Walt Disney World has revealed details about the new perks and freebies for Annual Passholders in Summer 2023. This covers everything you need to know about V.I.PASSHOLDER Days, including dates and how to get the free Figment magnet, access the “exclusive” AP lounge at EPCOT, and more.
For starters, V.I.PASSHOLDER Days (or VIP Passholder Days, if you want to sound it out and remove the yelling) are a limited-time offering just for Annual Passholders at Walt Disney World Resort. It’s the company’s way of saying ‘thank you’ for being a Walt Disney World Annual Passholder!
V.I.Passholder Days will occur between May 31 and June 30, 2023 at Walt Disney World. The in-park focus of the ‘event’ is EPCOT, and to a lesser extent, Animal Kingdom–but APs will be able to take advantage of exclusive perks and discounts throughout the parks and resorts during the month-long appreciation event. Let’s dig into the details, starting with discounts…
During V.I.Passholder Days, the AP merchandise discount at select Disney-owned and -operated merchandise locations across Walt Disney World Resort will temporarily increase from 20% to 30%.
As always, discounts are for personal use only and may not be used to purchase merchandise with the intent to resell the merchandise. (Word to the wise, eBay pirates!) Discounts are not valid on certain items and may not be combined with any other discount, offer, or promotion. Yada yada yada.
During this same time, Annual Passholders can also enjoy an increase from 10% to 20% on discounts for food and nonalcoholic beverages at select locations throughout Walt Disney World Resort. This 20% discount applies to the regular price of food and nonalcoholic beverages (excluding applicable tax and gratuity) from May 31 to June 30, 2023. View additional details, restrictions and exclusions.
Next up, Annual Passholders receive 20% off at select Outdoor Kitchens when using a cashless form of payment from May 31 through June 30, 2023.
Bauernmarkt: Farmer’s Market
EPCOT Farmers Feast
La Isla Fresca
Tangierine Café: Flavors of the Medina
The Citrus Blossom
The Honey Bee-stro hosted by National Honey Board
The Land Cart hosted by AdventHealth
Trowel & Trellis hosted by Impossible
The Italy booth is excluded from this special offer, which some might view as a public service by Walt Disney World. While no one should ever, under any circumstances, whether paying full price or discounted deeply, purchase “food” from the Italy booth (excepting bloggers looking to abuse their abdomens for the sake of science), that’s actually not what’s happening here.
The Italy booth is operated by a third party, and I guess they felt their prices were simply too low to discount. That, or they figured anyone dumb enough to eat there is dumb enough to pay full price. (I’m ‘allowed’ to say that as a dummy who paid full price for the entire menu…and does every single festival, every single year. No offense to my fellow travelers.)
Walt Disney World is also offering an exclusive lounge at Sunshine Seasons during V.I.PASSHOLDER Days. Cool off and take a break at this reserved space “just” for Passholders:
Where and When
Location: The Land Pavilion
Dates: May 31 through June 30, 2023
Times: Park open to Park close
Delight in refreshing treats, available for purchase during Sunshine Seasons operating hours, such as:
A Spark of Grape Shake – Grape, guava, passionfruit, orange and lime
Raspberry “Lemonade” Tart – Shortbread tart filled with lemon mousse, raspberry jam and raspberry mousse
Continuing along, there will be new PhotoPass shots available exclusively to Annual Passholders. Spark your creativity when you pose with props inspired by the new Figment Annual Passholder magnet.
Location: Near the fountains outside of Journey Into Imagination with Figment at EPCOT
Dates: May 31 to June 30, 2023
Times: 10:00 AM to 8:00 PM daily
Charge your circuits and head over to Disney’s Animal Kingdom theme park to capture a special Disney PhotoPass Magic Shot featuring WALL-E and Eve. Previously available during Earth Week, this photo op is now exclusively available to Annual Passholders.
Location: Near Discovery River and the Tree of Life, between Africa and Asia
Dates: May 31 to June 30, 2023
Times: 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM daily
Speaking of which, the ‘main event’ during V.I.Passholder Days is the Figment magnet! Get ready to dream big and head to EPCOT to pick up a Figment AP magnet. These Annual Passholder-exclusive magnets will be available at:
Location: Creations Shop
Dates: May 31 to June 30, 2023
Times: 9:00 AM to 9:00 PM
Limit one magnet per Passholder. Available while supplies last. Not responsible for any lost, stolen or damaged magnets. Locations, dates and operation hours are subject to change without notice. Yada yada yada.
In terms of commentary, we’ll once again reiterate that we’re pleased to see Walt Disney World doing more to recognize and show its appreciation for Annual Passholders. The last few years have been a rough time to be a Walt Disney World AP, and many of us haven’t exactly felt “valued” over that time.
We’re not going to rehash what has happened to give rise to this feeling. Suffice to say, if you’re an Annual Passholder who doesn’t feel appreciated for this reason or that, you’re hardly alone. Ditto that if you’re now an ex-AP because you felt ignored. Introducing V.I.P Passholder Days is another one of those “little things” that Walt Disney World is doing to demonstrate that it cares and wants to win back diehard fans.
With a decline in tourist visitor numbers and spending, there’s now more excess capacity for Annual Passholders. It thus makes sense that Walt Disney World wants to lure them back, giving more reasons to feel valued, visit, and spend money in the parks. These new perks are designed to do all of that.
Turning to the substance of the announcement, we’re really pleased by the discounts. This isn’t the first time in the last few years that Walt Disney World has offered better savings at EPCOT festival booths. Still, it’s a good move given the likelihood that demand is dropping off among locals for Flower & Garden Festival by its third month, as the “spring” event limps towards the finish line.
Likewise, it’s not the first time the merchandise discount has increased. Something similar happened when the parks reopened to help sell a backlog of merchandise. It occurred again when supply chain disruptions had been resolved and the bullwhip effect resulted in a surplus of unsold inventory. Regardless of the reason, more savings on souvenirs and festival food is nice–and for many new and returning APs, this is the first time they’ll have access to this type of deal.
Additionally, the increase from 10% to 20% on discounts for food and nonalcoholic beverages at select locations throughout Walt Disney World Resort is fantastic. This is basically like the temporary return of Tables in Wonderland, except presumably with more restrictions/exclusions and without paying $150+ for the card.
This is actually pretty significant news and represents a turning point in dining demand. We’ve been pointing out that ADR availability has been easing for a while, and we’ve started seeing a surprising number of options. Restaurants like Chef Mickey’s, Story Book Dining at Artist Point, Akershus, Cinderella’s Royal Table, Topolino’s Terrace, California Grill, and others all have availability throughout June and July 2023. The only restaurant I’ve had difficulty finding was Toy Story Roundup Rodeo, which is understandable given that it’s brand new.
It’s one thing to have improved ADR availability, versus most popular restaurants being fully booked in the past. It’s another entirely to offer greater discounts to Annual Passholders to entice more restaurant reservations. (A new Cast Member offer also dropped recently, albeit to a way more limited number of restaurants.) That really suggests to us that the Disney Dining Plan could’ve come back this summer, Walt Disney World just wasn’t prepared to promptly pull that lever.
The only disappointing angle of this announcement is that the “lounge” is at Sunshine Seasons. We previously predicted that the lounge would be at Animal Kingdom or EPCOT because those are the parks to which Walt Disney World wants to funnel AP attendance. So that part of the prediction–the portion that didn’t really matter–was right!
From there, we pointed to the many unused or underutilized spaces in World Showcase that could serve as a lounge. Specifically, we bet on a revival of the Florida Blue Lounge in Morocco, which would’ve been awesome. Sadly, the portion of the prediction that mattered was very, very wrong. What we’re actually getting is far less cool (not literally–both have equal A/C) and hardly exclusive.
I’m not sure how Sunshine Season qualifies as a lounge even in the loosest and most charitable interpretation of the term. It’s essentially a food court with several different open-air seating areas. Maybe this is a failure of imagination on my part, but setting aside one for Annual Passholders is nothing at all. Almost comical to spin it as a “perk.”
On a tangentially related note, Sunshine Seasons has become a sad shell of its former self. It was on this trajectory even pre-closure, but it’s gotten worse in the last year. We’ve been working on a review of the recent menu additions since late last year, but our efforts are continually foiled by the early closing time of the prepared food stations.
I assume this is due to Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind and Connections Cafe, which have sucked up much of the oxygen in the former Future World. The Land is now relatively quiet in the afternoons, and it’s downright dead in the evenings. Regardless of the posted wait time, Soarin’ usually doesn’t have much of a line–about the only thing that’s truly busy is Garden Grill.
The already limited menu at Sunshine Seasons is usually further scaled back, with the hot food stations closing early and only grab and go options available. Seating areas are also closed off early, which is no big deal, because even the available ones are sparsely populated after 5 pm. It’s a great spot if you want to get away from the crowds–it’s right up there with Tomorrowland Terrace as my favorite in-park place to get some work done.
Honestly, while I view the Sunshine Seasons lounge as a big ‘nothingburger’ when viewed as an actual perk, I’m hopeful that it sparks renewed interest in this location. Sunshine Seasons used to be the best counter service restaurant in all of Walt Disney World–not even that long ago! I’m not holding my breath, but maybe this will help turn it around.
Ultimately, V.I.Passholder Days is an interesting initiative for recovering attendance, trying to win back alienated ex-Annual Passholders, and more. After a few years of Walt Disney World being able to ‘get away’ with pretty much anything and still see record guest spending and insatiable demand, consumers now appear to once again have more leverage.
This should be an interesting saga to follow, and it’s almost certain that we haven’t seen the end of Walt Disney World’s efforts to woo back former fans and pull “levers” to incentivize more demand and guest spending. Even if the lounge is laughable, V.I.Passholder Days should be great for Annual Passholders. More broadly speaking, this normalization is obviously good thing for fans–but it’s also healthier for Walt Disney World in the long-term!
Are you an Annual Passholder? Thoughts on the VIP Passholder Days, or the latest merchandise and resort discounts? Will you be taking advantage of any of this? If you cancelled your Walt Disney World AP, have any of the recent changes made you revisit that decision? Hopeful that more perks, discounts, etc. are on the horizon as pent-up demand exhausts itself and there’s a slowdown at Walt Disney World? 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!