For many Guests, getting ahold of a Walt Disney World Annual Pass has been quite the challenge since sales of new passes were paused at the onset of the pandemic in 2020. In the years since the pandemic, limited sales of new Annual Passes (with blockout dates) had been made available for Florida residents only. All other Guests who did not already have a pass to renew, had been out of luck and limited to purchasing regular Magic Your Way or Park Hopper tickets for their Disney trips.
Sales of new Annual Passes resumed with Disney Vacation Club members able to purchase the Sorcerer Pass on April 12, 2023, and all passes available to residents of all states outside of any specific memberships resume today, April 20, 2023.
RELATED: What You Need to Know Before You Purchase a Walt Disney World Annual Pass
I was among the many, many Guests who set an alarm early to ensure that I would be able to once again become an Annual Passholder (mine expired in March 2020 and I did not renew because travel seemed uncertain at that time, little did I know it would be more than three years before I’d have the opportunity to buy one again!)
Unfortunately, like most things at Walt Disney World, purchasing an Annual Pass is not as simple as it was pre-pandemic. As such, I’m sharing what I’m learning about the process this morning, and what you might want to know if you are planning to purchase an Annual Pass in the future.
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My Experience Purchasing an Annual Pass
At 6:48 a.m., I refreshed the page and was given a spot in the virtual queue with more than a one-hour wait ahead of me and that once it was my turn, I would have 10 minutes to complete my purchase.
8:00 a.m. update: I am still in the virtual queue with “more than an hour” to wait. Sales have been well underway by this point, and other Guests have already been able to purchase Annual Passes.
8:28 a.m.: The system appears to have crashed. Guests on social media have reported errors while checking out with Annual Passes and I received the following message:
Message last updated: 8:28 AM ET
Pardon the Inconvenience. Annual Pass sales will resume as soon as possible. We thank you for your patience and understanding.
8:57 a.m.: We’re still where we were at the last update and it is unclear at this time if the website has crashed or if sales are intentionally paused, as well as if or when they will resume.
9:08 a.m.: The “Recalculating” message has been removed and it seems sales are back on! My wait time in the queue, however remains at “more than an hour.”
9:40 a.m.: My wait time in the virtual queue still says “more than an hour,” but I was able to get through on the phone and am now on hold.
10:06 a.m.: I got through on the phone and finished purchasing my Annual Pass! My wait time in the virtual queue still read “more than an hour” at this time. As such, I recommend purchasing over the phone if you are able to get through.
2:28 a.m.: While I had secured my Annual Pass by this point, I continued to monitor updates and noticed a new message alerting Guests that sales have been paused and will likely conclude by this evening. (If you are reading this and need a pass, try to purchase asap!)
Tips for Purchasing Your Annual Pass
Purchase your pass asap, even if you do not plan on taking a trip soon
You have 365 days to activate your pass after it’s purchased, meaning if you do not have a Disney trip planned until next April, you could wait until April 19, 2024, to activate your pass. The “annual” part of the Annual Pass begins after your first use in the Parks, not when you purchase, so you can buy your pass now to ensure that you’ll have it but wait to activate it later.
Know that you cannot split payments online
Payment plans for Annual Passes are only available to Florida residents and Disney’s website does not let you use multiple forms of payment for an Annual Pass. This means that you will not be able to split the cost between two different credit cards, Disney Visa Rewards, or even Disney Gift Cards. If you do need to split payments, you will need to contact Disney and purchase your pass over the phone.
As a note on gift cards, where I know many Guests use gift cards to effectively make “payments” before purchasing tickets from Disney– The total amount a gift card can hold is $1,000, and some types of Annual Passes cost more than this. So if you have $1,000 on a gift card, you will not have the option of paying the rest with a credit card online and would need to call. For some people, a phone call may work best, but personally, I would prefer to use the website where the waiting room setup gives you an idea of where you are in line.
Upgrades can only be made over the phone
If you are planning to upgrade from a lower tier of an Annual Pass or from regular Park tickets, you will need to do so over the phone rather than the AP page of Disney’s site. I have also been told by a Cast Member on the official site that you can still upgrade your tickets in person by going to Guest Relations at the Parks, but given the fact that APs could easily sell out quickly, I would recommend sorting this out from home if you can.
That just about covers it! Head over to DisneyWorld.com once sales begin to find details on each tier and how to purchase. Best of luck!
This story is developing, we will continue to update this article once Annual Pass sales open.