Disney annual passes are a great way for locals (or multiple times per year visitors) to save money on their park tickets. An annual pass can get you into the park practically any time you want – but there are lots of hoops to jump through nowadays to use an annual pass effectively. Right now at Walt Disney World, there’s only one option for an annual pass, though there should soon be four or five – keep reading for more on that. Here’s everything you need to know about the different annual pass options so you can decide which will be the most valuable for you or your family!
Disney’s Current Annual Pass Philosophy and Company Direction
Currently in the spring of 2023, Disney is only offering one type of annual pass. Why? Because Disney’s leadership has pushed in the direction of maximizing the spending of each person who enters the parks, taking for granted its locals, fans, and repeat visitors. As Disney’s public image continues to deteriorate from its once golden status, they’ll need to reach back out to the loyal fans to ensure its parks are always full. As it stands now, parks stay full almost all of the time, meaning Disney does, in fact, make more money by limiting annual pass sales. Those annual pass holders spend less per visit (which is the whole point of you buying an annual pass, right?), so they’re filling up space in the park that could be filled by a higher paying guest. That’s Disney’s current philosophy, anyway.
This leaves the Pixie Dust Pass as the only current active annual pass option. At Disneyland, it’s a bit of a different story. In California, the parks are much more dependent on local annual passholders than Disney World, which prides itself on being the world’s leading vacation destination. Since they have more need for locals, they have more annual pass options open. The Pixie Dust Pass only allows visits on weekdays, but it is expected that all of the annual pass options will be available again soon. Below are details on each of these annual pass types.
What Are the Annual Pass Options?
At Disney World, there are four options for annual passes. However, as previously mentioned, only one is currently available to purchase. In the past, Disney has offered other types of passes than the ones listed below, including specific passes to visit EPCOT in the evenings. Here are the options listed out with all of their accompanying details and information:
Disney Incredi Pass
This annual pass is the all-encompassing option, which is currently unavailable. It remains to be seen how Disney will price their annual passes once they begin offering more options, but based on previous information, I’d guess the pass to cost around $1,300 once it is renewed as an option. This is the price it was before options were taken away by Disney.
The high price mainly comes from the fact that the pass has absolutely no blackout dates – meaning you can visit the park any day you want. Though Disney’s reservation system can still limit when you go, the pass allows you to have 5 reservations at a time on a rolling basis. That means visiting the parks on a busy day might require a bit of planning ahead, but still makes it simple to visit whenever you want.
Disney Sorcerer Pass
Open only to Florida Residents and Disney Vacation Club Members, this pass will grant you the same access as the Incredi Pass, just with a few blockout dates on holidays. This means you won’t be able to get into the parks the week around Thanksgiving or a couple of weeks around Christmas, in addition to a few individual dates here and there. If you’re not planning to visit Disney World during holidays, this is definitely a better option than the Incredi Pass, since it is sure to be easier on the wallet. Based on previous pricing, the cost is likely to be around $900.
Disney Pirate Pass
Moving into the more reasonably priced annual pass options, we have the Pirate pass. At this point, there are a few more obstacles to get into the park, but nothing too crazy. The number of park reservations you can hold will be reduced from 5 to 4, and the number of blockout days increases. They’re still focused around the busiest periods, but are slightly extended and include more events. Times like marathon weekends, certain parts of spring break, and other busy holiday weekends will all be blocked out. However, the price of the pass is likely to be a slightly more reasonable $700. If deciding between the Pirate Pass and Sorcerer Pass, be sure to take those holiday blockout dates into account!
Disney Pixie Dust Pass
Currently the only annual pass option available for purchase, the Pixie Dust pass is a weekday-only pass that still has most of the holiday period blockout dates, and only allows you to hold three park reservations at a time. Depending on your work schedule, this annual pass option could be completely useless, or the best option for you. Since it’s for Florida Residents only, it’s geared towards the locals who might pop in and out of the parks when they can. It’s great for those of us who enjoy the parks less crowded and crazy. It’s also a good way to see the nighttime shows often, since you could always come in late to the parks after work for a couple of hours to catch some fireworks.
General Annual Pass Perks
No matter which annual pass you have, you will always receive certain park perks. To start, parking will be free any time you visit. This is a huge benefit that can save you lots of cash in the long run. In addition, the passes will allow you access discounts on certain dining opportunities. This usually comes into play as 10% off most locations, but Disney is constantly shifting the goalposts on which dining is discounted. As a rule of thumb, you’ll get the stated 10% off everything (nix alcohol) at any sit-down theme park restaurant, and between 10 and 20% off Disney Springs dining locations, depending on the particular vendor. As a final perk, an annual pass gets you 20% off merchandise. If you are a big souvenir spender, the discount can add up quickly with all the shopping you’ll be doing with additional time in the theme parks!
It should be noted that Disney has been known to offer discounted resort reservation costs for annual passholders, though these opportunities are few and far between. If this is something that interests you, be sure to keep an eye out for the opportunities that might come along.
Is the Price For an Annual Pass Worth It?
Despite being ridiculously expensive, the annual pass prices are well worth it if you plan on visiting more than a couple of times in the year. As it stands now, individual ticket prices are so expensive, it might even be worth if for a guest on an extended vacation to get an annual pass! In fact, if you and your family are staying more than 10 days, and especially if you’re considering adding on the park-hopper, you should consider buying an annual pass instead, even if you will only use it during the one vacation.
For locals or multiple-trip-per-year visitors, the annual passes are probably worth it, but you’ll need to consider how many days you actually plan to be in the parks to determine if the pass is worth it for you. Overall, if you visit on 3 separate occasions for the Pixie Dust Pass, 5 or 6 separate occasions for the Pirate and Sorcerer Pass, and 8 or more for the Incredi Pass, you’ll get your money’s worth. If you have kids, keep in mind that the price for their ticket will be a little lower than the listed adult-priced tickets, so you can save a bit of money in that regard.
How Can I Pay Off an Annual Pass?
Disney offers monthly payment options that start around $20 per month after putting a few hundred down at the start. APR is 0%, so as long as you can afford the down payment and monthly bits, you’re good to go!
Ticket Add-Ons and Water Parks
If you want to enhance your annual pass, you also have the option to add-on free Disney PhotoPass downloads for $99. If you want the cool on-ride pictures and professional in-park shots, it might be a good idea for one member of your family to add this to your annual pass.
There is also a Water Park and Sports option, which gives you access to Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach water parks, Disney’s Oak Trail Golf Course, ESPN Wide World of Sports events, Footgolf (golf with your feet), and mini-golf (as long as you visit prior to 4pm). At only $99 a ticket, this is an amazing value, especially for locals who can easily visit and experience everything Disney has to offer.