Here’s how Walt Disney World annual pass increases will affect my family

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On Sunday, Disney fans woke up to the news that Walt Disney World and Disneyland had announced a restructuring of its annual pass programs. Of course, prices have increased, but some of the benefits and the names of the passes have changed as well, which can be a bit confusing. Today, I’m sifting through the details because my family and I renew our Walt Disney World passes next month, so we have to decide which passes make sense for our use in the coming year. Perhaps my comparisons and reasoning will resonate with you, too.

First, know that these changes do not affect the Magic Your Way tickets — single and multi-day — that many visitors purchase. Next, the monthly payment option for annual passes still is only available to Florida residents.

Finally, the discount passholders receive for renewing each year has increased from 10 percent to 15 percent. And a cast member told me that the discount will be applied to passholders who have any pass in the current program and are moving to any pass in the new program. The discount is available 30 days before your pass’s expiration date and 30 days afterward. (If you renew in the 30 days after your expiration date and take the discount, the date stays the same, so it would make sense to renew beforehand. You always have the option to purchase a new annual pass if you miss the renewal window of 60 days but you will not receive the discount.)

My family and I have had Walt Disney World passes for more than a decade, and we have tried different combinations to best suit our needs. Currently, I have a Florida resident annual pass — with no blackout dates and parking included — and my husband and two children (who are considered Disney adults when it comes to pricing) have Florida resident seasonal passes, which have blackout dates at Christmas, Easter and most of the summer and do not include parking. We paid the renewal rate of $478.19 for my pass and the renewal rate of $297.14 each for my husband and two children in 2014. (Prices include tax.) So, our total cost this past year was $1,369.61.

The equivalent pass for me in the new system would be the Platinum Pass, which will cost $584.69 with my renewal discount and including tax. It offers the same benefits of admission to four theme parks with no blackout dates; parking and one complimentary MagicBand are included; PLUS the new benefit of unlimited downloads of Disney PhotoPass photos. Or, I have the option of switching to a new annual pass that offers similar benefits to what I have now: the Gold Pass. The Gold Pass is $496.29 with my renewal discount and including tax. The differences from what I have now are that it has blackout dates for two weeks at Christmas/New Year’s and two weeks at Easter/Spring Break, but I would gain unlimited downloads of photos from Disney’s PhotoPass. So, basically, am I willing to pay an extra $88.40 for the possibility that I might go into the parks by myself during the four blackout weeks? If I stick with the Gold Pass, I am paying an $18 annual increase over last year, which is pretty typical, but that is offset by the PhotoPass photos.

Or, I have a third option — downgrade to the same passes that the rest of my family has because at least one key benefit has been added. My other family members have the Florida resident seasonal pass, which is now called the Silver Pass. The renewal rate is $351.45 including tax. The benefits are the same as before — admission to four theme parks with blackout dates for two weeks at Christmas, two weeks at Easter and most of the summer. What’s new is that it now includes parking, which is a big deal when the rate just jumped to $20 per day for most vehicles. I guess that is what the $54.31 increase per ticket is offsetting.

So, if my family opts for the equivalent passes to what we have now, we will pay $269.43 more for the same privileges, plus Disney PhotoPass downloads, for the coming year. Although I do purchase Disney PhotoPass photos throughout the year, I don’t spend that much. However, price increases happen every year so I cannot wish away all of the $269.43. If I downgrade my pass to the Gold status, giving up admission during the four busiest weeks of the year and gaining PhotoPass downloads, I could save about $90, bringing our total annual increase to about $180. If I’m willing to give up summer entrance and PhotoPass downloads, as well, and settle for the Silver Pass, I could save about $233 on my own pass, bringing my family’s price increase to only about $36 for the year. For that $36, we would gain parking on each of the four passes.

What would you do?

Here’s another scenario to consider. Depending on our plans for summer, we sometimes buy Disney water park passes. It’s less expensive to purchase the Silver Pass (with renewal discount and tax) at $351.45 plus the Water Park Pass at $117.15 (new and including tax) for a total of $468.60. The Platinum Plus Pass, which includes 365 days admission to the four theme parks plus the water parks, ESPN Wide World of Sports and Disney’s Oak Trail Golf Course and more, is $776.39. It’s not an apples-to-apples comparison, but it does show that you could select the options you would use for about $300 less. As locals, my family and I often find that we don’t go to the parks as much in the summer because of the crowds and Florida heat, so applying the money from an upgraded annual pass to a water park pass makes more sense for us.

What strategies do you have when it comes to purchasing Disney annual passes?

For complete information on Walt Disney World ticket prices, see the AllEars.Net chart.


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27 Replies to “Here’s how Walt Disney World annual pass increases will affect my family”

  1. Another side of the story…
    Those of us who are used to buying the Weekday Select Pass for Florida Residents are thrilled that it now includes parking!

  2. Our family would come to Disney World each year. It is sad that the price has almost doubled in less than 8 years for our family. We thought airfare was out of control, its cheap compared to the steep increases Disney hits its customers with. We are just about priced out of being able to go to Disney World. It used to be more expensive to fly, now its more to come and visit for a week. Walt wanted this to be a place where ALL could come and enjoy. Now folks will be lucky if they can make it once. No, I am not exaggerating, I am being honest. It used to cost us less than 2800 with airfare, now its over 5000 and most of that is the increase in Disney. As much as we love Disney, it looks like another destination will be on the horizon!

  3. As an annual pass holder of 10 plus years I was able to lock in last years rate because I did it the day before they raised prices. my mother in law not so lucky. When our passes expire in sept next year we are not renewing at 580 plus dollars and you know it will be over 600 as Disney will raise prices in April. Instead we will purchase the MNSSHP and MVMCP ticket, add 1 day to each to enjoy food and wine and Christmas at Epcot and then that is it. Figure it will run me about 800 bucks for the two weekends instead of 1200 for the 2 tickets, plus hotels, plus, plus plus…yes I am saving my money and will explore the World other than Disney. Sorry folks but I am done with yearly park, parking, food, and merchandise increases. We have officially hit the absurd button.

  4. We had been continual AP holders for years until back about 7 or 8 years ago at least when they changed the renewal policy from the pass activating only once you passed the turnstile. That was great since you could get the renewal price but if you didn’t have a trip planned for a while you had 1 year from day 1 of your next trip. Then they changed it as I wrote to activating upon renewal so the clock began ticking immediately. So we never renewed and just bought APs each time we had a new trip so we would get a full year.

    Now with this new program I have not seen anywhere about the renewal policy. Will it be the same as it is now(ticking upon renewal) or will it go back to being able to renew at the discounted rate BUT it won’t start ticking until the next time you cross the turnstile?

  5. We have been AP holders for many years. We aren’t local, but have been making 2 trips a year, each 10-14 days, so AP made sense to us. However, unlike locals we don’t have many options. Just the regular pass or the premium pass that includes waterparks.

    We get the regular pass, which now is $80 more each. And includes phottopass. Being a freq visitor I don’t really want photopass, and don’t need it on each family members ticket!! How is this a deal, having photopass on each family members ticket? Only need one photopass per family!

    I’m still reeling from sticker shock, that our wdw vacation has just increased by $180!!

    I renewed my pass a couple of weeks ago, and not knowing of the price increase, renewed my daughters the day they raised it :-0.

    Because of work I can’t take my usual January trip this year, but still have 2 weeks booked in August, so was on the fence about renewing, but because our resort booked is right next to MK, I wanted the option of being able to nip in any day and not be restricted to only 10 park days out of a 14 day stay. So renewed. However, had I known what I had to pay for daughters renewal, I would have renewed hers earlier!!

    IMO as Passholders in the renewal window, we should have been grandfathered in to old renewal price or at least given some advance notice of increase.

    I think non Florida resident Passholders are being priced out. I would have liked the option of a Gold pass! We never go during those weeks. Way too crowded for me!

    APs no longer make sense to me with only one 14 day trip. So this is prob the last AP for us. After this year I’ll prob just shorten my stay and get a 10 day hopper. Or go to Universal.

  6. I would be happy if they did away with the Annual Passes entirely. The parks would be less crowded and more enjoyable without them.

  7. I think that Disney will see a decrease in revenue WITH the price hikes. We live in NH and make 2-4 trips per year and always had annual passes. We are DVC members and usually stay in a 1 or 2 BR villa depending on whether our “kids” come with us. With the hike in TIW, we may find ourselves eating more counter service & doing more cooking in the room, than to spend like we did…easy to get a bill for over $250 for 4 of us at Le Cellier for example. Instead, with counter service, we can scoot by under $100. As for the annual passes, maybe we now spend more time at the resorts or go to Vero/HH more. Since we have been to the parks many times, getting passes for X number of days might be better. And we rarely purchase Photopass for $199.

    Alternately, we have been going on Disney Cruises for years now and maybe as we all get older, our focus is more there, than the resorts? No need for passes, food is included, and we all have a great time.

    Everyone will just have to look at the costs and determine what they can afford – maybe it is fewer trips, maybe alternate destinations, but I think my bottom line is, I HATE to have to even think about other options, whatever they may be. We had a nice plan and routine, that will likely need adjusting by the sound of things.

  8. I think I’m more disappointed by the price increase for TIW. If I had known it was going up 50%, I would have bought a new one when I was there in Sept, instead of waiting until our trip next week. Does anyone know if it is still good for 13 months, or is it also only 365 days?

  9. I live in NJ, we just renewed our AP in August so until next summer we don’t have to decide what to do, but it really comes down to how many times you go if you live out of state. We were trying to take our kids for 2-3 trips per year so the passes were worth the money. After the first trip they basically became a non-expense for additional trips. We liked that a couple times we just decided to drive down for a weekend and that we just had to pay for food and lodging, it made these types of trips worth while. As your kids grow (one off to college) it may be less likely to get there multiple times a year. I know I am disappointed with TIW and probably won’t renew it. We were just barely covering the cost as it was at $100 but the extra $50 is probably to much. Since I am not local and a lot of times we are there during premium weeks the restaurants don’t take TIW and every year less places take it. I just don’t think it is worth it anymore. But people please stop comparing Disney to Sea World and Universal, they are just as expensive in their own ways, and while special in some ways they just aren’t the same thing. (I love Sea World but wouldn’t drive to FL multiple times a year to go there!) If you would rather go there than go, but don’t make it seem like an alternate choice, it is just a different kind of place.

  10. I am very disappointed in this new system & I am sure that Walt Disney, who wanted this to be a place for families to come & spend time together, would be disappointed that it has become all about the money.
    My husband & I have had & renewed our annual passes for several years. We are eligible for discounted tickets but we have no pattern to our visits to Disney World. Sometimes we come alone, sometimes with our children & their families or just grandchildren. Sometimes we take a lot of pictures, but for just the two of us not so much. Therefore, I do not see an annual pass that would suit our needs. We would like the freedom of coming at holiday time &/or in the summer, but do not have any interest in the water parks or the photo pass. We have passes that will renew in March,maybe it is time to check out Sea World & Universal?

  11. I was almost in tears when I read about these changes. We are DVC and for the past 9 years have been going to WDW around Easter break. We usually get APs with our DVC discount but it depends when Easter falls – sometimes I can get 2 Easter trips on one set of tix, sometimes I can’t and we’ll get park hoppers instead. Our APs were expiring in May and after doing the math, we figured that it was slightly more $ to renew our APs than to get PH but there are other benefits to the APs. Glad we renewed them then. When I read about the increases, I saw that the special Gold FL resident/DVC pass was about the same price as what I paid so figured that was what my AP had become – but our entire trip would be during the blackout period!!! I had booked rooms, airfare, dining, etc. Seriously I was in a panic. I sent a rather harsh email to DVC – still waiting to hear from them. After scanning several message boards, I checked out the AP website and it states that passes bought before the increase, remain the same – so our trip seems to be safe. But we’ll have to see about the year after – if we want to travel during Easter we’ll have to pay for the Platinum passes 🙁 And since when did they stop offering child prices for the APs? My kids are grown but I’m still bothered about that! Side note: we were lucky for this upcoming trip re: TIW. I bought it this past trip and luckily our 2016 trip falls before my TIW expires. However, again, we’ll see what we decide to do in 2017.

  12. Here is the other problem I have with the price hikes. It would cost me about $3,000 for the passes I would want. I can’t stomach that amount when there a so many other good things I could do with the money. Say, save a homeless pet or feed the poor, etc. That is a lot of money to throw at a theme park all things considered and I have not been able to justify these hikes myself. I should have said I would feel like a fool accepting them and don’t know if I can.

  13. Jason,
    Good for you that the price hike does not affect you and I could afford it myself but where is the point where people go ok that is enough? I feel really sorry for all the children who will not get to experience Disney due to the price increases. It seems like what ever Disney does everyone just rolls over and begs for more. Once again, I did not say I could not afford it just think it is totally outrageous to increase the price of a pass by $200. That was the amount the pass I had planned on for my vacation increased. Also, no warning as there usually is. I don’t think Walt Disney wanted his parks to be all about only wealthy people being able to afford the parks. Do you? It was to be a place for families to enjoy and not just families with money.

  14. I am personally not a Florida resident NOR an annual pass holder but looking at the breakdown, $178.00 per month does not seem like a lot to visit Disney World. And to say that ONLY the rich can visit is a ridiculous statement. I live in NY and we are by NO MEANS rich and we are able to visit every year. You just need to be smart about discounts, etc. People must realize that Disney World is continuing to grow in size, so therefor the cost MUST go up. If you really save your $$, you can make it work. If it’s not worth it to you, then just don’t go! My family loves Disney and we have never had a bad experience there. We will always continue to save our $$ to make those magical memories there!

  15. While yes it is disappointing that there is a price increase, it is what it is. I am planning to buy my first Annual Pass next year as I will be visiting twice for a week period each time in 2016. Once in April for RunDisney Star Wars Half Marathon, 10k and 5k and then after Thanksgiving. I always purchase Photopass as it has been a great perk for me and my traveling companions. Doing the math, a 5 day park hopper x 2, Photopass x 2,- it makes total sense to do an annual pass for me.

    Thanks Kristin for the report!!

  16. Hi Kristin:

    Just a little correction in pricing:
    “So, basically, am I willing to pay an extra $88.40 for the possibility that I might go into the parks by myself during the four blackout weeks? ”

    For the New Platinum Pass, which is equivalent to the 4-park, no blockout date pass inclusive of parking, the different for each adult pass is now going to be $106.50 including taxes. Compared to last years pricing of $478.19.

    Yes it includes the PhotoPass, but not everyone wants that option. I wish Disney would have offered a lower priced tier of the Premium Pass without PhotoPass Download, just as they did from the Silver to Gold Pass Option.

    Did Disney give you any indication that would be coming down the pike?

    KRISTIN: In that paragraph, I was comparing the cost benefit of Platinum versus Gold passes. The $88.40 is the difference between the Florida resident renewal prices for the Platinum and Gold passes, not for switching from my current annual pass to a Platinum Pass.

  17. Lisa, I understand your disappointment.
    But calling those of us “fools” who still love Disney and can afford to visit the Parks seems a bit………..foolish.

  18. I like the new structure they have come up with and the addition of PhotoPass on some of them. My parents, my sister’s family, and I are all planning on moving down there in the next few years and are definitely planning on getting the annual passes. We all were there over Christmas one year and really did not find that the parks were too crowded. We chose to only go to Magic Kingdom during the early part of the day or late at night, taking advantage of the extended operating hours. We spent the afternoons in the other parks. We also avoided Magic Kingdom on Christmas day and found the other parks less busy. So, I think I would like to have the option of being there during those holiday weeks. As I am not a golfer and don’t really find myself going to Wide World of Sports but I do see myself visiting the water parks at least 2 times over the year, I would probably have to go with the Platinum(Premium) Pass. I loved being in the parks on Christmas and am guessing Easter would be the same. Plus, just going to the water parks twice, would make this pass the best for me.

  19. Count us lucky, because I renewed our Florida resident annual passes just a few days before the price hike. Looks like we’ll downgrade to the new Silver level next year, especially because it now includes free parking. That’s the reason we went to 365-day APs originally. We shoot our own photos, so Photopass never had much appeal to us.

    What’s more troubling to my family is the $50 increase in the Tables in Wonderland card. We just don’t use it enough to recoup the new $175 cost through the 20 percent discount it provides. Also, TIW used to sponsor special dining events almost monthly, and those are practically nonexistent lately except for the annual Food & Wine preview.

  20. If I am current member when I renew is there a discounted price? Per the Disney website the renewal price is the same as a new ticket price for the premium pass.

    KRISTIN: I spoke to three cast members in the ticketing area, and they all said Platinum passes are $797.69 (or $676.28 as a renewal) for non-Florida residents. DVC discount makes it $691.19 for a new Platinum pass (or $584.69 for a DVC renewal). The Platinum Plus passes are $882.89 (or $750.83 as a renewal) for non-Florida residents. The DVC discount makes it $776.39 for a new Platinum Plus pass (or $659.24 with DVC renewal). So, yes, there is a renewal discount. Hope this helps!

  21. Here’s my question:
    I just purchased three annual passes (one premium and two standard) two weeks ago prior to the changes. I haven’t yet activated them.
    Once I activate them in November – what type of pass are they?

  22. Disney has lost their minds. I am so disappointed with this latest increase in prices. I never thought Disney would be absolutely out of the question for my family. It is not a question of being able to afford the prices but rather doing the math and realizing that no theme park ticket is worth $178/month for two people. Especially small little Disneyland! I bought a park hopper ticket before I left home for Disney World and planned to upgrade to my usual Premiere pass only to be told that Oh by the way the prices went up yesterday and not by some reasonable amount but so unreasonable that I would not even consider it. I regret anything I have that is Disney related. They are making the parks into places for only the very rich. Shame on them. They don’t realize they are not a necessity but only a want. If anyone continues to support them they are a fool.

  23. I really wish Disney would offer the same seasonal annual pass price to DVC members that Florida residents can purchase. We spent many thousands of dollars for our membership, eat all our meals at Disney and purchase many souvenirs. That’s not always the case with locals.

  24. Hi Kristin:

    Our family will be purchasing the Platinum Pass (AP) when we visit in February 2016. Will this pass include the 10% merchandise discount like before?

    Thanks.

    KRISTIN: The official information from Walt Disney World states that all passes will have “special discounts and limited time offers for resort stays, dining, merchandise and more.” It does not specify the exact amount.

  25. Hi,
    We too have been annual Pass holders for many years and Premium Annual pass holders for the last several years, also DVC members. I admit I was a little shocked at the announcement yesterday. Our main reason for the Premium AP’s was for the included Disney Quest, but now that its going away, we were thinking of downgrading to just AP’s. Also, with renewal and DVC discounts, a Premium AP was almost the same price as a regular one, so it made sense. Now they’ve given us more to consider!! We are never there at Christmas and Easter, so the Gold I guess makes the most sense for us. Luckily we renewed our passes last month, so I don’t really have to consider this for another year.
    Thanks for the info!
    Claire