date-based pricing system for multi-day tickets going into effect this week, it is time to revisit that frequently asked question, "when should I skip the daily tickets and just buy an annual pass?"With Walt Disney World's new
Walt Disney World offers seven annual pass options, but only two of them are available to people who live outside Florida: the $894 Platinum Pass and the $994 Platinum Plus Pass, which also includes the water parks and Oak Trail golf course. With individual tickets available for as little as $52 a day, with a 10-day Park Hopper ticket, the Platinum Pass only becomes a "must buy" for people planning to visit Walt Disney World theme parks for more than 17 days in a 12-month period, if you do the simple arithmetic. (Platinum passes include park hopping, so the Park Hopper daily ticket is the "apples to apples" comparison.)
But you don't need to visit for that many days to make the Platinum Pass a better deal than buying multi-day tickets. Buying the Platinum Pass would be a cheaper choice for anyone visiting Disney for two multi-day trips of just four days or more in one 12-month period, given the new pricing structure. With parking, free Photopass downloads, and 20% discounts on select food and merchandise included with the AP, I would consider the annual pass over two three-day tickets, too.
So here's the trick: If you visit Walt Disney World every year or so, time your trips for consecutive years so that they fall within 12 months of each other and buy the annual pass.
Another factor to consider is whether you will be visiting the Disneyland Resort in California. If so, Disney offers a Premier Pass that includes admission to all parks on both coasts. At $1,579 plus tax, that pass is a $685 upgrade over the Platinum Pass, but just a $430 upgrade over Disneyland's no-blockout Signature Plus AP. With a Five-Day Park Hopper costing $370 at Disneyland, a Disney World passholder would need to make a couple of long trips to Disneyland to justify the Premier, but top-level Disneyland passholders should pull the trigger if they are considering visiting Walt Disney World just four or more days during the year.
If you live in Florida, the math justifying buying a Disney World annual pass gets more compelling, with passes starting at $289 for an Epcot After 4pm Pass, and a Weekday Select Pass for all parks available at $319, plus three more tiers of sometimes blocked-out passes from $439-$609 and the Platinum Pass for sale to residents for $749, or about $56 a month using Disney's monthly payment plan for local residents.
If you're a local, an AP becomes less a vacation decision and more of a lifestyle choice. With the AP you can drop in on the parks whenever you'd like — assuming you are not blocked out that day — making the parks a place to go for dinner or a few rides as well as a choice for day-long entertainment.
Even if all you are planning at Disney World is a single week-long "staycation," the Silver Pass costs less than a Four-day Park Hopper. If you want to visit during the summer and need the Gold Pass, springing for it allows you to drop in on the parks throughout almost all of the rest of the year for less than $100 more, plus you can spread the cost out over 12 months using the payment plan, which you cannot do with the daily tickets. In short, if you live in Central Florida and you're planning to visit the parks at all, consider an annual pass.
Have you bought a Disney annual pass? Please tell us in the comments about your experience and whether you'd recommend it to others.Tweet
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