Walt Disney World Suspends Most Annual Pass Sales

November 21, 2021, 11:28 PM · The Walt Disney World Resort has suspended new sales of three of its four annual passes.

The move comes one month after the Disneyland Resort in California halted sales of its top annual pass, declaring it to be "sold out." In Florida, Disney World has stopped selling new passes for its top three levels: the $1,299 Disney Incredi-Pass - the only way available to all guests, the $899 Disney Sorcerer Pass, and the $699 Disney Pirate Pass. All three passes remain available for renewals, however.

Only the $399 Disney Pixie Dust Pass, which is available only to Florida residents, remains available for new purchases.

Disney World just resumed sales of its annual passes in September, after having suspended sales during the pandemic. As with daily tickets to the Walt Disney World Resort, annual passes require advance reservations for their holders to visit the parks on specific dates.

That requirement has resulted in limited availability on some days for passholders, so a suspension of new pass sales could help reduce that demand pressure. There's no word from Disney yet on when new pass sales might resume.

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Replies (9)

November 22, 2021 at 11:14 AM

It's a shame that Disney doesn't really explain the reasoning behind these moves, because it's not clear why they need to stop selling these popular products. Did Disney completely misread the market for APs with the pricing/benefits structure of Magic Key? Did they misunderstand how people used their APs, and the barriers that Park Pass has created?

I tend to think it's the later, because there are significant complaints on the fan sites about the inability to make park reservations even with the most expensive Magic Keys. I strongly believe that Disney had no clue how frequently most APs used their passes who expected to get close to the same number of visits under Magic Key, and in order to deliver that expectation they cannot sell nearly as many Magic Keys as they could APs due to Park Pass. Even with increased capacities compared to earlier this year (again Disney doesn't reveal exactly where they're at in terms of current limits compared to pre-pandemic), Magic Key holders are having a real hard time finding days when they can visit the parks, particularly during the busy Holiday Season. Maybe this is ultimately what Disney wants (increasing the price while reducing the value - number of days someone can feasibly enjoy the parks with Magic Key), but it's creating quite a stir in the fan community to the point where I think Disney felt they needed to try to artificially control supply in order to reduce demand for popular visiting days.

The real question is whether they have already soured the market to the point where current Key holders will not renew because of the decrease in value of these products. There were a number of former APs that gave Disney a chance despite the perceived limitations and lack of benefits from the new program, and were banging the drums loud about the issues with Park Pass and the costs of Magic Key. It sounds like Disney heard the complaints, but only appears to be making a minor concession that doesn't really help anyone. As with the Disneyland Magic Key program, fans of WDW that took a wait and see approach are caught on the outside, and may eventually lose their love for the Disney parks experience that is best when nurtured and strengthened through multiple visits.

November 22, 2021 at 12:47 PM

Just to clarify, only Disneyland is using the term "Magic Key" while Walt Disney World continues to use the more obvious term "Annual Passes." Which is by itself yet another flaw in this whole scheme.

While the Park Pass reservation system does allow both Walt Disney World and Disneyland the ability to cap attendance without turning people away at the gate, on most dates that's not an issue. What Park Pass is being used for on a daily basis is capping the number of annual passholders/Magic Key holders being allowed into the parks.

You don't need a degree in mathematics to understand that if you limit the number of passholders in the park on a daily basis, eventually that limitation is going to affect the number of passes you can support. So either (a) you cut off the sales of new passes, or (b) you allow the value of passes to degenerate to the point where you frustrate the market and ticked-off customers stop buying passes.

Since Disney does not want to deal with that amount of ill will, it is choosing option (a) on both coasts.

Ultimately, I wish Disney would just do away with annual passes... by whatever name. Just sell date-specific tickets and let the market get used to that.

November 22, 2021 at 2:06 PM

"Ultimately, I wish Disney would just do away with annual passes... by whatever name. Just sell date-specific tickets and let the market get used to that."

I think that's probably where we're headed, but I wonder if that will be self-defeating. Sure, Disney will make more money and be better able to control crowds within its parks while setting clearer expectations for guests, but I strongly believe that Disney parks have become so popular over the past 60+ years because guests are able to visit multiple days throughout the year at a significant savings over single/multi-day tickets. APs/members form the backbone of a park's fanbase, and if you cut those people down to visiting a couple of times a year on single-day tickets, what will happen to the overall enthusiasm for Disney parks?

Also, Disney has sold thousands of memberships to DVC with the premise that owners would routinely visit the parks for multiple days. They've already hit DVC owners pretty hard with the recent changes to the WDW AP program, and I can only imagine the furor if they completely eliminated APs altogether.

November 22, 2021 at 3:24 PM

Maybe suspending the sales of the DVC-targeted AP at WDW provides the trial balloon for that?

November 22, 2021 at 6:28 PM

To me, imposing capacity limits on APs is a vast improvement. At DLR, the park would get mobbed for most of the year by AP holders paying pennies on the dollar. As a tourist paying big bucks to come visit, I always felt that was a raw deal.

November 22, 2021 at 7:05 PM

The value in an annual pass is typically to get some extra revenue out of locals in the lesser months to help tide you through to tourist season. Disney's US parks are international destinations in their own right, they don't really have an off peak, just a peak, and an even more peak... So I can't see a financial reason to have them.

Having locals as "Goodwill ambassador" with a pass to encourage their visiting family to go also doesn't seem to really be needed, I don't think anyone really needs an extra nudge to go to disney.

But I suppose there is the political goodwill reason. a lot of people don't seem to like the noise and traffic that theme parks bring with them, so lower price tickets for locals (or even free for immediate neighbours) makes some sense... but does that have to be an annual pass to be effective? What goodwill is a $399 pass buying disney that a 50% midweek locals discount or a 50% after 5pm discount wouldn't? Might even buy a little more for those who could afford to go once.

Maybe their existence is a bit of corporate interia (We have to have annual passes, we've always had them, and so does everyone else)

November 23, 2021 at 8:30 AM

This isn't about throwing locals a bone or even feeling some obligation to offset neighbors' inconvenience for having theme parks in their back yard. This is about building and maintaining a fan base. Certainly, there's some obligation to give back to the communities that house and host these massive revenue generators, but my opinions regarding APs/Magic Key boil down to how Disney attracts and enlivens their core audience.

Locals (and by extension DVC owners) by nature are going to visit their home parks far differently than tourists. They have the unique ability to "pop in" and tour their parks in a far less systematic and more relaxed way, hitting just the highlights, or maybe even less popular attractions that are overlook by tourists. They are less likely to stay in the park for an entire day, and typically don't visit with the burden and stress of a fully loaded itinerary that tourists create for their one trip to the park every decade (or longer). However, because of the way and frequency of their visits, those guests develop an appreciation/love for the parks that a first time/infrequent visitor can't glean from a single 1-week trip. Disney, and pretty much any theme park company needs people to fall in love with their parks, and slowly chipping away at the frequency in which guests can visit will eventually reduce the enthusiasm and love those frequent guests have for the parks. While they say that "absence makes the heart grow fonder", a dynamic and living entertainment complex like a theme park strengthens a guests' appreciation for it by allowing for multiple and repeat experiences.

Now there is something to be said for those that buy passes simply to take advantage of the discounts and benefits, reducing the effective revenue Disney can extract from these customers, but would these same customers visit anywhere near as frequently or be willing to spend on peripheral products if they were forced to buy single day tickets? In other words, do AP/Magic Key holders have a finite budget to spend on Disney, and would those guests be more willing to exceed that budget if they can visit a dozen or more times every year or if they're limited to less than a handful of visits?

I think fans are more willing to break their budget if they love and appreciate the products, which is strengthened through multiple visits. Yes, Disney isn't making admission revenue from guests visiting for the 10th time in the year on an AP/Magic Key, but it's unlikely that those guests are simply walking in, riding some rides and then leaving - those guests are almost certainly spending money on something, and often things that tourists probably aren't buying since those guests are typically buying the old standbys.

AP/Magic Key is very much like a season ticket to your favorite sports team/franchise. Just like sports teams, when they lose those season ticket holders, it becomes harder and harder for them to get those fans back, and harder and harder to sell out their arenas/stadiums on single game purchases. While there's more than enough demand right now to fill Disney's parks with tourists, conditions may not be as ripe moving forward. AP/Magic Key gives Disney the assurance that they have a built in fan base that can fill the parks whenever they want/need. Cutting off that loyalty and fanaticism could ultimately be self defeating, and undermine the foundation for what has made Disney parks so popular in the first place.

November 23, 2021 at 10:55 AM

AP doesn't generate enough cash so Disney doesn't want them. They only fill up rides and sure Disney could invest in more, bigger rides it would cost money and they don't want that.
They want rich visitors who are picky eaters and love mediocre rides, hotels and services. That is where the money is. I'm glad I visited WDW when it meant something.

November 24, 2021 at 8:21 AM

My question is are the parks legitimately selling out? All the times I’ve gone this year have had a problem with a reservation.

I am wondering what’s happening behind the scenes. WDW has proved itself much different than DL, mostly for size. They can handle more APs and can guarantee some kind of “product” (though maybe not what the guest wants).

Renewals are still open so my guess is that they want to raise the AP prices again because they are selling too many

Also, if they get rid of the DVC APs, that’s going to kill the business. I swear. That is the perk that will make guests sell

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