The Disney World Annual Pass: A Really Good Idea

I visited Walt Disney World two times before purchasing an Annual Pass–and then there was no stopping me.  Sadly, my pass expired on the last day of my last visit (yes, you can use it on the day it expires) and I’ve not been back since.  As I sit here pining for my pass–and plotting my next trip when I will purchase a new one–I can’t help but think of all the reasons why owning an annual pass just plain makes sense.

On the Disney message boards I frequent, people always ask the question ‘is a Disney annual pass worth it’; the response typically involves a cost-per-day breakdown and some sort of response like ‘well if you are going more than x times per year, then yes, it is worth it.’  But, as always, the math isn’t always that simple.  There are many factors to take into account when contemplating purchasing an annual pass and, in my humble opinion, these factors tip the scales in favor of pass ownership. 

Increased Spontaneity
Here’s the thing about WDW–because the per-day cost drops considerably the more days you visit, I feel discouraged from taking a quick long weekend trip here and there.  But with an annual pass, I can take as many quick long weekend trips as I’d like.  And that, to me, is priceless.

However, aside from the intangible benefit of being able to take a quick Disney break whenever you want, there are some very tangible–and financially beneficial–benefits to owning an Annual Pass.

Park Hopping
With an annual pass, you can park-hop to your hearts content.  Given that adding park hopping to any given ticket will run you around $50 per visit, in the four-short-visits-per-year scenario, you just saved $200.  I know that some people don’t feel the need to park hop, but honestly, after spending a year as a passholder, I can’t imagine life at Disney without it.

Room-Only Discounts
If you don’t own DVC–and I don’t–there are huge savings to be had using Annual Pass room-only resort discounts.  On one five day stay alone, I saved over $400 at Animal Kingdom Lodge by using one of these discounts.  I’m not the best at math, but I do know that a $400 savings almost completely pays for the pass itself.

What’s better than a room in a WDW resort? Getting one for 30% off!

Free Parking
On my uber-long WDW visit back in September–when I spent a little under three weeks in the World–I rented a car. I’ve since determined that having a car in WDW is a really good idea and it’s an even better idea with an Annual Pass. Over the course of that three-week stay, I saved $12 per day in parking fees–that’s more than $150 in savings on parking alone!

Other Perks
As much as I hate to include an ‘other’ category in any list, there really are many other benefits–both financial and magical–that come with owning a WDW Annual Pass.  From merchandise discounts to special passholder-only events, the perks really do exist.  Tables in Wonderland–a dining discount program that you can buy into to gain a 20% discount on all food and beverage purchase in the Walt Disney World Resort restaurants–is a fantastic perk for foodies (and, well, wine lovers) like me.  And therere are even Passholder-only events held throughout the year, which you can, of course, take full advantage of on one of those Disney long-weekends you can now enjoy.

Like food? I do. And a 20% discount makes it even yummier!

The current cost for a non-resident Walt Disney World Annual Pass is $611.31.  And yes, that sounds like a lot of money.  But here’s the thing: if you visit Walt Disney World for either two long visits or four short visits per year, you will more than get your money’s worth on the cost of admission alone. Add to that everything listed above, and really, an annual pass is a fiscally responsible choice.  Just ask my mother–she’s a cost accountant and a proud Disney Passholder.

Do you own an annual pass?  If so, how do you use your perks?  If not, have you considered it?  Share your annual pass stories in the comments section below!

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