This answers frequently asked questions about Annual Passes at Walt Disney World, with info & tips about new sales of the Incredi-Pass, Sorcerer, Pirate, and Pixie Dust APs, benefits of being a passholder, and what you need to know before you attempt to purchase an AP. (Updated April 24, 2023.)
In case you missed it, Walt Disney World has now resumed new Annual Pass sales. Unsurprisingly, there have been a lot of questions and concerns, as Walt Disney World hasn’t sold APs in over a year and past precedent with Magic Key sales at Disneyland suggests it might be a stressful and time-consuming process.
Understandably, diehard Walt Disney World fans who have been waiting a year or so to purchase Annual Passes don’t want to “screw up” anything and risk being shut out. Accordingly, we’ve combed through the announcement post to find the most common questions, and are going to answer them here in this work-in-progress FAQ to the Annual Pass program at Walt Disney World…
Where or how do I purchase a Walt Disney World Annual Pass?
Over the phone by calling the Annual Passholder phone number: (407) 939-7277 or (407) 939-7679.
In person at any Walt Disney World ticket sales location or Guest Relations.
How long is the current wait time to purchase Annual Passes?
As of April 24, there is no wait time. The virtual queue has been retired, meaning you can click on the URL above and instantly purchase a new Walt Disney World Annual Pass. How long you’ll wait if buying in person or over the phone will vary, depending upon how many people are in line (potentially for other reasons) in front of you.
This is a huge change as compared to last week when APs went back on sale. We joined the virtual queue for Walt Disney World APs as soon as it went live, which was right around 6:40 am. Our approximate wait time ended up being a little under 7 hours, but we definitely got unlucky. Others who joined at around the same time as us reported waits as short as 15 minutes and as long as 8 hours. With that said, there was a pause for about 45 minutes at 8:30 am when the system crashed and was “recalculating” wait times (see below).
During the afternoon and evening hours, the wait time dropped off significantly. Things have gone much more smoothly since about 4 pm Eastern on April 20. The wait time was under an hour for much of the evening. After 10 pm, the wait dropped to about 15 minutes. Like the parks shortly before closing, the line was pretty much a “walk-on” minutes before the queue cut-off.
The following day, the approximate wait time was 2 minutes according to the virtual queue page. In actuality, this is more like a prolonged load screen right now, taking us about 30 seconds before being redirected into the site.
Have any tiers of Annual Passes sold out yet?
Also as of April 24, no tiers of Annual Passes have sold out.
Before retiring the virtual queue, Walt Disney World added the following message to the waiting screen: “Still available to purchase: Disney Incredi-Pass, Disney Pixie Pass, Disney Pirate Pass, Disney Sorcerer Pass. Please note availability on a pass or select passes may become unavailable for purchase at any time.”
Earlier, that read: “We thank you and all our fans for the incredible enthusiasm for the Passholder program. Due to high popularity of our Annual Passes, please know wait times may exceed several hours. We anticipate a pass or select passes may become unavailable for purchase later today. Continue to check here for updates.”
At some point, APs will sell out. That’s exactly what has happened at Disneyland, it has just taken a few days to a few weeks at various points. What’s most interesting here is that Walt Disney World originally projected that certain tiers of Annual Passes would sell out by the afternoon of day one, which didn’t happen. (Our guess is that this was not to create an impression of artificial scarcity, but based on inaccurate estimates of demand.)
Our guess is that the first tiers to sell out will be the Sorcerer and Incredi-Pass. In terms of bang for buck, the Sorcerer Pass is the best AP available and undoubtedly a popular option as a result. However, only the Incredi-Pass is available to non-Floridians and non-DVC members, so it might be the most popular pass by default if out-of-state Walt Disney World fans make up a disproportionate number of buyers.
Either way, we’d strongly advise joining (or staying in) the virtual queue if you have no already purchased your AP. According to Walt Disney World, there’s a good chance that one or more Annual Passes will sell out soon, and they’ll probably be the “good” ones.
What are the Annual Pass tiers?
Disney Pixie Dust Pass – This is the lowest tier pass for Florida residents costs $399 plus tax–or $19 per month with 12 monthly payments after $205 down payment on the Florida Resident Monthly Payment Program.
Disney Pirate Pass – This is the next tier up for Florida residents only, costing $749 plus tax–or $50 per month with 12 monthly payments and 0% APR after $205 down payment with the Florida Resident Monthly Payment Program
Disney Sorcerer Pass – The next tier up is for Florida residents or eligible Disney Vacation Club members, costing $969 plus tax–or $69 per month with 12 monthly payments after $205 down payment on the Florida Resident Monthly Payment Program.
Disney Incredi-Pass – This is the top tier with no blockout dates, and is the only tier of AP available for anyone to purchase, including non-Floridians and non-DVC members. It costs $1,399 plus tax–or $108 per month with 12 monthly payments after $205 down payment on the Florida Resident Monthly Payment Program.
Here’s a comparison chart:
What are the blockout dates for each AP?
Unsurprisingly, the less expensive the AP, the more blockout dates it has, and vice-versa. The Pixie Dust Pass is most notable among these, as it’s blocked out all weekends and holidays; don’t plan on using it any day that local kids are out of school.
Beyond that, uou should definitely consult the official Walt Disney World AP blockout calendar before making your purchase, as the most popular dates to visit are all excluded from even being eligible to make reservations for the lower tiers of APs. Be sure to toggle the pass type to see excluded dates for each.
Are reservations still required?
Yes and no.
Walt Disney World Annual Passholders are now able to visit the theme parks after 2 pm without needing a Disney Park Pass reservation, except on Saturdays and Sundays at Magic Kingdom. All Annual Pass blockout dates will continue to apply.
Visiting any park before 2 pm will continue to require a Disney Park Pass reservation. Same with Saturdays and Sundays at Magic Kingdom–Annual Passholders can still visit Magic Kingdom on weekends after 2 pm if you have a park reservation or have entered a different park.
However, as discussed at length in When Will Disney Park Pass Reservations End?, we don’t expect reservations to be fully retired for Annual Passholders or Cast Members anytime soon. By contrast, we expect them gone by 2024 for regular ticket holders.
Retaining reservations for APs and CMs gives Disney control over the attendance mix, and allows the company to prioritize tourists who spend more per visit on average. Although Disney wants Annual Passholders and Cast Members to visit–and spend money–when there’s excess capacity, the circumstances are different when the parks are busier.
It thus makes sense that Walt Disney World would want to prioritize resort guests and other tourists and not fill the parks with Annual Passholders at the expense of more lucrative vacationers during busier dates. Hence the compromise of no reservations after 2 pm most days for APs. That’s also why we do not expect park reservations to be retired for Annual Passes in 2023. (Perhaps a super-expensive ‘no-reservations’ AP will be introduced, but even that is doubtful.)
How many Disney Park Pass theme park reservations can each AP tier hold at a time?
There are now three types of reservations that passholders can use simultaneously: 1) Park Reservations, 2) Select Hotel Length of Stay Park Reservations, and 3) Bonus Reservations. Here’s how each work in practice:
1) Park Reservation – Each Walt Disney World Annual Pass provides a different number of Disney Park Pass reservations:
Disney Incredi-Pass: Up to 5 reservations held at a time
Disney Sorcerer Pass: Up to 5 reservations held at a time
Disney Pirate Pass: Up to 4 reservations held at a time
Disney Pixie Dust Pass: Up to 3 reservations held at a time
2) Select Hotels Length of Stay Park Reservations – Annual Passholders staying at official Walt Disney World resorts or other select hotels are eligible to make theme park reservations for each day of their stay, in addition to holding at least 3 days of theme park reservations at a time on a rolling basis
3) Bonus Reservation – During slower seasons when Walt Disney World wants to boost attendance, bonus reservations are added. This allows Annual Passholders to make extra reservations on select days at select theme parks that do NOT count against their reservation holdings. Think of “bonus reservations” as the company’s way of nudging APs to visit parks with lower attendance levels. Sort of like a “Surprise FastPass” for Carousel of Progress, if you remember those.
How long will Walt Disney World leave new Annual Passes available for purchase?
That is unknown.
We would strongly recommend anyone who is on the fence about purchasing an Annual Pass to make the decision now. Given how long sales have been paused and the amount of pent-up demand for APs among locals, you should absolutely buy ASAP.
To that point and for reference, AP sales at Disneyland resumed prior to last Thanksgiving and passes sold out in under 2 days. Some fans were shut out again because they couldn’t get through the virtual queue or opted to wait until it died down. A miscalculation that deprived them of visits during the best time of year at Disneyland.
Disneyland again resumed Magic Key AP sales this January, and it took over a week for some Magic Keys to start selling out again. Disneyland yet again resumed AP sales this month (April 2023), and various passes sold out in a few hours to a few days.
Will my purchased Annual Pass be immediately activated?
No. The 365-day use window of the Annual Pass does not begin until the first time you actually enter one of the theme parks. The clock starts ticking from the tapstile, not the transaction.
However, the Annual Pass is added to your My Disney Experience account so you’re eligible to make Park Pass reservations and use it for whatever other purposes. It’s technically an AP voucher until activation.
Should I wait to buy an AP if I’m not visiting Walt Disney World until later this year or in early 2024?
No. Well, actually, let me take a step back. That’s your decision. If there’s the possibility that you won’t visit or end up needing an AP, then tying up a lot of money in an Annual Pass may not be the savviest move in the history of personal finances.
With that said, the reason that’s a hard no is because of the discussion above. Even if they don’t sell out on within the next few weeks, it’s almost a foregone conclusion that new pass sales will be paused again in 2023. There are also the inevitable price increases, which will likely occur in Fall 2023. Buying now guards against all of that.
This is precisely why our Ticket Tips for Walt Disney Worldhas been recommending people purchase admission ASAP to lock-in current prices and guard against increases. Same principle applies here, too.
How long do I have to activate my new AP?
Walt Disney World Annual Pass vouchers must be activated within 365 days of their purchase. If a voucher is not activated within that time frame, its original dollar value can be applied toward a future Magic Your Way or Annual Pass purchase.
What if I already have an old AP voucher for the ‘precious metals’ passes?
You might notice that the above policy differs from in the past, when people have been able to buy a voucher for a legacy AP and use it years later for a newer version of a like pass. It’s still possible for holders of those old vouchers to receive the Incredi-Pass, but it’s much more YMMV from what we understand.
It requires getting a Cast Member or their manager who knows how to convert the old voucher, and uses their discretion to make it happen. (This is not our firsthand knowledge, but rather, what we’ve heard secondhand. Again, it’s very YMMV.) Good luck!
Can anyone pay for the Annual Pass in monthly installments?
Not unless they’re also Florida residents (and before you ask, DVC ownership does not count). Only Floridians have the option for monthly payments via the Florida Resident Monthly Payment Program.
Are there Disney Vacation Club discounts?
No. Previously, the top-level Platinum Pass offered a $200 discount for Disney Vacation Club members. This amounts to an effective price increase of over 50% for DVC members on the Incredi-Pass.
However, being able to purchase the Sorcerer Pass without being a Florida resident is effectively a discount, I guess. That AP is over $400 cheaper, and the only blockouts are less than 20 days around Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s. It’s the most logical AP to get for the vast majority of DVC members.
Of course, this could always change depending upon sales numbers and attendance. A few years ago, Walt Disney World offered some truly aggressive deals to DVC members during a slow period.
Which Annual Passes can DVC members purchase?
Incredi-Pass and Sorcerer Pass (with some exclusions–see next question).
Are only “blue card” DVC members eligible to purchase the Sorcerer Pass?
Yes. For those unfamiliar with the term, “blue card” DVC members are those who have a blue membership card. This is obtained either by purchasing Disney Vacation Club directly from Disney, or buying resale under the old rules (before 4/4/16) and being grandfathered in.
Which APs can Florida residents purchase?
Any of them.
Which Annual Passes can out of state visitors buy?
Only the top tier Incredi-Pass.
This is not new. Out of state, non-DVC, guests could previously only purchase the Platinum Passes.
Can regular tickets be upgraded to Annual Passes?
Yes. Normal single or multi-day tickets can be upgraded to an Annual Pass up through the last day that admission is used. Normal Ticket Bridging to Annual Pass Rules for Walt Disney Worldshould apply, but that’s another thing that has become very YMMV over the last few years (and we personally lack firsthand experience with recently).
How do I upgrade regular tickets?
It depends. Walt Disney World will offer upgrades on most eligible tickets in the My Disney Experience app and/or DisneyWorld.com.
However, that undoubtedly will not work for all tickets (we question whether it’ll even work for “most” tickets), in which case you’ll need to call or visit Walt Disney World Guest Relations. The best option for the latter, in our experience, is at Disney Springs. (But it’s probably not worth making a special trip unless you have other another purpose out there–like the important business of cookie and/or ice cream acquisition!)
Can I apply the value of multiple tickets towards the cost of one Annual Pass?
No. Only one regular ticket may be applied to each Annual Pass upgrade.
How will upgrades of existing APs work?
According to Walt Disney World, existing Annual Passholders will have the option to upgrade their existing Annual Pass into any available pass type outside of their renewal window on the DisneyWorld.com website or via the My Disney Experience app. The difference in price must be paid in full at the time of the upgrade and the new pass will have the same expiration date as the original pass.
The big question is whether the price will be prorated, and the answer is probably not. In the past, Walt Disney World has not prorated AP upgrades; whether you had 364 days or a single day remaining, the upgrade cost was the price difference between the two passes. It’s possible that Disney will make an exception to that given the unique circumstances here, but don’t count on it.
Will upgrades upon renewal be offered in the future even if APs are sold out?
Most likely. This has actually been the “long play” for many locals over the course of the last couple years. They’ve started by purchasing the Pixie Pass, and then upgrading it to one of the higher tiers a year later upon renewal. It seemed like a silly thing to do back in late 2021 when passes first sold out, but many of those locals got the last laugh.
What about Annual Pass renewals?
Nothing about that process should change with the resumption of new Annual Pass sales.
Currently, Walt Disney World APs can renew starting 60 days before expiration, up to 30 days after expiration. Regardless of when renewal occurs, the new 365-day usage period begins immediately after the AP’s expiration date. Renewal discounts are 15% off.
So for out-of-state Annual Passholders, the question becomes whether you’ll be using the pass in the month or so after renewal. If so, you’ll definitely want to renew. If not, you’ll want to weigh the risk of passes selling out again.
Does everyone in a family need to purchase the PhotoPass add-on if one person does?
In fact, we’d recommend only one person buys it if you always or usually visit together. Otherwise, it’s paying extra for what amounts to a redundant benefit.
Is there a yearly Genie+ add-on for Annual Passholders?
No, and it’s highly unlikely that one will be offered anytime soon. Maybe in 2024 if there’s a major recession. Maybe.
What’s the likely impact to April or May 2023 crowds at Walt Disney World?
Our expectation is that the first and second weekend after the new-look APs go on sale, the parks will see a spike in crowd levels due to pent-up demand among locals. It’s also likely weeknights after 5 pm will see a slight uptick.
Why is this all so convoluted and complicated–is a FAQ really going to be necessary for every change Walt Disney World makes going forward?
It would seem so.
Everyone knows that “vacations” are meant to be as stress-inducing and complicated as possible, requiring a cryptex and advanced degree in codebreaking. Just wait until Magic Kingdom adds a troll toll to its bridges and doesn’t let you pass until you answer the riddle (standard per-riddle rate, taxes, and other fees apply).
Why did Disney retire the intuitive Silver/Gold/Platinum AP naming convention?
Extensive market research shows that the kids these days with their Bitcoins, cellular telephones, and social medias don’t appreciate the traditional things in life, like collecting precious metals or watching Olympic medal ceremonies.
Whereas everyone on the TikTok knows that fairies < piracy < sorcery. Everyone.
Are Walt Disney World Annual Passes overpriced?
“After seeing what Taylor Swift tickets are going for in Tampa tonight, I now think Annual Passes are fairly priced. Demand is there for premium experiences, and Disney is still the best in my opinion.” ~Bruce from the comments
I think Bruce might’ve been half-joking, but he’s right. Whether it be Taylor Swift tickets, monkey jpegs, or Walt Disney World Annual Passes, the value of every good in a market economy is based on a price discovery process. Consistently and overwhelmingly, Disney has been “discovering” that consumers are willing to pay increasingly higher prices for their products. Stated in another way, Annual Passes wouldn’t have sold out so fast and remained unavailable for a year-plus afterwards due to high demand if admission to Walt Disney World were overpriced.
With that said, I have to admit that if you told me ~6 years ago that my AP would cost $1,400 in 2023, I wouldn’t have believed you. Around that time, there was a DVC deal on Platinum Plus APs for $595. There were also exceptional discounts for restaurants and merchandise because attendance was slow at Walt Disney World (imagine that!). When prices increased sharply in the years following that, it was shocking. I kept thinking that “something’s gotta give–this is overpriced!” That was a few years ago, and I was clearly wrong.
As I’ve written elsewhere, I’ve lost the capacity for surprise when it comes to Walt Disney World increases or pricing. At this point, attendance is still strong, pent-up demand is not yet fully exhausted, the parks have a devoted and passionate fanbase, and multiple high-profile additions are driving tourists to visit. Why wouldn’t the company keep raising prices?
Generally speaking, I don’t think it makes any sense to talk pricing when business is booming to the extent that it is right now. Yes, it sucks that prices have increased so much in the last several years. Yes, it’s concerning the way that Disney has priced out so many middle class families. Yes, the long-term reputational hit resulting from current cost strategies is very worrying. But complaining about all of that won’t change the fundamental realities of demand. (And honestly, Annual Passholders are the least-sympathetic demo when it comes to prices. Annual Passes are essentially a luxury good. Do you feel badly for those who complain about the cost of Birkins increasing?)
Have any questions we didn’t answer with the above FAQ? Still confused by anything to do with the new Annual Pass sales at Walt Disney World? Do you agree or disagree with our assessments? Other thoughts or concerns? Any questions we can help you answer? Hearing your feedback–even when you disagree with us–is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!