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Should You Buy A Walt Disney World Annual Pass?

Lately, I've been asked if purchasing a Disney Annual Pass (AP) is a better value than buying theme park tickets for each visit to Walt Disney World. The answer depends on how you plan to visit the parks, so let's break down the factors.

Cinderella's Castle at Disney's Magic Kingdom
Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World

Disney Annual Pass Comparison

One of the first factors to consider is the type of annual pass you can purchase. Walt Disney World offers four annual passes: Disney Pixie Dust Pass, Disney Pirate Pass, Disney Sorcerer Pass, and Disney Incredi-Pass. Each pass allows guests a full year to use at the theme parks, not from the time of purchase but when the guest activates their AP for the first time. The only pass that is eligible for all guests is the Disney Incredi-Pass. Only Florida residents can purchase the Disney Pixie Dust Pass, Disney Pirate Pass, and Disney Sorcerer Pass. Additionally, each pass has specific use cases, including blockout dates. Not familiar with blockout dates? These are dates on which an AP is not valid for park admission. The Disney Incredi-Pass is the only AP option that does not apply blockout dates. All of the other passes are subject to blockout dates, which include the popular holiday periods and peak periods at the parks.

There are more details to consider with the four annual passes. The Disney Pixie Dust Pass limits guests to make and hold up to 3 theme park pass reservations at a time on a rolling basis. Compare that to the Disney Pirate pass, which allows guests to make and hold up to 4 theme park reservations at a time. The Disney Sorcerer and Disney Incredi-Passes allow guests to make and hold up to 5 theme park reservations. Overall, the main factor to consider for APs is whether or not you are a Florida resident because if you aren't, the Disney Incredi-Pass is your only option.


Park Hopping

One of the incredible benefits of the annual passes is that park hopping is included! Typically, the cost to add a Park Hopper to your theme park ticket is almost $100/per ticket. I'm very happy that starting January 9th, guests no longer have to wait until after 2 PM to start park hopping.


Cost

Annual Passes are not inexpensive, but depending on the pass selected and how many days you plan to visit Walt Disney World, one could save money. Let's "dig a little deeper," as Mama Odie says, and compare the cost of an AP to an individual theme park ticket. For this example, we will assume that our guest plans to purchase the Disney Incredi-Pass for $1450 (tax not included). To determine how many days the guest has to attend Walt Disney World without an AP to break even on the cost of an AP, let's consider the current admission price of a theme park ticket with Park Hopper. The average family stays at Walt Disney World for six days, so let's assume that our guest is purchasing a 6-day Park Hopper pass for $105/day x 6 days = $630. Adding a Park Hopper increases the total to about $717 a ticket per person. A straightforward calculation of $717 x 2 visits = $1434, just around the same price as the Disney Incredi-Pass.


January 2024 calendar view of Disney theme park tickets
6-Day Ticket Comparison. Courtesy Disney
Park Hopper Option
Park Hopper for 6-Day Ticket Option. Courtesy Disney

Let's say our guest wants to go to Disney World for three days during one trip and five days during another visit. The cost of a 3-day ticket with Park Hopper increases because theme park tickets are generally less expensive per day the more days you plan to visit Walt Disney World. A 3-day ticket is $144/day (plus tax), which amounts to around $510 in total with Park Hopper. Now, let's calculate the 5-day ticket price. As mentioned, the per-day ticket cost is less than $121/day (plus tax) because of the increased number of days planned to visit Walt Disney World. With Park Hopper included, the cost is about $692 for five days. Now let's calculate the total cost of the 3-day and 5-day theme park tickets: $510+$692 = $1202. In this example, the guest will have to visit Walt Disney World at least three times to break even on the cost of the Disney Incredi-Pass compared to the estimated cost if the guest decides not to buy an AP.


Benefits of Being a Passholder

Being an Annual Passholder has many benefits beyond the cool card and elite status. Standard theme park parking is included as a benefit for all of the four APs. Additional benefits include discounts on select merchandise, entertainment, dining, and more. I love the Disney PhotoPass service and usually purchase Memory Maker for about $185 before my trip. With an AP, guests can receive unlimited Disney Photo Pass downloads for $99/year plus tax! Guests can also add the Disney Water Parks and Sports activities to their AP for an additional $99/year plus tax, and guess what, block out dates don't apply! Walt Disney World also has a Florida Resident Monthly Payment Program allowing guests to make their AP payments throughout the year instead of in one payment. Keep in mind that the monthly payment will vary per AP, and guests will be charged a one-time fee of $205 at the time of purchase of their AP.


See the complete list of discounts and benefits for Walt Disney World AP holders here.


Disney Annual Passes allow guests to maximize Walt Disney World for an entire year whenever they like for as many visits as they like. I think APs are an excellent option for families and guests who visit Walt Disney World multiple times in a year, and with new changes coming to the parks in 2024, the benefits are valuable. Let me know your thoughts about APs by leaving your comments below!

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