I remember the excitement of booking my first holiday to Walt Disney World nearly 10 years ago and never in a million years did I ever think I would own an annual pass to this amazing place. That was until May 2018 when I joined the elite club of the WDW Passholder life. It seems a bit extravagant at first seeing as I live in the UK but we did the maths prior to our holiday. We knew that we were visiting again in September of the same year and upgrading our pass worked out cheaper than buying a second set of tickets for our next visit. Plus the benefits of the pass were too good to miss out on, we got 20% off on merchandise and restaurants around the parks plus free parking which our group benefitted from in September.
Do I think it’s a worthwhile purchase? It really does depend on your circumstances, we got quite a good deal on it by upgrading the existing tickets we bought as part of our initial holiday package. Being from the UK there are often great deals on Disney World Tickets and we purchased a 14-day multi-park ticket for the price of a 7 day one, so when Disney work out the upgrade cost they are doing this against a 14-day ticket. I think in the end it cost us around £600 for both of us, we upgraded at the concierge desk at our hotel and the cast member there was amazing and incredibly helpful. She even gifted us a bit of Disney magic by gifting us a free waterpark ticket after we decided to not include waterparks on our Annual Pass.
There are lots of other little perks that come with being a Passholder and knowing we would only have this for 12 months I made sure to try and benefit from as much of these as possible. I joined a lot of the WDW Passholder groups on Facebook to keep track of what was offered as I often found the website slow to update and didn’t receive email communications despite checking my settings several times. One of the best things we got was on our visit in September we managed to get early access into Toy Story Land just after it had opened. I know they now offer this
We also took advantage of the Passholder room rate discounts, this was a bit more complicated because you have to trick your web browser into thinking you are in America which was a bit of a pain. We used this for a hotel stay in September, January and again in April.
Other smaller, cute things the park offers include Passholder exclusives like magnets for free. These are just a bit of fun but it’s nice to have a few little perks like this. We managed to collect 5 different magnets over our four visits in the last year and they are a great addition to our kitchen where we display them. There is also Passholder exclusive merchandise throughout most of the parks, especially if there’s a festival on, and there usually always is at Epcot. The only Passholder exclusive purchase that I made was for the Pandora Charm. I treat myself to a new charm each time I visit the parks, I always try to buy the park exclusive ones and my bracelet is now starting to look a little full but every time I look at it I smile and remember the amazing memories I have made.
Another benefit to having the Annual Pass is that PhotoPass is included with it, this is a great way to relive all of the amazing memories you make while at the parks. This basically means any of the ride photos are included as part of the annual fee, there are also loads of other opportunities around the parks where they have photographers out and about taking your photo. Don’t forget to ask about the magic photos they can do, these are a lot of fun. One of the most popular, and one that I don’t mind admitting I queued for, is the Tangled lantern photo opportunity.
The one thing we had read about was the Passholder exclusive park entrance which honestly was a little disappointing. I think we maybe used this once or twice, the queues tended to be longest here so it didn’t make sense to queue and we often just used the standard turnstiles.
We managed to get four holidays out of our Annual Pass, we checked for cheap flights and hotels and tried to spread it out over the year. We visited in May 2018, September 2018, January 2019 and our most recent visit was in April 2019 for Easter. This worked really well for us and we got to experience two new festivals at Epcot due to this and even tagged on a cheeky little Disney Cruise to one of the trips. (The Disney Cruise blog is coming soon, I promise.)
I have loved being part of the Passholder club and maybe someday I will become a WDW Passholder again but I think its time to take some time off from Disney and see some more of the world. Maybe Shanghai or Hong Kong…? 😉