It’s been well over a year since Walt Disney World stopped selling Annual Passes. Now Disney World Annual Passes are returning on September 8, but with big changes for 2021.
I’ve been a Disney Annual Passholder for nearly a decade, and prior to that I was a Disney Cast Member. The new program already has me considering what pass to choose when the time comes to renew. To help you choose, I’ve put together some tips and ideas for fellow Disney-loving couples.
If you’re considering purchasing a Disney Annual Pass, this guide will break down the options. And if you’re already a Passholder, I’ll walk you through what’s different.
What are the new Walt Disney World annual pass options?
There are now four different levels of Disney Annual Passes available to Florida Residents.
The two main differences between each pass level are the blockout dates and the amount of Disney park pass reservations you can hold at one time. A reservation is required to visit any Walt Disney World theme park, on any day.
- $1,299 plus tax, or $99 per month for 12 months after a down payment of $205 for Florida residents
- No blockout dates
- Five park reservations at a time
Disney Sorcerer Pass
- $899 plus tax, or $63 per month after a $205 down payment for Florida residents
- Blockout dates apply – Thanksgiving and last half of December
- Five park reservations at a time
Disney Pirate Pass
- $699 plus tax, or $45 per month for 12 months after a $205 down payment for Florida residents
- Blockout dates nearly every month, including Valentine's Day
- Four park reservations at a time
Disney Pixie Dust Pass
- $399 plus tax or $19 per month for 12 months after a $205 down payment for Florida residents
- Blockout dates on weekends, plus some weekday holidays and peak periods
- Three park reservations at a time
Changes to Disney Annual Passes for 2021
Hold more park reservations
Depending on the pass type, Passholders may now hold up to five Disney Park Pass reservations at a time. “Bonus reservations” will be added to the park pass calendar from time to time, so Passholders can make an additional park reservation without it counting against the reservation hold limit.
I am really curious about the new “bonus days” that were mentioned by Disney's official website. These “bonus days” are days with park pass availability that will not count against your total park reservation allotment. I was a Walt Disney World Cast Member for nine years, including time in Revenue Management, so it would seem to me these “bonus days” are days that aren't being booked up. These would make for a great last-minute Disney day without large crowds.
Disney Resort hotel stays
Passholders staying at Disney Resort hotels or other select hotels will now be able to make park reservations for each day of the stay – in addition to the reservations already scheduled as allotted with your pass type. Just keep in mind blockout dates associated with each pass type still apply.
Water Parks and PhotoPass
This is a big change. PhotoPass is no longer included in ANY of the Annual Passes — which is a bummer. But, it can be added to any Annual Pass for $99, which includes unlimited free digital downloads for the year. On the bright side, the Water Park and Sports option can be added to ANY Annual Pass. This used to only be an option with the Platinum level, which is somewhat equivalent to the Incredi-Pass.
Access a new integrated calendar
A new integrated calendar is coming that lets Passholders see blockout dates for each pass type, view available days for pass reservations, and make, modify or cancel a reservation all in one place. I hope this is a vast improvement on the current system. Ever since the Park Pass Reservation system was implemented, the ability to see availability and modify reservations has been frustrating.
What do I need to do if I am an existing Annual Passholder?
If you are a current Passholder, your Annual Pass can be used just as you use it today. Plus, beginning September 8, 2021, Silver, Gold, Platinum and Platinum Plus Annual Passholders will also be able to hold more reservations at a time! Visit this page for more information.
When it is time for you to renew, you will be able to renew into one of the new passes (at a special renewal price). Tip: This may be a good time to change tiers. In the past, once you were at a higher level pass, like Gold or Platinum, you couldn't renew into a lower tier. With this change to the Annual Pass program, and the end of Silver, Gold, and Platinum levels, you can switch to one of the new levels at renewal time.
If you compare your most recent price paid for your annual pass to the new tiers, you'll notice an increase in price when comparing equivalent levels. And, the removal of PhotoPass feels like a loss of a great perk. Time to break out a mini tripod for your phone and set a timer!
Tips and Date Ideas for Annual Passholders
Which pass is right for you as a couple?
If you're a Disney couple, you may want to chat about which Annual Pass options make the most sense for you as a couple. For example, when the new prices and levels came out, I was tempted by the Pixie Dust Pass so that I could save money. I have the flexibility to visit the parks on a weekday once in a while. But it quickly hit me that my husband and I would miss out on quality park time together on the weekends.
Park Reservations and Park Hopping
Park Pass Reservations are required, so that means no more popping into the parks whenever you feel like it. Hopefully, the new integrated calendar makes impromptu visits to the parks easier than they've been with the current system. If you and your honey thrive on spontaneity, you may get a little frustrated with having to make reservations anytime you want to go into a Disney theme park. But, let's say the park you want is not available, which may happen if you're booking a reservation last minute. You can park hop to your preferred park. You just have to enter the park at which you have the actual reservation first. Park hopping is currently available anytime after 2pm.
Linking your Disney Accounts
Another thing to consider is that in order to make Park Pass Reservations together your Disney accounts need to be linked. Once you make a Park Pass Reservation together the reservation will show up under both of your accounts. On the occasion that you may want to surprise your honey with a Disney day, and there's no way to keep them from checking their Disney account before you go, consider making a dining reservation as a surprise. I would suggest making the reservation over the phone rather than online so you can let the Cast Member know it is a surprise and they can help make sure it does not show up under your sweetie's Disney account.
A few of our favorite Disney date ideas:
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- Extreme Theme Park Date: Ride ALL 49 Disney Parks Rides in One Day
- 5 Hidden Gem Lounges and Bars at Disney for Date Night
- 8 Places to Brunch at Disney…Outside and Inside of the Parks
- Guide to Viewing Disney Fireworks Outside the Parks
What do you think of this news about Disney Annual Passes? Will it change your plans? Make things better? We'll be sharing more Disney date ideas in the future, so stay tuned!
Image credits: Dani Meyering; feature image: @datingindisney (photo by Jesus La Rosa)