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Walt Disney World has made some controversial decisions in regards to its annual passholder program in recent years. From massive price hikes to the introduction of demand-based tiers last year, it seems like there has been a lot of bad news recently for some of Walt Disney World's most loyal guests. However, back in October Disney announced that it would be expanding passholder discounts for the next year, and now it looks like there is even more good news for annual passholders in the pipeline. From even more discounts to some unexpected perks, if you are an annual passholder, here are all the updates you need to know about! 

1. MagicBand 2 now shipping to new and renewing annual passholders

Image: Disney

Though guests have been able to purchase select designs of the new MagicBand 2 model inside Walt Disney World's theme parks, late last week it was revealed that new and renewing Annual Passholders who have the option to get a free MagicBand will now be shipped the new model of MagicBand by default. As has always been the case, annual passholders can log in to My Disney Experience to order their new MagicBands, and can of course select their band color and enter a personalized name as usual.

Guests who are not up for renewal can simply wait until their renew date, make sure they are opted-in to new MagicBands (last year Disney introduced an option that allowed guests to refuse automatic delivery of  MagicBands) and then order their new, free MagicBand 2 devices after their renewal date passes. 

Interestingly, Disney has not updated the MagicBand graphics inside My Disney Experience (the order page will still show original MagicBands), but Disney has confirmed that annual passholders who order bands from this week on will be receiving MagicBand 2 devices in the mail, as the original MagicBand has now been officially discontinued and are being phased out around the resort. Of course, even though you soon won't be able to purchase the first generation MagicBands, since the same technology powers both models if you have an original MagicBand you just can't let go of, it will continue to work as long as the battery lasts (typically 1-2 years).

2. New annual passholder entrance to Walt Disney World parks to debut next week

Beginning later this week on December 21, all four of Walt Disney World's theme parks will begin offering dedicated entrance lines for Annual Passholders in an effort to try and speed up the entry process during the busy holiday period. Right now this new service is expected to be temporary, but will likely be available until at least the end of January 2017.

The timing of this development is a little weird, as the vast majority of Walt Disney World's passholder tiers (Silver, Gold and weekday) are all completely blocked out of the park for the next few weeks during the busy holiday period. However, at least for the Platinum and Platinum Plus crowd who are able to enjoy it, this perk will hopefully get them into the park as quickly as possible (and reduce the need for extensive staffing as annual passholders typically know what they are doing at entrance tapstiles and rarely need help or assistance). 

3. New discounts now available for annual passholders

It was announced a few weeks ago that Annual Passholders and Disney Vacation Club Members are now able to take advantage of a new discount that lowers the cost of admission to Club Villain for its final weeks from its inflated $129 price point back down to its original $99 price point, which includes tax and gratuity.

In addition, Disney has been looking to the future and has also announced a new early 2017 hotel offer just for annual passholders that allows guests to stay on property for as low as $70 per night, plus tax in a standard room at Disney’s All-Star Sports Resort, most Sunday through Thursday nights from January 2 through January 4, January 8 through January 12 and January 16 through February 15, 2017. 

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