How I used my Walt Disney World Annual Pass to save thousands.
You don’t have to know me very well to know that I love all things Disney. For this reason, it simply made sense for me to get a Walt Disney World annual pass after I started my first job. Like all things, I thoroughly researched all of the options for ticketing, the various categories of annual passes, and other logistics before opting to purchase. You’ll read mixed reviews all over the internet, and this is not an article to weigh if an annual pass is worth it to you or not. This is simply a detailed account of my personal experience as an annual passholder, and how I used it to save thousands of dollars.
If you are looking for more information about the various ticketing options at Walt Disney World and want to know if purchasing a Walt Disney World annual pass is a smart decision for yourself, check out this article. Here, I outline all of the ticketing options at Walt Disney World.
Why I decided to purchase a Walt Disney World annual pass:
As soon as I graduated from Auburn and became financially independent, I started frequenting Walt Disney World in Orlando, FL. I used every possible excuse to make a trip to Orlando Florida to experience the magic of the Happiest Place on Earth. What really pushed me over the edge was registering for the Disney Princess Half Marathon.
At this point, I had 3 trips to Walt Disney World planned within a 9 month period, justifying the expense of an annual pass. I researched all of the options, learning about the discounts available to annual passholders, along with other benefits. Given the planned frequency and duration of my trips, purchasing an annual pass was the financially smarter decision.
Here are the benefits that I received from my Walt Disney World annual pass:
While one would assume unlimited admission to the parks was more than enough benefits for the pass, I wasn’t aware of all the benefits that came with it. The benefits and blackout dates vary from pass to pass (all details that I outline here). For my pass, I received discounts on Disney merchandise, select Disney dining, movie tickets, and rental cars.
I used my Walt Disney World annual pass to score exclusive deals on hotels during multiple occasions during the year.
When I booked my hotel for the marathon, I had access to discounted rates that saved me a total of $200 over the weekend. These discounts made the on-park Disney properties far cheaper than any discount hotel off property. When I brought Layne to Disney World for her birthday, we had the opportunity to book our room and her tickets at a discounted rate because of my annual pass. These deals pop up frequently, with at least one active sale at every given moment, even during peak season.
I saved THOUSANDS of dollars on photos alone.
As a photographer, I wasn’t sure how much I would take advantage of the photo pass included with my Walt Disney World annual pass. I usually take several hundred photos on my personal camera, so I had no idea how convenient the photo pass would be.
Not only did the photo pass apply to photos that I took while my Walt Disney World annual pass was active, but it allowed me to download photos from previous trips for free. I also was able to download my race photos from the marathon, all for free. I probably have downloaded at least 400 professional photos from Walt Disney World over the course of this year. You’d be surprised how many times you stop to take your picture when you have the photo pass! And just look at all the fun photos their magical photographers can create!
The photo pass is available to all guests for an additional cost, but that cost must be added for each trip. The sheer convenience of being able to download every photo directly to my phone was worth its weight in gold. Not to mention, you can log in on your computer to download or print your photo pass photos when you get home.
I enjoyed discounts on Disney dining, Disney merchandise, movie tickets, and more.
When you’re a Walt Disney World annual pass holder, the magic doesn’t stop at the parks. Disney makes every effort to reward your loyalty by offering discounted food, merchandise, and more.
You get discounts at the movie theater in Disney Springs, and discounted Cirque de Soleil tickets. Renting a car? You’ll get a discount on that as well! Limited time offers pop up almost every single day for additional discounts. Some of the discounts on the Annual Passholder page now include discounted childcare, pet care, VIP tours, and NFL football tickets.
I felt like a VIP 365 days a year, thanks to Disney going above and beyond.
While Disney makes every effort to make everyone feel like a VIP, I felt even more special by the special events and opportunities that my annual pass provided me. I even was able to tour and experience Pandora- The World of Avatar before it opened in Disney’s Animal Kingdom.
From exclusive access events to early registration for Run Disney events, Disney truly rewards its annual passholders. I have held many memberships in my lifetime, but none of them can compare to the benefits that my Walt Disney World annual pass provided me.
Would I recommend a Walt Disney World annual pass to you?
While having an annual pass is great, it isn’t for everyone. It’s certainly a big initial expense for a full year of magic. If you are looking into an annual pass, I recommend having 2-3 trips planned for a 12 month period.
When I was purchasing my annual pass, I did the math for purchasing park hopper tickets for all of my planned trips and compared it to the price of an annual pass. Without including all of the discounts that I used, I saved hundreds on tickets alone.
With that being said, the Walt Disney World annual pass is not for everyone. It made sense for me because Nashville has extremely affordable flights to Orlando. Plus, I already had multiple trips planned over the year. While it was a great experience for me, I understand that not everyone is in the same situation. If you cannot justify the expense, it’s no big deal! Disney World is the most magical, happiest place on earth no matter if you visit once or twenty times a year!
Interested in planning your trip to Walt Disney World? Check out my top tips and hacks to transform your trip!