I go to Disney World a lot — for work and for fun — and that means I’ve had an Annual Pass for a while now.
For some, an Annual Pass is absolutely worth it and many have been waiting patiently for the return of sales (Annual Passes have been mostly unavailable), On the other hand, I want to caution against leaping at the opportunity to buy an Annual Pass when they are for sale again on April 20th. After all, they aren’t for everyone. Here are 5 reasons you shouldn’t buy a Disney World Annual Pass, from a long time Passholder.
At face value, an Annual Pass sounds amazing. It’s just more opportunities to have perfect days in Disney World — like we did in this video.
But there are certainly a number of things to consider that could mean an Annual Pass is not right for you.
1. The Cost of Annual Passes
This one is probably obvious, but the cost of Annual Passes is very high. Not only that, but price increases were announced at the end of 2022 that will remain for when they go on sale again. The prices for the different passes are:
- Incredi-Pass: $1,399
- Sorcerer Pass: $969
- Pirate Pass: $749
- Pixie Dust Pass: $399
That’s a big spend! And, the Incredi-Pass (the highest level pass) is the only one that is available to non-Florida Residents and non-Disney Vacation Club Members. Out-of-state Disney Vacation Club Members have access to the Sorceror Pass as well, but the Pirate and Pixie Dust Passes are exclusive to Florida Residents.
The return of Annual Passes was only just announced on April 6th, and it’s entirely possible that they will sell out shortly after going on sale on April 20th. This gives folks only two weeks to decide whether or not they want to drop several hundred to a thousand dollars on an Annual Pass — and that just might not be feasible for some Disney fans.
Even if the splurge is an option, it might not be worth it. Though an Annual Pass can be awesome if you are coming to the parks a lot, it takes a number of visits to make it worth the spend. One day tickets range from $109 to $189, with the Park Hopper add on running around $80. At minimum, guests will need to visit at least 6 times (as long as they park hop) or 9 times (if they don’t park hop) to get their money’s worth on the highest level pass.
If you are satisfied with one trip to Disney World in a year, the Annual Pass might not provide enough value to be worth the major spend.
2. The Pressure to Visit Frequently
Having an Annual Pass may also influence you to visit Disney World more often than you may otherwise. At face value, that sounds like not such a bad thing (Who doesn’t want more Disney World?), but it may not be a good choice to open yourself up to that pressure.
Perhaps without an Annual Pass, you would have been happy going to Disney World for one four-day trip, but now you feel pressured to go for at least 9 days to make your pass worth the spend. It might be more difficult to get the vacation time from work or pay for the travel costs — especially if you live far away.
That pressure to visit can be stressful! As a Florida local, it’s a little less scary for me, but we’ve all been in that spot where we’re keeping a spreadsheet of how many times we use something/go somewhere that we have a pass or subscription to. Ok, maybe you’re not keeping a spreadsheet, but that urge to get your money’s worth can be a stressor.
3. The Risk of Overspending
An Annual Pass can be a great way to save in some ways because it means not paying for park admission if you are a frequent enough visitor to warrant the splurge in the first place, however Passholders also might find themselves spending more on other aspects than they might otherwise.
Disney World is expensive beyond the park ticket. It’s expensive to stay, eat, shop, and use services like Genie+. Having an Annual Pass may mean you’re in Disney World more, and that may mean you’re spending more in the parks than you would otherwise.
I know that I often buy Genie+ on my park visits so I don’t have to worry about long lines. But, since I’m at Disney World so often, the spending I do on Genie+ and my favorite park snacks is a lot more difficult to manage. Basically, the initial spend on an Annual Pass is not the only spending you’re opening yourself up to, and that danger of overspending could be a reason to skip the pass all together.
4. There May Be a Better Option For You
Annual Passes are the most obvious way to get into Disney World regularly, but don’t forget to look at other admission options. If you’re traveling less than would make the pass worth it, look into multi-day tickets! 10-day tickets can be as low as $60 per day. If you’re a Florida Resident, Disney often offers deals for tickets that could cost as low as $50 per day.
On the other end of the spectrum, if you go to Disney a lot and intend to do so for years to come, you may want to look into a Disney Vacation Club membership. DVC is certainly a much larger spend, but there are a ton of membership benefits like discounts on park tickets (and more!), special events, and exclusive lounges. In the longterm, having a timeshare with Disney could save you more money than an Annual Pass would.
And Disney World isn’t the only theme park that offers Annual Passes. Check out some local parks to see if they have an offering — it will likely be much cheaper! Even Universal Orlando offers dramatically cheaper Annual Passes with more discounts and perks (Early Entry, exclusive treats, exclusive lounges) than Disney Passes if you’re ok heading somewhere other than the Mouse. Universal passes range from $425 to $945 depending on tier and number of parks.
If you’re looking into a Disney World Annual Pass, make sure you’ve researched other options before committing to the spend.
5. The Benefits of Annual Passes
I know what you’re thinking, “How can benefits be a reason not to get an Annual Pass?” Hear me out. Disney World’s Annual Pass comes with a number of benefits like free parking at the theme parks, discounts, and the occasional exclusive treat or merchandise.
But if you’re not driving to the parks, don’t plan on doing a ton of spending, and don’t care about exclusives, then the Pass might not be for you. For some of us, those bonuses are awesome, and a big reason we stick with the Annual Pass, but some folks just don’t care if they have the option to buy an exclusive water bottle at an EPCOT festival. That could be you, and it’s certainly something to consider.
The moral of the story is that an Annual Pass is a big purchase and its an investment. It certainly can be valuable, but it can also end up not being worth what you pay. Keep an eye on AllEars for more Annual Pass updates!
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