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6 Secrets Most People Don’t Know About Annual Passes At Walt Disney World

Annual Passes at Walt Disney World can be confusing. For the general public there are two main options: Disney Platinum Plus Pass and Disney Platinum Pass. The main difference is that the Platinum Plus Pass includes the water parks, ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, and Disney’s Oak Trail Golf Course. Florida residents have even more options. Here are six secrets and suggestions to help you decide whether or not an Annual Pass will work for you.

6. Florida Residents

Living in Florida has its benefits, and one of those is the variety of options that you’ll receive if you’re considering an Annual Pass. Aside from the two passes already mentioned, Florida residents can purchase Gold, Silver, or Weekday Select passes. All four will give the Passholder admission to any of the four Walt Disney World theme parks, but there are blackout dates. The Epcot After 4 Annual Pass is exactly what it sounds like, you’ll be able to enter Epcot after 4:00. All of these passes include free parking, but only the Gold Pass includes Memory Maker. Another benefit of being a Florida resident is that you can also make a down payment and then pay the rest monthly. There are Florida resident passes for the water parks as well. You must have proof of Florida residency in order to purchase a Florida resident pass, your uncle’s best friend who lives in Apopka can’t buy it for you. Don’t think that you’re going to pull one over on Disney, they’ve seen it all before.

5. Extras Included

The rest of the information here is for the Disney Platinum Plus Pass and Disney Platinum Passes, no matter where you live. With the two different passes you’ll receive more than just park admission, they both have extra benefits and discounts. Free parking is included, which will save you quite a bit if you’re not staying on Walt Disney World property. Memory Maker is included as well, so you can download all of your pictures and keep them forever. Ride photos and videos are part of Memory Maker as well. There are also plenty of discounts. You’ll receive discounts for many stores, special event tickets, resort hotel rooms, recreation, dining, and more. Some of those benefits aren’t as great as they sound. For example, most of the dining discounts are at full service restaurants outside of the theme parks. It’s never a bad idea to ask if there is a Passholder discount whenever you’re about to purchase anything at Walt Disney World, whether it’s food, souvenirs, movie tickets, miniature golf, or anything else. There is also a discount when you renew. Chances are that the price will have gone up so you’ll still pay more, but it will cost less than a brand new pass would.

4. Stagger Your Trips

Here’s a tip that many people have never considered. If you visit Walt Disney World at least once each year, Annual Passes might make sense for your family. If you’re able to stagger your trips there’s a good chance that Annual Passes will cost you less than buying tickets for two visits. Pick your dates so that you can use your passes for both trips. If you usually visit Walt Disney World in August, for example, plan a trip for the second week in August and buy the passes then. Plan your next trip for the first week in August the next year. You’ll get two trips out of your Annual Passes, including the benefits and discounts, and you just might decide that a short trip in the middle is in order.

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3. Buy One

If buying Annual Passes for everyone in your party won’t work, consider buying just one pass. As long as one member of your party has a pass you’ll still receive Memory Maker and free parking (for the Passholder’s car). You’ll also be eligible for the discounts; as long as the Passholder is present. If Dad has the pass, the teenagers can’t go into a store by themselves and use it. Do the math and see if buying one pass might save your family money on your next vacation. The hardest part might be deciding which family member gets to be the Passholder.

2. Link Your Whole Party

While the Passholder needs to be present to receive discounts, the same is not true for Memory Maker. If you don’t purchase passes for everyone in your family, make sure that you’re all linked on your My Disney Experience account. You won’t then miss any ride photos or other picture opportunities, even if the Passholder decides to sit out Space Mountain.

1. Benefits Change

One thing that you need to remember when considering buying an Annual Pass is that the benefits and the program will change, often annually. This isn’t always a bad thing. In 2015 DisneyQuest was dropped from the Premium Plus Pass, but Memory Maker was added. Restaurants will be added to the program, while others will leave. Disney might offer discounted tickets to friends of Passholders during slower times of the year. The best way to keep up with the latest information is to check the website often (there’s a Passholder page), read your emails, and look through your Mickey Monitor when it comes in the mail. That way, you’ll be up to date on how to get the most out of your Annual Pass.

About PaulaK

I grew up in Western Massachusetts. When I was nine my family went to Disneyland and I was hooked. I grew up, attended New England College in Henniker, NH and eventually moved to Virginia. I worked as a disc jockey, married and became a full time mom when our daughter was born. Fast forward several years. In 2010 we moved to Central Florida and my Disney obsession grew. I now work as a freelance writer and spend my spare time in the parks. Under the name Paula Brown I penned the novels Dream Wanderers and The Coffee Cruiser. I also am a co-author of Dining at Walt Disney World: The Definitive Guide. I'm obsessed with Star Wars, so this is a good time to live in Central Florida. I've been a vegetarian for well over a decade, a choice that my daughter eventually made as well. While my husband still hasn't joined us fully he has given up most meats except for seafood. I was relieved to find that vegetarian dining is not difficult at Walt Disney World.