The Perks of being a Walt Disney World Annual Passholder may seem elusive. Sure you get in the parks for one full year with a passholder ticket, but is it worth the cost. Are the other perks really that great? We’ve chatted the cost of a Disney Annual Pass, the Annual Passholder Platinum Pass and talked about why it’s not really about the money and more about how you like to vacation. But what else do you need to know?
- 1 Walt Disney World Annual Passholder Perks
- 2 The Benefits of Being a Disney World Annual Passholder
- 3 Is the Disney Annual Pass Right For You and Your Family?
- 4 Should You Buy A Walt Disney World Annual Pass in 2021?
- 5 Should You Get a Disney Annual Pass for the 50th Anniversary of Walt Disney World?
- 6 What are the Walt Disney World Passholder Perks for 2021?
- 7 What is the BEST Time to Get a Walt Disney World Annual Pass?
Walt Disney World Annual Passholder Perks
To be completely clear here, we’re talking about the Disney Platinum Pass. Check out Disney’s Pass Holder levels and pricing here. 2019 will mark our “official” third year of being Disney Annual Passholders. And we’ve reconsidered the need to get the pass every year so far. Of course, since we’re currently running a vacation blog focused on Disney, we see it as necessary. But we still question it every time. Why? Well, it’s expensive as heck. We live in Ohio, meaning we place a lot of hope on cheap flights. And we both have jobs that like it when we show up. Chances are these would be real concerns for you too. Let us break down what you “really” get as a Disney Annual Pass holder.
The Disney Platinum Pass includes the following for ONE FULL YEAR. From the moment you activate it at the Guest Services Ticket Window at Disney here’s what you get.
- Admission to all 4 theme parks
- Park Hopper Privileges
- Disney PhotoPass downloads
- Up to 20% off at select dining locations
- Up to 20% off select merchandise in store or online at Shop Disney Parks
- Standard theme park parking
- Disney Sports and Recreation Discounts
- Up to 15% Off Tours
- A Free MagicBand
- FastPass+ Selections
- An Annual Passholder Slider for your Magic Band
- Annual Passholder Guidebook
- Official Annual Passholder Magnet
- The Mickey Monitor Annual Passholder Quarterly Newsletter
- Ability to purchase Annual Passholder Special Event Merchandise
- Free Annual Passholder Keepsake Gifts at Epcot Festivals
Yes, this is the complete list of what you will get as a Disney Annual Passholder. Please Note: Disney Annual Passholders DO NOT get Complimentary Disney Resort Parking.
The Benefits of Being a Disney World Annual Passholder
Admission to all 4 Disney theme parks
Admission to all four theme parks with the Platinum Pass has no blackout dates. Let us repeat that. No Blackout Dates. This is a huge perk and one to consider if you find you will be visiting Walt Disney World during busy times. You will have access to Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, Magic Kingdom and Epcot 365 days in your membership year.
If you choose the cheaper Disney Gold Pass, Disney Silver Pass, Disney Weekday Pass or the Epcot After 4 Pass, you will have blackout dates, so be aware that these may be cheaper, but may not work with your lifestyle.
Note: The Disney Platinum Pass does not include the water parks; Typhoon Lagoon or Blizzard Beach. If you want access to these water parks, you will need the Disney Platinum Plus Pass.
Disney World Annual Passholder Perks Park Hopper Privileges
We started visiting Walt Disney World annually in 2013. We didn’t get annual passes until 2017. And until then we went a solid 4 years, on multiple visits, WITHOUT a park hopper. So, having park hopper privileges may or may not be a big deal for you. We’ve written about why you may or may not need a park hopper at Walt Disney World and Disneyland.
So what’s the big deal? With Park Hopper Privileges, you can visit multiple parks in one day, or all four park if it so strikes your fancy. This is great if you’ve got big plans for a whirlwind ride-all-the-things vacation, or want to visit Epcot for a festival , but need to be back at Magic Kingdom for a fireworks dessert party.
We have to admit, having the park hopper as part of our Disney Platinum Pass means that we can be extra lazy with our planning. Instead of committing to just one park per day, we can plan our fast passes in one, and dine in another. Or if we find a park particularly crowded we can leave and go to another. We also love this perk when we’re staying on the Boardwalk. Since the Boardwalk connects Epcot and Hollywood Studios by a walking path we often just go between them in a single day via the walking path. So convenient!
Disney PhotoPass downloads
If you’re a family who just wants to have fun and not worry about capturing your fun family moments on camera, then this is a godsend! Being able to just strike a pose with a professional Disney photographer anywhere in the parks is a great way to get your memories saved and able to be downloaded and printed later. We also love that you get access to all the fun Magic Shots as part of the Disney PhotoPass ( aka Memory Maker) downloads.
Up to 20% off at select dining locations
Disney has a full lineup of restaurants in the Disney Parks, Resorts and Disney Springs that take the Disney Annual Passholder discount. Most restaurants offer a 10% discount, but some places, like the Werthers shop Karamell-Kuche, go all the way up to 20%. So there are always opportunities to save. If you’ve read this blog for any amount of time you know we adore food. Finding amazing meals and snacks is truly our favorite part of any vacation, so this perk is a big one for us. Sure 10% here and there isn’t a lot, but when you’re staring at the dining bill well over 100 dollars, you’ll be glad you have the perk.
Up to 20% off select merchandise in store or online at Shop Disney Parks
Yes folks, this does include 20% off Dooney and Bourke Disney bags. Believe us, this was the biggest shock! Many gift shops are included and you can also get discounts on Alex and Ani jewelry as well. Many retailers in Disney Springs are also included. In fact, the merchandise discounts are a big reason that many get the annual pass. We’ve even heard of families buying just one pass for the whole family so they could get the discount on merchandise, dining, parking and more.
Standard theme park parking
As Disney’s parking rules change, we’re glad to say they still offer Complimentary Standard Theme Park Parking for Disney Annual Passholders. This is a $25 savings for parking at any of the theme parks. For a full list of parking charges, check out Disney’s Parking Fees. Passholders don’t receive discounts on resort parking, but if you’re a family that drives to the parks, this could save you a lot of money over the course of a Disney vacation.
Disney Sports and Recreation Discounts
If you’ve ever visited the moderate resorts or the boardwalk, chances are you’ve seen the fun surrey bikes available for rent. As a Disney Annual Passholder you get a discount on those! Or what about the Fantasia Gardens miniature golf? Yep, you get a discount on that too. Boat and bike rentals and spa services are all included discounts at 15% off, but there’s actually quite a lot of things you can get the discount on. See the full list of discounted offerings.
Up to 15% Off Tours
We cannot rave enough about how amazing the Walt Disney World Tours are. Our very first tour was Wild Africa Trek at Animal Kingdom, and it remains our absolute favorite experience for families. What a way to upgrade your vacation! A Disney Annual Pass can help curb some of those higher prices for those once-in-a-lifetime experiences. Another reason why if you’re being strategic and planning on only having an Annual Pass for one year to build in the experiences that cost a little more during your Disney AP year.
Disney World Annual Passholder Perks: A Free MagicBand
Available in one of the 8 basic colors—pink, green, red, purple, orange, yellow, blue and gray-you will get your magic band when you activate your card at the Disney Parks. You may have gotten magic bands before if you ever stayed at Walt Disney World resorts, or if you purchased them in the gift shops. Know that any magic band ever associated with you will have your Annual Pass activated on it. Your Magic Band will also show any party or event tickets you may have purchased as well. You can of course also buy special ones at shopDisney. Note that Disney is Replacing MagicBands and will no longer offer complimentary MagicBands with a Disney Resort stay starting January 1, 2020.
You may or may not be planning to stay at a Disney Resort during your vacation. But as Disney Annual Passholders you will get Fastpass+ Selections regardless. Disney annual passholders can plan 7 days of FastPass+ selections within any 30-day period. FP+ days do not need to be consecutive. A huge perk of having the pass, access to FP+ selections available to you at any time can help you make the most of those last-minute trips to Disney. Check out our Fastpass+ Strategy Guide.
Opportunities to attend Annual Passholder Only Events
Every once in a while Disney will announce a Disney Annual Passholder VIP event. These could include being able to attend the opening of a new land ( Like Pandora or Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge) , special shopping events at Disney Springs, and AP only magic hours events. For instance, Disney Annual Passholders may be able to register for a VIP experience of early hours at the parks. Or a special tasting at a festival. We were lucky enough to get access to the soft opening of Pandora before it was officially open our first year of having the pass. And let us just say that walking around Pandora with about only 100 other people for a whole evening was super magical! It is true that sometimes not all passholders get included or invited, but it’s a nice perk when it comes around.
An Annual Passholder Slider for your Magic Band
So this baby was hard to get our hands on! As a new Passholder you can head to the Guest Services counter at any of the parks and ask for the AP Magic Band slider. Sometimes, however, they’re completely out of them or will send you to another park or Disney Springs to retrieve your slider. It was worth the effort though, because it does verify your rank when cast members are confirming passholder status in the AP lines at the parks. Not to mention it’s super cute. And is one of the Walt Disney World Annual Passholder Perks that makes your Passholder status super visible.
Annual Passholder Guidebook
When you finally become a Walt Disney World Annual Passholder you receive your very own Guidebook to discounts and card. This may not seem like a huge deal but its a great little book to keep with you during your year. It will share which places have discounts and any weird rules that may apply to your new AP status.
Official Annual Passholder Magnet
The Disney AP logo is known far and wide. For this reason, when you get the magnet… be wary of putting it on your car. It may actually be meant for your car, but last we heard these sometimes get stolen off peoples cars. That said, our variety of AP magnets are usually home safe on the refrigerator. Your call. But getting the magnet is pretty cool.
The Mickey Monitor Annual Passholder Quarterly Newsletter
This little quarterly newsletter was a complete surprise to us after we became Disney Annual Passholders. The Mickey Monitor includes information on upcoming events. You get a mini calendar covering the next few months and sneak peaks at new festival offerings. Plus, merchandise previews and other AP only information. We love being able to look forward to something fun arriving in the mail and its an excellent tool to help planning upcoming Disney trips.
Disney World Annual Passholder Perks Special Event Merchandise
One of the BEST Walt Disney World Annual Passholder Perks is being able to buy special stuff. Remember that cool kids table at school? Well, if you’re a Disney Annual Passholder getting access to special AP merch will get you a seat at that table. Yes…yes it will. Most Special Event merchandise for Disney Passholders is behind the counter at the gift shops and you have to ask to see it up close, or purchase it. AP exclusive merchandise tends to be guarded like the crown jewels. This specialty merchandise is a great way to commemorate your Disney AP year. Or just to help you feel extra special all the time. You do have to show your credentials as a passholder to get this merchandise.
Free Annual Passholder Keepsake Gifts at Epcot Festivals
One of our favorite annual passholder perks is the slew of FREE STUFF you get just for being a passholder. This is especially evident during Epcot Festivals. There are special magnets commemorating Flower and Garden, Food and Wine, The Arts Festival, and Festival of Holidays. You simply have to show your pass and are handed your commemorative AP magnet. This past year’s Food and Wine Festival also had a special gift. A small wooden cutting board for any AP who visited Epcot 4 times. This free gift totally gave us a reason to show up at Epcot more often. Though we would have been going at least that much anyway!
Is the Disney Annual Pass Right For You and Your Family?
Now that you’ve heard all the Perks of a Being a Disney Annual Passholder, what do you think? Is a Disney Annual Pass Right For Your Family? For those of you ready to vacation at Disney more often, plan on taking longer vacations and like the flexibility of hopping over to Disney on an impromptu trip, the Annual Pass is perfect. For those of you who struggle to get time off work, can’t pull the kids out of school or are only taking one trip to Disney for the year, then the Disney Annual Pass may not be for you. In fact you’ll be trying to fit Disney trips in where they don’t work because you don’t want to waste the money spent on the pass.
Make this easy on yourself. Plan things out ahead of time. If you look at your travel year and plan to visit multiple times then maybe it’s the right time to buy. Pass prices will continue to go up, so locking in lower pricing is always a good idea.
Should You Buy A Walt Disney World Annual Pass in 2021?
If you’re wondering if 2020 or 2021 is the right time to buy a pass, this is what you can look forward to. Be sure to check out our post on everything new at Walt DisneyWorld for 2020, and Everything coming to Walt Disney World in 2021. And wit everything happening around the worldwide Coronavirus pandemic, be sure to read our Disney COVID FAQ page for details on how your vacations may be impacted during the pandemic at Walt Disney World.
Should You Get a Disney Annual Pass for the 50th Anniversary of Walt Disney World?
Since Disney World’s 50th Anniversary happens in 2021- and will continue a good part into 2022, it’s important to consider how often you may vacation through this time. We can guarantee there may be special annual passholder merchandise available for The Most Magical Celebration on Earth, but the current COVID pandemic may prevent you from traveling as often as you like.
What are the Walt Disney World Passholder Perks for 2021?
Right now we can probably expect a few things available to passholders, in addition to all the perks mentioned above. There will “probably” be soft openings and early access to Disney annual passholders for the following.
- Tron Passholder Preview
- Guardians of the Galaxy Passholder Preview
- Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure Passholder Preview
- Specialty Passholder Merchandise for Disney World’s 50th Anniversary
- An EPCOT preview post- construction. Though this may not happen until 2022, we do expect they will make a big deal out of the new neighborhood layout.
Check out the Walt Disney World Calendar for all the events.
What is the BEST Time to Get a Walt Disney World Annual Pass?
For our money we’re banking on an October 2021- October 2022 Annual Passholder year giving you most bang for your buck. Mainly because you get two anniverary celebrations and tons of new openings throughout this time period. Here’s all the things you could look forward to if you chose to time your Disney Annual Pass for Oct 2021-2022.
- Walt Disney World’s 50th Anniversary is October 1, 2021 and celebrations run between approx Aug 2021- Nov 2022.
- EPCOT’s 40th Anniversary is October 1, 2022 and celebrations run between Aug 2022- mid 2023.
- Major rides will be completed and opening during this time including Tron Lightcycle Run, and the Guardians of the Galaxy Cosmic Rewind Rollercoaster.
- Epcot’s Transformation is set to be completed by the 40th anniversary
- Galactic Starcruiser, the Star Wars Hotel, will be completed, along with the newest DVC resort, Reflections : A Lakeside Lodge
Read More about being a Disney Annual Passholder
Hopefully this post has given you a good idea of everything you’re paying for as a Disney Annual Passholder! While the Walt Disney World Annual Passholder Perks may seem light for the over 1000 dollar cost of pass, it really is all about HOW you plan to vacation. Multiple visits in a year can easily warrant a pass. But if you’re just looking to go 1 or 2 times, maybe re-do your math. We found that having a Disney Annual Pass changed the way we vacationed more than it did the experience of the parks. Check out our other posts below. If you got questions, let us know.
- How Our Disney Vacations Changed as an Annual Passholder
- Is a Disney Season Pass to Walt Disney World Right For Your Family
- Perks of Being a Disney World Annual Passholder