Although frequent Walt Disney World guests are no stranger to annual price hikes, fans were truly shocked yesterday when Disney completely changed their annual pass pricing structure to include stricter “tiers” that offer either the same or less passholder benefits than the regular annual passes, but at much greater cost. Though there is quite a lot to unpack with all the changes that have been made to Walt Disney World's annual passholder program, here are the most surprising and outrageous elements of this program that we definitely didn’t see coming!
Unsurprisingly, we’ll start with the price changes:
1. The Cost
As mentioned previously Walt Disney World guests are conditioned to expect price hikes at certain times of the year, and 2015 was no different, with many anticipating the price changes via social media. However, instead of the expected small, incremental upcharge to pre-existing passes, annual passholders instead got four new pass tiers to choose from, all of which feature substantial price increases from comparable annual passes from 2014-2015. Here’s a rundown of all the new tiers:Silver tier
Florida residents $389
Florida resident renewal: $330
Non-FL resident: Not offered
Silver is most basic annual pass option, and is essentially a seasonal pass which includes admission to all four parks except on the following blackout dates: December 17–31, 2015; January 1, 2016; March 19–April 1, 2016; June 6–August 11, 2016; December 16–31, 2016; January 1–2, 2017. The only new benefit that this pass provides is, unlike the former seasonal pass, the silver-tiered pass includes complementary parking. However, you'll notice that the price is also substantially higher than the prevoious pass as well...Gold tier
Florida residents & DVC Members: $549
Florida resident renewal: $466
Non-FL resident: Not offered
Though the price of the gold-level annual pass is comparable to the 2014-2015 standard annual pass, this tier also includes blackout dates, including December 17–31, 2015; January 1, 2016; March 19–April 1, 2016; December 16–31, 2016; January 1–2, 2017. Though the number of blackout dates is less than the silver pass, guests who want access to Walt Disney World all year round will need to look at the following two most-expensive options..Platinum tier:
Florida residents & DVC Members: $649
Florida resident renewal: $549
Non-FL resident: $749 new, $635 renewal
Despite the sweeping price increases, if you want an annual pass that is comparable to the standard pass that was offered in previous years, the Platinum tier will be your best bet. Though Florida residents will be paying almost $100 more (and out of state guests will be squeezed even further), this pass is now the least expensive option for those who want 365 days of unrestricted Walt Disney World park access.Platinum Plus tier:
Florida residents & DVC Members: $729
Florida resident renewal: $619
Non-FL resident: $829 new, $705 renewal
This annual pass is comparable to the highest level of Walt Disney World annual pass under the old system, and includes access to all four parks, the two water parks, the Oak Trail golf course and the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. As you might expect, this pass also has no block out dates. Of course, this is the most expensive option, and is still costs more than the premium pass that was available previously.
Got all that? Even though there was a little bit of math involved under the old passholder system, this new tiered system is a lot more complicated. And of course, it is a lot more expensive, with rates for comparable passes going up by double digit percentages across the board.