How Disney World Annual Passes can save money (even if you only go once)

(Article last updated: September 7, 2017)

When you hear about Disney World Annual Passes, you might think "I'm not going more than once this year - why would I need that?"

And it's true that financially it makes sense for anybody going more than 10 days or for people planning more than 1 trip in a 12 month period, but it also often makes sense for people going for shorter stays.

Here's why...

The discounts and perks that come with having an Annual Pass often make it worth the upgrade, especially when you consider that only 1 person in your family needs to have one to take advantage of the discounts.

Let's look at the numbers...

What exactly is a Disney World Annual Pass?

Annual Pass is the general term for Disney World tickets that last for 366 days versus those that last for a certain number of gate entrances or entitlements. There are actually several different types of Annual Passes available and they all have slightly different perks, benefits, and prices.

What does a Disney Annual Pass cost?

There's no getting around it: an Annual Pass isn't cheap. If you live in Florida or if you are a Disney Vacation Club (DVC) member, you are eligible for some discounts. Aside from upgrading a discounted ticket, you really can't save a lot of money purchasing an Annual Pass, but many people find that the additional perks and benefits associated with their Annual Pass offset the cost.

Here are the levels, prices, and benefits for each type of Annual Pass:

Disney World Annual Passes - prices and benefits

How do you purchase an Annual Pass?

Like with any ticket, it is recommended that you purchase your Annual Pass at least 30 days in advance (if you are staying offsite) or 60 days in advance (if you are staying on-property) so that you can book your FastPass+ reservations.

There are several ways you can purchase it:

  • in person at any Guest Relations or ticket location at Walt Disney World (note: you receive an activated Annual Pass instead of a voucher if purchased this way)
  • online through the Disney website
  • by calling Disney at (407) 939-7679

What is an Annual Pass voucher & where do I exchange it?

If you purchase your Annual Pass via any method other than in-person on Disney property, you will receive a voucher that you must redeem once you arrive.

You can link your voucher to your My Disney Experience account (the same way you can a ticket) so that you can make FastPass+ reservations. While it can be a hassle to redeem the voucher when you arrive, your ticket start date doesn't begin until you physically hand over the voucher and pick up your pass.

You can exchange your voucher at any Guest Relations or ticket location at Walt Disney World. This includes the Guest Relations windows at Disney Springs. Note: don't forget to take your photo ID with you when you redeem your voucher or purchase your Annual Pass.

You can not, however, exchange your voucher at your resort. This is important to note because if you book using an Annual Pass resort discount you may be asked to present your Annual Pass at check in, which means you'll need to exchange your voucher before you can do that. Note: there are reports of Cast Members not asking to see the Annual Pass at check-in but Disney does state that you must present it so it is better to be prepared.

What about upgrading?

Upgrading a current Magic Your Way ticket is another option for getting an Annual Pass. When you upgrade a ticket you receive credit for the full original purchase price, even if you've used part of the ticket. This means even if you don't decide until halfway through your trip that you want to upgrade you can still do that and not lose any of the value of what you already spent on your original ticket.

There are some quirks to be aware of, though:

  • If your original ticket is a Magic Your Way Park Hopper Plus (that's the ticket that lets you park hop plus gives you entry into the Disney Water Parks) and if you have used any of the entries into the water parks (either Blizzard Beach or Typhoon Lagoon) you can then ONLY upgrade your ticket to a Platinum Plus Annual Pass. If you haven't used any of the entitlements for the water parks, you can upgrade to either the cheaper Platinum or the more expensive Platinum Plus.
  • When you upgrade, the start date for your Annual Pass will be the first day you used your original ticket and NOT the day you upgraded.

What are the perks and benefits to Disney World Annual Passes?

Free on-site parking

Guests staying on-site also get free parking, but this allows Annual Passholders to park for free even if they're staying off-site. Savings: $20/day.

Hotel discounts

Usually, about 2-4 months in advance, AP resort discounts are announced for up to 30% off on resort rooms.

You can always find the current AP resort discounts as well as information on what discounts were offered in the past on our guide to Disney World discounts.

Tip: if you hear of a new AP resort discount that you want to take advantage of, go ahead and book your reservation even if you don't have an Annual Pass. As long as you have one at check-in, you can use the discount.

Food discounts

For $150/year, Annual Passholders can join the Tables in Wonderland program which gives 20% off on food and beverages - including alcohol at many WDW dining locations, plus valet parking (which normally costs $25/day) is included.

Only 1 membership is needed for each group. There are other perks and rules around participation in the Tables in Wonderland program that you can read more about on Mousesavers.

The Disney-owned restaurants onsite also frequently offer an Annual Pass discount on dining that ranges from 10-20% off. The restaurant list (as well as the meals offering discounts) can change, so be sure to double check when dining whether or not a discount is offered. It never hurts to ask!

Merchandise discounts

The standard discount for Annual Passholders is 10% off Disney merchandise; however, sometimes Disney will run a promotion which allows you to save up to 20% off of your eligible purchases.

Other discounts

Annual Passholders also have access to discounts on everything from movies at the AMC in Disney Springs to a round of golf to spa treatments.

These are just a few examples of the discounts that have been offered in the past so be sure to review your Annual Passholders benefit information to see what is currently being offered during your trip:

  • Sports & Recreation - discounts on things like golf, rentals from Sammy Duvall's Water Sports Centre, bowling at Splitsville, bike rentals and miniature golf
  • Tours - 15% off tours is the normal discount. Some of the tours discounted are: Disney's Family Magic Tour (Magic Kingdom), Keys to the Kingdom (Magic Kingdom), Backstage Magic (Epcot), Wild Africa Trek (Animal Kingdom) plus many others.
  • Discounted party tickets - Passholders are often eligible for discounts on tickets for select nights of Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party and Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party
  • Spa treatments - several of the spas at the resorts offer 15% off their services to Annual Passholders

So when does it make sense to buy an Annual Pass?

By the time you do the math, it might make sense for you to upgrade 1 ticket in your group to one of the Disney World annual passes (especially with hotels - the price to upgrade can pay for itself in just a couple of nights at a Deluxe hotel).

Going by ticket prices alone - and not taking into account any of the other discounts - you can see the points where people break even or start to save money by purchasing an Annual Pass:

Disney World Annual Pass

But if you plan to access any of the other discounts (especially resort discounts), your savings might outweigh the cost of the Annual Pass much faster.

Lots of people focus on the Free Dining promotion but it's important to keep all options open when booking your trip. So the next time you hear about a new AP discount code that's been released, pay attention. It might work out to be your best option.

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erica

Hi!
Can you help me understand how this works:
“Tip: if you hear of a new AP resort discount that you want to take advantage of, go ahead and book your reservation even if you don’t have an Annual Pass. As long as you have one at check-in, you can use the discount.”

On disney’s website, you are prompted to buy an AP *before* you are allowed to book a room with an AP discount… please let me know if there is a way around this. I’d love to book a room and upgrade the tix before we check in.

do you have to do this over the phone?

Kelly Benson

Just to let you know you have a typo in your cost comparison chart. It appears that you are using the price of a platinum plus pass that includes water parks and not the regular platinum pass which is roughly $100 less.

Good catch! Thank you for pointing that out. The image has been updated.

rhiannon

The passes r great my family goes like every few months so its great but we got rid of them but we might get them again

jack

Your comments about savings accrued with the Annual Pass are accurate, but you don’t mention that most of those savings are also available to Disney Vacation Club (DVC) owners. I own DVC, so I would estimate my annual pass saved me a little over the savings I get from my DVC Membership Card, mostly at more upscale restaurants.

Chelsey J Kopplin

HI there, I am looking for some help. My husband and I have our anniversary trip booked Jan 2018, but we’re thinking of going over Thanksgiving week Nov 2018 with our kids. We will be getting the AP, but not our girls. During our trip in Nov, will our kids have to use the traditional lines to get into the parks or can they go through the line with us?

Susan Deming

Just wonderring if yr advice from this 2015 piece still holds? Does Disney really not sell a pass for more than 10 days? We’re planning 2 week stay with family coming and going within it. But hubby and I want 14 or 15 days’ worth. Thanks

Dan Parrish

I purchased Disney Platinum Passes in November, but will not be going to Disney World until next February. I have never purchased annual tickets before so I don’t know how everything works. Since this purchase I have not received anything from Disney except an email confirmation of my purchase. Will I receive anything else in the mail? When I acquire my annual passes in February will I receive the Passholder Magic Bands at that time? If not, what will I receive and when will I receive my magic bands? And if I do not receive my Passholder Magic Bands during my visit in February then what do I show to the photographers for my Disney PhotoPass photos?

Steven Kelly

Let’s say we want to spend nine days in the parks. My wife gets a 9-day Magic Your Way ticket, and I go for the Annual Pass. Since we’re not staying on site, I lose the ability to reserve more than seven days of FP+ in advance on my Annual Pass. Can my wife’s two remaining days of FP+ reservations be linked to my Pass (after I’ve used up my first two days of fastpasses in the parks) so that I am added onto her fastpasses? Also, I’ve gotten conflicting answers about whether Magic Your Way tickets expire 14 days from the first day of use, or if the first day of use counts as one of those 14 days. Does anyone know for sure?

Stephanie

I have the AP VOUCHER but not the actaul pass yet since we won’t be going until Feb 2016. I know I get free standard parking, but will I have to pay for parking on our first day since I will still only have the voucher when we park? I assume you pay for parking prior to going to Guest Relations to get the actual AP. Or, will they apply the free parking if I show my AP voucher when we actaully park?

Claudia

I just called about this because I too just have the email confirmation. I was told that the parking attendant should honor the voucher, if they don’t costumer service will refund you parking g for the day.

Jose

Can others use your annual pass? If I purchase 2 annual plans for me and my wife, would it be ok if we let our 2 kids use it?

Ron

If you have the annual pass and the free dining plan offer is available. Do you have to only purchase your room to qualify for the free dining offer?

Ruben Figueroa

I just purchased my annual passes. Will we have to pay for parking on the first visit which will will pick up the passes at will call. I just have my order confirmation not my tickets yet until I pick them up.

otto

What if only one person in our room has an annual pass and the rest have park hoppers. Would we still get the annual pass room rates or does everyone need an annual pass?

Jennifer Christensen

I have an annual pass while the rest of my group does not and we are staying offsite. I can book fastpasses 30 days before with that extra 7 day window. Does that 7 day window benefit extend to the rest of my party? can I book theirs a long with mine for the entire trip on that first day 30 days in advance?

Jennifer D

We have an upcoming trip with our extended family. Two of the members have the platinum annual passes. We have always purchased memory maker in the past and planned to do so this year. However, with the new photo pass benefits with the AP, do we need to buy memory maker? Will the AP members photopass account pull photos for our entire party or only the AP holders?

P.S. Your site is amazing! This is, by far, the most useful WDW planning site we have used.

Justin

Hello – my wife and I just got back from our 6 day honeymoon. We didn’t realize upgrading to and AP was an option for us 🙁 have you ever heard of upgrading to an annual pass after people leave their vacation. We had such an amazing experience (of course) and would really love to get back if we can. An annual pass would save $$

Emily Boyadjian

Do you know if it’s possible to upgrade a partially used no expiration ticket to an AP?

I tried this once a few years ago and was told than even with No Expiration tickets any changes or upgrades have to be made within 14 days of first use. Not sure if this is still the policy so it might be worth a call to Disney!

Ashley

Hi,
Can I enter the park on the day of my expiration date on my AP? It expires 10/9 and I was wondering if 10/8 would be my last day to enter? I’m seeing conflicting info online since this year was a leap year. Thanks for all your help 🙂

Deanna Gorman

I currently have two separate trips booked through My Disney Experience. One with my family of 4 in June and a sisters trip in September. I did the math and it makes sense for me to get an AP. I have already paid a significant amount down on my June trip (over half). How will this effect those reservations? I know I can upgrade my ticket when I am there, but I would like to take advantage of the photo pass.

Domingue lee

does this pass allow the whole family in the park or just one person

Michelle

You need an annual pass or park ticket for every person in the group. The annual pass is only good for one person and can not be transferred from one person to another.

Jason Linn

How will this work for fast pass + reservations 3 months out if only one person in the party have the annual pass? As far as I understand only people staying on site or have a annual pass can book them early and we are planning on staying offsite. Can I make reservations for the whole group or is it just for me?

joanna

I have the disneyland premium annual pass and it gets me into disney world but I pay around $100 less. The there are only a few things that just suck when using it for disney world. 1 the discount for dinning: I’m going to Disney world for a 7nights and besides not having to pay for tickets I’m saving $20 on the total dinning plan for two people. My hotel rate is the same as everyone else because of the 30% promo. 2 pre picking fast passes: while planning our trip I was unable to pre pick my fast passes. Then when I get to the hotel I get to go talk to someone about getting fast passes. 3 no free thing when you upgrade: right now they are also offering the picture package for free when you upgrade your hotel room to a package. But because I’m an annul members and don’t need to get tickets I don’t even get that offered.

Lynn S

For a retired Florida resident the annual pass that limits going on weekends or during holiday black-out times is a great buy. For around $222 you get a park hopper annual pass that also includes some discounts for lodging, etc. If you are retired you have the flexibility of going during the week and who doesn’t want to avoid the parks when they are busiest if possible.

Marc

Hi, We will be staying at the Dolphin 6 adults same family, 10 days… Aug 23-Sept 10 , Can we buy one annual pass for the discounts on food and merchandise? I inquired with Disney Vacations and was told no you had to stay at a Disney Hotel. Your site is very helpful.
Thanks,
Marc

Matt

First, love this site!
Is it possible to use the AP room discount with a free meal plan offer or is it still one or the other?

Angel

Parking at Disney is now $15 per day!

Cathy

If you go every year, your annual passes COULD pay for two years of vacation. We get our passes and plan our trip for say, June. Then we plan next year’s trip for May. The cost is almost equal to buying 10-day park hopper tickets each year but we get all the perks and discounts too, and can even squeeze in an extra trip in between sometimes.

Jessica bloom

Is it better to do ap or 10 day non experation. I have bee debating on these two

Edward

Does it make more sense to buy the annual pass or the park hopper pass? Thank you

Jody

I hadn’t thought of this option. We have sort of made it tradition to go as a family group (daughters, sons-in-law, grand kids) in the fall during Food and Wine and Halloween party time. This year daughter #2 will have a 3 week old baby and won’t be able to go. They want me to go with them after the first of the year. I could then use the pass promotions for both trips. Thanks for this tip. I consider myself to be pretty adept at Disney planning but there are always things that I haven’t thought of. I am so enjoying your tips and have passed on your site to my niece who is headed out on Sunday for a trip they just booked this week!

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