If you want to save money on a Walt Disney World Annual Pass, a method called “price bridging” will provide the greatest discount. With this technique, you purchase a park ticket from an authorized third party reseller and then upgrade that ticket to an Annual Pass. (Last updated May 6, 2018.)
In the process of ticket bridging, you’re credited for the full gate price value of the regular Walt Disney World park ticket. This “bridges” the gap (hence the name) between what you paid and the ticket’s current value. You then pay out of pocket for the difference between your ticket’s current value and the cost of a Walt Disney World Annual Pass.
In order to price bridge, you’ll want to start by purchasing the Walt Disney World park ticket with the deepest discount from an authorized third party reseller. We keep our Tips for Saving Money on Walt Disney World Tickets post updated with what’s currently the best deal at the top of the post. Saving money in this first step is important because you receive the face value of this ticket, not what you paid for it, when upgrading.
The next step is going to a Guest Services window with your unused or partially used (despite what you might read, it makes no difference) ticket, and requesting to upgrade it to an Annual Pass, with the value applied towards your Annual Pass. The reason we recommend Guest Services is that this is a fairly uncommon request, and Guest Services is where you’re most likely to find a Cast Member with experience in price bridging.
If, for some reason, the Cast Member at Guest Services is unable to price bridge at the current (full) gate price of your Walt Disney World ticket, ask if a supervisor can assist. Don’t get confrontational or say, “but the internet told me this works!” Neither will get you anywhere. For many Cast Members, the internet is a verboten place of tomfoolery and lies about 5th gates and monorail expansion.
Failing that, try again at a different window. Please, don’t leave an irate comment here about this technique “no longer working.” This method absolutely does work–you just need to be diligent. If ever price bridging stops working at Walt Disney World, I’ll update the post.
Here’s some quick and dirty math to illustrate the savings and process. Let’s say I buy a 7-day Park Hopper for $447. This ticket is credited its full gate price including tax, which is $516.53. I want to purchase the Disney Platinum Pass, which is $829.64 after tax. Out of pocket, I will pay $313.11 to price bridge the difference. (Obviously, these numbers will differ based upon what you purchase–and if any price increases occur between the time this is published and whenever you’re reading it.)
What’s interesting about this technique is that it only works this way with third party tickets, not those purchased directly from Walt Disney World. While all tickets are capable of being upgraded if you pay the difference, those tickets purchased directly from Disney receive credit for the gate price of the ticket at the time the ticket was purchased.
By contrast, third party tickets are credited the current gate price of the ticket at the time of the upgrade. This is a known loophole in Disney’s system and I’m not sure why. Perhaps there’s some sort of breakdown in the feedback loop with the third party sale or some other, unknown reason why full, current price is credited. Whatever the case, it’s a “known issue” that benefits the consumer.
Note that there’s one unique wrinkle to this that will impact a very small minority of you. If you purchased tickets from a reseller before the February 2018 price increase, you will only be given credit for the gate value before the increase. If you purchased after the February 2018 price increase (as most of you are probably doing), you’ll receive credit for the current gate value of the ticket. Since this is a ‘how to’ post, this nuance probably applies to next to no one reading, but it’s still worth mentioning.
Variations of price bridging have been around for at least 10 years, and this loophole has yet to be closed. (Let’s call it a “Disney Hack” since loophole has a negative connotation…) I doubt this blog post will change that as this info has been widely available via forums and other sites for a while. I remember using the technique–albeit not in the exact manner–back in the early days of Free Dining to upgrade tickets, and the same principles are being applied here.
Theoretically, you could “invest” in park tickets now that you’ll use to upgrade to Annual Passes years down the road and watch the value of your tickets climb. It would basically be like investing in GOOGL at its IPO and cashing out today. Well, maybe not that good of an investment, but ticket price increases have way outpaced inflation. However, we don’t recommend this as a long-term plan because there’s no telling when Disney revise this policy.
A few other notes:
You will receive a credit for the current gate price after-tax when upgrading. Make sure to confirm this amount before completing the upgrade transaction.
You can use price bridging on Annual Pass renewals.
You can use price bridging on Disney Vacation Club-discounted Annual Passes.
You can use price bridging on other, more expensive tickets that aren’t Annual Passes.
There are some reports of price bridging working at Disneyland, but most of the time it does not. It has never worked for us, so YMMV.
That should about cover it in terms of pricing bridging your discounted Walt Disney World tickets to…discounted Annual Passes! It’s a nice way to save a bit more money that you can then put towards Vinylmation or novelty hats–you know, the necessities.
Do you have any questions about price bridging? Have you tried it before? Any issues price bridging? Successes? Wish this technique were called “WDW Ticket Trojan Horsing” instead? Share any questions, tips, or additional thoughts you have in the comments!