Tip Day Thursday – All About Tickets and Annual Passes

Well this was supposed to be a simple Tip Day post, however, over the weekend Disney made so major changes to the Annual Passes for Disneyland and Disney World. So I'm going to go ahead and post this a few days early and first up we'll discuss the Annual Passes, then we'll move over to discussing the regular tickets then we'll hop over to the other side of the country and cover those Passes and tickets. A quick note Disney also updated the price and participating restaurants in the Tables in Wonderland program, so we'll cover that as well, along with the rumors bouncing about for moving regular tickets to tiered pricing. Another note, Disney World parking went up to $20 a day. It's a lot of information so feel free to use the links below to jump to specific sections.

Walt Disney World Annual Passes:

The nutshell version is they renamed the two main passes available and bumped the prices up about $100 for the basic pass a bout $50 for the “premium” one.. They also list a pass for just the water parks. The big perk for your extra cash, unlimited PhotoPass Downloads. In other words you basically get Memory Maker good for the year. If you use the PhotoPass opportunities a lot you could potentially save a lot of money and make out like a bandit on this. If you don't bother with PhotoPass, simply have them use your camera, or don't get many photos this is basically a useless addon you pay for to get the same things you could before. The increase itself isn't that new, they bumped the price a bit last year as well. Below you can see last years on the left and ths years on the right.

Still on the list are special discounts, offers, free parking, and park hopping. The Platinum Plus gets you all 4 parks, the water parks, and the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex. You can also get on the Disney's Oak Trail Golf Course, though special activities and events may have their own fees. The Platinum Pass is basically the old Annual Pass with a shiney new name. Both come with the new unlimited PhotoPass downloads. Basically at most shopping you get a 10% discount. Several restaurants will give you a 10% discount. Resort offers come out every quarter that can net you upto 30-35% savings. You also get a MagicBand, and with the new passes you get Memory Maker good for the duration of the Pass. You can also join Tables in Wonderland, which will be discussed later.

Benefits

Now if you are like me and were pondering renewing, you'll find it costs about $100 more than it did last year coming close to the buy it new price of last year. However, renewing does get you the PhotoPass perk. Just depends on whether that's worh the extra cash to go ahead or if you are even close to renewal. By the way it's all up front so if yuo had just recently bought one I'd either just stick with it or see if you can talk Guest Services into working with you to upgrade. They might not go for it, however, they just might if it wasn't too far from the announcement.

The Water Parks Annual Pass simply is a Park Hopping Annual PAss for Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach. It has none of the other perks. Also while significantly cheaper, keep in mind each water park takes periods of downtime each year for refurbishment that put it out of action for weeks.

Personally I hate the name choices as Platinum Pass and Platinum Pass Plus is confusing. It makes a bit more sense when you add in the Florida specific passes. But still could they not come up with something it a little bit more unique? I thought the system had a glitch at first when I was checking the renewal screen dropdown.

Walt Disney World Florida Seasonal Passes:

Speaking of Florida Residents, you can buy either of these or the more limited passes like before at full price or on a monthly payment plan. You simply need proof of being a Florida Resident. The general breakdown is the same as the Platinum versions, everything has all 4 theme parks except Epcot after 4PM. Platinum Pass Plus is the same as the non Florida Resident Version, Platinum Paps is as well. The Gold Pass is the Platinum Pass with blockout dates but still gives you PhotoPass perks. Silver and Weekday lose the PhotoPass downloads and are basically just a Annual Pass with the specified blockout dates. Epcot After 4PM simply does just that, lets you get into Epcot on non blockout dates after 4PM. Below is a link to the blockout dates and a listing showing the prices.

Blockout Dates

Walt Disney World Tickets:
For now regular ticket prices have not changed since earlier in the year, which means fo $105 you can get a one-day entry into Magic Kingdom, and $97 into the other three parks…plus tax. As you can see below the Mouse knocks some bucks off multi-day tickets. Also on the multi-day, you lose the poce difference for the Magic Kingdom. At this point you may be wondering, at what point does an annual pass make more sense? well one thing to keep in mind is the max multi-day you can get is 10 days. Anything more and you start over. But it's a variety of factors to keep in mind: Are you going to park hop? How much will you use the resort discounts? How much with you use the shopping and dining discounts? Purely on tickets, it's typically considered breaking even at about 11 days by the time you toss in Park Hopper and taxes. Realistically you can probably justify it with less if you are going to cash in with the other benefits. Oh and that doesn't necessarily have to be “11” consecutive days, that could be spread over several trips over the year.

Speaking of Park Hopper, there are some options you can add on to your tickets. Earlier in the year with the last increase they did away with the No Expiration option, however, if you still have tickets with it, they will honor them. As you can see below basically your options are access to the Water Parks and Park Hopping (or both).
While buying your tickets you can also get Memory Maker, that gets you downloads to the PhotoPass photos. Pre-buying it ahead of time will save you some money. You should also keep this in mind when looking at Annual Passes, as realistically they are throwing this in for a lot less.
Tables In Wonderland:
You may not have heard of Tables i Wonderland before. What it is is a program that you buy a one year access to giving you a 20% discount off many Table Service location as well as some of the Quick Service ones. It automatically includes a tip into the meal price. It is an amazing program if you like to eat Table Service several times. It's only available to Annual Passholders and Disney Vacation Club Members. Effectively if used right you can save a chunk of money over the course of a few trips. Unforetunately Disney upped the price making it $`75 for Florida Seasonal Passholders and $150 for Annual Passholders. It includes complimentary resort valet and them park parking as well as covers upto 10 guests with the discount. Note: The Tables in Wonderland Cardholder must be the one paying. The list of participating locations is here (over a 100).
Disneyland Annual Passes:
Disneyland calls their Annual Passes Passports, but the idea is basically the same, however they a fair bit more expensive than their Florida counterparts as you can see below. Basically all three will get you into both parks, net you discounts on shopping, dining, and tours. The Signature and Signature Plus will also net you free parking ($18/day) and PhotoPass downloads. The real catch is if you don't wanna deal with blockout dates, then you gotta get the Signature Plus Passport, which is basically $1050. Personally while I realize Disneyland deals more with locals than far traveling tourists and it's smaller, this is a pretty hefty chunk of cash. It's around $300 more than the Florida equivalents now. It does make one wonder if they are trying to shed some Passport holders over in California. The Blockout Dates for Disneyland Resort are here though you'll need to click the link their to get to the popup (silly page design).
 
Disneyland Tickets:
As you can see below, Disneyland has less options for regular tickets than Walt Disney World. A flat one-day price of $99 plus tax will get you into either park, and the only real option beyond getting upto 5 day tickets is whether you want to attach Park Hopper to them. The Magic Morning is a one hour early entry available to three day or more tickets and the SoCal City PASS.
The SoCal City PASS is joint ticket that nets you a 3 day Park Hopper for the Disneyland Resort, a ticket to SeaWorld, and a ticket to LEGOLAND. It's priced to get you a 27% discount on all of these. Basically geared to a local taking someone visiting to see the sites or a tourist wanting to hit them all.
The Disney Premier Passport:
The mother of all Annual Passes, only avaialble at Guest Services at the Theme Parks or Disney Springs. This Pass nets you access to practically everything: Access to Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios, Animal Kingdom, Disneyland, Disney's California Adventure, Typhoon Lagoon, Blizzard Beach, ESPN Wide World of Sports, and Disney's Oak Trails Golf Course. You also get free parking, resort discount offers, and more. The full list is below but nutshell it's combining both Resorts most expensive passes. The price of this slice of Disney heaven is $1,439 plus tax (for ages 3 and up). Obviously this one is not for everyone as a lot of us can only dream of ever actually needing this kind of pass, but should you find yourself a regular PassHolder and looking to spend several days on the other side of the country you might look into seeing i the difference in upgrading is better than buying x number of days tickets.
Potential Change Over To Tiered Ticket Pricing:
Amidst all these changes another bit of info has been popping up though as of yet Disney has not confirmed they are going to go this way, just that they are considering it. Basically if they change it, it will be similar to the way the resorts are priced, where weekends and busier times would see higher prices than weekdays and the “off-season.” While it's completely speculation this means you might see $115 around the Fourth of July and say $85 the second week in September. Again those are totally speculation numbers I made up and not something Disney has said.
The benefit to Disney is it would allow them to provide more incentive to guests to visit during less busy times and keep crowds more even around the year. To the guests it gives you the possibility of saving some money, though some folks that haven't got the option to go in the less busy times would be stuck paying more. This also means that Disney could shuffle ticket discounts as offers along with or instead of hotel offers or free dining. Honestly, the mouse would likely rather take a cut on ticket price and get the money for the food. In the long run that will net them more money, just as is, it's become a very good offer to attract guests to visit at less busy times of the year.
I suppose we'll see whether they switch to it in a few months as last price increase occurred around February. If they don't switch I'd expect to see another price increase around that time frame. Thus far the increases have not hit a major tipping point that significantly affected attendence. Until it does, expect them to creep higher each year, even if they move over to a tiered pricing approach.
 
Patrick

 

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