Annual Passes - My Initial Thoughts

For those of you following us on Instagram, you'll maybe have seen that on our last trip to Walt Disney World we bought Annual Passes.

Our Annual Passes
Our Annual Passes

I wanted to share my very first opinions on the Annual Pass. This article isn't an in-depth look at absolutely everything to do with them, but if you're considering purchasing an Annual Pass, you will hopefully find this useful!

What are Annual Passes?

Annual Passes are a way to pre-pay for unlimited access to Walt Disney World for a year. As well as park access, you get access to exclusive merchandise and deals, and discount in many food and merchandise locations.

There are different levels of Annual Pass, which correspond to what you have access to and when. We have the Platinum passes.

Why Did We Get Annual Passes?

We knew we were going to Disney more than once in the year, running the maths we saw that even just on buying park tickets we would save money by doing this.

We also like to buy plenty of pins when we're in Disney (big surprise!), so the allure of paying 20% less was strong!

We've also moved away from booking a meal plan when at Disney, we're both vegetarian and the options we can pick are generally cheaper than some of the other options, making the meal plan less appealing. Knowing we could then save ~10% on lots of food was a big plus.

We got an Annual Pass each, but it is worth noting that so long as the Annual Pass holder is in your party, you can get a discount on a meal for everyone with just one pass. 

How Annual Passes Work

Once you've purchased your Annual Pass (I talk about this later) you get issued with a lovely little plastic card and your pass is added to your Disney account.

For making use of things like the pass holder lines, you scan your magic band, and their system can see you're a pass holder.

For getting discounts in shops, you need to present your pass along with valid ID. This allows them to see you are who you say you are.

Because the pass is tied to your account, we found some purchases via the My Disney Experience app already had the discount applied, like buying tickets to special ticketed events.

Fun Passholder bling for your Magicband
Fun Passholder bling for your Magicband

The Annual Pass Discounts Add Up

We mainly bought the Annual Passes for the park entry, but I was pleasantly surprised at how much we were saving on merchandise and food throughout our trip.

Most discounts are between 10-20%, but when you consider that pins cost at least $10, you're saving $2+ a pin.

I must admit the first few days I went a little overboard, thinking "well I'm saving money!" but soon it became a passive saving on things I was going to be spending money on anyway.

Here is a list of all the places on property that accept Annual Pass discounts.

Annual Pass Savings On Pins

Since we're a pin website, I want to reiterate that the Annual Pass gives you up to 20% discount on pins in most merchandise locations.

We've written an entire article on where you can buy LE pins in Walt Disney World. The discount applies on all pins, LEs, rack pins, and everything in between!

Unless the pin is specific to one location, if for some reason a place you're buying from doesn't offer discount, I would go to somewhere else that does.

Some Things We Can't Do With Annual Passes

There are some things Annual Passes don't give you access to, we knew this before purchasing, but it is worth highlighting!

Quick service food locations don't take Annual Passes, so there is no discount to be had there. Most food carts don't take them either.

A good tip is if you have an Annual Pass and want to buy a bottle of something, buy it from a merchandise location with a drinks fridge, as they will cost the same as the cart outside, but accept the discount.

You can't use discounts on alcohol, which is a shame because we enjoy the odd Margarita or Schöfferhofer! It wouldn't be very Disney to allow this though.

Our level of ticket doesn't allow us admission to the water parks. We don't use water parks, so this wasn't an issue at all for us.

Ask Everyone For Discounts

Something we learned is even though the vast majority of cast members working in locations that accept discount will ask, some don't. It always pays to ask if they take the Annual Pass discount.

Buy Your Pass Early

You can buy Annual Passes from each of the main parks and also from a location in Disney Springs. We had already bought our park tickets for the trip we were going on but knew you could take the price of your unused tickets off of the cost of the pass. The earlier in the holiday you do it, the more you could be saving off the price of the Annual Pass.

The process is very straight forward. We went to guest services in Disney Springs and asked about buying some passes, we were told where to go and got checked in.

The person helping us scanned our magic bands and could see all of the information about what park tickets we had and what we'd already used. 

They converted how long we had purchased into how much it would cost if we bought single tickets each day (to save us the most amount of money) and took that off the total price.

We bought the tickets on our first full day but had gone to one park earlier in the day, so we "lost" a day of discount.

Annual Pass Questions

If you have any questions about Annual Passes, please leave a comment below - we're not experts, but are happy to share our experiences and answer anything we can.

If you have any top tips or experiences with Annual Passes you want to share, please also add a comment, you'll be helping people out!

Written by tosbourn - Wednesday 29 January 2020

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