Disney brings park-specific AP blockouts to Florida

July 9, 2018, 10:55 AM · Last month, the Disneyland Resort introduced park-specific blockout dates to some of its annual pass tiers, as the resort prepares for the opening of its new Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge land at Disneyland Park next summer. Today, Disney is introducing a new AP tier at the Walt Disney World Resort that also includes park-specific blockouts.

The new "Theme Park Select" pass costs the same as Disney World's Silver Pass, $439, and is also limited to Florida residents. So what's the difference?

Those blockout dates. Blockouts on the new pass vary by park, including the Magic Kingdom on Saturdays throughout the year and Epcot on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays during the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival. For comparison, the Silver Pass is blocked for most of June and all of July, as well as several weeks around Spring Break in April and during the Christmas season. The new Theme Park Select pass retains many of those blockout dates, but does allow admission to Epcot during almost all of the summer.

The TL;DR? You are trading weekend access to Food and Wine and the ability to go to the MK on Saturdays throughout the year for the ability to go to Epcot during the summer. That allows you more access to Disney World throughout the year, provided you like going to Epcot a lot.

(Of course, if you really like Epcot, Disney's long has offered an Epcot After 4pm Pass that is good only at that park but that has no blockout dates. At $279, it's quite a bit cheaper than the new pass, too.)

Disney has announced that the new Star Wars land will open at Disneyland next summer and at Disney's Hollywood Studios at the Walt Disney World Resort in late fall. That gives Disney World a few more months to rearrange blockout dates and AP tiers to clear space for Galaxy's Edge, compared to Disneyland. (In fact, looking at Disneyland's newly published AP blockout calendars, we think that the window for a possible Star Wars land debut on the west coast opens June 21, 2019.)

Given that Walt Disney World has priced the new Theme Park Select pass the same as the existing Silver Pass, one has to wonder if that new pass is intended as an eventual replacement for the Silver tier. Shifting to park-specific blockouts gives Disney an additional tool to use its AP program to balance attendance levels between its theme parks, directing its most loyal visitors from parks and dates likely to be overwhelmed by casual visitors toward other parks and dates that traditionally have operated well under capacity.

Walt Disney World doesn't have anywhere near the AP base that Disneyland has in California, which makes sense given that Southern California has about 22 million residents compared to the five million or so in Central Florida. But Disney World's AP base can be enough to make a difference on crowded days at the resort. Disney World already uses date-specific pricing on single-day tickets and is expected to introduce date-specific pricing on multi-day tickets sometime this year, as it seeks more tools to redirect attendance patterns at the resort, which drew more than 55 million daily admissions to its four theme parks last year, according to the TEA/AECOM Theme Index attendance report.

Replies (4)

July 9, 2018 at 12:24 PM

Bring back the Southern California Annual Pass with more blockout dates as long as a few weekend dates are available. The Deluxe AP is way too expensive to purchase and I don't need to go all the time. I'm willing to go to California Adventure more frequently if the AP is cheaper than the Deluxe.

Disney World's APs appear more flexible and cheaper across 4 parks.

July 9, 2018 at 5:00 PM

Sigh.... Since Disney will stop at nothing to bring these parks to max capacity at all times can they please just drop a paid fast pass system too. There's no way it isn't coming and I'd like to know now what price to ask for the organs I'll have to sell to be able to enjoy my next visit.

July 9, 2018 at 6:12 PM

Twice as many parks with less than one-fourth as many local residents = lower priced and more flexible APs.

July 15, 2018 at 10:01 AM

I just got a notice that as a Silver passholder I can now pay $89 + tax to be able to go to Magic Kingdom, Epcot and Animal Kingdom for the rest of the summer. It has to be purchased between July 9 and August 9 and is not prorated price wise.

Which leaves me wondering where does this end? Are they trying to phase out the lower AP tiers for FL residents? I got a 15% discount for renewing before my pass expired and am now wondering if that is going to go away too.

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