We’re back with a Walt Disney World Annual Passholder update, and this time, it’s all good news! We cover the latest about AP hotel & merchandise discounts, refunds, and more Park Pass theme park reservation availability. We’ll also offer some additional commentary about all of that and other Annual Passholder issues of interest. (Updated July 19, 2020.)
Let’s start with the discounts. As we shared last week, Annual Passholders Can Save Up to 40% on Walt Disney World Hotels Now Through September 30, 2020. The best discounts are for the month of September, and includes Contemporary Resort for $272 per night, Beach Club for $265 per night, Saratoga Springs for $225 per night, Pop Century for $110 per night, Fort Wilderness Cabins for $239 per night, and more.
There was initially some confusion about eligibility for this discount. Many Annual Passholders couldn’t get the correct pricing to show, and (mistakenly) believed these “Rediscover the Magic” deals are only available for APs who are also Florida residents. There are separate deals for Florida residents–any Annual Passholder should be able to book them now, so if you couldn’t before, give it another shot. We have more good news on the deals front…
Beginning today, Annual Passholders now receive a 30% discount on merchandise purchases at most Walt Disney World stores. As Walt Disney World has not yet released the official details, we don’t know what the exclusions entail, but we suspect that they include cloth face masks, select Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge locations, national brand products, and select EPCOT locations.
Normally, Walt Disney World Annual Passholders receive a 20% off merchandise discount as part of AP perks, so this amounts to an extra 10% off. Cast Members have also received a bump in their merchandise discount, receiving 50% off. (However, they’re blocked out of the parks.)
While the Cast Member bonus discount expires July 31, 2020, it’s unclear when the added Annual Passholder discount ends. (We inquired with a couple of Cast Members, and there was no clear answer.) With crowds being low and disproportionately locals, our guess is that this will last through the fall. After all, there’s only so much that the fleet of eBay pirates can buy–their ships are relatively small and mostly full of Splash Mountain stuff!
In general, we’d expect a lot more discounts for Florida residents and Annual Passholders, with restaurants likely to be next up. We’ve been harping on this for a while, predicting low crowds and aggressive discounts repeatedly well before the parks even reopened. Until cases start decreasing and out of state quarantine orders are lifted, that’s even more likely–tourists are going to be cancelling their trips or simply not booking.
Which brings us to the next topic: Disney Park Pass availability for Annual Passholders. We’ve been monitoring this over the last couple of weeks since this opened to APs, and things have not been looking good. (See our Park Pass Update: AP Availability & Fresh Frustrations).
As of earlier this week, the earliest an Annual Passholder without a resort reservation could book a visit to Epcot was August 3, 2020. The earliest possible visit to Magic Kingdom or Animal Kingdom was August 18, 2020. The earliest visit to Disney’s Hollywood Studios wouldn’t be until August 25, 2020.
This was despite no shortage of same-day Disney Park Pass availability for resort guests and theme park ticketholders, not to mention both Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom being veritable ghost towns the last two days. (Even less crowded than over the weekend!)
This has been occurring because there are three separate “buckets” for Disney Park Pass reservations, and only the AP bucket has had any degree of serious demand. We’ve been assuming since the beginning that around 24-48 hours before the date in question, Walt Disney World would roll over surplus capacity from the resort and ticket-holder buckets to the AP bucket.
Good news on that front! An email just went out to Annual Passholders (don’t be surprised if you didn’t receive it), indicating that that starting July 16, 2020, additional Disney Park Pass reservation availability will be offered to Annual Passholders for select dates in July and August at Magic Kingdom, Epcot, and Animal Kingdom. (No dice for Disney’s Hollywood Studios…yet.)
This additional Disney Park Pass reservation availability does not reflect an increase in park capacity, which means that Park Pass inventory from the other two “buckets” is being dumped into the AP bucket.
Here’s a look at the full email in case you didn’t receive it:
Most of the rest of that was already known, but we now also have official confirmation of this:
“Annual Passholders staying at select Disney Resort or other select hotels with valid Theme Park admission are eligible to make Theme Park reservations for each day of their resort stay(s), in addition to holding up to 3 days of Theme Park reservations at a time on a rolling basis. Once you use a Theme Park reservation, you can make another reservation for a future date.”
It’s not a huge surprise that Walt Disney World is reallocating surplus capacity to Annual Passholders, but it’ll be interesting to see how this works in practice. It would make the most sense if this occurred on a rolling basis, as that would allow for resort guests and standalone ticketholders something closer to “guaranteed” entry.
However, it sounds like this is going to be more akin to an inventory dump. (Which also makes sense if bookings are way down for later this summer and sufficient inventory is still held back for those guests.) Either way, good news all around–and something that should help fill the parks a bit more and keep them from looking like eerie ghost towns.
Update #1: Walt Disney World has released more Disney Park Pass inventory to Annual Passholders, so now we know (some of) the answers to these questions.
Above is a look at the Annual Passholder availability calendar for the rest of the month. As you can see, it went from every park being unavailable for the rest of the July to partial availability for the rest of the month. That’s only partial because nothing was added for Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, and Epcot now all have availability for every single day the rest of this month, as well as August. (The first date that Disney’s Hollywood Studios is available is now August 25, 2020.)
From that email and updates to Walt Disney World’s Annual Pass “Know Before You Go” page, we also have more details about AP cancellation & refund policies. Per that page, Annual Passholders have through August 11, 2020 to cancel their passes by calling V.I.PASSHOLDER Support. (Once submitted, a cancellation request cannot be changed.)
In lieu of the one-month extension, you may choose to cancel your Annual Pass. Your AP will remain valid through August 11, 2020 and will be canceled effective August 12, 2020.
Refunds to original form of payment can be expected by mid to late September. Refunds may take up to an additional month to receive if original form of payment is not available. To request this option, contact V.I.PASSHOLDER Support at (407) 939-7277.
Update #2: Walt Disney World has stated that refunds will be based on your “remaining access days of your annual pass from July 11, 2020 through your pass expiration date (as extended, if applicable).” While there have been rumors that refunds will be based upon actual usage, this is not the case. Meaning an AP is not deemed “fully used” if you’ve visited the parks for 12 or 14 days already (and so forth).
While we still don’t know the specifics as to how refund valuations are made beyond the above quote, we have confirmed that past usage is not a factor. Unfortunately, Disney will not disclose how much of a refund you will receive until you actually submit the refund request–and once that’s made, it cannot be undone.
For those of you who still have unanswered questions or issues with your APs, try the ‘Chat Here’ feature (blue button on the right side of the page) on this page: https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/experience-updates/annual-passes/
If you do request and receive an Annual Pass refund, please share the details (amount of refund, level of pass, how much time you had remaining, etc.) so we have more data points that could be helpful to other readers. Thanks in advance!
Finally, if you’ve already requested a cancellation, Annual Passholder refunds are starting to be processed. In its own way, this is good news (albeit of the bittersweet variety) if you opted to cancel your Walt Disney World AP. This has been a common question/issue in the comments to our last Walt Disney World Annual Passholder Update: Charges, Reservations, Extensions & Refunds, so we wanted to quickly address it here.
If you requested a refund, you should’ve received an email late last week or early this week from Disney Destinations with the subject line: “Your refund request has been processed” (see above). Again, don’t fret as Walt Disney World has a known problem with Stitch consuming its communications (cursed alien!). In any case, you might want to check your bank account, credit card statement, or whatever, as we’ve heard numerous reports of these being processed. It’s probably slightly premature to call Walt Disney World if you’ve yet to receive yours, but we thought we’d give an update/heads up on this, as many readers have asked about it.
Planning a Walt Disney World trip? Learn about hotels on our Walt Disney World Hotels Reviews page. For where to eat, read our Walt Disney World Restaurant Reviews. To save money on tickets or determine which type to buy, read our Tips for Saving Money on Walt Disney World Tickets post. Our What to Pack for Disney Trips post takes a unique look at clever items to take. For what to do and when to do it, our Walt Disney World Ride Guides will help. For comprehensive advice, the best place to start is our Walt Disney World Trip Planning Guide for everything you need to know!
Are you an Annual Passholder? Thoughts on the merchandise and resort discounts? Will you be taking advantage of either offer? If you cancelled your Walt Disney World AP, have you received your refund yet? Think the new Disney Park Pass availability policy is fair? Do you agree or disagree with our commentary? 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!