Disneyland Just Overhauled Its Ticket System. Meanwhile WDW Stopped Selling New Passes

by SharonKurheg

Disneyland, the original “Disney” park resort in Anaheim California, announced a couple of days ago that they were ending (sorry, “sunsetting.” Dontcha just love corporate speak?) their annual pass program and would begin issuing pro-rated refunds to eligible passholders. The two parks at the resort, Disneyland and Disney’s California Adventure, have been closed since March.

“Due to the continued uncertainty of the pandemic and limitations around the reopening of our California theme parks, we will be issuing appropriate refunds for eligible Disneyland Resort Annual Passports and sunsetting the current program,” Ken Potrock, president of Disneyland Resort, said in a statement last week.

Meanwhile, for Disneyland (DL) fans who figure they’d just get their “Disney fix” at Walt Disney World (WDW) instead, there’s some bad news for them, as well – Walt Disney World stopped selling new annual passes when the park reopened in July.

From Walt Disney World’s website:

Purchasing or Renewing Annual Passes

At this time, the sale of new annual passes is temporarily paused. However, current Annual Passholders may still renew their pass.

Again, this has been going on since the parks reopened in July – so for 6 months already. However, multiple news sources are suddenly reporting about the changes to WDW’s annual pass program in recent days, trying to make it sound like news. It’s not. I mean, if it were, the Orlando Sentinel undoubtedly would have mentioned it this week, as well. They haven’t. Most of the articles were roughly the same, looking a lot like this one.

However The Tampa Bay Times, bless their hearts (in a good way – if you’re from the south, you know what I mean), actually went a bit further. They quoted Rick “Minarris” (OMG, they totally mangled his last name. It’s “Munarriz.” [Fun fact: we used to know him! Rick and Joe and I were on a Disney message board together, back in the early-mid 90s, and he came to one of our get-togethers at WDW in 1994 or so. But I digress]), of Motley Fool fame, with his take on why WDW didn’t suspend their annual pass program as severely as DL did. It’s a pretty interesting hypothesis – check it out.

So what’s a Disney fan to do?

Anyway, Walt Disney World is still selling single day, as well as multiple day (up to 10 days) tickets. Prices are tiered, based on (taking a HUGE breath):

  • how many days you go (the more days you go, the cheaper it is per day)
  • when you go (weekends and around holidays are more expensive)
  • what park you want to go to (there’s a premium to go to Magic Kingdom, which tends to be the most popular park)
  • if you include a park hopper option (“park hopping” means starting in one park and then being able to go (read: “hop”) to another park at the resort on the same day. Without a park hopper option, whatever one park you go to is the only park you can visit that day)
  • if you’d like to add on options such as going to a Disney water park (water parks are currently closed due to COVID, but one of them, Blizzard Beach, is reopening in March), Disney’s Wide World of Sports, playing (real) golf or miniature golf, etc.
  • If you have any special discounts, such as Florida resident, DVC membership, AAA discounts, etc.

You can get an idea of prices on this page of WDW’s website. It’s a lot of work with so many options to figure out how much you’d have to pay for your ticket. But Disney “helpfully” says that 1-say park tickets start at $109 (yeah, that’s for the 2 “cheap” days of the year. Around Christmastime, that one day will cost $159), and go up to $52 per day for a 10-day ticket (again, that’s on the cheap days. During Christmas, you can expect it to be upwards of $69/day).

Due to the pandemic, WDW has capped the number of people who can go to any park at 40% of its pre-COVID maximum attendance (Current as of the writing of this article and subject to change.) Disney needs to keep track of how many people are coming to know whether or not to sell more tickets to whichever park on whichever day. So you currently need to make reservations if you want to go to a park (this is the case regardless of what type of ticket media you have – annual pass, day ticket, multi-day ticket, etc.).

Should you be concerned about WDW not selling new annual passes?

That’s a very “Your Mileage May Vary” sort of thing. I mean, if you want to go to WDW a lot and didn’t already have an AP (this post goes into how to compare having an AP vs. [multi] day tickets and decide if an AP would be “worth it” to you. Note: the post is on the older side, so the prices and options might not be up to date. It’s still potentially helpful), not being able to buy one now could be disappointing and potentially cost you more in the long run. But if you’re a regular tourist and are only coming down for X number of days per year, then no, probably not.

As more people get the COVID vaccine and the world becomes a little more normalized for travel, it will be interesting to see what both DL and WDW do with their respective AP programs. But for now? As Central Florida residents, Joe and I will definitely renew our WDW APs when the time comes, just to ensure we’ll still be able to have them.

*** Thanks to Mikal C. for the inadvertent heads up about this 🙂

Feature Photo: Disney Parks / Twitter

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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary

1 comment

David January 19, 2021 - 12:49 pm

The whole Annual Pass thing for WDW has been blown way out of proportion this week. The main point is that because you need reservations to enter a park and reservations are limited, Disney cannot offer Passholders enough guaranteed access and don’t want to have to deal with everyone complaining that they paid for an annual pass and are severely limited in how they can use it. WDW and DL have VERY different overall guest geographical demographics and the pass program was different so you cannot even really compare these at all.


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