If you find yourself repeatedly visiting the Walt Disney World Resort, you may be wondering whether or not it would be worth the extra cost to make the jump to an annual pass. Maybe you went on vacation for a week in the beginning of the year, and a few months later have another trip planned, or maybe you’re just wondering how good those coveted discounts actually are. Answer the questions below to determine if an annual pass is best for you.
Are you a Florida resident?
Florida residents are not only able to get a much better deal on an annual pass, making the program much more appealing, but they are also to pay for their passes on a monthly basis. If you live in the state, and are a driving distance away, it may save you money in the long run to purchase an annual pass over buying a park ticket for each visit. Florida resident are able to receive other discounted ticket offers, however for guests who visit multiple times throughout the year those tickets may be more costly than the annual pass.
Florida residents additionally have more options when it comes to annual passes than non-residents do. In addition to the usual options like the Platinum Pass and the Platinum Plus Pass, Florida residents usually have the flexibility to go with a less expensive option (that comes with more blackout dates, but the blackout dates usually do not matter as much when you are able to go more often).
Do you like to stay off-site?
One of the downsides to staying off Disney property is having to pay for parking each day while visiting the parks, or relying on poorly timed non-Disney shuttle services. If you usually rent a car or drive to Walt Disney World when staying off property, an annual pass would save you the cost of parking.
Say for instance you purchase a 7-day ticket. Prices vary slightly based on whether or not you purchase the Park Hopper option and the time of year you visit, so we’ll meet in the middle and say that you 7-day ticket costs $500. To visit the parks for 7 days, with a parking fee of $20 per day, you would be spending an extra $140. Your total with the 7-day ticket and parking is now up to $640, and with the cheapest annual pass coming in at about $830 if there is any chance that you would visit again in the next year that would be a good deal (as you would be paying an extra $189 to cover the cost of the pass, vs. an extra couple of hundred for a longer ticket during another stay).
How long is your trip?
In deciphering the value of an annual pass based on the length of your trip, try comparing it to how much you would spend on Park Hopper tickets within the given timeframe. (Park Hoppers are the closest comparison because the annual pass would allow you to park hop). Consider the following when visiting the parks for 12 days. If you purchase a 10-day ticket, which is the most days on a single ticket Disney sells, you would then need to purchase a separate 2-day ticket. In total you would be spending about $825 (more or less depending on the time of year). The Platinum Pass costs $830. You would make up the extra $5 difference the first time you use your annual pass for a dining discount.
While prices of Disney tickets vary based on the season and whether or not prices have just gone up, historically 12 days in the parks has been about when you would break even between purchasing Park Hoppers and purchasing an annual pass. At 11 days, you’re looking at about a $110 price difference between the pass and the ticket and at 10 days the difference would be about $280.
Do you like discounts?
Some guests can justify purchasing an annual pass with only 10 days planned for the parks assuming that they’ll make up the difference in price with discounts. This may or may not be the case for you, so before purchasing an annual pass under the assumption that even without another trip planned the discounts may be worth it, you’ll want to look a little deeper beneath the surface. Merchandise discounts are usually 10% off at Disney owned and operated stores, and usually between 10-10% at third party locations on Disney property. Assuming you spend $500 on shopping during your trip, your discount would save you about $50. If you typically spend less on souvenirs, say about $150 total for the entire trip, your annual pass would only save you about $15.
Then there are the dining discounts. The locations vary by year and 10% off is offered at select Disney locations, with various discounts at third party sites as well. The dining discount does cover the price of your entire check, so if you are part of a family of 5 this discount may come turn out to save you lots of money. Furthermore, annual passholders are eligible to purchase the Tables in Wonderland card for $150, which allows for an even greater discount of 20% off at over 100 Walt Disney World restaurants.
The resort discounts are often highly sought after by non-passholders, but unfortunately they are not usually as exciting as the dining discounts. While the discounts on resorts are nice, and no one is going to complain about having a slightly cheaper room, in most cases the discounts are comparable to other special offers available to non-passholders. Though you can sometimes find a more incredible deal, and the discounts can be useful, the difference in price here is not enough to make or break a decision to buy the pass.
Should you do it?
If you are on the 10+ day mark of a trip, and you are fairly certain you will visit the parks again within the next year, you may want to consider purchasing the annual pass. You are able to upgrade your ticket to an annual pass before the end of your trip, but if you think you may do this you should try to come to a decision at the beginning of your trip so you can use the discounts. Number-crunching is no fun, but getting the annual pass (or not) can save you a lot of money depending on your touring style during a Disney vacation.