Walt Disney World has been testing a dedicated entrance into all four Disney theme parks exclusively for annual passholders. When they started this test in December, I immediately felt hopeful that it could eventually be made into a year round policy. Walt Disney World passholders typically feel neglected by Disney, and when we hear of how nicely Disneyland passholders are treated, we become jealous. With that said, it feels like things might be changing.
Although Walt Disney World annual passes are less expensive than they are out in Disneyland, they still aren’t cheap, and for a long time it felt as if Walt Disney World executives didn’t seem to care about their passholders. A lot of passholders felt neglected. The news that there might be special dedicated lines for passholders to get into the park is a great way for Disney to make the passholders feel as if their business is valued. Not only that, but it doesn’t cost Disney anything, and it will hopefully help with the flow of traffic for everyone trying to get into the parks.
This year, in celebration of the 45th anniversary, annual passholders receive 20% off food and non-alcoholic beverages at 45 restaurants across property. This includes both table service and several quick service locations. Additionally, annual passholders get 20% off purchases at Disney owned-and-operated merchandise locations. Disney deserves a lot of credit for this. Discounts aren’t handed out very often, especially by Disney. So, when this announcement was made, it signaled to annual passholders that they were valued. Additionally this year, passholders were given free Disney PhotoPass downloads, which has been an incredible benefit. This, in combination with the potential of special dedicated lines to enter the parks, really got me thinking. Could Disney have finally understood that appreciating the business of their annual passholders is important? I think they have, and I am excited to see what else they might continue to do for annual passholders moving forward.
While everyone should expect the discounts to go away, I hope they find other free ways to reward annual passholders. The dedicated lines at the entrances of the parks is a great example of how Disney could do this. It doesn’t always have to save us money for it to be a good benefit.
There seems to be a million and one lounges on Walt Disney World property. Whether it is for Disney Vacation Club members, corporate sponsors, or the concierge lounges at the resorts. Disney has clearly figured out that people enjoy them, so why not add an annual passholder lounge in each park? I think it would be incredibly popular, and in the grand scheme of things, a lounge with a couple of couches and chairs won’t cost Disney that much money. There are already lounges that could be used for this, like the former-AAA lounge in the Magic Kingdom.
Another fairly affordable benefit Walt Disney World could offer annual passholders is a character meet-and-greet location (similar to the Visa Character Meet and Greet in Epcot) that is unique every single day. Annual passholders have met Mickey Mouse, Cinderella, and Buzz Lightyear a hundred times. Having the potential of meeting characters like Hercules and Megara, Mr. Smee, or Robin Hood will pull in annual passholders who want to meet the rare characters.
This one is a big request, but personally, I would love it if they gave annual passholders early access to the new lands that will be opening over the next couple years. Seeing Star Wars Land or Pandora – The World of Avatar a day or two before the general public would be amazing, even if the attractions and shops weren’t open yet. I highly doubt this will happen, but I think that would be an amazing experience.
The more advantages Disney adds to the annual pass, the more likely a vacationer staying for a week or more might upgrade their ticket to an annual pass just to get the rest of the benefits. That could translate to big bucks for Disney.