It was an exciting day when we became annual passholders at Walt Disney World. As non-Florida residents, purchasing an annual pass was a big commitment. The out-of-state annual passes cost a pretty penny and require multiple visits to Walt Disney World each year to make them worthwhile.
We were elated. We made a ton of visits to Walt Disney World since that special day to make the most of our pass. It was a blast. We run a Disney website, of course we loved it!
So, why have we decided to let our annual passes expire a little over three years later?
Cost to Renew
You knew this one was going to be here. Prices at Walt Disney World have continued to increase. So too have the price of Walt Disney World annual passes. Here’s how things changed in just three years.
2019 Platinum Pass
$894 plus tax
Includes PhotoPass, Park Hopper, no blockout dates, FastPass+ included, no reservation system.
2022 Disney Incredi-Pass
$1,104 plus tax
$99 PhotoPass add-on
Includes Park Hopper, no blockout dates, hold up to 5 park reservations.
That’s a significant shift in price, but even that wasn’t a big enough problem to stop us from renewing. The boost in price would be easier to digest if the value was there, which brings us to the second point.
Value in an Annual Pass
We used to be able to run some simple math to tell our readers if an annual pass at Walt Disney World made sense. The Platinum Pass was worth your money if you planned to spend 9-10 days in the parks. That usually amounts to two trips to Walt Disney World per year for out-of-state residents.
Now, it’s much more difficult to assess the value in an annual pass when many of the perks found at Walt Disney World have disappeared. No Disney Magical Express. No resort airline check-in. PhotoPass isn’t included. FastPass+ is gone. Genie+ isn’t included. And so on. Some may only apply to non-Florida residents, but the sentiment remains.
Visiting Walt Disney World isn’t as easy at it used to be. Popping down for a weekend was a reasonable idea before. Now, it’s borderline lunacy thanks to park pass reservations, super early Genie+ and Lightning Lane wake-up calls, and more. The entire experience is more stressful, less convenient and less inviting.
There’s also the idea of investments in Walt Disney World’s parks. Once TRON and the center of EPCOT is completed, there’s not much on the horizon for the parks. Disney outlined some very vague ideas for the future of Magic Kingdom and Disney’s Animal Kingdom at the D23 Expo 2022, but nothing concrete. It could be a long time before another new attraction opens.
Disneyland and Disney Cruise Line
Finally, we come to our third and biggest deciding factor – Disneyland and Disney Cruise Line. We know a cruise line and a theme park destination on the opposite side of the United States may not seem relevant, but hear us out.
We’ve made a bunch of trips to Walt Disney World over the years. We love the size and scale of Walt Disney World with its four theme parks, two water parks and numerous resorts. There’s always something to do. We also felt the customer service through the always-amazing cast members was excellent.
But then we took a voyage on Disney Cruise Line. And then took another. Those experiences completely exceeded our expectations (Castaway Cay is seriously the best place ever) and the service onboard made Walt Disney World look second rate. In our opinion, the cast members on Disney Cruise Line offer the best service at any Disney destination.
We also made our first visit to Disneyland. We have no idea what took so long! Visiting the place where it all began was truly a special experience. Walt Disney’s influence can still be felt in Disneyland to this day.
We thoroughly enjoyed Disneyland’s more intimate and compact size compared to Walt Disney World. It’s so refreshing being able to walk from Disneyland to Disney California Adventure in all of a minute or two. Walt Disney World’s blessing of size means buses, boats, the Disney Skyliner, and long distances. It’s a blessing and a curse.
Disneyland does a lot of things way, way better than Walt Disney World. Entertainment and food immediately jump to mind. The two destinations are very similar, but the differences are striking. That’s not to say Disneyland is better than Walt Disney World or vice versa. Disneyland just exceeded our expectations and made us rethink our commitment to Walt Disney World.
Our trip out to Disneyland and our cruises with Disney Cruise Line were so amazing that we’re eager to return. That means something has to give with a limited vacation fund.
Ultimately, we didn’t renew our Walt Disney World annual passes. We still intend to return to Walt Disney World often (that should be clear as we run a Disney website), but maybe not quite as often as before. We can’t ignore rising prices, decreasing value, increasing complexity and attractive alternatives.
We’re curious to see what Disney rolls out for the next iteration of annual passes at Walt Disney World. Will we eventually buy a new annual pass? That depends on how Walt Disney World continues to evolve and if we continue to prioritize Disneyland and Disney Cruise Line.