For our trip to Walt Disney World in February 2018, we decided to become – wait for it – annual passholders. This was a huge decision and not one that we made lightly, especially given that we live in the UK and only go to Florida once a year. Yep, once a year. I don’t blame you if you think it was a crazy decision.
So, here’s a rundown of why we decided to take the plunge and buy that annual pass:
Of course, this is the most important factor. We usually take advantage of the UK exclusive (as far as I am aware) offer of 14 days for the price of 7*. The ticket is great value for money at £369 per adult (prices from FloridaTix.com* correct as of 1st February 2018). If you went into the park every day of the 14 days it would work out at roughly £27 per day. When you consider that a one day Magic Kingdom ticket in peak season can cost almost $120, it’s an absolute bargain.
The ticket also includes entry into the water parks, Memory Maker, Oak Trail Golf Course, and the two Disney mini golf courses. So even better value, if you intend to use all of those features.
In 2017 we went for 2 weeks. It was Justin’s first trip to Florida, and there just wasn’t enough time for us to see and do everything that we wanted to. So in 2018 we’re going for 3 weeks. With a 14 day pass we would have to plan the logistics of when to use our first day (the 14 days start counting down from the first day of use, whether you go into a park on a particular day or not). So an annual pass already started to make sense.
Then I found out about an offer on the platinum (ie. the full works) annual pass that was being offered to DVC members. Usually $779 per person, with DVC membership the price dropped to $559 per person. That’s a massive saving. At the time we bought the tickets, that converted at £453 per person. If we divide that over 19 days (the number of full days that we’re in Florida for), it equates to £23 per day. So, already better value.
But even without going into the parks every single day (which, let’s be honest, we definitely won’t do), there’s the advantage of …
Although we are DVC members, we don’t have anywhere near enough points for the full 3 weeks. We’re staying offsite for the majority of the trip, and renting a car to get around. That means that any time we want to go to the parks we’d need to fork out $20 each day for theme park parking. Ah, but not so with the platinum pass! Theme park parking is included.
The price difference between the 14 day ticket and the annual pass works out at £84 each. If we park at the parks for 9 days, we’ve made back the difference in both of our tickets. Plus we don’t have to begrudgingly hand over $20 every time.
As I mentioned above, our trip is going to be 3 weeks long. It means we can start going into the parks from the first day we arrive, if we want to, and go right until the last morning that we leave. With an annual pass, we have the freedom to come and go from the parks without feeling as if we’ve ‘wasted’ a day if we just go in, have some dinner and then leave. Or if we want to hit a park at rope drop, then leave after only riding three rides, we can do that too. Full park days can be long, and I love that we won’t feel obligated to stay from rope drop to park close.
Okay, so we usually only go to WDW once a year. With our annual pass, if we go just two weeks earlier in 2019 we’ll be able to get a second trip from the pass. And it means that if we did feel like an extra trip in 2018, it’d just be flights and accommodation to pay for so you never know …
I’ve not taken into account things like discounts and perks on this list because a lot of the DVC discounts/perks are similar to the annual pass ones. I’ve tried to find a comprehensive list online but haven’t managed to find anything. Maybe I’ll compile my own one. Keep your eye open for that!
Admittedly, we have a very specific set of circumstances, and I’ve not met many British people who are DVC members. So here’s some brief thoughts for UK based Walt Disney World visitors without access to the DVC discount:
If you’re British and lucky enough to be able to go to WDW more than once a year, an annual pass may still be a sensible investment. Two 14-day adult passes comes to £762. A platinum annual pass of $779 converts to around £570 (price correct as of 14th January 2018). Add in the extra discounts you’ll get and I would say that it’s well worth it.
The full list of annual passholder discounts can be found here.
Even if you’re only going once for two weeks, it may still be worth one member of the family becoming an annual passholder to get the discounts. That depends on how often you intend to eat on property (restaurants are one of the main discounts) and how much merchandise you intend to buy. If you think you would spend enough to save over £200 (and given how expensive WDW, it’s probably not as difficult as you may expect!), again, it might be worth considering.
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Post updated 1st February 2018 to reflect the most up to date ticket prices