Is A Disney World Annual Pass Worth It?
Benjamin Franklin stated in 1789 that nothing in this world is certain “except death and taxes.” Some 230 years or so later, I consider Walt Disney World price increases as the third certainty. For the past year, I have used my Disney World Annual Pass to minimize the effect of price increases on my Disney World trips. While a Walt Disney World annual pass won’t make economic sense for everyone, these are the four main reasons an annual pass is worth it for me and my family.
#1. The Cost of Disney World Admission
In 2018, I mapped out my planned Disney World visits for the upcoming year as the first element to consider in my annual pass decision. I knew that I would be making two family trips lasting approximately 10 days each within a one year span; one in January 2019 and the other in January 2020. Also, I had two additional short trips planned. Based on my calculations, the total ticket cost was much greater than the annual pass price (see an example below).
#2. Disney World Annual Pass Discounts
The Disney World Annual Pass comes with a variety of discounts which can be leveraged throughout the resort. As a fan of the myriad dining options at Disney World, particularly character dining and sit-down restaurants, I knew I would save substantially with an annual pass. Virtually all character dining and sit-down restaurants include a discount for passholders, most frequently 10% off all food and drinks (excluding alcohol). Considering the high sticker price of Disney dining, savings can stack up quickly.
Also, passholders receive a 20% discount on all merchandise purchased at Disney World locations: throughout the parks, resorts, and certain Disney Springs stores, for example. Some unique stuff can only be purchased at such locations, and this discount lessens the blow. I had an absolute need for the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival salt and pepper shakers, and this discount came in handy.
Many other discounts exist, including spas, salons, and tours. I received a 10% discount on the five-hour Keys to the Kingdom tour, one of my favorite experiences at Disney World.
#3. Disney Photo Pass Included
The Disney Photo Pass service simplifies Disney photo opportunities for park-goers. Photographers throughout the park take photos which are then attached to your Disney profile for easy download. This service currently costs $169 for regular visitors, but it is included with Platinum and Gold annual passes. Gone is the need to mess with a phone or camera; instead, I am able to focus on the current experience. I paid for this perk in previous years, and it was worth every penny.
#4. Flexibility and True Memories
As a passholder, I felt no urgency to plan overly-ambitious days at the parks. I took in the parks at a leisurely pace and enjoyed the little things more, knowing there were plenty more visits to come. I’ve lingered in these precious moments more, whether it was attending one extra character meet and greet with my little ones or an extra beverage and round of music at Epcot’s Biergarten.
Is A Disney World Annual Pass Worth It – The Economics
Let’s illustrate the cost savings of a Disney World Annual pass in my situation (adjusted to current pricing). First, below is a summary of pricing without an Annual Pass:
- Two Ten-Day Park Hopper Tickets: $1,186
- Two Three-Day Park Hopper Tickets (Short Trips): $896
- Disney Photo Pass: $169
- Approximate Meal/Merchandise Savings: $200 (minimum)
- Total: $2,451
The current price for a Disney World Platinum Annual Pass is $1,119.
These four reasons made it an easy decision for me to get an annual pass last year. So is a Walt Disney World annual pass worth it? That will vary by person and by year. Stay tuned for my plan for next year!