When Will Disney World Resume Annual Pass Sales?
“When will Walt Disney World Annual Pass sales resume?” is a common reader question. Many WDW fans are itching to purchase passes, especially new Floridians or those who planned on waiting to buy. We’ll share the company’s official position and speculate as to when APs might return. (Updated April 2, 2023.)
As a quick recap, Walt Disney World suspended sales of all Annual Passes during its closure. However, the Annual Pass program at Walt Disney World did not end when the parks reopened nor were outstanding APs terminated. Many APs proactively cancelled their passes and requested refunds. Upon reopening, sales of new Annual Passes were “paused” while renewals were allowed.
Walt Disney World then resumed Annual Pass sales in September 2021 with new names, higher prices, restrictions, and other details. In so doing, the company dropped the straightforward precious-metal tier names in favor of a nonsensical hierarchy of fictional characters and concepts. APs were available for about 3 months before sales started being suspended in late November 2021.
Back when the new Annual Passes were announced, Walt Disney World stated: “Please note as we continue to manage attendance to provide a great experience for everyone, at any time, Annual Passes may be unavailable for purchase.” It’s now been almost 18 months, and APs are still “temporarily unavailable,” at least for the most part.
Sales of Walt Disney World’s three most expensive Annual Passes are all currently paused. This means that the Disney Pirate Pass, Sorcerer Pass, and Incredi-Pass are all unavailable for purchase and have been for well over a year. Only the lowest-level Disney Pixie Dust Pass, which is available exclusively to Florida residents and valid only on weekdays, remains available for new sales as of right now.
Per Walt Disney World: “We are pausing new sales of select Annual Passes. All current Passholders can renew into any of our four pass types – at their renewal rate – and continue to visit using their pass. We will continue to evaluate the return of new sales for these passes. Please check back for the latest updates.”
By Disney’s own admission, the decision to suspend new AP sales occurred due to anticipated crowds at Walt Disney World during busier times of the year. For its part, Walt Disney World was correct in projecting heavy crowds and suspending AP sales to avoid running out of reservations on more dates. If organic demand were allowed to play out, attendance would’ve been even higher.
Crowds were incredibly heavy during the heart of last year’s holiday season, but have been more mixed since. The first three months of 2023 had highs and lows, with Spring Break arriving in full force a few weeks ago. To that point, the peak dates of Spring Break 2023 Crowds at Walt Disney World are right around the corner this month.
With that in mind, most dates have been green thus far in 2023 on the Disney Park Pass calendar as of right now. The only dates that are partially booked are the weeks bookending Easter. The only other two times that has happened this year were during Presidents’ Day/Mardi Gras week and Orange County’s Spring Break. Most dates are not booking up, which is significant.
As we’ve noted before, Annual Passholders are advantageous to Walt Disney World, but not in a constrained capacity environment at the expense of tourists. Statistically speaking, per visit spending is significantly higher among resort guests and day ticket holders than APs. It thus makes sense that Walt Disney World would want to prioritize those demographics and not fill the parks with Annual Passholders at the expense of more lucrative vacationers during busier seasons.
For Walt Disney World, the downside of delaying the resumption of Annual Pass sales would be reduced revenue if or when the parks have surplus capacity. The potential upside would be not having to suspend regular ticket sales again when travel heats up again. With per visit spending being significantly higher among tourists, there’s a tremendous opportunity cost in allocating reservations to APs in a fully booked environment.
However, Walt Disney World continues to restore capacity by bringing back entertainment, dining options, and also filling positions in the parks that were previously short-staffed. All of this helps increase park capacity, which puts less stress on the reservation system by increasing the supply of Disney Park Passes. All of this plus normalizing demand and less ‘revenge travel’ means there is less of an opportunity cost in Annual Passholders taking up space in the parks.
Allocating capacity and balancing tourists versus locals or frequent visitors is really the whole ballgame. It’s not about lawsuits over the reservations system (Disneyland has resumed AP sales despite that and Walt Disney World still has one Annual Pass available) and it’s not about the perception of scarcity or artificial demand.
On a tangentially related note, the resumption of Magic Key Annual Pass sales at Disneyland could be a potential sneak peek of what Walt Disney World fans will have to endure when AP sales for the Florida parks resume. Back in November when Magic Keys were briefly sold, virtual queue wait times were 10-12 hours.
This January, wait times were shorter–but still measured in the hours on the first day they resumed. Within about a week, some tiers of Magic Keys had already sold out again. The resumption of APs at Disneyland occurred right on the timeline that we previously expected both coasts to resume Annual Pass sales. Frankly, we’re a bit surprised that Walt Disney World didn’t follow suit–but that suggests AP sales aren’t too far away for Walt Disney World.
As intimated above, the straightforward explanation remains that AP sales are suspended due to internal concerns about Disney’s ability to meet demand for regular tickets once Annual Passes are available again. As long as the parks aren’t operating at full capacity and there’s the potential for unsatisfied demand among higher-spending tourists, this is the simplest and clearest explanation for the lack of Annual Passes.
With all of that said, we think there are two possible timeframes for the return of Annual Passes at Walt Disney World. The first is that Annual Pass sales resume on or after April 17, 2023. This is not necessarily the precise date that APs will return to Walt Disney World, it’s simply the earliest date we expect them at this point.
Previously, Walt Disney World resumed AP sales during the off-season, which gave the company a window to test and adjust the program and reservation availability during a window when crowds were low. When AP sales resume again in 2023, it will almost certainly occur during another such off-season window.
As for the significance of April 17, that’s after the height of spring break season and Easter 2023. And…just in time for Tax Day!
This is the next window of lower crowds, which will last following the conclusion of spring break until the start of summer season in mid-June 2023. Not every day or week within that timeframe will be slow–it’s more like ‘shoulder’ season–but it won’t be as bad as Presidents’ Day/Mardi Gras, Easter, Summer, etc.
This is also after the opening of TRON Lightcycle Run and start of EPCOT’s Flower & Garden Festival. In short, the end of April or beginning of May 2023 is the perfect window of opportunity for Walt Disney World to resume AP sales.
Additionally, Walt Disney World has discounted Florida resident tickets that are currently on sale, and are valid through April 27, 2023. This is a pretty common special offer that’s typically available right around this time of year.
Walt Disney World crowds do not increase after April 27. To the contrary, the entire month of May 2023 will be shoulder season; it’s a slower time between the peaks of spring break and summer at Walt Disney World. Selling Annual Passes at the tail end of this discounted ticket deal, or shortly after it concludes would be a smart move–and a way to spike demand during what would otherwise be a relatively laid back month in the parks.
With that said, there are so many other variables at play that could cause Walt Disney World to continue waiting to bring back Annual Passes. Ongoing attendance, guest spending, forward-looking projections, and even the Florida Resident tickets selling well could impact the return date of APs.
If business continues booming even without Annual Passes, the company may decide that it’s advantageous to continue waiting to resume sales. In such a scenario, we view it as unlikely that APs would return in June or July 2023. Instead, Walt Disney World is more likely to wait for the busy summer tourist season to end, restarting sales in mid-August or September 2023. This is simply to say that anyone anxiously awaiting the return of Annual Passes might want to temper their expectations.
One unfortunate reality reinforced in the last 2 years is that demand for Walt Disney World is fairly insatiable right now. Attendance, hotel occupancy, and guest spending have not been impeded in the slightest by the range of unpopular decisions, cutbacks, or price increases.
Many fans–us included–keep waiting for some of Walt Disney World’s decisions to come around and “bite them” with consumers. At least in the short term, there are no signs of that happening. Long term is a potentially different story, but with all of this success and strong sales in spite of everything, we may be waiting a while. Then again, things can change in a hurry, and last year was a time of unprecedented consumer spending across the board that seems unsustainable.
In any case, it’s safe to say that Annual Passes will return at some point, and will not be retired entirely. Walt Disney World APs have never presented the same issues as at Disneyland, for relatively straightforward reasons. Beyond double the parks, there are significantly fewer Annual Passholders at Walt Disney World.
And many of them aren’t local, anyway. Disney Vacation Club members and New Yorkers who come down three times per year and book hotels every time are much more valuable to the company than Disneyland locals who drop-in for a few hours and don’t even eat dinner in the park.
With that said, I’d stop short of saying that Walt Disney World “needs” Annual Passholders. They’re an asset at times, helpful in guaranteeing attendance (and revenue) during slow stretches. However, that’s not always the case.
There are times when Annual Passholders can compound tourist-driven crowd problems, like during the popular Christmas season. In the past several years, we’ve seen Walt Disney World introduce more blockouts and raise prices on most Annual Passes–sometimes by hundreds of dollars at a time. There’s a reason for that.
There have been a lot of headlines recently about homebuyers “fleeing to Florida,” but this phenomenon is nothing new. Back when Annual Pass prices increased two years ago in February and the June before that, we mentioned the ongoing population explosion in Central Florida. Even then, several cities in the Orlando metro area were among the fastest growing in the United States. Many of these new Florida residents are (and were) people leaving the Northeast and Midwest.
Our commentary at the time was this: “If new home prices and construction around Walt Disney World are any indication, these transplants are also on the more affluent end of the spectrum. (Behind Magic Kingdom, there’s been a proliferation of subdivisions with no end in sight—most of these have homes starting at over $300,000 and ranging up to $800,000.)”
Those price points now seem quaint (add another couple hundred thousand dollars on), but the sentiment still rings true. And this was long before “Zoom Towns” had entered our collective vernacular. If you’ve seen any of those ‘fleeing to Florida’ stories in the news, you’re undoubtedly aware that this trend has only accelerated in the last two years. In fact, many of you who have been asking when Walt Disney World will resume AP sales are fresh transplants from the Midwest or Northeast.
Ultimately, our prediction is that Walt Disney World resumes Annual Pass sales at higher price points around late April or early May 2023. Failing that, the next most logical time for resuming AP sales is not until mid-August 2023, but we do not think Walt Disney World will wait that long. These are two prime windows of opportunity in the off-season that are the most likely, as it’s improbable that Walt Disney World will begin Annual Pass sales right before any prime tourist season.
At some point, things will normalize. Staffing shortages will be fully resolved, pent-up demand will fizzle out, and consumer spending will fall back to normal levels. All of that could happen abruptly in the coming months or it could last until mid-2023. For the better part of a year, we’ve been wondering when demand would slow…and it’s only grown stronger during that time.
Of course, that’s just our guess from the outside looking in. I never would have predicted this happening back when Annual Pass sales resumed, as it seemed the worst of the reservation availability problems were already in the rearview mirror at that point. Then again, it would seem that Walt Disney World also did not predict those problems, as if they did, they wouldn’t have resumed AP sales in the first place!
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!
When do you expect Walt Disney World to resume new Annual Pass sales? Think sometime in late April or early May 2023 is a safe bet, or will Walt Disney World be more cautious this time, waiting all the way until Fall 2023 to ensure there’s ample capacity for more lucrative tourists? Would you purchase a Walt Disney World AP right now? 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!
To me it doesn’t make economical sense to buy into DVC when AP is not available. We were hoping to make the investment to DVC, but why bother without an AP? Universal seems more value than Disney, and now with a new park on the horizon at Universal, and no park pass reservation required, could be a no brainer to consider over Disney.
I’m actually surprised Disney Vacation Club hasn’t pushed harder to get AP sales restored for DVC members. It would be a great selling point, even if unofficially, and the lack of APs at present has got to be negatively impacting sales.
I’ve heard that DVC executives are “frustrated” by the lack of APs, but I’d think they’d have some power or influence to make it happen.
if their concern is the APs are local and take capacity away from tourists who spend more money, I don’t understand why there isn’t an AP for frequent travelers from out of state. When we had our Universal AP, we flew/drove down from IL 5 times a year and always stayed on site. Had planned to do the same last year at Disney, but no AP available.
I’ve spoken with the DVC people and was told that “the people who know when Annual Passes will restart aren’t telling, and the people saying they know are guessing.”
DVC members should be livid. This was a major perk that got them to buy into this timeshare in the first place.
I’ve heard there have been a few times where WDW employees were braced for annual passes to return and then nothing happened.
I was really hoping they’d come back before spring. No such luck it seems.
It’s a perk that was never guaranteed. No one could have predicted COVID, but no one should buy a timeshare based on perks that could come and go at any time.
We have been DVC since 1992 and now have 3 generations to bring on a trip. Without annual passes, it costs as much for our 22 passes for park hopper for 5 days as it did to purchase our original 310 points. Something has to change or we will not keep our points. Disney seems to have forgotten the once valued dvc members.
I live in Nebraska. I’m a disneyworld loyalist since 1991.
And my how times have changed! It’s late-stage capitalism. Everything is about squeezing the “lowly” consumer so that the ones at the top can make even more.
If Disney didn’t give multiple million dollar buyouts to executives, they could pay in-park cast members more. And they’d have more experiences. And we’d all be happier.
But that’s not happening.
For now, I’ll continue to throw 20k a year at the company without an annual pass.
(Leaves the comment with tail between legs).
Now that January has come and gone, any updates on when you think passes may be for sale again?
I was really holding out hope that AP’s would return or an out of state offer would come up. We have been waiting for years to buy annual passes. Our next trip is coming up quick and I fear we will be stuck buying tickets again!
Disney World – we travel far, stay in WDW resorts, buy “all the things” and eat every meal on property. Please. Bring back AP’s with an offer for families like mine. We don’t need 365 days. I’d be happy with 100!
Starting February 3, 2023 Disney World will be offering their Annual passes to out of State guess.
Where did you get this date and information from?
They sure didn’t hesitate to tell me my dues went up again
While I hope you’re correct I’ve not seen this rumor mentioned anywhere. Where did you hear this info?
What about us the are Florida residents and want annual passes????
Today is that day so we shall see and this is the only place I’ve seen that rumor….I doubt they will be here
Hmmm. Guess not.
Thanks for the article! It covered all the bases. I let my AP expire during the pandemic. Now, I’m waiting desperately to snag one and hang on to it FOREVER! I don’t understand the logic of halting AP’s because the occasional guest is worth more yet still offering the lowest level Florida AP. Isn’t this the group that spends the least in the parks? I would think that tying an AP to direct DVC contracts would allow them to maximize room occupancy and anticipate crowds while also kicking DVC sales up.
I think going forward they will only sell passes periodically and unannounced – perhaps 2 or 3 times per year. The reasoning for this would be to prevent people from overlapping trips a year apart into a single pass and then not renewing (this was a common practice pre-pandemic). Families that go the same time every year would purchase a pass for their July 1-7 trip and then schedule the next year’s trip for June 23-30 to effectively get tickets for 2 week-long trips for the price of one. Then they would let the pass expire and purchase a new pass a year later for the next trip and repeat that process. If Disney only allows periodic purchase of passes and doesn’t make it the same time each year, it puts pressure on passholders to hold onto/renew their passes instead of letting them lapse in fear they may not return. We’ve already seen this in the passholders that are currently holding onto them for dear life, as well as those who are anxiously awaiting the opportunity to buy and never let it go. It’s actually a brilliant strategy on Disney’s part.
I let mine expire this May because my youngest was going to college thinking we wouldn’t have time to go. Boy do I regret it. We went in January with hopper passes and are going again in May once school is out for Tron! Hoping they open it up and we’ll apply our hopper passes toward AP’s and will never let them go either!
We are a family of 4 who have been FL residents since 2017 – we had APs from 2018-2022 and didn’t renew last year due to the price increases. We felt prices were going up everywhere we looked (we stay on site too) and thought it was time to do something different. We ended up taking out first Disney cruise instead (not sure we saved anything doing that but at least it was a new experience ) Trip was good but we feel we are still more park people! Really hoping AP sales resume – I knew not renewing last summer was a risk but never thought the pause would go on for so long! I refuse to pay for single day tickets and am trying to be patient for sales to return. I was excited about the free parking, genie + ride photos and AP park pass updates yesterday. Keeping my fingers crossed more announcements are to come!
Unfortunately we have visited Orlando 5 times in the past 2 years but has been going to Universal and Sea World because we can get the AP. We will get them once they resume but until then we will continue other ventures.
Been a member for 19 years my family has had annual passes until 2018 me and my wife had Disney credit cards they are now cancelled sold my points this year universal here we come not to mention my dues went up again looks like universal is going to get our two weeks vacation this year
So sad for Disney losing so man loyal people.
I live in NC, and will buy an annual pass as soon as it is offered. My sister as well. We would be able to come more often than just once a year. I don’t understand why the annual pass is not being offered to people who don’t live in Florida. We can’t be there everyday, but when we can visit, we have and want to spend money on food, hotels, merchandise, memory maker, etc.
Bonnie, I agree with you. I’ll take it a step further – I wish there was a specific annual pass for out of state visitors. I don’t need access all year. Give me 100 days with no blackouts. I promise I’ll spend money just like I did as a regular ticket holder!
I think this is a subtle way for Disney to push back on the political agenda some state politicians and their electorate is pushing forward.
Will purchase 4 annual passes as soon as they become available. Would not let me renew during Covid.
I have been trying to get an annual pass since I missed the window last year. There are some benefits that still outweigh the costs even for an out of state visitor. The problem is that my planned visits are happening and the longer they delay the less it makes sense to buy and annual. As a retired Marine, the Military Salute passes are a good deal. Of course I haven’t seen those prices renewed yet either. In the end, I think that Disney would do better to commit to a January date and stop the guess work for people instead of letting it drag on. Of course at this this point it is becoming clear that the focus is revenue. As I understand it, the parks are not yet fully staffed so one of the biggest costs is lower than normal. In my case, I need to buy tickets the end of this week to support my next visit and ensure I can make park reservations.
Last January we spent 12 nights onsite and not one day in the parks due to not renewing our DVC APs before they canceled them. We have 3 trips scheduled from Nov-March. We have one night of MVMCP tix purchased, but otherwise no park tickets. Our son has challenges that only allow us to spend a few hours in the parks each day. Still, APs made Disney worthwhile for us. We’ll continue to use our DVC points but not spend time in the parks until Disney decides to let us back in as Annual Passholders.
What about new Magic Keys at Disneyland. Before or after January 2023?
I have been a AP holder for several years. And every year they go up higher and higher. I love Disney. Its my happy place when I am stressed out at home and just life. I am still a AP holder now. But with the price of everything going up. This may be my last time burning a AP holder. I believe that Disney is trying to get rid of its AP so that we will have to pay more at the parks. That is sad. I don’t think that Mr. DISNEY would have been pleased with that. I love Disney and I wear a Disney shirt almost every day. And that will not stop. But me paying more for less. Will stop one day.
you’ll renew 🙂
I renewed this year but Disney changed the process. In the past, my 12 months started when I used it the first time. This year, the 12 months started when I bought it. I bought in September but did not start using until January. I am basically shorted 3 months. I planned to do wine and dine under this pass. I am pretty sure I am finally going to let the annual pass go.
That’s the way it has always been for *renewals*
A *new* annual pass expires one year after activation.
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You’ve got to click unsubscribe at the bottom of your email. They can’t just unsubscribe you like this, they don’t have enough of your information.
Well this was all good information. My wife and I are newly retired and are planning a “Bucket List” trip to Orlando for the month of November (28 days). The PLAN was to buy annual passes for the both of us to spend as much time as possible at our most favorite place ever. I’ve been following this blog since May, and even called Disney ticketing and both speculated that by August annual passes would be available. Well here we are in September and still no news. I did feel more hopeful when Magic Key Pass pricing was announced. It seemed like the process was moving ahead, but still no announcement for WDW.
Don’t think you will ever see them again with this new regime it’s called corporate greed been a dvc member since 2004 I pay 3260 maintenance dues how do you think us dvc members feel not very happy it’s supposed to be the happiest place on earth not anyone
What is “Magic Key” pricing? Is it something like an annual pass? Thanks!
WDW gets “annual pass”, Disneyland gets “magic key”. Same thing, different branding (and slightly different policies, blockouts, benefits, etc.)
As a new Florida resident with a 60-40 reason for moving here being able to get Annual Passes (40, job and home sharing 60), I am disappointed that APs are still unavailable. Since Chapek took over, Disney has turned into just another greedy corporation whereas Iger believed in more than just that. Catering to tourist money which, no matter how you look at it, will always be TEMPORARY money, we Floridians under the AP monthly program is practically “forever money”. I don’t know, to me, Disney should be looking at the residents as equal if not slightly higher priority. We’re “forever”, tourists are temporary, with a good amount of the trips tourists make to Disney being a once every other year trip. In this economy, I have no idea who these “twice a year” visitors are, that are not AP holders.
My family and I do not fit the whole “They won’t have dinner in the parks” people. We are huge Disney fans and wouldn’t mind dropping hundreds per visit, which we were looking to do so if the Pirate Pass wasn’t unavailable, TWICE A MONTH. Let that sink in. There are more families living in Florida like us than Disney thinks.
Anyway, we’ll keep saving our dollars until APs are available…look at that Disney, we’re even prepared for the AP price hike. You’re betting on the wrong horse here, guys. Residential loyalty is what you should be focusing on because according to a lot of FB/IG posts that I’ve read on the subject, you’re losing that, and when the tourist money well dries up and attendance is low (AND IT WILL), then what?
And just think how us out of state/area APH feel. We’ve been traveling to Florida for the main purpose of visiting WDW for many years, three to five times a year. We stay from a week to a month, and spend thousands every visit. Before the changes, the AP would literally pay for itself in resort and merchandise discounts, parking and Photo Pass.
Now we are being told we are “unfavorable” guests not worthy of courting for our loyalty and continued business. The cost of the only AP available to out of state folks has gone up from $899 to $1200 in the last five years, and several perks have been eliminated – we can’t go freely in and out of the parks, Photo Pass is an additional cost now, no more Tables in Wonderland – which was a huge savings for us, we haven’t seen a AP special event since reopening.
Disney used to treat us like royalty. Every time I entered the park, or used it for a discount in a store, I was thanked for being a passholder. Now, they’d just as soon we never darkened their door. We’re happy to oblige them.
Great analysis! I live out-of-state but I am registered for all the race weekends this coming season. If they don’t bring back annual passes soon I’ll be firing for bankruptcy!