Four Reasons Why A Walt Disney World Annual Pass Is Worth The Cost

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Is a Disney World Annual Pass Worth It?

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).

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#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.

Disney World Annual Pass Worth It
Spaceship Earth at Epcot.

#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.

Related: Every Disney Park In The World In 6 Weeks? With A Toddler?!? Crazy, But We Did It!

#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.

Disney World Annual Pass Worth It
The brand new Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

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.

Bottom Line

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!

9 COMMENTS

  1. Great post! Thank you for sharing your thorough research. It was also a fun and witty read. I hope you are enjoying the salt and pepper shakers

  2. Great post! Thank you for sharing your thorough research. It was also a fun and witty read. I hope you are enjoying the salt and pepper shakers.

  3. More trips equals more cost at hotels etc. Having been an annual pass holder with up to 5 trips in the year I can tell you it’s most fun if the trips are spaced 6 months to 12 months apart.

    About the 10% / 20% discount.. you mentioned that disney is so pricey that the discount adds up (200$ in your case) .. really the only lesson here is to absolutely minimize any merchandise shopping. Everyone needs to eat ..so ofcourse there is no discount for annual pass holders on food!!

    • That isn’t true about food discounts. There are AP discounts from some restaurants on food and there is also an option for AP holders to buy a tables in wonderland card which may make sense for you depending on how much you spend on food.

    • Topsyturvy, I agree that spacing out trips is great! We tend to take 1-2 big trips per year, and I take solo trips here or there between the big trips. I use other methods not described in this post to keep my lodging stays free or close to free. I plan to talk about that in future posts.

  4. Aside from the fact that most people simply can’t afford this, there are some things that are missing in the post. Having been to Disney World over 30 times, I’ve read more than my share of blogger advice and most bloggers correctly suggest to avoid park hopper passes. The cost just isn’t worth it for almost everyone. Spend a day somewhere then spend another day somewhere else. Another point is that very few people who don’t live nearby can take three weeks a year to visit, and a resident’s pass is better for those who do live nearby. Photo Pass is nice, I suppose, but again most people are fine without it.
    In short, it seems like the post title would be better as “How the Disney annual pass just might be worth it” or some such. Good for you that you’re getting a good bang for your buck, but I really do think that it’s worth more than a casual mention that the numbers work out pretty poorly for the vast majority of the people who lack the time, the money, or both to do this.

    • Christian, thanks for the comments. I use other methods to keep my costs low or free, like booking with Citi ThankYou points. I plan to post on other methods I use in the future.

  5. Did they give you 13 months or did you do one trip at end of January and the next one now at beginning of January?

    But I think it’s generally clear that someone who spends 10 or more days at the parks is better off getting an annual pass. Even more so for 20 days!

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