Walt Disney World Annual Passes: When Should You Purchase?

By | April 28, 2010 at 7:00 am | 7 comments | Tickets | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Walt Disney World Annual Passes: When Should You Purchase? photoBreak out the calculators again; it’s time to go through some Walt Disney World annual pass purchasing scenarios.  Previously, I’ve investigated the value in a Premier Passport (for both Walt Disney World and Disneyland) and the difference in ticketing between Walt Disney World and Disneyland.  Now I’m investigating when purchasing a Walt Disney World Annual Pass is worth the money.

An undiscounted standard Annual Pass costs $489.  Therefore, $489 is the break-even point and other ticket options should cost less to make them worthwhile.  I will remove Water Parks and More from the equation for now, but I’ll include the Park Hopping option because Park Hopping is included with the Annual Pass.

A 10 day Magic Your Way ticket with the Park Hopper option costs $295.  The ticket itself is $194 below our break-even point.  However, if you are parking each day at the theme parks and not staying at a Disney-owned on-site hotel, add $14 per day to this for a total of $140.  The cost of one person’s ticket and parking is $435, only $54 less than the Annual Pass.  At this point it’s worth the money to purchase one standard Annual Pass for your party and 10-day Magic Your Way tickets with Park Hopper for everyone else.  You will receive all the benefits and discounts of an Annual Passholder including “free parking” but you will also pay only what you need for tickets and parking.  If you travel solo, you probably want to purchase an Annual Pass.  Remember, these calculations include paying for parking.  If you’re staying at a Disney-owned resort, parking at the theme parks is included with your hotel room.  Guests staying at a Disney-owned hotel for 10 days will probably not find an Annual Pass worthwhile.

What if you’re planning to stay more than 10 days at Walt Disney World?  The Florida resort sells no more than 10 days on one ticket.  An additional ticket can be purchased for the extra days.  This adds up quickly; two extra days with Park Hopping costs $208.  Add the 10 day ticket with Park Hopping ($295) and the total is up to $503, more than the cost of an Annual Pass.  If you are planning to spend 12 days in the parks with Park Hopping, you should definitely invest in Annual Passes instead.

What about the water parks?  Disney World also offers the Premium Annual Pass, which includes unlimited admission to Blizzard Beach, Typhoon Lagoon, DisneyQuest, ESPN Wide World of Sports, and the Oak Trail Golf Course.  These are included in the Magic Your Way ticket’s Water Parks Fun and More option.  The Premium Annual Pass costs $619, and you get 1 Water Parks Fun and More visit per day of admission purchased on the Magic Your Way tickets.  A 10 day ticket with Park Hopper and Water Parks Fun and More options costs $347.  Even when we add in 10 days of parking ($140), the total cost of $487 is less than the Premium Annual Pass.

What would it take for the Premium Annual Pass to be worth the cost?  If you take parking into account, only one more day with Park Hopping and Water Parks Fun and More is needed to make up the difference ($347 + $183 for the extra day + $154 for parking = $684).  If you are staying at a Disney-owned resort, two extra days including the options ($260) brings the total ($607) very close to the Premium Annual Pass.

What about Disney Vacation Club members?  DVC members’ standard Annual Passes are discounted to $369.  The 10 day Magic Your Way ticket with Park Hopping is $295, so it would only take one more day to pass our break-even point.  If you’re a DVC member who plans to spend more than 10 days at Walt Disney World in a year, it’s worth it to purchase a standard Annual Pass.  With only a $74 difference between the 10 day ticket and the Annual Pass, it may even be possible to make up that difference through Annual Passholder discounts.

DVC members can purchase a Premium Annual Pass for $489.  To fully take advantage of this, 11 days of Park Hopping and Water Parks and More options would cost $530 ($347 + 183).  The difference between 10 and 11 days is so large, however, that it may not be worth buying the Premium Annual Pass at 10 days.

Hopefully the math laid out here can help you make an informed decision regarding your Walt Disney World ticket purchases.  Let me know in the comments or on Twitter what you think or if you’d like to see any other scenarios.

Part of the third Disney Blog Carnival.  Click for more great Disney articles!

Related posts:

  1. Premier Passport: When is it Worth $700?
  2. Catering to Your Audience Part 2: Tickets
  3. Walt Disney World vs. Universal Orlando: How Does a One-Day Pass Compare?
  4. Are Tickets to Walt Disney World Overpriced?
  5. Disney Parks Price Increase 2011: The One Day Pass Increase Doesn’t Tell the Story
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  • http://twitter.com/MyMuse18 Michele

    Hey Scott – still trying to figure out whether I should get the pass; your article above really helped!!

  • megan

    I think your logic is good if you are doing one 10-day trip, but what about more than 1 smaller trip? I purchased an AP when I planned on 2 5-day trips with the possibility of more. 2 5-day park hoppers is more than the cost of 1 AP. Not sure how much the No Expiration option adds on though.

  • scottoliver

    Good question Megan!

    For this example, let's compare a 10 day Park Hopper with no expiration, two 5 day Park Hoppers, and a standard Annual Pass.

    A 10 day Park Hopper with no expiration costs $504. This is more than the standard Annual Pass price ($489) plus you receive all the Annual Pass benefits. I'd definitely recommend the Annual Pass instead of a 10 day Park Hopper with no expiration.

    A 5 day Park Hopper that expires costs $280. Two identical tickets cost $560, $71 more than an Annual Pass. Again, the Annual Pass is the more cost-effective option.

    Once you're purchasing more than one Magic Your Way pass, whether it's because you're staying longer than 10 days or planning multiple trips, the price goes up very rapidly.

  • http://twitter.com/DisneyMBA Robert E. Lee

    I always find myself wondering about whether I should purchase APs for our WDW trips. We are DVC owners, and often plan one big stay at WDW each year. We typically purchase 10-day passes with no extras of any kind. Then, we typically mix park days with resort days without worrying about whether we are actually using all 10 days because the additional days are so cheap.

    By purchasing the 10-day with no options and having free parking as DVC guests, I've never found it cost-effective to purchase an AP. Your article seems to have justified my position. Do the kids' passes add anything to this equation? Am I missing anything?

  • http://disneybiz.com Scott

    I think you're right on track. No options on the MYW tickets, as long as you stay 10 days or less, is cheaper than the annual pass. The only thing you may miss out on is Annual Pass discounts, but DVC members get discounts too, right?

  • http://disneybiz.com Scott

    I think you're right on track. No options on the MYW tickets, as long as you stay 10 days or less, is cheaper than the annual pass. The only thing you may miss out on is Annual Pass discounts, but DVC members get discounts too, right?

  • http://dismarks.com/blog/disney-blog-carnival-3 Disney Blog Carnival #3 – May 4th, 2010 | DisMarks – Disney Social News

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