There are more noticeable advantages for the platinum passport holder in the Florida parks, most notably the preferred seating at shows. At Sea World this year, the platinum reserved seats were always the best seats...front row center, just above the splash zone. The Virginia parks are not able to do this because of the large number of passport members who visit the parks regularly.
I venture to say that I will always be a platinum passport holder as long as Anheuser Busch maintains the current benefits.
We also have passes to the San Diego Zoo / San Diego Wild Animal Park. Not sure if those qualify for this discussion but the reason is obvious anyway. We both love animals and these are great places to go and see them.
When I moved back to California, I immediately bought a Disneyland Premium AP. But, after doing the math, I realized that I needed to go eight times during the year to make an annual pass a better deal than buying a kids' ticket each time I go. (There's no discount for kids on Disneyland annual passes, and if I'm gonna go, I am gonna go with a kid.) After a few years, I realized that we just don't make the drive down from Pasadena to Anaheim that often.
I do have a 10-day ticket to Disney World (no expiration) and would buy a similar ticket to DL/DCA. But DL/DCA offers no tickets without expiration dates, so we just buy one-offs the three or four times a year I go.
Story is similar with the other parks. Ironically, because there are so many parks in Southern California, and because I try to get to them all, that means that I don't end up going to any one of the other parks more than a couple times a year (not counting press events). Which makes resident or other discounted deals on one-day tickets a better deal for me than getting APs.
One of the great perks of having Disney passes is we can go to the parks just for a quick walk around if we want, then do something else. There is no rush and worry about having to do everything in one day. We never wait in lines because we can just go another day! It is also nice to go to Epcot just for lunch!
WDW offers more than enough activities to make the pass worth the bucks and keep the experience fresh. We purchased the premium passes and go to the waterparks as well.
Also, with parking at $11, one may pay for a nice chunk of the pass with that savings alone!
Passes also offer nice discounts on merch and dining. We get very nice discounted offers to special seasonal events that save even more. There is also a discount when passes area renewed.
We have the top line passes to WDW, USF, and Platinum Passes to SW/BG. We have discussed whether or not we should keep them all a couple times. I will say USF Premier Passes are expensive ($279 each) and those parks can get stale if you go a lot, but the perks (Free Valet Parking, Free HHN Tickets, Restaurant Discounts, Front of the Line Passes after 4PM) keep us coming back.
This may sound like a commercial, so it's important to know I do not work for any of the theme parks in Orlando!
Living as close as we do, it is nice to go in the morning after rush hour go on the rides we want, have lunch and then head home before the afternoon rush.
I would consider the Platinum pass for Bush if it included Discovery Cove.
With going to the Disney parks costing $82 entrance plus parking how many times do you have to go before you are ahead of the cost curve. We go, on average once a month, that would be $984 dollars, the annual pass is a big savings.
Living in Wisc, it doesnt pay to have season passes for any other park chains.
Side note: 'Aquatics' magazine just published their annnual waterpark issue. Typhoon Lagoon was ranked #1. Blizzard Beach #2!
Membership in AZA and/or AAZK can get you into many zoos at no charge. I know Woodland Park in Seattle offers that deal to AAZK members, and I believe the Pt. Defiance zoo, in Tacoma, offers a similar deal to AZA members.
I live in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia which is really beautiful but rather lacking in theme parks unfortunately. There used to be one in Roanoke but it was destroyed by the flood of 1985.
I went to BGW in June and am going again in October and it is one of my favorite parks so I have thought of getting a season pass. I think you'd have to go at least 2 or 3 times to make it worthwhile. But maybe if I had passes, we would make a point to go more often.
Am debating upgrading tix to passes for 2008 when we go to Howl o Scream in October.
I am pretty old for a theme park fan (53) but plan to ride coasters and rides until I'm confined to a nursing home or they carry me out feet first, whichever happens first. Husband and I want to retire to Williamsburg area (we like historical stuff and the beach as well) so definitely will get passes then, if not maybe get a "retirement job" at the park. The parents of a co-worker of my husband did that. They work 3 days at week at Busch, get in free on tehir days off, and spend the winter while the park is closed traveling. Pretty cool!
I think late 2008 we'll probably pony up for Disney annuals. Heck, when you consider how much you save in parking alone it pays for itself pretty quickly (although being a non-Florida resident they really hit you hard).