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March 16, 2010

Premier Passport: When is it Worth $700?

Last week, Disney announced the Premier Passport, an annual pass that includes year-round admission to both the Walt Disney World and Disneyland resorts. At $700, the pass seems to come in at a fairly reasonable price since it includes Park Hopper for both resorts, Water Parks & More for Walt Disney World, free parking for both resorts and other bonuses. Let's examine how many days you need to spend at Disney theme parks to make the Premier Passport worth your while.

Walt Disney World sells at most 10 days on a single ticket. A 10 day Magic Your Way adult ticket with Park Hopper and Water Parks & More added on costs $347.00. After 10 days, buying a second ticket increases the price dramatically. An extra two days for an adult costs another $260.00. At $607.00, 12 days of Disney World with Park Hopper and Water Parks and More approaches the Premium Annual Pass price of $619.00.

Disneyland sells at most six days on a single ticket. Excluding online discounts and other promotions, a six day Park Hopper costs $254.00. An extra two days with Park Hopping costs another $151.00, bringing the total to $405.00. The Premium Annual Passport at Disneyland costs $439.00 and includes admission for all 365 days as well as Park Hopping.

If both Premium passes are purchased separately, it costs $1,058.00 to be a Premium passholder at both Walt Disney World and Disneyland. At $700.00, the Premier Passport certainly appears to be a value judging from the price of the annual passes sold separately. However, if a guest is planning to purchase the maximum number of days on a ticket at both Walt Disney World (10) and Disneyland (6) with Park Hopper and Water Parks & More (for Disney World) at a cost of $601, the guest should consider purchasing a Premier Passport instead. The Premier Passport includes parking at both Walt Disney World and Disneyland, which will run $14 a day at both resorts. The parking for 10 days at Walt Disney World alone will overrun the $99 difference between buying regular tickets as opposed to the Premier Passport. In addition, the Premium Passport includes other discounts and perks that may save you even more money.

If planning for extended stays at both Walt Disney World and Disneyland in 365 days, the Premier Passport may save you some money. This article could go on forever discussing all the different options that could add up to saving money with the Premier Passport, but I believe the example above shows the Premier Passport is a viable option for those looking for a year full of Disney Parks.
Big Update: What if you have an Annual Pass and are visiting the other park this year? It's my understanding a current Annual Pass can be upgraded to a Premier Passport for the remainder of its term. (All calculations below exclude any discounts that may be available at the time.)

If you have a Premium Annual Pass for Walt Disney World ($619) and are visiting Disneyland before the AP's expiration, it absolutely makes sense to upgrade to the Premier Passport. A one day Park Hopper costs more ($97) than the difference between the Premium Annual Pass and the Premier Passport ($81).

If you have a standard Annual Pass for Walt Disney World ($489) and are visiting Disneyland before it expires, a three-day Park Hopper ($204) comes close to the difference between the standard Annual Pass and the Premier Passport ($211). AP discounts or parking at Disneyland would make up for the $7 premium over the three-day Park Hopper.

Disneyland has five annual pass options, but for this example I'll use the Premium Annual Passport ($439). Including Park Hopping and Water Parks & More because those are features are included in the Premier Passport, a Premium Annual Passport holder would only need to purchase a two-day ticket ($260) at Walt Disney World to match the Premier Passport's upgrade cost ($261). If a Disneyland visitor chooses to forego the Park Hopping and Water Parks & More features, a 10 day base ticket ($240) still doesn't match the price of an upgrade to the Premier Passport. However, if you include parking, a three day base ticket ($219) plus three days of parking ($42) matches the cost of an upgrade to the Premier Passport ($261).

From all the math above, it seems to me that upgrading to the Premier Passport if you already hold an Annual Pass makes sense. Agree? Disagree? Let me know in the comments.


  1. I can see it making sense if you are going to attend both sets of parks in a given year for an extended period at both, or if you are local to one and plan on attending the other during the year. I would probably fall into the later category, but the cost still gets me. Actually, the cost of all the Disney tickets gets to me. We are letting our AP lapse this year because we don't think it is worth the ~$700 for my husband and I both to have them. Instead we are going with the great local option of the EPCOT after 4 ticket.

    I guess I am curious how many people/ families are going to make cross-country trips to both sets of parks in the year to get the value out of the tickets?

  2. I'm not sure how many people plan to visit both Walt Disney World and Disneyland in one year. As I understand the pricing, local residents (and DVC members) actually have a larger gap to overcome to make the Premier Passport work since they receive a discount on the Annual Passes.

  3. I think the other big thing here is the AP-related discounts, both on hotels (which can be significant), food, and merch. Premium Disneyland AP holders get 15% most counter and table service meals sans alcohol. And WDW AP holders get various discounts as well in the parks.

  4. You're right Henry, but it's a bit difficult to quantify that discount since everyone eats and shops differently. Those discounts do add up especially if you're planning to spend as much time as is needed to take advantage of the Premier Passport.

  5. It does certainly appear that the Premier Passport is not a good option for us DVCers. My family and I have yet to find the value in the AP enough to purchase that. Thank you, Scott, for the thorough breakdown.

  6. Thank you for the breakdown. My fear is that plans fall through, especially if one does not live close-ish to either park.

    For example, I *plan* to visit WDW in Oct & Dec 2010 and I *want* to visit DL in 2011, probably Sept.

    As my plans firm up more, I'll be re-reading this article. I know I have no interest in the water parks and the online discounts/AAA discounts can be signigficant on its own.

  7. We have no interest in the water parks and other "perks" of the premium pass, but with annual passes to WDW and a week-long trip to DL coming up, I wish they'd pushed this deal out a bit sooner (i.e. before we'd booked our non-refundable DL vacation package inc. tickets).