Is a Walt Disney World annual pass a viable option for your family?  When pricing out a long vacation, many have wondered exactly where the “break-even” point is, and have considered purchasing this pass.

Today we are going to keep it simple, and show you exactly when this is a good idea, when this is a bad idea, and when you are going to have to make the tough decision on your own!  So we are clear, this is for all Disney World lovers OUTSIDE of Florida.  The lucky in-state residents get some incredible deals on their annual passes, so this article may not apply to them! 🙂
 

annual pass disney world

Should you buy an annual pass for Disney?



 

Cost Analysis of a Disney World Annual Pass

Currently, an annual pass is $749 for everyone 3 years old and over.  The annual pass entitles you to 12 months of free entry into any of the four parks, and is also a park hopper, meaning you can go to multiple parks in the same day.  (For the sake of clarity, if you are unsure what a park hopper is, read our article on the park hopper, and then proceed to the rest of this article)

A 10-day pass to Disney is currently 469 for adults.  So if you are going to Disney for 10 days or less, you obviously have no need for an annual pass.  However, what if you plan to make multiple trips?

10-day trip & a 4-day weekend

If you are going on two trips in one calendar year, this is where an annual pass begins to make sense.  For instance, a 10-day trip and a 4-day long weekend is $725.00 WITHOUT the park hopper.  With the park hopper, you’d add 138 to that, making the total 863.  So getting an annual pass allows you to come out ahead by about 115 dollars, if you’d be getting the park hopper pass.

walt disney world annual pass

Picture courtesy of favim.com

3 Trips in a 12-month period

If you are taking more than 2 trips in a single year, this is where you can really save yourself money.  For instance, if you had a couple 4 day trips and then a 2-day weekend trip, your normal ticket price would be far more than an annual pass. If you are coming for 3 or more trips in one year, get an annual pass.

Using an annual Pass for TWO long vacations

Does your family go to Disney World every year for a long vacation?  If so, consider using the annual pass for two vacations.  For instance, lets imagine that your first vacation falls in July.  You can then book the vacation for the following year in June.  That allows you to get up to 20 days of vacations, all with the annual pass.  And if you are in a position to get to Disney at any other time during the year for a quick weekend, that would obviously be covered as well.  Two 10-day passes with the park hopper option will run you $938, a savings of almost 200 bucks per person.  If you have a family of five, you could save almost $800 bucks just on ticket prices alone over the course of two vacations!

Annual Pass Benefits

What other benefits does an annual pass provide?  We’ll go over them, and then explain how each one may help you, depending on how you typically book your vacations.

Free Parking –  If you stay off-site, free parking can be huge.  Parking is $25.00 a day.  If you were to come on two vacations, you can see that you would save a lot of money.

20% off Souvenirs – If your family typically spends a lot on souvenirs, this could help out a little bit.

10-20% off select Restaurants – If you don’t do the Dining plan, this could be a big savings!  Disney meals aren’t cheap, and that money could add up.

Big Discounts on Rooms —  The Annual Pass discount on rooms can be quite significant, and many times are offered through the busy summer months!  If you stay at luxury resorts, you can often get deals up to 30% off!

MouseHints recommendation:

If you travel to Disney every summer, you need to try and take advantage of the annual pass.  If you are still on the fence, you can just buy ONE annual pass.  All of the above discounts are available if just ONE person in the family has the annual pass!  You can even get room discounts for all of your extended family if they are booked at the same time!

There is minimal risk with getting one annual pass.  Even if the 2nd trip falls through, you would likely have already made up the cost of one annual pass with resort/souvenir/dining/parking discounts.

Some caution regarding Annual passes

We want to share a few lingering “pitfalls” that have disappointed some annual passholders.  Knowing about these ahead of time can potentially help you make your decision and also keep you from being disappointed when you do make the purchase.

  • If you go to Disney during “free Dining”or during a month where they offer regular room discounts, you would be disappointed to find out that the annual pass does not combine with those discounts.  So your annual pass rooming discount wouldn’t be worth as much in those scenarios.  The annual pass discount really shines in the busy months.
  • If you are very unsure about whether you will go on a 2nd vacation, obviously an annual pass would be a risky choice.
  • Its also worth noting that the free parking aspect of the annual pass is of little value if you typically stay on the resort.
  • Finally, the restaurant discount does not apply if you have a dining plan.  Dining credits will be used for the meals.  You could still use the discount on any meals purchased OUTSIDE of the dining plan, but if you only eat on the dining plan, that perk would be of little use as well.

Hopefully, these tips can help you to make a good decision.  An annual pass certainly isn’t for everyone.  But for regular Disney guests, it can save quite a bit of cash!

Do you have any experience using annual passes?  Tell us your experiences below!

Now that you’ve made your decision on an annual pass, lets teach you how to tour the parks like a pro!  

Next >>> Beating the Crowds

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