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8 Reasons Why You Should Buy an Annual Pass to Walt Disney World

As an Orlando resident, I cannot imagine living here and not having a pass to the parks. My family and I can pick up and go to Walt Disney World whenever we want. It’s not just a Florida thing, though. When we lived elsewhere, we still kept our passes. An Annual Pass gives you the freedom to come and go as you please. If you’re not local you can still enjoy your vacation more with a pass, because you won’t be wasting part of an expensive ticket if you decide to not spend a whole day in a park. If you get in late, you can still catch Wishes. You’d probably skip it if it would take an entire day from your ticket.

Walt Disney World has created a more elaborate system of Annual Pass options:

  • The Platinum Annual Pass, previously just known as the Annual Pass. Anyone is eligible to purchase this option and it is good for 12 months with no block out dates. It allows admission into all 4 parks and Park Hopping. Free parking at the theme parks, PhotoPass Downloads and a MagicBand is included with this pass.
  • Platinum Plus Annual Pass, previously called the Premium Annual Pass. This pass offers all of the benefits of the basic Platinum Pass, along with admissions to the waterparks and Oak Trail Golf Course.
  • The Gold Pass is available to DVC Members and Florida residents. This pass includes admission to all 4 parks, park hopping, parking and the photopass downloads. There are blockout dates associated with this pass during popular visitation times and holidays.
  • The Silver Pass is available to Florida Residents only and includes admission to all 4 parks, park hopping, and parking but has more extensive blockout dates including most of the summer.
  • Disney Weekday Select Pass is for Florida residents only and only Monday-Friday. This pass includes the entry into all 4 parks, park hopping and parking. There are blockout dates associated with this pass too.
  • The Epcot After 4 pass is for Florida Residents with the idea that they will come in for dinner. It is only for admission to Epcot, only 4:00pm or later, and includes parking.

8. Florida Residents

One of the great benefits of living in the Sunshine State is the number of discounts! Walt Disney World is no exception. The Premium Annual Pass and the Annual Pass are both discounted. There are also some choices that only Florida residents are eligible for. The Seasonal Pass is good seven days a week, but there are blockout dates. The Weekday Select Pass only works Monday through Friday, and blockout dates apply as well. (The blockout dates are during the busiest times of the year, when most Florida residents avoid the parks anyway.) There is also an Epcot After 4 Annual Pass, and two different Water Parks Passes. One of the other nice benefits that Florida Residents receive is the option of a payment plan. Proof of Florida residency is required. Don’t think that you’re going to fool the system and get the discount if you don’t live in Florida, Disney has seen it all already.

7. Free Parking

Parking is included if you’re staying at a Walt Disney World Resort hotel, but many guests choose to stay off property. It is nice to have your car instead of having to wait for a hotel shuttle, but paying the parking fee day after day will add up. If you purchase an Annual Pass, there is no more parking fee. You can keep your car close by and come and go as you please, without adding an extra daily cost onto your vacation.

6. Park Hopper Included

The Park Hopper option allows you to visit more than one park per day. It is a great thing to have, but it’s an expensive addition to your ticket. If you have an Annual Pass, you can park hop all that you want. It’s one less expense that would otherwise be added to a Magic Your Way ticket.

5. Previews

When a new ride or attraction opens, sometimes Walt Disney World will have Passholder Previews. An email will be sent out several days in advance, letting Passholders know about upcoming sign ups. A link will later be sent, and all that you’ll have to do is sign in and grab a time. While it sounds easy enough, it isn’t always. When the Passholder preview sign ups opened for New Fantasyland, the system crashed and people were understandably frustrated. Walt Disney World did make up for it by adding several more dates and times, making it easier for Passholders to get a sneak peek.

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4. Dining Discounts

Food is expensive, but your Annual Pass might help to cut down on the cost somewhat. Many restaurants offer a discount of 10 to 20 percent, alcohol is not included. There is a downside to this. If you’re dining mostly in the parks, you’ll soon discover that too many of the restaurants do not offer a Passholder discount. If you plan on trying out the restaurants at Disney Springs or you love the resort restaurants, you’ll be happier. Annual Passholders are eligible for Tables in Wonderland, which is a dining discount program. Passholders can purchase an annual membership for $150, and then you’ll receive a 20 percent discount on food and beverages at over 100 restaurants, including several in the theme parks. There is a discount on alcohol if you are a Tables in Wonderland member.

3. Merchandise Discounts

While the dining discounts are rare in the parks, the same is not true for the merchandise discounts. Plenty of stores offer Passholders a chance to save. The discount is usually 10%, but occasionally there is a special with a higher percentage. Remember that not all stores on Walt Disney World property are owned by Disney, and you will find some that don’t offer a discount. The Passholder must be the one to make the purchase, it can’t be another member of your party. Have your ID and discount card ready to make the transaction go faster. In addition to the discounts there is special merchandise only available to passholders.

2. Hotel and Other Discounts

Several times a year Annual Passholders will receive emails about discounted Walt Disney World Resort rooms. The savings can be substantial. Usually it’s only a set number of rooms that are discounted and they will often have to be booked months in advance. The rooms will go quickly, so grab them when they become available. There are also Passholder discounts for spa treatments, water sports, car rentals, bowling, golf, movies, special ticketed events, and more.

1. Bragging Rights

There is nothing quite like bragging to family and friends that you have a Walt Disney World Annual Pass. Disney makes it easy for you to brag. You’ll receive an AP magnet for your car. You will be eligible for Passholder only merchandise for events like Star Wars Weekends. (The Passholder T-shirt clearly lets people know that you’re not just a casual fan.) You’ll also be able to keep up to date on everything that is happening at Walt Disney World. In addition to the emails (you can opt out if you want) you will receive the Mickey Monitor in the mail four times a year. It contains all the latest information on special events and discounts. It will also look great on your coffee table.

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.