available, and there could be a Passholder-only mug or pin. Disney has also been giving Annual Passholders special themed magnets for their cars or refrigerators. These feature a favorite character. When you purchase your pass you will receive one (or more) classic Annual Passholder magnets in the mail. The themed magnets must be picked up in person.
2. Discounts Galore
There are plenty of discounts offered to Annual Passholders. These include souvenirs, dining, miniature golf, movies, and resort rooms. Discounts are also available for tours and special ticketed events such as Mickey’s Parties. The discounts are another way that buying one Annual Pass can save you money. One word about dining discounts. Most counter service restaurants do not offer a discount, and many of the table service restaurants in the parks do not have one either. Always ask, just in case. Also, if you want an ice cream bar, you won’t get a discount if you buy it from a kiosk, but you might if you buy it inside a store.
1. Bragging Rights
One of the biggest pros about becoming an Annual Passholder is that you will have bragging rights. There is something special about knowing that you can go to a park whenever you want, even when you are hundreds of miles away. Go ahead and brag to your friends a bit, but don’t be surprised if they start to come to you with all of their Walt Disney World questions. After all, becoming an Annual Passholder will raise you to “expert” status in their eyes. You have to admit, it’s a fun topic to be an expert on.