Hoping to become a Walt Disney World Annual Passholder? Don’t get your hopes up. Amid the latest round of room discounts, ticket deals, and free PhotoPass downloads with Genie+, Walt Disney World seems to be standing firm against bringing back Annual Passes at all costs.
Although the benefits keep rolling in for current Walt Disney World Annual Passholders, such as previews for TRON Lightcycle / Run and the ability to visit without reservations starting at 2:00p.m. from April 18, the folks in Central Florida are not keen on adding new Passholders to their ranks anytime soon. And with Disney Genie+ selling out in busy periods and Park Pass Reservations filling up fairly often, Walt Disney World isn’t exactly hurting for guests amid the pause on all pass sales.
Disney has instead continued to push offers for Florida residents over and over to try and acclimate the public to the current situation. At the bottom of their most recent post announcing the reservation-free entry in afternoons, they included this paragraph:
As we’ve shared before, we’re also committed to providing a wide range of options to visit, which is why we roll out special offers from time to time for Florida residents and other guests. Visit DisneyWorld.com/Offers for more details, including a few offers we launched to kick off the new year.
The day before the post was made, a special post was made on the Disney Parks blog as well touting special discounted weekday tickets and hotel rooms for Florida residents. While two days at Walt Disney World for $175 is indeed a deal, it pales in comparison to the value of a Walt Disney World Annual Pass — precisely why Disney seemingly does not want to sell them. These deals
Walt Disney World Annual Passes were sold continuously from September 1982 until March 2020. Since then, the price had increased dramatically, multiple tiers were introduced with various blackout dates and benefits to match. At times, the resort even encouraged guests to become Passholders through advertising at the parks, around Central Florida, and through benefits like discounts on merchandise and food.
Of course, at the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic, that all changed. While Walt Disney World did not go the route of Disneyland and Tokyo Disney Resort by cancelling every Annual Pass and issuing refunds, nor did they resume sales immediately as the Paris, Hong Kong, and Shanghai resorts did upon reopening. Passes remained valid and renewable after the COVID-19 closure concluded in July 2020, although new sales were halted almost immediately upon reopening. At the time, Disney assured guests it was a “temporary” measure due to capacity restrictions at Walt Disney World.
In August 2021, Walt Disney World announced an overhaul of their pass system, replacing the four tiers introduced in 2015 with a more confusing character-based system. New passes then went on sale in September 2021, and remained on sale for nearly three months before being suspended in late November. The two middle tiers were briefly on sale last June for a single day before halting again.
At this time, only renewals are allowed for existing Annual Passes, except for the lowest tier Pixie Pass, which is only available to Florida Residents and blocks out all weekends and holiday periods. And it seems Walt Disney World quite likes it that way. While not entirely ready to eschew their AP system entirely as Tokyo Disney Resort has, neither are they eager to sell new passes at least on occasion as Disneyland Resort across the country has with their Magic Key system. That leaves Central Florida locals and frequent guests at Walt Disney World in a bit of an awkward position, with the possibility higher-tier passes could return to sale looking increasingly unlikely. The AP program exists and is actively maintained by Walt Disney World with offers and benefits, but the option simply does not exist for new people to buy into the program except at the lowest and most restrictive level.
Disney has always provided Florida Resident discounts as part of their ticket and hotel portfolio as part of the initial agreements to build Walt Disney World, but their decision to lean so heavily into these discounts post-pandemic seems to underscore their desire to not bring back the AP system.
How do you feel about Walt Disney World’s refusal to sell new passes? Let us know in the comments below!
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