Passholders (or soon to be Passholders), let’s keep it real for a moment! We all adore Disney magic, but it’s important to acknowledge that even the most enchanted journeys have their downsides. As Disney Annual Passholders, you’ve got access to a world of wonder and magic, but there are some aspects that might make you raise an eyebrow (or Mickey ear).
In this post, we’ll dive into the flip side of the Disney Annual Pass experience—the disadvantages. While some options might not make the list, here’s the top cons to being a passholder (with all of the Pros for Annual Passholders found in this much more optimistic post!)
Needing Park Passes Certain Days
One challenge of being a Disney Annual Passholder is the requirement to secure Park Pass reservations on certain days, even though you have a pass. This reservation system aims to manage park capacity, but it can be limiting, especially during peak seasons. You may find that on popular dates, securing a reservation can be competitive and might not guarantee entry to your preferred park.
This is a newer system introduced after the closure and subsequent reopening of the parks in 2020. Initially a temporary solution, we now have to manage this as part of our trip to Disney World.
There have been changes, like the new option in 2023 to not need a park reservation when visiting a park during the weekdays after 2 pm. But you will still need to plan if wanting to park hop, or visiting Magic Kingdom on the weekends.
Disney Annual Passholders should be aware that perks and benefits can change or be discontinued over time. What you enjoy today may not be available in the future. For instance, discounts on merchandise or dining options may evolve or disappear, affecting the overall value of your pass.
We’ve lost a lot of perks since I first signed up in 2015, and we’ve got a few along the way. Perks are not a guaranteed option, and even admittance to the parks isn’t guaranteed.
This is especially frustrating when you consider the price increases on passes with the reduction of benefits, but still budget friendly in the long run if you plan to visit the parks a lot even with less perks available.
No Passholder Lounge
Unlike some theme parks that offer exclusive lounges for passholders, Disney doesn’t provide a dedicated Passholder lounge. This means you won’t have a private space to relax, recharge, or enjoy special amenities within the parks.
Disney does occasionally offer a Passholder Lounge at EPCOT as part of a Festival Perk, but this depends on the season and location.
Inconsistent Passholder Scan-in Lines
When signing into the Parks, you will often see a line for Passholders only!
While Disney aims to provide a seamless experience for Annual Passholders, the effectiveness of Passholder scan-in lines can vary. At times, these lines might be closed, even with long lines at other scan in locations.
No Free ‘Skip the Line’ Access
Disney Annual Passholders do not receive complimentary “skip the line” access. This means you’ll need to wait in regular ride queues, just like other park guests, unless you purchase the Disney Genie+ add on to your day!
Inflexible Renewal Dates
The renewal date for Disney Annual Passes can be inflexible, which can be frustrating for some passholders. This can be especially challenging for parents with young children or those who foster and adopt, as it might not align with their family’s other renewal dates.
For example… I’ve got three renewal dates each year. One for myself, as I renewed with an Incredi-Pass when they first came out. One for my older two kids, who I signed up for a Pirate Pass as soon as those were available in 2021. And lastly, a renewal for my youngest when he turned 3. I wanted to get his pass ASAP and not wait till the renewal dates for the other passes, so that means he renews on his own month.
You are not able to change the dates unless you want to absorb the cost, and since I do Annual Passes for the cost savings, I’m left with several renewal dates!
Blockout Dates Even with Top-Tier Passes
Even if you invest in the highest-tier Annual Pass, there may still be blockout dates during the year, when Park Passes are ‘at capacity’. This means you won’t have access to the parks on those specific days, regardless of your pass level.
It should also be noted, that you only have a limited number of Park Reservations available for use included with your pass. For example, if you have an Incredi-Pass, you have 5 guaranteed Park Passes (this doesn’t include Bonus Reservations or Reservations attached to a Hotel Stay). You will need to pick and choose what dates you want to come, and how many you want to reserve ahead of time.
Yearly Price Increases
Disney tends to increase the prices of Annual Passes on a yearly basis. While this may be necessary for the sustainability of the parks, it can be challenging for passholders as it can lead to higher costs for continued access to the Disney experience.
Remember, while there are disadvantages to being a Disney Annual Passholder, many individuals find that the benefits and magic of Disney more than make up for these limitations. It’s essential to weigh the pros and cons to determine if being a passholder aligns with your personal preferences and visitation patterns.