Walt Disney World Annual Pass prices increased overnight, as Florida prepares for the debut of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. The price hike is as much as $225 on some APs, and is less than a year after the last October’s increase. In this post, we’ll break down the big price increases and offer some commentary.
None of this is all that surprising. We’ve been anticipating multiple ticket price increases this year, and have been warning readers to purchase tickets ASAP to lock-in current prices in our 2019 Discount Walt Disney World Ticket Buying Guide, you’re familiar with this. We’ll dispense with more commentary later in the post, for now, the increases…
Disney Premier Annual Pass
This is the U.S. Disney Parks’ flagship AP, with admission to every theme park at Disneyland and Walt Disney World, no blockout dates, PhotoPass & MaxPass included, parking, and the highest level of discounts.
It has increased from $1949 to $2099 (up $150)
Disney Platinum Plus Annual Pass
This is Walt Disney World’s flagship AP, with admission to all four theme parks and both of the water parks, ESPN Wide World of Sports, Disney’s Oak Trail Golf Course, no blockout dates, PhotoPass included, parking, and the highest level of discounts.
It has increased from $849 to $999 for Florida residents and DVC members (up $150) and from $994 to $1219 for everyone else (up $225).
Disney Platinum Annual Pass
This is Walt Disney World’s other AP without any blockout dates, which also includes PhotoPass, parking, and the highest level of discounts.
It has increased from $749 to $899 for Florida residents and DVC members (up $150) and from $894 to $1119 for everyone else (up $225).
Disney Gold Annual Pass
Walt Disney World’s Annual Pass that’s only available to Florida residents and Disney Vacation Club members. This one has very blockout dates–basically just between Christmas & New Years and at Spring Break/Easter. It offers PhotoPass, parking, and the highest level of discounts.
It has increased from $609 to $699 (up $90).
Disney Silver Annual Pass
Another Walt Disney World Annual Pass that’s only available to Florida residents. This one has the same blockout dates as the Gold, plus pretty much the entire months of June, July, and beginning of August. It offers parking and the highest level of discounts.
It has increased from $479 to $519 (up $40).
Disney Theme Park Select Annual Pass
Another Walt Disney World Annual Pass that’s only available to Florida residents. This one has blockout dates that vary park to park, but offers access to at least one park on more days of the year than the Silver AP. (Hope you like Epcot!) It offers parking and the highest level of discounts.
This AP has not increased in price: $439 before and after.
Disney Weekday Select Annual Pass
Yet another Walt Disney World Annual Pass that’s only available to Florida residents. This is valid primarily Monday through Friday, subject to blockout dates. It offers parking and the highest level of discounts.
It has increased from $319 to $349 (up $30).
Epcot After 4 AP
The Epcot After 4 Annual Pass is only offered to Florida residents. It has no blockout dates and allows access into Epcot after 4 p.m., standard parking, plus standard dining and merchandise discounts.
It has increased from $289 to $309 (up $20).
Water Parks Annual Pass
Available for all to purchase, the Water Parks Annual Pass has no blockout dates and offers admission to both Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach for an entire year.
It has increased from $130 to $139 (up $9).
Water Parks After 2 Annual Pass
Available only to Florida residents, this AP has no blockout dates and allows admission to both Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach for an entire year, but only after 2 p.m.
It has increased from $79 to $89 (up $10).
In terms of commentary, even though some of these price increases are staggering, I’ve lost the capacity for surprise when it comes to Walt Disney World ticket price increases. At this point, attendance is up, the parks have a devoted and passionate fanbase, and a slate of new additions rolling out pretty much non-stop between now and 2022. Why wouldn’t they increase Annual Pass prices?
Now, you might point out that there has been attendance and spending softness this summer (as we noted in yesterday’s article about AP discounts), but these increases aren’t aimed at the here and now–they’re about the future. It’s not as if every Annual Passholder (or even a majority) will be renewing between now and September when attendance is expected to be weaker. In the bigger picture and longer term (when the increases will have more of an impact), Walt Disney World has good reason to expect increased attendance, and even more demand for Annual Passes.
Obviously, the Disney Vacation Club membership numbers continue to grow, and we’d speculate that more hardcore out-of-state fans are finding ways to leverage Annual Passes for multiple visits in the same 365 day period. Perhaps most significantly, there has been a population explosion in Central Florida.
Several cities in the Orlando metro area are among the fastest growing in the United States. Many of these new Florida residents are people fleeing the Northeast and Midwest. This is significant because it means Walt Disney World, traditionally a tourist destination with a far lower AP pool than Disneyland, has likely increased its Annual Passholder population in the last few years despite all of these price increases.
The story painted by these top-heavy Annual Passholder price increases is that Walt Disney World wants to discourage purchase of the highest-tier APs (or charge a significant premium to those with significant disposable income who might not notice a difference either way), pushing people instead towards the passes with blockout dates.
Essentially, AP pricing becomes a means of attendance control, just as it has been for years in California. Disney does not want to eliminate or even significantly reduce its herd of Annual Passholders. They are necessary during low seasons for tourism, for buying food & drinks at Epcot’s festivals, and purchasing exclusive merchandise. However, Disney does want to steer people towards certain APs, thereby working to distribute attendance to days that are historically low.
Then there’s the Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge factor. Much has already been written about that, so I’ll spare you a regurgitation of the expected tourism boom once that blockbuster new land debuts and is fully open. As noted above, there are several other big additions on the horizon at Walt Disney World, so don’t expect these price increases to cease any time soon.
To the contrary, expect more regular ticket price increases (on both APs and standard tickets) coupled with discounts on select products (and to select demographics) when Walt Disney World deems it necessary to boost attendance for certain windows of time.
What do you think of these Walt Disney World Annual Pass price increases? Will you still buy one, or are you priced out? Do you agree or disagree with our assessment? 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!