By Devo CabDisney
Like most Disney fanatics, we try to go to Walt Disney World as often as possible. Life and finances can often make that challenging so you try to find a strategy that works for you! In early 2017 we decided that we wanted to become a Walt Disney World Annual Passholder. Considering the cost, that can seem a little overwhelming. You immediately start wondering if it would be worth it. We live in Tennessee so it’s not like we’re going to Disney World every other weekend but we do like to go as often as possible. So I did the math, took a lot of things into consideration and decided that becoming an annual passholder made sense for us. I wanted to at least give it a try to see if it was indeed worth it. So here’s my first time annual passholder year in review!
I decided that if we could work two weeks’ worth of Disney trips into 365 days that cost upfront would be worth it. Yeah, I saw the discounts and perks but didn’t really address those upfront. I purchased the passes online in February but did not plan to make a trip until May. As a first time passholder, here’s how it works. You can purchase your passes online and then link them to your existing Disney account. You can find current prices for annual passes here, and Florida residents can find information here. Your pass is good for one year but your year doesn’t start counting down until you activate your passes at Walt Disney World. So I purchased in February, made a trip during the first weekend of May, but my year didn’t start counting down until I activated it in May. Your passes can be activated at Disney Springs or any of the Guest Services at Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, or Disney’s Animal Kingdom.
It’s important to note that while your annual pass does not begin until you activate it in the park, regardless of when you purchased it, the date which you activated the pass is now your anniversary date. So if you activated your annual pass on May 5, and you choose to renew your annual pass, your next annual pass year will once again start on May 5. At that point, it doesn’t matter if you don’t return until September; your annual pass will still renew on May 5.
Now you don’t have to purchase your passes online; you can totally purchase them at the parks. But I don’t necessarily recommend that. Here’s why; here’s a fun little tip for new passholders! I noticed that when I linked my purchased annual pass to my Disney account, I was able to take advantage of the 20% passholder merchandise discount on the Shop Parks app, even though my annual pass was not yet activated. So I could make purchases on the Shop Parks app using my 20% discount in February, March, and April, even though the pass wasn’t activated until May. Maybe that was a fluke, I don’t know. But that’s what I experienced.
My next tip is to familiarize yourself with the Walt Disney World Passholders page. This is found on the Walt Disney World website under the My Disney Experience tab. There you will find valuable information to keep you up to date on all current discounts and services available to passholders. I’m not going to address specifics of particular discounts in this article as discounts often change.
So was it worth it? This is an outstanding “YES” for me. We traveled to Walt Disney World three times within a year’s time with our annual pass. I really feel like we took full advantage of the annual pass with just one trip considering all the discounts we received. At the time we were able to use our 20% merchandise discount and our 10-20% discount at table service restaurants. Again, familiarize yourself with current discounts as they do change. We took advantage of passholder only entrances at the parks, and saw passholder only cash register lines. There’s also passholder only merchandise that can be purchased as well as free items that’s often available. Be sure to check out the official Facebook page of Disney World Passholders! This will help you keep up to date and know what’s going on!
We found that the Disney Dining Plan was not worth it for us considering the cost and what you receive in the plan versus our passholder discount and what we actually purchase. For your family, it may still be worth it. Only you can decide that. Just do the math and figure out what’s the best route for you.
On another note, some lucky annual passholders receive a passholder magnet in the mail. Here’s a tip; don’t put it on your car. Not at home and especially not at Walt Disney World. It’s unfortunate but there are too many people who think it’s okay to steal those magnets off of other vehicles. So if you value that magnet, you’d be wise to keep in on your refrigerator instead of your vehicle.
Other perks include those silicone sliders for your MagicBands! People go crazy over these things so Disney often runs out of them. You’ll most likely receive them when you receive your MagicBands but if you don’t, you can always check at any Guest Services desk throughout Walt Disney World. Just be aware that they may be out!
So yeah, I’m extremely happy that I became a Walt Disney World Annual Passholder! Not only did we save money in regards to park tickets, the food/merchandise discounts made it even more worth it. Perks also include complementary parking at the parks, Park Hopper, and Photo Pass so when you consider what that can cost you, the savings really add up. It was totally worth it and I plan to renew mine! Oh yeah, don’t forget that if you renew your pass before it expires you can take advantage of a discount on that as well!
So money aside, is it worth it? How much fun can you have? Well, that’s up to you! But let me tell you, it’s really nice to take it slow(ish) and just take it all in knowing that you can return soon without having to purchase more tickets!
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