I love to save money at Walt Disney World just as much as the next gal. And, with that mantra comes the purchase of a Disney Annual Pass. Should you purchase an Annual Pass for yourself and your family? Here are 12 hefty Disney Annual Pass benefits including the freebies and discounts.
As of this year, my family and I have been Disney World Annual Platinum Passholders for five years in a row. Yes, we live near Pittsburgh, PA, but I still think passes are the way to go for our traveling style. Here’s why I’ll be purchasing a pass in 2020.
For this post, I’ll be using the Disney Platinum Annual Pass (AP) as an example. First, it’s the one I purchased. Second, there are no visit blackout dates unlike the Florida Annual Pass.
At the time this post was written, a Platinum Disney Annual Pass price is $1119 plus tax per person ages three and up. Also of note, you’ll get a Disney Annual Pass renewal discount should you decide to keep it for another year. Update: On February 11, 2020, Disney raised the price of its Annual Passes. The previous increase was in June of 2019. A Platinum Annual Pass now costs $1195 plus tax.
Here’s the quick version of what you’ll get with a Disney Platinum Pass:
- Admission for a year to all 4 theme parks (No block out dates)
- Visit all 4 theme parks on the same day
- Includes Disney PhotoPass downloads
- Up to 20% off on select dining
- Up to 20% off select merchandise in store or online at Shop Disney Parks
- Standard theme park parking
- Free MagicBand
Tip to know before you buy: apart from park admission, only one member of your traveling party needs to have an AP to reap the benefits. And, there are several Annual Pass tiers as well: Florida Resident, Water Parks, and Platinum Plus may work for you.
1. Disney World Annual Pass Benefits: A Full Year in the Parks
Folks have done the math for when a Disney Annual Pass pays for itself: if you’re planning on being the parks for more than 11 days in a 365 day period, you’ll break even. Keep in mind, this deduction includes the fact that tickets are Park Hoppers.
Here are the benefits of Park Hopper tickets, just in case you need a refresher.
Using my family as an example, we make around three trips each year to Walt Disney World. And, on those trips, we spend at least a week straight in the parks. This past 12 months, we frequented so much that our days totaled about six weeks. Now, I’m not saying that’s the way it will be for every family, but you can see how purchasing one for us makes complete sense.
And, while I’m talking about getting into the parks, another AP perk is a dedicated turnstile line at all four. It can save time when hitting rope drop. Look for the Annual Passholder Entrance Queue Sign.
2. Disney World Annual Pass Benefits: Free Parking
If you road trip to Disney World, or even if you rent a car while you’re there, you’ll get free parking in the parks. Here’s the breakdown for parking right now:
Here’s the full scoop on theme park parking charges:
- Preferred parking: car or motorcycle – $50 per day
- Standard parking: car or motorcycle – $25 per day
- Oversized Vehicle Parking: Shuttle, Limo, Camper Trailer, RV, Bus or Tractor Trailer – $30 per day
Keep in mind that, if you do have a vehicle and stay on-property, you will have to pay a daily parking fee at the resort. It’s anywhere from $13 to $24 depending on where you’re staying. And this fee applies even if you do have an Annual Pass.
Love saving money? Here’s a list of my favorite secret free things at Disney World.
3. Disney World Annual Pass Benefits: Resort Room Discounts
When you stay at an on-property resort, you’re in that “Disney bubble” for your entire stay. You don’t have to think about anything but park logistics like when to eat and what attraction to visit next.
Several times a year, Disney releases special AP resort room pricing that I love taking advantage of. Sure, there’s special room pricing without an Annual Pass as well, but AP holders tend to get a bit more of a discount. Again, this is all a bonus if your pass will pay for itself in theme park tickets alone.
4. Disney World Annual Pass Benefits: Memory Maker Photos
Yes, you can totally hand any PhotoPass photographer your phone or camera and ask to have your picture taken for free, but having access to Memory Maker and free PhotoPass downloads for the entire length of your AP is a definite bonus. I’m able to hop online and customize our photos with cute Disney details. I can also hop on the My Disney Experience app and download photos almost instantly after they’ve been taken. You’ll need to download them before your AP is up or you’ll lose access.
Personally, I download them straight from My Disney Experience and they sync to my Google Photos, so I can access them across all of my tech.
To purchase Memory Maker separately, you’ll be paying $169 three days in advance or $199 day of but it can be used immediately.
5. Disney World Annual Pass Benefits: Dining Discounts
In 2019, it was a no-brainer for me to have an Annual Pass for the dining discounts alone. There were plenty of on-property restaurants offering a discount on food and beverage. Add up three meals per day times two weeks and you can see where I’m headed.
For 2019 and 2020, there are still plenty of Disney dining discounts, but most of them are 10% with a few 15% and 20% off. For a family of three, we average about $200 per day in dining (two quick service, one sit-down meals per day). Even at the lowest discount of 10%, we’re saving 20 bucks a day. That’s $280 a year with 14 days on property.
6. Disney World Annual Pass Benefits: Special Event Ticket Savings
A big question is this: do Disney Annual Passholders get discounts on tickets? One word: yes!
I love visiting Disney World during the the holiday off-seasons (think the week before holiday break in school, right after Labor Day, etc.), and with these times of year come hard ticket events, AKA, Magic Kingdom Parties. Yep, we’ve checked out both Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party & Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party. I find them both worth the additional costs. Each is a hard ticket event, meaning a regular theme park ticket won’t get you admission into the parties.
Hard ticket holiday parties at Magic Kingdom also offer the benefit of magic shots that you won’t find unless attending the party, too.
7. V.IPassholder Events
This one’s pretty new, but definitely worth mentioning. This year, once a month WDW parks or Disney Springs offered exclusive shopping discounted privileges. There’s also been extended time in the theme parks during VIPassholder Nights.
8. Disney World Annual Pass Benefits: Free Merch
I love this one! At Epcot, to encourage AP holders to visit, WDW gives out free collector’s items including car magnets (the Disney character changes frequently). To celebrate the International Food & Wine Festival, cute items like small cutting boards are given to passholders that attend the park for four days or more within a certain time frame.
9. Disney World Annual Pass Benefits: Shopping and Merchandise Discounts
For 2019 and 2020, at the time this post was written most on-property retail locations are still offering a 20% discount with a few 15% and 10% discounts thrown in.
10. Sports, Spa, and Recreation Discounts
With a mostly 15% discount across the board on everything from mini golf to bike rentals, you’ll save some cash in this area. Most of these discounts apply to Walt Disney World Resort offerings, so take a look at the list and see if you’ll be using the discounts. If so, it’s another consideration to make.
11. Discounts on Day Tickets for Non-AP Holders
A couple of times a year, WDW offers the chance for Annual Passholders to purchase a single day ticket for non-AP holders at a discounted price. Called the Bring-A-Friend program, this year a one day Park Hopper ticket was only $89 plus tax. Given the fact that it was in the summer, tickets at that time can cost double or more. So, keep an eye out for the next offer.
12. Additional Discounts
There’s so many for 2018 that I’d be rambling on and on for hours. So, here are the basics. You’ll get anywhere from a flat dollar off to Disney waterpark discount tickets, tours, and even the movie theater at Disney Springs. There’s also discounts on bike rentals, golf, and water sports. For the full list of special discounts, head here.
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