Walt Disney World is the most popular family vacation destination in the US. It’s also an expensive undertaking. We have been the more times than I can remember and along the way I’ve found ways to cut costs without sacrificing the experience. One of the best tools for balancing the budget is the Disney World annual pass. More than just a ticket to get you into the Parks, the annual pass is a key to unlocking huge savings for every aspect of your vacation.

 

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Cinderella Castle ©R. Christensen

Annual Pass Savings Before You Even Leave Home

The first question posed is typically, “How much does it save on ticket prices?” It’s a bit relative since there are so many other discounts the annual pass gives you, but there is a basic way to look at the ticket comparison. The current cost of an annual pass is $779, while the equivalent ticket with Park Hopper option is $425 for 4 days. Two average trips to Disney World per year will result in savings With the discounted renewal price, this drops to 2 three day vacations. Now, that’s just tickets.

The annual pass also entitles you to more discounts and add-ons that you can take advantage of before you even leave on vacation. Furthermore, only one person in your party needs to have an annual pass to take advantage of most of these discounts. So, even if you are only planning on one Disney World vacation, a single annual pass may be worth the price.

Aside from ticket savings, the annual pass gets you access to special resort room discounts. Typically ranging from 10% to 35%, these special offers can save you a bundle on resort costs. We’ve afforded several Deluxe level resort stays due to the AP discount prices.

There are still a few more discounts at the planning stage. In addition to resort and ticket savings, the annual pass will get you discounts on special event tickets, such as Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party. AP holders save 10% on car rentals and the Best Friends Pet Resort also offers a discount.

One last tip before you leave, use your annual pass for discounts to pick up some Disney Parks merchandise, such as matching shirts or surprise souvenirs, before you go.

 

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Disney World’s Grand Floridian Resort ©R. Christensen

Using Your Annual Pass to Save Money While at Disney World

Once you arrive at Disney World there are even more opportunities to save money on your vacation. The first is a great freebie that I think makes the annual pass worth the price for even one trip: free PhotoPass downloads. The standard Memory Maker package you’d need to purchase for this runs a whopping $169! The annual pass gets you all the pictures from PhotoPass photographers and rides during your vacation at no additional cost.

Another great discount is on food, which is often a large part of your vacation budget. The AP will get you 10% off food and non-alcoholic drinks at most counter service and table service restaurants and some Disney Springs establishments. Disney may also feature larger discounts for special events. The dining discount is good for the AP holder and up to three guests. If you have a larger family and plan on several expensive meals, consider a Tables in Wonderland card. AP holders get it for a discounted $100 price and will net a 20% discount at many table service restaurants for up to 9 guests.

The annual pass also gets you 10% to 20% savings on merchandise at Disney owned retailers in the parks and hotels as well as several private stores in Disney Springs. This is a great way to stretch your souvenir budget a bit further. Tip: If you see a larger or fragile item in the store, check to see if it’s available online and have it shipped to your home.

 

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Disney World Shopping ©R. Christensen

Even More Annual Pass Savings

The annual pass is already a good deal for all the basics already covered, but there are still some more great discounts you may make use of on vacation.

  • Save 10-20% at the Disney Store as well as several private brands at Disney Springs.
  • 10% off many Disney Springs restaurants
  • 15% off massages and spa treatments at the resorts
  • 15% off tours in the Parks
  • 15% off Children’s Activity Centers
  • Special golf packages and discounts
  • 10-15% off water sports activities, fishing, and water craft rentals
  • 15% off mini golf courses
  • Discounted movie tickets at AMC Theater in Disney Springs
  • Waterpark admission discounts

 

Now that you’re familiar with the many discounts a Disney World annual pass offers, use this as a tool to help maximize your next vacation budget. Between tickets, hotel discounts, and dining there is a huge amount of money to be saved. Remember to keep a photo ID handy for using discounts on vacation for verification. Visit the official Disney Passholder Discount page for current discounts.

 

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