This answers frequently asked questions about Annual Passes at Walt Disney World, with info & tips about new sales of the Incredi-Pass, Sorcerer, Pirate, and Pixie Dust APs, benefits of being a passholder, and what you need to know before you attempt to purchase an AP. (Updated April 20, 2023 at 8:30 am EST.)
In case you missed it, the company announced that Walt Disney World will resume new Annual Pass sales starting April 20, 2023. Unsurprisingly, there have been a lot of questions and concerns, as Walt Disney World hasn’t sold APs in over a year and past precedent with Magic Key sales at Disneyland suggests it might be a stressful and time-consuming process.
Understandably, diehard Walt Disney World fans who have been waiting a year or so to purchase Annual Passes don’t want to “screw up” anything and risk being shut out after (potentially) waiting multiple hours in a virtual queue. Accordingly, we’ve combed through the announcement post to find the most common questions, and are going to answer them here in this work-in-progress FAQ to the Annual Pass program at Walt Disney World…
Where or how do I purchase a Walt Disney World Annual Pass?
Online via this page: https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/passes/
Over the phone by calling the Annual Passholder phone number: (407) 939-7277 or (407) 939-7679.
In person at any Walt Disney World ticket sales location or Guest Relations.
What are the Annual Pass tiers?
Disney Pixie Dust Pass – This is the lowest tier pass for Florida residents costs $399 plus tax–or $19 per month with 12 monthly payments after $205 down payment on the Florida Resident Monthly Payment Program.
Disney Pirate Pass – This is the next tier up for Florida residents only, costing $749 plus tax–or $50 per month with 12 monthly payments and 0% APR after $205 down payment with the Florida Resident Monthly Payment Program
Disney Sorcerer Pass – The next tier up is for Florida residents or eligible Disney Vacation Club members, costing $969 plus tax–or $69 per month with 12 monthly payments after $205 down payment on the Florida Resident Monthly Payment Program.
Disney Incredi-Pass – This is the top tier with no blockout dates, and is the only tier of AP available for anyone to purchase, including non-Floridians and non-DVC members. It costs $1,399 plus tax–or $108 per month with 12 monthly payments after $205 down payment on the Florida Resident Monthly Payment Program.
Here’s a comparison chart:
What are the blockout dates for each AP?
Unsurprisingly, the less expensive the AP, the more blockout dates it has, and vice-versa. The Pixie Dust Pass is most notable among these, as it’s blocked out all weekends and holidays; don’t plan on using it any day that local kids are out of school.
Beyond that, uou should definitely consult the official Walt Disney World AP blockout calendar before making your purchase, as the most popular dates to visit are all excluded from even being eligible to make reservations for the lower tiers of APs. Be sure to toggle the pass type to see excluded dates for each.
Are reservations still required?
Yes and no.
Walt Disney World Annual Passholders are now able to visit the theme parks after 2 pm without needing a Disney Park Pass reservation, except on Saturdays and Sundays at Magic Kingdom. All Annual Pass blockout dates will continue to apply.
Visiting any park before 2 pm will continue to require a Disney Park Pass reservation. Same with Saturdays and Sundays at Magic Kingdom–Annual Passholders can still visit Magic Kingdom on weekends after 2 pm if you have a park reservation or have entered a different park.
However, as discussed at length in When Will Disney Park Pass Reservations End?, we don’t expect reservations to be fully retired for Annual Passholders or Cast Members anytime soon. By contrast, we expect them gone by 2024 for regular ticket holders.
Retaining reservations for APs and CMs gives Disney control over the attendance mix, and allows the company to prioritize tourists who spend more per visit on average. Although Disney wants Annual Passholders and Cast Members to visit–and spend money–when there’s excess capacity, the circumstances are different when the parks are busier.
It thus makes sense that Walt Disney World would want to prioritize resort guests and other tourists and not fill the parks with Annual Passholders at the expense of more lucrative vacationers during busier dates. Hence the compromise of no reservations after 2 pm most days for APs. That’s also why we do not expect park reservations to be retired for Annual Passes in 2023. (Perhaps a super-expensive ‘no-reservations’ AP will be introduced, but even that is doubtful.)
How many Disney Park Pass theme park reservations can each AP tier hold at a time?
There are now three types of reservations that passholders can use simultaneously: 1) Park Reservations, 2) Select Hotel Length of Stay Park Reservations, and 3) Bonus Reservations. Here’s how each work in practice:
1) Park Reservation – Each Walt Disney World Annual Pass provides a different number of Disney Park Pass reservations:
- Disney Incredi-Pass: Up to 5 reservations held at a time
- Disney Sorcerer Pass: Up to 5 reservations held at a time
- Disney Pirate Pass: Up to 4 reservations held at a time
- Disney Pixie Dust Pass: Up to 3 reservations held at a time
2) Select Hotels Length of Stay Park Reservations – Annual Passholders staying at official Walt Disney World resorts or other select hotels are eligible to make theme park reservations for each day of their stay, in addition to holding at least 3 days of theme park reservations at a time on a rolling basis
3) Bonus Reservation – During slower seasons when Walt Disney World wants to boost attendance, bonus reservations are added. This allows Annual Passholders to make extra reservations on select days at select theme parks that do NOT count against their reservation holdings. Think of “bonus reservations” as the company’s way of nudging APs to visit parks with lower attendance levels. Sort of like a “Surprise FastPass” for Carousel of Progress, if you remember those.
How long is the current wait time to purchase Annual Passes?
By way of update, we joined the virtual queue for Walt Disney World APs as soon as it went live, which was right around 6:40 am (it opened late–see below for previous updates on that). Our approximate time then was “more than an hour.”
As of 8:20 am EST, our approximate wait time is still over an hour and very little progress has been made. Judging by this, the wait time is likely 4+ hours for us. If you’re just joining the virtual queue now, there’s a chance your wait time is even longer than that. Or maybe it’ll start moving smoother as the morning progresses. The main point is that, if you’ve been looking at the same “more than an hour” wait screen for several hours, you are not alone.
What does it mean when the wait time says “recalculating”?
Literally minutes after posting the last update, our virtual queue screen changed to show an approximate wait time of “recalculating.”
Every single time that this has appeared in the past–which has been shockingly often–it has meant that the system crashed and was not processing purchases. This means that you’re still in line via the virtual queue, but it’s not moving. Think of it as a ride breakdown, where the only way you move forward is if the people in front of you bail and exit the line.
As for how long the downtime will last, that’s anyone’s guess. It could be a brief stoppage, like when Haunted Mansion pauses momentarily to load guests; or it could last over an hour, like when Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance needs a hard reset. This “recalculating” message might also mean something totally different in this case…but that’s highly doubtful. It has always been a system error and pause of the purchase process in the past.
(Walt Disney World has confirmed exactly this, adding the following message below “recalculating” at 8:28 am EST: “Pardon the Inconvenience. Annual Pass sales will resume as soon as possible. We thank you for your patience and understanding.”)
Will the virtual queue and buying process be similar to Magic Keys at Disneyland?
No one knows.
For those who haven’t followed the saga of Magic Key APs at Disneyland, when those sales have resumed, there have been virtual queues of 6+ hours long on multiple occasions. When APs returned for the first time after a long absence, some people reported waiting as long as 12 hours in the virtual queue.
Given that and the fact that Walt Disney World AP sales have been paused longer, it stands to reason that the wait time for WDW Annual Passes will be similar, right? Eh, possibly.
It’s impossible to say what will happen, but our expectation is that there will be a virtual queue, but it will not be nearly as long as at Disneyland. For one thing, there’s a larger local population in Los Angeles and Orange County. Californians are the core demo at Disneyland, whereas tourists are still the bread and butter at Walt Disney World. With that said, the populations of Osceola and Orange County have exploded in the last few years, but APs have been available in some capacity for Floridians during that time.
For another thing, Walt Disney World has never had quite the same issue with virtual queues as Disneyland. Even when it comes to similar high-demand products and ticket offerings, the process has consistently been smoother at Walt Disney World in the last few years. This includes when APs first returned back in 2021. I can’t explain the why or how of this, but it appears that the two coasts use different systems or parameters for their virtual queues.
Accordingly, our expectation is that once the system is stable and working, there’s a virtual queue of an hour or so during the peak of the morning rush on April 20, but it’s quicker than that by the end of the day. (Now watch, the wait time will actually end up being 13 hours on April 20!)
Will there be Disney IT issues on April 20?
Notice how we hedged the above prediction with “once the system is stable and working”? Well, that’s because our guess is that there are technical difficulties first thing in the morning on April 20. It wouldn’t be a ‘WDW Drop Day’ without them!
Again, I don’t know why, but Disney IT problems are the one constant of days like this. Even on days when things eventually function smoothly, there are often issues first thing in the morning. It’s as if Walt Disney World always underestimates demand, even for its most popular offerings.
The better question is not “if” IT issues will occur, but which character(s) will be most prominently featured on the error messages. My money’s on the Seven Dwarfs. Any takers for Stitch? Lady and the Tramp? Donald Duck? Olaf? Big Thunder Goat???
What time will APs go on sale?
Walt Disney World released this official update: “The Disney Incredi-Pass, Disney Sorcerer Pass and Disney Pirate Pass will resume new sales and can be purchased online no earlier than 6:00 AM Eastern Time on April 20, 2023.”
And in fact, as of 6:05 a.m. on April 20, the following message (and below screen) still displays on Walt Disney World’s AP page: “Walt Disney World Annual Passes will go on sale later this morning. Please continue to check the Passes page.”
Which brings us to the next question…
Does that mean sales will start right at 6:00:00 am EST?
This is not like the virtual queue for TRON Lightcycle Run, where you need to sync your clock to time.gov and refresh right on the dot or else risk missing out. This almost certainly will not work with that level of precision.
Notice the phrase “no earlier than” 6:00 am in Walt Disney World’s official announcement. That caveat is doing the heavy lifting, and means AP sales could start at 6:00:01 am, 6:03 am, 6:30 am, or 6 pm. All of those times are “no earlier than” 6 am, and make the statement technically true.
Normally, new releases on ‘WDW Drop Days’ occur before 6 am EST to avoid conflicting with the release of reservations and crashing the system. It’s possible (but unlikely) that Walt Disney World is faking out fans, and that’ll happen here with AP sales actually starting at 5:30 am. I think the chances of that happening are pretty low.
More likely, there’s a pre-queue at 6 am, and things actually start moving 15 to 30 minutes after that. Another possibility is that the site crashes entirely and there’s a system-wide outage at 6 am. But who knows–those are just guesses based upon past precedent.
How long will Walt Disney World leave new Annual Passes available for purchase?
Yet another unknown.
We would strongly recommend anyone who is on the fence about purchasing an Annual Pass to make the decision between now and April 20, 2023. Given how long sales have been paused and the amount of pent-up demand for APs among locals, you should absolutely join the virtual queue ASAP on day one of sales resuming if you have been denied in the past.
To that point and for reference, AP sales at Disneyland resumed prior to last Thanksgiving and passes sold out in under 2 days. Some fans were shut out again because they couldn’t get through the virtual queue or opted to wait until it died down. A miscalculation that deprived them of visits during the best time of year at Disneyland.
Disneyland again resumed Magic Key AP sales this January, and it took over a week for some Magic Keys to start selling out again. Disneyland yet again resumed AP sales this month (April 2023), and various passes sold out in a few hours to a few days.
If I didn’t already have a Walt Disney World Annual Pass, I’d be up at 5:30 am Eastern, with the expectation that they might go on sale early and the hope that doing so would beat the morning rush. If I had to go into an office job or was otherwise busy, I’d probably wait until my lunch break, operating on the assumption that things will be going smoother and faster by then.
I’d try not to wait until April 21 if I had the choice, but I wouldn’t be too worried that all passes would sell out in under a day. I just think the better bet is erring on the side of caution and not gambling.
When can DVC members purchase a new Annual Pass?
Walt Disney opened new sales of the Sorcerer Pass to DVC owners beginning on April 13.
When can everyone else purchase new Annual Passes?
Florida residents, the general public, or DVC members wanting to purchase an Incredi-Pass will be able to do so beginning on April 20, 2023.
Will my purchased Annual Pass be immediately activated?
No. The 365-day use window of the Annual Pass does not begin until the first time you actually enter one of the theme parks. The clock starts ticking from the tapstile, not the transaction.
However, the Annual Pass is added to your My Disney Experience account so you’re eligible to make Park Pass reservations and use it for whatever other purposes. It’s technically an AP voucher until activation.
Should I wait to buy an AP if I’m not visiting Walt Disney World until later this year or in early 2024?
No. Well, actually, let me take a step back. That’s your decision. If there’s the possibility that you won’t visit or end up needing an AP, then tying up a lot of money in an Annual Pass may not be the savviest move in the history of personal finances.
With that said, the reason that’s a hard no is because of the discussion above. Even if they don’t sell out on April 21 or within the next few weeks, it’s almost a foregone conclusion that new pass sales will be paused again in 2023. There are also the inevitable price increases, which will likely occur in Fall 2023. Buying now guards against all of that.
This is precisely why our Ticket Tips for Walt Disney World has been recommending people purchase admission ASAP to lock-in current prices and guard against increases. Same principle applies here, too.
How long do I have to activate my new AP?
Walt Disney World Annual Pass vouchers must be activated within 365 days of their purchase. If a voucher is not activated within that time frame, its original dollar value can be applied toward a future Magic Your Way or Annual Pass purchase.
What if I already have an old AP voucher for the ‘precious metals’ passes?
You might notice that the above policy differs from in the past, when people have been able to buy a voucher for a legacy AP and use it years later for a newer version of a like pass. It’s still possible for holders of those old vouchers to receive the Incredi-Pass, but it’s much more YMMV from what we understand.
It requires getting a Cast Member or their manager who knows how to convert the old voucher, and uses their discretion to make it happen. (This is not our firsthand knowledge, but rather, what we’ve heard secondhand. Again, it’s very YMMV.) Good luck!
Can anyone pay for the Annual Pass in monthly installments?
Not unless they’re also Florida residents (and before you ask, DVC ownership does not count). Only Floridians have the option for monthly payments via the Florida Resident Monthly Payment Program.
Are there Disney Vacation Club discounts?
No. Previously, the top-level Platinum Pass offered a $200 discount for Disney Vacation Club members. This amounts to an effective price increase of over 50% for DVC members on the Incredi-Pass.
However, being able to purchase the Sorcerer Pass without being a Florida resident is effectively a discount, I guess. That AP is over $400 cheaper, and the only blockouts are less than 20 days around Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s. It’s the most logical AP to get for the vast majority of DVC members.
Of course, this could always change depending upon sales numbers and attendance. A few years ago, Walt Disney World offered some truly aggressive deals to DVC members during a slow period.
Which Annual Passes can DVC members purchase?
Incredi-Pass and Sorcerer Pass (with some exclusions–see next question).
Are only “blue card” DVC members eligible to purchase the Sorcerer Pass?
Yes. For those unfamiliar with the term, “blue card” DVC members are those who have a blue membership card. This is obtained either by purchasing Disney Vacation Club directly from Disney, or buying resale under the old rules (before 4/4/16) and being grandfathered in.
Which APs can Florida residents purchase?
Any of them.
Which Annual Passes can out of state visitors buy?
Only the top tier Incredi-Pass.
This is not new. Out of state, non-DVC, guests could previously only purchase the Platinum Passes.
Can regular tickets be upgraded to Annual Passes?
Yes. Normal single or multi-day tickets can be upgraded to an Annual Pass up through the last day that admission is used. Normal Ticket Bridging to Annual Pass Rules for Walt Disney World should apply, but that’s another thing that has become very YMMV over the last few years (and we personally lack firsthand experience with recently).
How do I upgrade regular tickets?
It depends. Walt Disney World will offer upgrades on most eligible tickets in the My Disney Experience app and/or DisneyWorld.com.
However, that undoubtedly will not work for all tickets (we question whether it’ll even work for “most” tickets), in which case you’ll need to call or visit Walt Disney World Guest Relations. The best option for the latter, in our experience, is at Disney Springs. (But it’s probably not worth making a special trip unless you have other another purpose out there–like the important business of cookie and/or ice cream acquisition!)
Can I apply the value of multiple tickets towards the cost of one Annual Pass?
No. Only one regular ticket may be applied to each Annual Pass upgrade.
How will upgrades of existing APs work?
According to Walt Disney World, existing Annual Passholders will have the option to upgrade their existing Annual Pass into any available pass type outside of their renewal window on the DisneyWorld.com website or via the My Disney Experience app. The difference in price must be paid in full at the time of the upgrade and the new pass will have the same expiration date as the original pass.
The big question is whether the price will be prorated, and the answer is probably not. In the past, Walt Disney World has not prorated AP upgrades; whether you had 364 days or a single day remaining, the upgrade cost was the price difference between the two passes. It’s possible that Disney will make an exception to that given the unique circumstances here, but don’t count on it.
Will upgrades upon renewal be offered in the future even if APs are sold out?
Most likely. This has actually been the “long play” for many locals over the course of the last couple years. They’ve started by purchasing the Pixie Pass, and then upgrading it to one of the higher tiers a year later upon renewal. It seemed like a silly thing to do back in late 2021 when passes first sold out, but many of those locals got the last laugh.
What about Annual Pass renewals?
Nothing about that process should change with the resumption of new Annual Pass sales.
Currently, Walt Disney World APs can renew starting 60 days before expiration, up to 30 days after expiration. Regardless of when renewal occurs, the new 365-day usage period begins immediately after the AP’s expiration date. Renewal discounts are 15% off.
So for out-of-state Annual Passholders, the question becomes whether you’ll be using the pass in the month or so after renewal. If so, you’ll definitely want to renew. If not, you’ll want to weigh the risk of passes selling out again.
Does everyone in a family need to purchase the PhotoPass add-on if one person does?
In fact, we’d recommend only one person buys it if you always or usually visit together. Otherwise, it’s paying extra for what amounts to a redundant benefit.
Is there a yearly Genie+ add-on for Annual Passholders?
No, and it’s highly unlikely that one will be offered anytime soon. Maybe in 2024 if there’s a major recession. Maybe.
What’s the likely impact to April or May 2023 crowds at Walt Disney World?
Our expectation is that the first and second weekend after the new-look APs go on sale, the parks will see a spike in crowd levels due to pent-up demand among locals. It’s also likely weeknights after 5 pm will see a slight uptick.
Overall attendance levels throughout the month should still be low as compared to mid-March through mid-April, just probably not as shockingly uncrowded as Walt Disney World is right now.
Why is this all so convoluted and complicated–is a FAQ really going to be necessary for every change Walt Disney World makes going forward?
It would seem so.
Everyone knows that “vacations” are meant to be as stress-inducing and complicated as possible, requiring a cryptex and advanced degree in codebreaking. Just wait until Magic Kingdom adds a troll toll to its bridges and doesn’t let you pass until you answer the riddle (standard per-riddle rate, taxes, and other fees apply).
Why did Disney retire the intuitive Silver/Gold/Platinum AP naming convention?
Extensive market research shows that the kids these days with their Bitcoins, cellular telephones, and social medias don’t appreciate the traditional things in life, like collecting precious metals or watching Olympic medal ceremonies.
Whereas everyone on the TikTok knows that fairies < piracy < sorcery. Everyone.
Are Walt Disney World Annual Passes overpriced?
“After seeing what Taylor Swift tickets are going for in Tampa tonight, I now think Annual Passes are fairly priced. Demand is there for premium experiences, and Disney is still the best in my opinion.” ~Bruce from the comments
I think Bruce might’ve been half-joking, but he’s right. Whether it be Taylor Swift tickets, monkey jpegs, or Walt Disney World Annual Passes, the value of every good in a market economy is based on a price discovery process. Consistently and overwhelmingly, Disney has been “discovering” that consumers are willing to pay increasingly higher prices for their products. Stated in another way, Annual Passes wouldn’t have sold out so fast and remained unavailable for a year-plus afterwards due to high demand if admission to Walt Disney World were overpriced.
With that said, I have to admit that if you told me ~6 years ago that my AP would cost $1,400 in 2023, I wouldn’t have believed you. Around that time, there was a DVC deal on Platinum Plus APs for $595. There were also exceptional discounts for restaurants and merchandise because attendance was slow at Walt Disney World (imagine that!). When prices increased sharply in the years following that, it was shocking. I kept thinking that “something’s gotta give–this is overpriced!” That was a few years ago, and I was clearly wrong.
As I’ve written elsewhere, I’ve lost the capacity for surprise when it comes to Walt Disney World increases or pricing. At this point, attendance is still strong, pent-up demand is not yet fully exhausted, the parks have a devoted and passionate fanbase, and multiple high-profile additions are driving tourists to visit. Why wouldn’t the company keep raising prices?
Generally speaking, I don’t think it makes any sense to talk pricing when business is booming to the extent that it is right now. Yes, it sucks that prices have increased so much in the last several years. Yes, it’s concerning the way that Disney has priced out so many middle class families. Yes, the long-term reputational hit resulting from current cost strategies is very worrying. But complaining about all of that won’t change the fundamental realities of demand. (And honestly, Annual Passholders are the least-sympathetic demo when it comes to prices. Annual Passes are essentially a luxury good. Do you feel badly for those who complain about the cost of Birkins increasing?)
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!
Have any questions we didn’t answer with the above FAQ? Still confused by anything to do with the new Annual Pass sales at Walt Disney World? Do you agree or disagree with our assessments? Other thoughts or concerns? 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!