Disney Passholder: Top 5 FAQs about becoming an AP

January 12, 2020

Reflecting back on 2019, I got to check off a lot of things on my bucket list, and one of them was  finally becoming a Disney Annual Passholder. Ok, so I technically bought my AP in fall of 2018, but that gave me a whole year of trips! I also never got around to posting my thoughts & experiences on the subject, so why not open with an AP review & why its 100% worth it? Well, if you’re a Disney fan of course!

Disney is definitely not everyone’s cup of tea. While I see it as a magical land where time stops & your inner child can run wild, others see it as...well, a hot & overcrowded tourist trap where children are literally running wild (yes, Disney can be meltdown-central, but what else could you expect from a place with probably the highest concentration of toddlers at any given time?)

I grew up going to Disney & have entire physical photo albums (am I dating myself here?) dedicated to just Disney family vacations. As a kid, I devoured the classics: Cinderella, Beauty & the Beast, the Little Mermaid; you name it, I had it on VHS & displayed those things in all their plastic clamshell glory on my bedroom shelf. So when I got to finally step into that magic by going to the parks & create lasting memories of pure childhood joy, it struck a chord. I was hooked for life.

Living in TN poses it’s challenges though. It still takes us a good 8.5-9 hours to drive to Orlando, and trips like that take planning. In the beginning, we went maybe once every few years as a family growing up. As I got older, we went less & less, until a self-planned senior trip with some of my besties awoke the Minnie in me & I was back in the game (this is also how I introduced my friend Sarah G. to the world of Disney parks & she has since followed in my footsteps as a full blown Disney junkie. I’m a proud mama).

I always knew that despite the distance, if I couldn’t move to FL to live closer to the magic, that I would have to become an AP, even if it was just one time. It was something I had to do for myself, to fulfill one of my Disney bucket list items. So in fall of 2018, I knew I had 2 trips already planned. When I looked at the numbers, I knew if I went 1 or 2 more times, the pass would pay for itself. So what did I do? I planned 3 more trips & bought my first annual pass!

First day as an annual passholder!
So to run through some of the top questions/answers, I figured I’d put a little list together of Disney AP Bootcamp FAQ.

1. What is it?
An annual pass is exactly what it sounds like: a ticket that gets you into all four Disney theme parks for 365 days (and I'm talking about WDW in Orlando, here). You can go as many times as you want within the year, & your “year” starts the date the pass is purchased.

2. How much does it cost? 
It varies. The pricing structure is different for FL residents vs. non FL residents, and then there are different tiers, so you have the option of adding on water parks & other extras, etc. You can check out the current prices for 2020 via a quick google search. One thing to note though is if you’re a FL resident, you have the option to pay monthly (& have several more options available in terms of which level pass you can get) but out-of-staters like me have fewer options & must pay all up front. It can be a very large chunk of change up front all at once, but if you budget ahead of time, it’s completely doable. When I bought mine, it was $900ish for the platinum pass, but prices have increased to $1,192 now for the same pass.

3. Is it worth it? 
For me, yes. I went on 5 WDW trips during my year as an AP. Each trip was a different length of stay, but I calculated out how much I would have spent buying separate park hoppers each time vs. what I spent on the AP (I would have spent over $455 in tickets just for my first trip). Overall, I calculated it out to roughly around $400 in savings on tickets by buying the AP. But many that have the pass go way more than 5 times in a year. I’ve had non-FL resident friends that go every month, or close to it! The main thing to consider when deciding if an AP is for you is to know a good estimate of how many trips you think you will realistically take in a year & the length of stay per trip. 

4. What perks do you get? 
Lots! You will get free parking at the parks, free memory maker, discounts on hotel rates, 10-20% off on dining & merchandise, small discounts on certain special tours & specialty ticketed events, no blackout dates (on certain tier passes), access to VIP passholder events, a special passholder entrance,  & of course, those adorable free passholder magnets!

5. Why be an AP? 
There are so many reasons but it will be different for everyone. Maybe you want to save a little bit of money if you plan to go multiple times in a year. Maybe you want the freedom of going when you want, as many times as you want. Maybe you want to feel like you’re part of an elite Disney community of diehard fans & want to slap that passholder magnet on your car like a badge of honor. There are so many different reasons why someone might want to go AP status, but I know for me, it was a bucket list item. The year I bought my AP, I knew I wanted to go as many times as possible & just get a taste of what it’s like for FL locals & those who live closer to Disney. Essentially, I wanted a year of Disney magic, and I have zero regrets about spending that money. While I wasn’t able to renew my pass (other travel dreams & destinations await!), I know that 2018-2019 will not be my one & only time as a Disney AP. I’ll be back - & if my daughter is anything like me, she'll be getting her very own pass soon enough!

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