Walt Disney World suspends annual pass sales again

Posted | Contributed by BrettV

New sales of select annual passes have been paused, according to a message that appears on the website for Disney World. Of the four annual passes made available to customers, only the Disney Pixie Dust Pass is available for Florida residents.

Read more from USA Today.

Jeff's avatar

This is surprising. The parks don't feel all that crowded yet, though admittedly I'm partially basing that on where I have to park. I wonder who buys the Pixie Dust pass other than retirees, since they're weekday-only.

I do suspect that this may be somewhat in response to the Covid weirdness, with Governor Dip**** and the legislature passing laws about not requiring vaccines, and infection rates going back up everywhere not Florida (where the tourists come from).

Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Phrazy

I want a Magic Key for Disneyland at some point next year, so I went ahead and bought it now even though I won't use it for a while because I think that suspension of sales here is imminent. Reservations are out of control, currently for the key I bought there are no Disneyland weekend days available even 3 months out. There are 2 DCA Sundays. The system is quite clearly oversold relative to the percentage of inventory that Disney is willing to assign to passholders. Interestingly, December is even sold out for single day one park ticket purchases, with park hopper availability dwindling quickly. But reservations are becoming so hard to get that I would return my pass if I could because I don't really care to spend much time constantly stalking reservations for the pass I spent almost $1000 on.

"I've been born again my whole life." -SAVED

No matter what your opinion is on the Disney park experience, figuring out a way to simply get in should not be this difficult.

Jeff's avatar

The thing is, reservations for passholders in Florida are not hard to come by at all. In October and even the start of this month, we did same-day drop-ins a bunch of times (because F&W). And then they added these weird "bonus" reservations that don't count toward your regular allocation, which in our case is 5. Even now, we can get any park up until our two weeks of holiday blackout dates start. I'm glad we don't have the issues they have in Anaheim.

Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Phrazy

Jeff's avatar

Replying to myself... a college friend just pinged me with some questions, and she's worked as a part-time travel agent. Her summary was, "Why is everything so hard now? Why do I have to spend half the day looking at the app?" She's not entirely wrong. Now that they're not doing MagicBands for free, she asked, "How do we get in?" I said the app, of course, but I don't know that you can tap in the kids. Maybe that's why there are long lines every morning at the ticket booths, because they need to get ticket cards. I don't actually know.

The plus side is that, in the past at least, their research and feedback cycle was pretty tight, but they seem so committed to all of this that I doubt they would pivot away from it. I guess until they start missing revenue targets, we won't know.

Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Phrazy

My AP expires in February and I have no plans to renew. I actually haven't even been to any of the WDW parks since April, and although I'd like to get back to each park one more time before I let the pass expire, I can't say it is a high priority.

Is it the reservation system? Is it the continually climbing prices for a product I no longer feel is worthy of said higher prices? Is it the continued (perception of) reduced offerings for said higher prices? Is it the insanely long and slow moving standby lines for attractions? Is it the traffic from Maitland to the WDW side of town no matter when I choose to go? Is it not having the willpower to drive past the Velocicoaster exit on the way to WDW? Yes to all.

Jeff's avatar

I can definitely see proximity being an issue. I have to get around the Butler Chain to get to Universal, which makes it inconvenient, so that's why we haven't gone back yet. But aside from that, I don't really perceive that the experience has changed much for us, it's just more expensive.

Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Phrazy

Sooner than I expected. The 2nd highest tier of Magic Key is now "sold out." The highest tier was suspended last month. Feels a bit like closing the door after the horse has left the barn, but at least they're doing SOMETHING.
They also unlocked a huge number of additional reservations on sold out days yesterday, but they're not lasting long.

"I've been born again my whole life." -SAVED
ApolloAndy's avatar

I've said this a million times, but in pseudo-postpandemic world, it's probably even more true than ever:

Disney can only be two of cheap and uncrowded and high quality.

Hobbes: "What's the point of attaching a number to everything you do?"
Calvin: "If your numbers go up, it means you're having more fun."

Jeff said:

I don't really perceive that the experience has changed much for us, it's just more expensive.

That is actually a good way of putting it. The experience hasn't changed enough for me to justify paying for the price increases.

I try not to be a Disney hater (I really do think the parks are beautiful and have some really great attractions), but the 'experience' of going to the Orlando parks in particular are just frustrating.

Between the various reservations for any decent dining/food that must be made far in advance, fastlane reservations for attractions (or whatever they call it these days), etc... I just can't get into it. So we simply don't go.

Universal is a far more enjoyable experience... Single rider lines, ability to buy express (if you so desire, we never need it) and the ability to basically do everything in a single day if you want, even when busy (thanks again, single rider!). Plenty of food options with no hoops to jump through in City Walk helps as well.

I'm sure with the proper effort you can give yourself a fantastic time at Disney, as so many do... But I just can't get into the entire process of going to Disney.

I fully agree with that. If I want to eat in many restaurants at Disney I have to make reservations potentially months in advance. If I want to eat in nearly any other restaurant in any other park or entertainment complex I have to show up and potentially wait for a table if they are busy. The level of planning to pre schedule so much of your day (aka, the Gonch model) that goes into doing the Disney parks as an out of towner is not worth the experience, IMO. Especially when the Universal experience continues to get better each year.

I’ve been making night before or morning of reservations at WDW for years now. The no show penalty made that a lot easier.

Lord Gonchar's avatar

I don't have the desire to visit based on their IPs and my general enjoyment of theme parks and rides isn't enough to overcome either the cost or the work involved in feeling like I'm getting my money's worth.

Last time we went was Feb 2009. We did it with no advance reservations. We walked up and got in for dinner on the spot at Le Cellier on that trip, for example. I did do some research on crowds, lines, using FastPass to its maximum efficiency and stuff like that before we went and even back then it felt like too much. I can't imagine dealing with any of this under the current systems.

Just group rides into the old ticket ratings (A,B,C,D,E - whatever), tell me how many of each I'm allowed, let me fill my cart with things I want to do, and spit back a couple of itineraries, let me lock one in and I have all the reservervations/guidance I need and Disney has micromanaged crowd control in amazing ways (besides they know more about crowds than any of us ever will). For the current prices, it's the least they can do.

(although I suspect the diehard Disney visitors get off on all the planning, inside knowledge and such as much as they enjoy visiting the parks)

Bottom line - After factoring in cost, effort, and interest, I'll probably never set foot on WDW property again.

Honestly, the best deal right now could be one of the after hours Magic Kingdom parties. A cheaper ticket, in theory you would get lower crowds, and all of the rides just have the old standby lines.

> Feb 2009

The Great Recession might have had something to do with it. I do miss the benefits of a collapsing housing market.

As a former cast member (21 YEARS and still waiting for my return to work call), this just seems incredibly greedy of Disney. Why sell a season pass when they can make you buy individual day tickets?
On the flip side, I just renewed by Universal Orlando Premier pass. For under $500, I get both parks, NO reservation needed, NO wait to park hop, and NO hassle. Plus I get free valet parking with it. Seems like a no brainer to me.

I'm not sure what your position was when everything closed last year, but you know they are actively hiring for a long list of roles right now, right?

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