Walt Disney World has released more info for Annual Passholders about reopening, including AP reservations, extensions, payment options, and more. In this post, we’ll share details of the announcement and offer additional commentary. (Updated July 5, 2020.)
As previously covered, Annual Passholders are now able to make Disney Park Pass theme park reservations. As covered in our Park Pass Update: AP Availability & Fresh Frustrations, many dates have already filled up–including almost every date in July and many weekends in August.
On July 3, many Annual Passholders on the monthly payment plan noticed that their credit cards were hit with a lump-sum charge from Disney, reflecting four months worth of monthly payments. In fact, reports from disgruntled APs have flooded social media, with many understandably upset at being charged hundreds of dollars by Disney with zero notice prior to the parks even reopening.
It’s difficult to say how many APs are impacted by this–it should only be those who opted-in to the monthly payment plan extension. Walt Disney World’s default course of action for APs on the payment plans was to automatically stop and waive monthly payments while the theme parks are closed. Payments would then resume on their regularly scheduled dates once the parks reopen–without any expiration extension. Guests who chose the default (or did nothing) should not be seeing the huge charges on their credit cards.
In an update from Walt Disney World, this was caused by a glitch in a third party vendor’s processing, and the charges were incorrect. Walt Disney World indicated that it’s in the process of reversing the charges (which will occur automatically without action by impacted Annual Passholders), and apologized for the inconvenience.
Park Pass Reservation Policies for APs
A number of questions have remained concerning refunds, AP extensions, limits on the number of simultaneous Disney Park Pass reservations that Annual Passholders could make, and registration for AP preview days. Thanks to the latest AP update from Walt Disney World, via the Annual Passes: Know Before You Go page, we now have answers to most of those questions.
All Annual Passholders are eligible to make Disney Park Pass reservations for up to 3 days at a time. This is a rolling number, meaning that once one day is used, another reservation can be made, and so on. As before, Annual Passholders could visit as many days as they’d like, subject to availability and applicable pass blockout dates. (So it really becomes an issue of demand.)
Annual Passholders staying at select Walt Disney World resort hotels or other select partner hotels (e.g. Disney Springs Resort Area Hotels, Bonnet Creek Resorts, Swan & Dolphin, and Shades of Green Resort) with valid theme park admission are eligible to make advance theme park reservations for their entire length of stay–up to a total of 14 days with reservations. Likewise, all reservations are subject to availability and applicable pass blockout dates.
Some pass benefits and features will not be available during periods of limited capacity. Also, park experiences and offerings will be modified and subject to limited availability or even closure. If you have any questions, please contact V.I.PASSHOLDER Support at (407) 939-7277. Options to manage your annual pass continue to be available during the closure period.
Reopening Policy Options
As the theme parks prepare to reopen, Walt Disney World recognizes that the Disney Park Pass reservations system will change the way that many Annual Passholders prefer to enjoy visiting the theme parks. With that in mind, Disney is offering these alternative options to manage your pass.
If you are an Annual Passholder that has paid in full, your options include:
You will receive a one month extension to your pass (unless you choose one of the alternative options below). This additional month will automatically be processed and visible in your My Disney Experience account in October 2020.
Alternatively, and in lieu of the one month extension, Passholders who have paid in full may choose to cancel their annual pass and receive a partial refund.
As another alternative, and also in lieu of an extension of their passes, Annual Passholders who have paid in full may choose to receive a partial refund for the park closure period.
If you are an Annual Passholder on the monthly payment plan, your options include:
You will receive an additional one month extension to your pass. This additional month will automatically be processed and visible in your My Disney Experience account in October 2020. Please note that monthly payments are scheduled to resume with park opening on July 11, 2020.
Alternatively, and in lieu of the additional month extension, Passholders on the monthly payment plan may choose to cancel their annual pass and waive their monthly payments due after August 11, 2020. Any payments made between July 11, 2020 and August 11, 2020 will be retroactively refunded for those that select this option and all future payments would be stopped.
Walt Disney World will send information in early July 2020 with details on how to take action on these options.
AP Refunds & Extensions
As previously covered in our last Annual Passholder update, the new restrictions on visiting and park hopping are arguably a unilateral contract modification that goes beyond what’s contemplated by any reasonable change of terms provision or disclaimer. (There’s fine print language that restrictions apply including, but not limited to, capacity constraints and other closures. However, this is fundamentally different than a standard capacity closure. Again, arguably.)
Accordingly, our expectation was that Walt Disney World would not restart the clock until after the reservation period has ended. That’d be the prudent and guest-friendly course of action, but that does not appear to be what Walt Disney World is going to do.
In our view, these options are adequate alternatives for many Annual Passholders. It’s nice to see Walt Disney World proactively providing these options, rather than waiting for more Annual Passholder backlash (as happened when the closure begin and Walt Disney World was not going to offer refunds or pause monthly payments).
Of course, this isn’t going to be a “perfect” solution for everyone, but there is literally no way to make everyone happy right now. This is an unprecedented time, and Walt Disney World is attempting to make lemonade out of lemons.
Personally, my expectation is that most dates will be pretty easy to book via the Disney Park Pass on short notice, so I’ll happily take the 30 day extension, which will likely be a windfall. While many Walt Disney World fans are worried about the difficulty of booking Disney Park Pass reservations, one key thing to remember is that even though park attendance will be limited to ~30% of normal numbers, most tourists won’t be returning anytime soon.
Understandably, the equation is very different for out of state Annual Passholders and others. Without the certainty of knowing they’ll definitely be able to reserve access to the parks, it’s difficult for a non-local AP to book a trip right now and risk being shut out. Of course, the solutions for that are booking a hotel stay or waiting to see data points emerge that indicate how difficult it’ll likely be to reserve park visits on short notice.
For other Annual Passholders, the lack of certain entertainment or the ability to Park Hop may be a non-starter. Or, you may simply not feel safe visiting a theme park at any point in the foreseeable future. All totally valid perspectives, and if any of these are the case for you, it’s probably most sensible to cancel your Annual Pass, as saddening as that might be.
Overall, a good amount of info concerning the future of the Annual Passholder program at Walt Disney World. Basically, we have all of the key info at this point, and are just waiting on the refund/recovery processes to be rolled out, and the registration for Annual Passholder preview days to open. (If Universal is any indication, the preview days will be busier than the days that follow–theme park fans love the perception of exclusivity and being first!)
All in all, a pretty big day for Walt Disney World news! Hopefully, this latest update to the Annual Passholder page answers most of the big questions you had. We’ll keep you posted should there be further developments.
Are you an Annual Passholder? Think these policies seem fair? Satisfied with the 30 day extension or will you be requesting a refund? Will you be attempting to visit Walt Disney World during the AP preview period? Do you expect reservations to visit the parks being competitive or easy to score? Do you agree or disagree with our advice? 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!