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Bold Exploration Podcast

Season One!

Welcome to Episode 8!

Disney Annual Passes are a great way to have a big Disney year and save a little money. They are not right for every family though. Listen to this episode to find out if this is your year to get an annual pass for more vacation fun.

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Show Notes:

Welcome to another week of the Bold Exploration podcast. We’re going to talk about Season Passes. Specifically, we will discuss Disney Annual Passes and other options if becoming a Disney Passholder isn’t the right decision for your family. 


Disney Incredipass


I am curious if you are aware of this, but on April 20th, 2023, Disney is releasing Annual Pass Options to the public for their theme parks for the first time in quite some time.


So what’s unique about these season passes? Honestly, it’s another way to help with Disney being so expensive. Annual passes allow you to get much more bang for your buck and experience multiple Disney vacations in a year. 


If you are a family that generally makes one Disney trip yearly, you could possibly reconfigure your schedule and get two or three Disney trips over those 12 months. Two or three vacations would let you get a lot of use out of your Annual passes,while saving some money.


So who are these season passes helpful for? 


If you are a Florida resident, this is probably not going to pertain to you. You get deeper discounts on your Disney tickets already, and you have a lot more options, like different types of passes. If you’re not a Florida resident, you have only one option with a few add-ons. Today, we’re talking to people who don’t live in Florida. 


The Disney Annual Pass gets you access to all four theme parks.  It works like a park hopper. You can hold several park reservations in the reservation system, and you’re allowed to enter the parks without reservations after 2 p.m.  A water park add-on option and a photo add-on option may also interest you.  Both of them I believe, are $99. And so it’s a manageable jump from the base price of the Annual Pass. The price of the Disney ticket for the Annual Pass is a whopping $1,399 plus tax.  That is a considerable outlay of cash. If you’re only going to Disney once or twice, you might be better off purchasing your tickets for each vacation and not worrying about it. 


Some discounts come with having an annual pass.


You typically get 10-20% off on dining. You get merchandise discounts. You also get a passholder discount for different stays at Disney properties. You don’t have to stay on the property. 


The number one thing I would look at if you’re deciding whether or not you’re going to be a Disney pass holder is to determine how often you will visit the parks. If you take two four-day vacations, you’ll probably be about even up cost-wise. If you’re thinking about going more than twice, the Annual Pass could offer you many benefits.


Will You Use Your Passes Enough?


Now here’s the thing. You’ve got to plan your schedule right to use this Disney pass holder program well. You may need to use it for three trips to Disney to feel an overall savings. Okay, now everybody’s schedule can change, and everybody’s life can get chaotic sometimes. You will need to really on the law of averages and know the amount of certainty you’re going to be able to go. If you’re already regularly vacationing three to four times a year and you’re like, you know what, we’re going to put all of those weeks towards Disney and get a lot of good value out of our passes. Then you’re fine. But suppose you’re a family that’s only vacationing once a year typically, and you’ve never done two, three, or four vacations a year. In that case, you may not get the use out of your season passes that you would get just by booking your vacations, you know, the traditional way, one at a time. So you must decide whether or not your family culture is already traveling that often.


Disney annual passes are expensive and likely not a good deal if you’re traveling less often. Now if it’s been a goal of yours, like, we want to hit Disney hard, and we want to go and enjoy the parks, and we want to get into some of the harder-to-get reservations. Or you want to take advantage of some of the higher-priced properties, then getting the annual passes may help you in that regard. Another thing to note, my favorite cost savings other than the purchases you get with Disney passes is on the standard parking. With the annual pass, you get standard parking at the parks, which is great because you are automatically saving that money. 


Our Personal Experience as Passholders


I’ll be honest: we did have season passes for one year, and we used the heck out of them. We went 31 or 32 days while our passes were valid. And you know what you find is that you only make small purchases at the park.  You’re spending your days at the park you’re not purchasing the same way as when you’re only going to be there for four days. You’re seeing many of the same things over time, and you’re just not as impulse shoppy when you’re going to spend a lot of time in the parks.

Now we did not do it all in one stay. We would go down on weekends and take a few four-day trips here and there. We got good use out of our annual passes.


Travel Hacking with a Disney Chase Visa Account


One way to travel hack getting these Disney passes is to combine purchasing your passes with opening a Disney Chase Visa account or using your existing account. Not only are you getting higher points back for Disney purchases, but then all the purchases you make, all the fees you’re paying to stay on property and off property, you can use that to accrue points. And then, by the time you’re on that third or fourth trip to Disney for the year, you’ll have some reward value you can spend at the parks for meals, dining, gear, or whatever.





To recap about Disney Annual passes as to whether or not it’s the right choice for you, number one, you have to know how often you’re going to go and how often you’ll regularly vacation as a family.  If you’ve been regularly going on vacation three to four times a year and want to put all that vacation time towards Disney, a season pass could save you money. If you’re only looking to go to our fewer times to Disney, you really need to do the math to see if Disney is if this is a better option for you okay. You will save money on admissions if you go many, many, many times throughout the year, but if you’re not going to go, you’re just spending the extra money to be a pass holder.



The second thing to look at is how many people are in your family because it can add up quickly, and it could become cost prohibitive for you to have that many Disney passes. You might be better off spending that money on a different type of vacation, especially if you won’t have a big Disney year. 



And you have to remember, when looking at the cost, look at the different programs included with having a season pass. The other benefits can be a discount on food, discounts on merchandise, and some special pass-holder activities throughout the year. And if you are not going to stay at the Disney hotels, look at all the discounts when you decide. Especially if you’re on that line of how many times you will go. 


Is Staying Off Property Your Best Choice


If you’ve got a season pass, it might be time to look at staying off-property. Now this only works if you’re able to drive into the parks because if you fly down and then you have to rent a car, it’s probably cheaper for you to stay at a Disney property that has free transportation versus you staying offsite and then needing to Uber and every day or rent a car. And if you are not going to be able to take advantage of the free parking, then it’s probably going to be cost-prohibitive in the end.


Ultimately, whether or not the Disney pass is right for your family is very unique for your family. Still, I hope this helps you determine whether you’re ready to jump on this season pass bandwagon at Disney. These passes do sell out, so they’re only sometimes available.  And this is the first time to be available since around 2019. Decide sooner than later if this is something your family wants to do. 


Alternatives to a Disney Annual Pass


What do you do if you’re not a Disney season pass family where you are not going to take advantage of a big Disney year, you are not looking to spend 20 days at the park this year, and maybe Disney is not even your jam?


Season passes are very common for a lot of locations. The Seaworld properties, the Universal Studio properties, and Legoland all have season passes. One of those options, which are more economical than the Disney passes, has about the same amenities and may be the perfect option for you. So, remember to look for what’s available in your area. You might find a season pass that is awesome and perfect for your family. 


But if theme parks aren’t your jam, remember that reciprocal programs to zoos, aquariums, and museums are a great way to take advantage of visiting the same location repeatedly. Our families and children thrive under that repeated exposure to the same thing. And you can have that vacation a little closer to home, that special place you can go to as a family and enjoy a membership-style program.


Throughout the year, we typically have two, sometimes three, season passes, and memberships that we rotate through. That is one of the ways we’ve cut down on our travel expenses because we know there are some free activities. I say free because after you pay for your membership, there’s usually no other fee to return and enjoy the property.


I like that we know no matter what the budget is looking like that month, no matter what our time limits are that month, we can go and enjoy that property, and we’re going to get a high value for the time we spend there. 

Thank you for joining us for another week of the bold exploration podcast. I hope to see you next week. Go ahead and hit that subscribe button if you’re on YouTube or if you’re listening to this wherever you listen to your favorite podcast, go ahead and follow us so that you get updates every time we drop a new episode. 


See you next week!



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