Annual Passholder — it’s a title many people in the Disney universe wish to hold, especially to get those dang AP magnets (they used to haunt me). It used to be something I thought I would never be, but then we joined the club and we have never looked back. Goodbye world of yesteryear and hello Annual Passholder perks! Today, we will discuss the perks of being a Walt Disney World Annual Passholder. Buckle up buttercups, here we gooooo!
I remember meeting a new friend in Philly, PA back in college and learning that she and her family members were Annual Passholders. I was flabbergasted. Why would someone who lives in Philly have any business being a Disney Annual Passholder, and secondly, how can I be one? It felt very foreign, but once Doug and I decided we wanted to be our own Disney family, we thought it was worth a look. In my earlier years, I thought AP status was only necessary, and available, for those who basically lived within 30 minutes to an hour driving distance from the parks, but oh contraire, my friends.
A few years ago, the time came for our tri-annual family trip to our favorite place on earth. In the time from my college years until then, I had gleaned some new information regarding Annual Passholdership. The hubs and I wanted to know what it was all about, and if it was going to be a good fit for the two of us. I will spare you ALL of the crazy details and share the most important ones for us. Basically, the short answer to the question we had was, Yes! By becoming APs we were able to accomplish many things.
First, we determined we could go to WDW multiple times within a year of the date we first stepped into the parks with them. We live in another state and this was the best news for this park hoppin’ princess, as you can imagine. Your AP does not activate the date you buy it; it activates the first day you step through those glorious gate queues and scan your MagicBand for the first time as an AP. Then, you have exactly 1 year to use your AP ticket. After contacting an amazing cast member friend of ours, we were told that your AP basically pays for itself at about 8 days in the park. After that, you are essentially getting free park hopper admission tickets. This in itself seemed like a great deal because we knew already we had 7 park days planned for the first trip we had with family. We are always looking for ways to ball on a budget, and that alone was well worth it, but the perks don’t stop there.
The second thing we learned was that as an AP you get free parking for your vehicle if you are staying off resort and commuting in. This was great news for our family trip! When we travel to Disney with our family, we typically rent a house off resort because it best suits our needs. This meant we would be commuting to the parks each day of our trip and now we could save extra mulah by making sure one of us Passholders was in each car to get free parking (the parking fees can add up as they are currently $22 a day for a standard car). If that still isn’t enough, don’t worry, there’s more.
The next thing we learned was how much we can save on select dining by being Annual Passholders. We all know that Disney has some incredible food out there (hello! ZADD Crew Must Do!). Anything and everything can add up at the parks and to be able to save a little money on fun food items was another amazing bonus of being a Passholder. At select locations all around the parks (sit down dining, snack shacks, or whatnot), you can get upwards of 10-20% off of your bill. Some of these restaurants include two of my favorites, ‘Ohana and Tusker House.
Now, you might be thinking, “Beth, tell me more.” Well, okay! There IS still more! Another perk of being an AP is getting discounts on Disney merch! Who doesn’t love a life-sized stuffed Mickey Mouse or a diamond encrusted replica of Cinderella’s castle? If you want it, treat yo self and get 10-20% off while you’re at it! Almost any Disney merch you can find is 10-20% off. We would typically not purchase items in the parks, but having our AP discount actually entices us to purchase more. Smart move Disney, you win.
Do you think that’s all? You would be wrong.
In addition to everything I mentioned above, Disney offers discounts on so many other things. We were able to purchase our Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party tickets and, this year, Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party tickets at a discount, too! This year, Disney also started offering VIPassholder Nights where they treat APs to their own Extra Magic Hours. How cool is that?
The list could go on and on (free stuff). Disney even gives you a discount on your next annual pass when your current one is about to expire. I think the most important thing is to check out all of the perks, lay out your desires for your own vacations, and see if it’s the best fit for you. In my personal opinion, I would argue it might be worth it even if only one person in your crew were an AP because of all the perks and savings they can get for the group.
Being and AP has helped us get to Disney so much more often than we typically would be able to afford. It has given us a whole new desire for the place we have both grown up loving. We are able to make more memories with our loved ones and, as my friend Logan use to always say, “you can’t put a price on the memories, Beth.” She would be correct, but saving a little money on memories never hurt anyone.
Check out more information on becoming an Annual Passholder at Walt Disney World HERE!