Why I’m Upset at Disney World’s New Annual Passholder Options

Today, Disney announced its new Walt Disney World Annual Passes that is available September 8th, 2021.

Disney's Annual Passholder
Copyright Disney World

It doesn’t help that I’m listening to Epcot – Main Entrance – Area Loop (2021 – Present) as I write this. But, we have all been looking forward to Disney World (and Disneyland) bringing back our beloved Annual Passholder option. Today’s announcement makes me pause, disgruntledly. I have not been happy with Disney’s announcements these past few months with Disney’s Genie+ service and now this, among other things.

Sorry, not sorry, but this is going too far. Let me try to sum it up for you.

There is no longer the silver, gold and platinum passes. It’s now Pixie Dust Pass, Pirate Pass, Sorcerer Pass and Incredi-Pass. Here is an infographic of what you get with each pass.

Copyright Disney

Is there PhotoPass?

Nope! If you already have an annual pass with PhotoPass you’re good until you renew. After that, you have to pay $99 to add it on.

Park Reservations

Pixie Pass – Three park reservations at a time

Pirate Pass – Four park reservations at a time

Sorcerers Pass – Five park reservations at a time

Incredi-pass – Five park reservations at a time

OK, so what are the add-ons?

Free PhotoPass is gone now with WDW annual passes. New annual passes and renewals after September 8th are offering “add-ons” to all four passes that cost extra:

  • Water Parks
  • Sports
  • PhotoPass

There are so many blog posts about this already so I wanted to focus on why this makes me angry and sad.

I started visiting Disney World when I was 5 years old. Since then, my family became Disney obsessed and we visited every year since then. My parents joined DVC in October of 1992 when Old Key West was just Disney Vacation Club. We are a Disney Family. We will always be a Disney family. I hope?

Like so many other Guests…

It’s our getaway from the real world.
It’s a place where we can escape.
It’s a place where we can forget about the world.
It’s a place where we can be with each other, be happy and excited about something and just…. be!


What did they take away? For the top-tier passes they took away the water parks which are now a $99 add-on and they took away PhotoPass which is another add-on.

With all the other announcements from Disney that keeps stripping away our “free”-doms, the new AP prices and perks is just another nail in the coffin for some Guests who are deciding to put their money somewhere else. And, I don’t blame them!

I will always love Disney. I will always love the people who love Disney. The Disney community, especially here at D-COT, will always be amazing and beautiful. Nothing can take that away from us. It’s sad that Disney is making it harder for us to visit the most magical place on Earth.

If you’re listening, Disney, please see that you’re hurting your most loyal Guests. We love you. Please don’t abandon us.

Very truly yours,

Steve is the founder and administrator of D-COT. If anything breaks on the site, @TheSwedishChef is the founder and administrator.


  1. 100% agree with all of that. Disney World is my escape and now it’s getting harder to be able to afford escaping like we have in the past :( I will always love Disney and always love this wonderful place you have created @steve I wish the powers at Disney would start listening to how they are pushing their loyal fans away :(

    • :( They are definitely making it harder for out-of-state Guests.

  2. I hear ya, Steve. I hear ya. I was telling friends earlier this month that I want to submit a letter to the decision makers on these things stating that I am *rooting* for them to succeed in providing that ultimate guest experience that made the brand famous. I *want* people to *want* to patronize the parks so much they can’t resist it. BUT the past few months doesn’t make first-timers or even regulars like me want to give them the time of day let alone my money. It’s becoming a place for the top 1% rather than the middle class. And speaking as one of the middle class who is (by the grace of God) able to afford to keep going to Disney World even under these inflated prices without going into a debt that needs to be paid off, I still want to see our hard-earned income go further than it would currently go at Walt Disney World – and that’s saying something. It’s saying something very sad.

    • I agree that it’s becoming a place for the top 1% and I don’t understand why. Sure they’ve got money and it’s about profits, but they don’t seem like the type of people who would want to go to Disney, especially not more than once. They want to be on a yacht in the Cayman Islands or in a suite at the Monaco Grand Prix, not paying for a Premier Lightning Pass to ride Seven Dwarfs Mine Train year after year. This feels like Disney is flipping the bird to their loyal guests.

  3. Great way to put it Steve! I whole-heartedly agree with you. Unfortunately we have already begun to look at other avenues to stay Disney but not visit the parks unless something changes. Our APs expire at the end of March and we will not be renewing unless some of the magic freedoms come back in our favor. We just joined the DVC family and now are wondering if we have made one of the most worst investments up to this point! We will be finishing out our currently scheduled trips to WDW, but us and the family are starting to look toward Universal as it has become way more affordable now. ” It’s becoming a place for the top 1% rather than the middle class” A perfect way to sum it up @rocketear99! :(

    • I’m really curious how DVC members feel about this. My family is also starting to have those “What’s Plan B” conversations

    • Universal is another great option. DVC is a good choice if it fits into your park visits. Ya know? Like if you go more than one visit per year. But, I’m sorry you’re second guessing that choice. :(

  4. There’s not really much I can say that hasn’t already been said by Steve. I echo a lot of what you’ve said. I am from a Disney family, I took my first trip at 18 months old and visited annually growing up. My parents bought into DVC at Old Key West in 1994. It hurts that right now Disney aren’t giving a second thought to people like us. Disney means so much to me and I will always love Disney just like you said. I hope Disney trips don’t become a thing of the past for me and my family. I’m also really curious how this is going to affect DVC sales and resales.

  5. On an unrelated note, did anyone else think of Buffalo Wild Wings when they first saw this or was that just me? :P

  6. My two cents

    First: We have to understand, Disney is a business. They have stock holders, and they have profits to deliver, dividends to declare. The last almost 2 years, Disney parks have been limited or closed. They have been hit incredibly hard. Yes the Marvel movies and Disney + have helped, but the loses are huge, or at least the lack of profits

    The job of a CEO is to make decisions that will bring profits. Lets understand a few things

    1: Disney Parks sell out 6 months ahead of time
    2: Disney Cruises sell out 6 months ahead of time

    Disney owns 7 of the top 10 destinations in the World

    I get it. I would rather all the things be included. But Disney will make the changes, and we will still pay money. We may skip a Magic Express, or a fast pass, but we will still go. We go because as much as Disney costs, the memories are numerous, and forever, just like D-Cot!!!!!!.

    And even during a pandemic, they will boost profits where they can.

    So we may not be happy, but was are and most likely, will continue to be Disney.

    • Respectfully, I disagree. I completely understand Disney is a business, I think most of us do here, but I think there’s a way to do things better and still generate profits. For example, Disney Genie is overly complicated and I don’t think it needs to be that way. Universal have a far more straightforward FastPass equivalent.

      Secondly, while “loses [sic] are huge” they still made plenty of money during a pandemic and their stock price increased, so I wouldn’t really call that a loss. Maybe profits were down (cost of doing business, it happens, especially in a pandemic) but they weren’t operating at a loss. They didn’t declare bankruptcy or go under like other businesses did. They’re not losing profits the way airlines are from what I understand from having family members in that industry.

      As for us still paying money, I’m not sure. I’ve been an AP holder for last 2 years but I won’t be renewing. I’m not sure if I will return but if I do it won’t be until 2023 at the earliest. So are they really getting more money? I know other people who have cut back and made other drastic changes to include no longer visiting. To break things down, if they charge double the price but get half the number of people paying it they haven’t increased profits, it’s the same amount of money in a different way and that’s my point. I don’t know if that’s where we’re at but I have directly seen a number of people make different decisions resulting in less money spent at Disney. I don’t think they can assume people have a blank check to write for Disney.

  7. Disney’s business model is changing right now. I strongly believe that this business model is going to be seen as a monumental failure down the road. So far down the road that Bob Chapek will not be around to suffer the consequences.

    For the parks, specifically, long-term profits have come from brand loyalty. Most Disney loyalists became attached to the brand through their childhood experiences in the parks. Typically, the most loyal fans had several trips to the parks throughout their childhood. The second/third generation loyalists want their children to have those same experiences. And so it goes from generation to generation.

    A Disney vacation has always been expensive, yet somewhat affordable to the middle-class which made up a vast majority of the loyalist population. People would stretch themselves financially to make a couple trips a year with their children. Since it was marginally attainable for a large amount of people, the plethora of hotel rooms on property were being filled and parks were filling up. This is a fantastic business model.

    In a typical business, executives should (and would) continue to increase prices until they reach the maximum amount of volume at the maximum amount of revenue. I am certain that there will be families that can, and will, afford these prices to fill their hotel rooms and parks. But I do not believe the majority of these families are, or will, become Disney loyalists. Simply because these families can also afford and choose to travel to other, more exotic, destinations as well.

    For brands that rely on loyalty, however, you cannot ostracize your base. Disney is jeopardizing this by eliminating a lot of perks. Magical Express, FastPass+, Magic Hours, and now AP benefits. Furthermore, the parks are becoming less attainable for much of the middle-class (the majority of their base). This will mean LESS trips for those families. I am not saying “NO trips,” because true loyalist will always make it happen. But certainly LESS trips. The prime age group for Disney to make that long-lasting emotional connection begins to close at around 12 years old. That is a short window of opportunity. For those families that now have to scale back the frequency of their Disney trips, that could result in less magical memories and the desire for that child to return later in life when they have kids of their own. Ultimately, it will reduce the amount of Disney loyalists that follow in future generations.

    But what does Bob Chepek care? He will not be CEO for the next generation. He will see profits rise, along with his base salary and annual bonus.

  8. I agree with much of what’s already been said here, so I’ll try to keep this short & not retread anything. I get the “Disney is a business so they need to maximize profit & take care of shareholders”. But given the cuts across the parks & resorts, and oh by the way the effects the pandemic have had on all of us financially, I see moves like this as completely tone deaf. I think they’re slowly (but at an ever increasing pace) killing the golden goose – people like us who keep coming back. there’s only so much a company can dump on its customer base before they reap the whirlwind.

  9. What is crazy to me, is that I hear all of these comments, and agree wholeheartedly about what is happening in the parks and price increases (which are happening everywhere) but then I see the amount of “influencers” on Instagram and Twitter explode. I think Disney, without doing a thing, is still getting and maybe even keeping their “golden goose” because social media is attracting newcomers and a new generation of folks who desire inclusivity and Disney is doing their best to try and fulfill that – at a very high price tag. Creating the next flock. To me outside of costs that is the main difference between Disney and the others. The others keep trying to catch up with rides, while Disney will take years to add a new ride, but they market to the public’s heart.

  10. Bad form Disney! WHile i agree with most of this I will still be a Disney fan. As much as want to rebel and not go back I most likely will. I however will not be going back anytime soon and my trips will now be alot further spread out. My Disney experience has just changed dramatically. I honestly se myself as just getting park passes to walk around and eat and drink. No rides, No stupid advanced ride reservations, and no extra fee’s. As long as they dont add a fee for dining reservations!! LOL Thanks Disney for opening my eyes to your greed and a different world of vacation options!

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