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Disney revises Annual Passholder Program at Disneyland and Walt Disney World


In a move that places a premium on unrestricted access to Disneyland and Walt Disney World, the two resorts have revised their annual passholder programs. If you want to visit Disneyland any day of the year, you’ll have to pay more than $1000 for the privilege. Walt Disney World isn’t quite as bad, but you’ll now pay $776 for year ’round access.

Why is Disney raising prices on its annual passes so high? Because it can. But also because it needs to. By adding a new level of pass that has most of the benefits of the most expensive pass, but a few blackout days around the holidays, Disney is hoping to relieve the crowds that have been causing the theme parks to close due to capacity issues early in the morning on the days surrounding Christmas and New Years. Florida Gold Passes also will be blacked out for the end of March.

A couple of other interesting changes to note, at Walt Disney World the Platinum Plus level pass (now the most expensive) is the only pass to include access to Golf and ESPN WWOS complex as well as the water parks. Missing from that list is DisneyQuest. The ‘theme park in a box’ complex is expected to close in 2016 to make way for the NBA Experience. The top three levels of passes also include free digital downloads from the Photopass system.

More details on each pass here:

Walt Disney World
Walt Disney World – Florida Residents

Having an annual pass that has any blackout days bothers me, because in the past Disney has shown this to be a slippery slope and the number of days you’re blacked out will inevitably expand. That said, even at the adjusted prices the Platinum Pass is still a great deal even if you’re only visiting one day a month on average. Skip a couple of Vanilla Lattes at Starbucks and you’ll make up the difference in the monthly payment plan.

Will these price adjustments help Disney finally strike a balance between providing access to locals and those families who save for that big family vacation? Or is this just another step in Disney pricing itself out of the market for middle class families? I guess it depends on your perspective. Don’t expect to see any major crowd level differences this holiday season. It will take 10-11 months for all the old annual passes to cycle out of use. So ask me again in April of 2017.

Speaking of April of 2017, that’s just about the time we’ll be putting Avatar construction in the rear view mirror and looking forward to the opening of Star Wars Land. Coincidence? I think not.

Will this price increase affect the way you visit Disneyland and Walt Disney World in the future?

8 thoughts on “Disney revises Annual Passholder Program at Disneyland and Walt Disney World”

  1. I’m not overly deterred by the pricing structure for the FL Resident passes. The blackout dates for Gold are the same as what the Seasonal pass is now, which is perfect for my husband. I find it interesting that all levels include parking now. It’s a hidden benefit for locals because parking gets expensive. I’m Platinum all the way. It compares with my current Annual pass, which I use enough to come out way ahead, price wise. Even the increase won’t change that. And, if I’m understanding it correctly, I’m excited by the Photo Pass download addition (I can’t figure out if it just means access and there’s an additional fee to download, but free download would be a pleasant surprise). Either way, the increase won’t stop me from renewing. I just wish I could find the pricing for renewal to see it we still get a price break incentive.

  2. This completely changes EVERYTHING for my family of 5. In the past, my family would get our Disneyland AP’s every other year. Then we’d go around 20-30 times during the year. But every trip was treated as low-budget – we couldn’t afford to eat on-property but maybe once or twice, nor could we buy the kids anything while we were there. Then we’d be saving up for AP’s for the next time we could afford to get the family set of AP’s again (typically around a year after the last ones expired.

    Short of picking picking 6 lucky numbers, I don’t see AP’s in my family’s future at all. It looks like we’ll be saving all year for a single 2-3 day vacation from now on.

  3. We’re quite happy with the changes at WDW. We’ve always had the highest price ticket so that it would include parking, we do go to the water parks occasionally but never golf and find DQ to be to loud for us and to busy. With that we’ll be getting the Gold pass since we find we don’t go during summer it’s to miserable and our tradition is to always go at the beginning of Dec for the decorations. Spring break, eh, we won’t miss it. Having the parking is important and I love the idea of the photos, that’s a very nice perk. DL however is a whole nother ball of wax. We’re Disney runners and have loved having the Premier pass but they started raising the price on it and we finally bowed out of it. Now it’s just freaking crazy expensive, still with no payment plan either, it’s just out of our league. We’ll get tickets through the TA’s or buy one of less expensive AP’s. Even doing it that way it’s less expensive then the price of the Premier, by a few hundred dollars.

  4. For me it changed only slightly on how I plan for my WDW trips. Since I was already a DLR Premium AP, I was just going to upgrade in early 2016 for the Premier Passport… but with that price hike doubling what I would normally spend I had to go back and do the number crunching to find the best value for me, and that’s going to be the WDW Gold Pass which is available for DVC Members too.
    As for next August when I need to renew my DLR AP, as long as they maintain the monthly payment plan then I don’t have an issue… but if they do away with it then I’ll be forced to utilize the wife’s Main Gate Pass a lot more often.

  5. George del Castillo

    I am not sure that this is the best way to reduce the crowds and especially the lines. There has to be more creative ideas than raising the cost. All that higher prices means is that the rich get richer because they can afford to be some of the few that can afford to get in. I think that there are better ideas that are not financially driven which keep families out. I think that some sort of scheduling would be better. When a popular show or concert comes to town that many fans want to see they need to buy a ticket for a particular show. When the venue is sold out that ‘s it. Sorry, it’s too late, the show is sold out. DL and WDW are the greatest shows on earth. Why not sell admission tickets for a particular date. Set the maximum number of people that can attend at any one time and sell only that amount of tickets. Once they’re gone that’s it.

  6. I have always had a Premium Pass to DLR for over 20 plus yrs. I know I go more then 10 times a yr. To jump over 300 bucks even as a Christmas gift w block out days which freaks me out maybe to much for my Santa to deal with. I have to think about it. Crowds are to me an excuse for rising prices, crowds are not going to change that much. Maybe going back to tickets or pass rationing like in the gas crunch. I understand that it is rubbing AP the wrg. Way, Im still reeling yet I have to think about the vistors that dont the luxury of coming back on a different day to see all the Magic that as AP we have. So I have to really think n justify it.

  7. A few years back I was able to snag 2 10 day passes to WDW with the no expiration upgrade. Holding on to those babies as they will absolutely continue to gain value.

  8. This is just corporate greed wrapped in a bunch of excuses. Anyone who goes to the parks often knows it’s only crowded because there are less things to do in the parks than ever before. Most people crowd in the center of MK because HS EP and AK are wastelands and MK is the only park that’s more than a half day park anymore. There’s no need to increase prices, and no need to add the stupid photo pass. Allow people to have better FP+ selections, bring the live entertainment and character greetings back to the parks and you’ll find the crowds disperse. The idiots running the zoo only care about money though. WDW will not be the same family oriented park again because money first, more money second, and entertainment last (but only if we absolutely have to).

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