Walt Disney World Tickets vs. An Annual Pass: Which Should You Get?

If you visit Walt Disney World (WDW) theme park in Florida more than once a year, it might be a good idea to look into getting an annual pass (AP) rather than however many days of multi-day passes. Generally speaking, annual pass holders get some benefits that day pass (even multi day pass) holders don’t get and in the long run, having an AP might save you some money. Here are some things to consider when making that decision:

NOTE: For the sake of this post not being 12 pages long, when quoting prices, I’m going to use basic online rack rate prices and won’t get into specialty prices, such as for Florida Residents, Disney Vacation Club memberships, AAA, Mouse Savers, renewal rates, special “buy 12 months and get 1 months free” types of promotions, the deals citizens of non-U.S. countries get, Water Park Annual Passes, etc. Most of those are specialty sort of situations and I suspect the majority of people reading this won’t fit into those categories anyway ;-). Prices listed will be adult prices – prices for children age 3-9 are on WDW’s website. I’m also not going to include tax because, well, I’m going to be dealing with enough numbers, I don’t want to have to add in taxes, too…you’re a grown up; you can figure that out on your own ;-).

Posted prices may or may not be reflective of current pricing, but will still give an idea in terms of comparison. WDW’s website will have most up-to-date pricing.

All About Single & Multi-Day Tickets

How WDW Prices Their Single & Multi-Day Tickets

WDW has tiered ticket prices that vary based on time of year, how many days you plan to go, what days of the week you plan to go and, in the case of Magic Kingdom (which costs more for a 1-day ticket), what park you plan to visit.

Screen Shot 2018-04-16 at 11.11.22 PM
Example of 1-day pricing for WDW, with price varying based on day of week and holiday weeks
Screen Shot 2018-04-16 at 11.18.25 PM
Example of price difference of 1-day ticket for Magic Kingdom vs. the other 3 WDW parks for May 1, 2018 (WDW considers this a “Value” day). Approximate a “Regular” or “Peak” day to be $12 or $20 more, respectively, than a “Value” day.

The more days’ worth of tickets you buy, the less it costs per day. Below are examples of prices for WDW 5-day and 10-day park tickets (WDW’s website offers prices for 1 through 10 days of park admission):

Park Hoppers (or Park-To-Park) vs. Not

Having a Disney Park Hopper ticket means you can start at one of WDW’s parks, and then go to another of their parks on the same day. Park Hopper tickets cost more than non-park hoppers.

Screen Shot 2018-04-16 at 11.33.00 PM
Same May 1, 2018 example as above, but includes the price of the Park Hooper option
Screen Shot 2018-04-16 at 11.34.21 PM.png
Same 5-Day Ticket example as above, but includes the price of the Park Hopper option
Screen Shot 2018-04-16 at 11.35.23 PM
Same 10-Day Ticket example as above, but includes the price of the Park Hopper option. Once again, the more days’ worth of tickets you buy, the less it costs per day.

 

Park Hopper Plus Options

Regular theme park tickets only get you into the 4 “major” WDW parks – Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Disney’s Animal Kingdom Park. However WDW has other, smaller parks on property, including 2 water parks (Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach), 2 miniature golf courses (Winter Summerland and Fantasia Gardens), golf, ESPN Wide World of Sports. You can get a number of admissions to these smaller venues, along with th3 4 “major” parks if you get a Park Hopper Plus option. Once again, having a Park Hopper Plus ticket will cost more, as shown below:

Screen Shot 2018-04-16 at 11.47.25 PM
Same 5-day ticket prices as above, but including the Park Hopper Plus option
Screen Shot 2018-04-16 at 11.48.30 PM.png
Same 10-day ticket prices as above, but including the Park Hopper Plus option

All About Annual Passes

Disney currently offers 2 levels of passes to “the masses” – Disney Platinum Pass and Disney Platinum Plus Pass. Here’s what each gives (prices effective April, 2018):

Screen Shot 2018-04-16 at 11.55.08 PM

Screen Shot 2018-04-16 at 11.54.35 PM

Screen Shot 2018-04-16 at 11.57.35 PM
Note: The “Disney Gold Pass” mentioned above is for Florida Residents and Disney Vacation Club Members only

So which should you get? Multi-day tickets or an AP?

Keep in mind that having a Platinum Pass gives you roughly the same benefits (in terms of park admissions) as a Park Hopper pass, and a Platinum Plus Pass gives you, actually, BETTER benefits than a Park Hopper Plus option because you get unlimited admission to all 4 theme parks, 2 water parks, ESPN Wide World of Sports and Disney’s Oak Trail Golf Course (note: the miniature golf course are not included in the Platinum Plus Pass).

Honestly, the main factor is how many days you plan to go into the Disney parks over the course of a 365-day period, and in what kind of increments. And that means doing basic math. For example:

  • If you go twice a year and get 5-day Park Hoppers each time ($470 x2 = $920), a Platinum Pass or a Platinum Plus Pass would both be cheaper.
  • If you’re only going to go once in the year but you’re going to get a 10-day ticket with a Park Hopper Plus option ($545), that’s still cheaper than a Platinum Plus ($829) or even a Platinum ($729) Pass.

Essentially, you need to go to Disney’s website (or whichever website/option you would use to buy [multi]day passes), get the price of the tickets you would normally buy and compare it to the type of Annual Pass you would want (at that point you can look into whatever “special” tickets or passes you could get. Again, I just did rack rate from WDW’s website to make things easier).

Other things to keep in mind:

  • Having an AP grants you free parking at the parks (so if you’re staying off site, or are a local, having an AP saves you the price of the regular park parking fee each day. You would still need to pay the extra for a spot in Premium parking, if that’s where you wanted to park. Overnight parking is not allowed at the parks.).
  • You can buy an AP at any time but it won’t begin its 365-day “clock” until the first time you use it. As an example, Joe and I bought APs in January 2017 but didn’t start using them until August 2017 (Note: You’ll have to go to Guest Services to get your actual pass before you can use it the first time).
  • One of the benefits of having an AP is up to a 20% discount on select merchandise and dining. There are also occasional AP discounts on select WDW Resort Hotels. You may want to consider that when deciding whether or not to get an AP.
  • There’s a small discount when you renew your AP. You have a 30-day window on either side of your AP’s expiration date to pay the renewal fee, and your new AP will begin the day after your current AP expires (you can’t renew and have your new pass start at a later date. The only way to do that is to buy a new AP, without the renewal discount).
  • There is currently an AP Only line to enter each of the 4 theme parks. I think they’re supposed to help APs get in faster? But most of the time they don’t LOLOL.
  • The price for single-day and multi-day passes for children age 3-9 is slightly lower than that for guests age 10+. The price of APs for children & adults, regardless of what type you get, is the same.

Having a WDW AP makes things easier and more convenient in that you know you have yearlong entry to whatever parks your AP covers. Whether it’s financially worth it to you will require getting out a pad, pencil and calculator and doing the math. For us it’s worth it. As always, Your Mileage May Vary.

Like this post? Please share it! We have plenty more just like it and would love if you decided to hang around and clicked the button on the top (if you’re on your computer) or the bottom (if you’re on your phone/tablet) of this page to follow our blog and get emailed notifications of when we post (it’s usually just two or three times a day). Or maybe you’d like to join our Facebook group, where we talk and ask questions about travel (including Disney parks), creative ways to earn frequent flyer miles and hotel points, how to save money on or for your trips, get access to travel  articles you may not see otherwise, etc. Whether you’ve read our posts before or this is the first time you’re stopping by, we’re really glad you’re here and hope you come back to visit again!

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s