Upgrade Disney World Ultimate Ticket To Annual Pass
There's no denying a Disney World holiday is a luxury. We're lucky enough to go every year, and there are some who go multiple times a year and are even DVC members. Over the many years going to Disney World, i've not once known about or been offered the ability to "upgrade" my UK Disney World Ultimate Ticket to an annual pass - until the end of 2018. Knowing that (at least for the next few years) I wouldn't be going to Disney World more than once a year the annual pass offer didn't really phase or tempt me. However, there are a few benefits that almost make it worth the upgrade even if you only go once a year.
You might have been greeted with the offer below as seen on the My Disney Experience app.
What Disney do if they give the option to upgrade to an Annual Pass but reduce the price by the cost you've already paid having the Disney World Ultimate Ticket. Although the price of the ultimate ticket vary a few percent here and there, Disney do seem to set a fixed cost of the value they discount from the upgrade price. The price Disney offered me above was $454, and that's for the Platinum Plus Annual Pass.
The Platinum Plus Annual Pass is the only option we are able to upgrade to - which is the full package. Unlimited access to the 4 theme parks and 2 water parks with no blackout dates.
Annual Passholder Benefits
Theme park standard car parking
20% off most of the on-property shops
Up to 20% off Disney restaurants (but most are 10% off)
Access to the Tables In Wonderland card
Passholder excluding merchandise
Discounted Halloween, Christmas and After Hours event tickets
Discounted resort rooms (although for Brits its usually a little too last minute)
Sports, Recreation & Spa discounts
Dedicated separate annual passholder park entrance
How And When To Upgrade
Keep in mind if you upgrade to an Annual Pass, the start date will be your check-in date (or the first day you used your Ultimate Ticket). I got the offer shown above on our final day, which was no good because the holiday was over and wouldn't be returning until over 12 months later.
So if you decide to upgrade, it's best to do it on your first day to get the maximum benefits, especially if you won't be returning within 12 months.
You can upgrade either by going to the ticket section of the app and upgrade there, or by going to any ticket desk in Disney World. These are available at all the parks, but we've been told the best place to do it is the guest services at Disney Springs as they're most knowledgable about these upgrades. It is probably best to do it in person to make sure it gets applied properly, and to get your annual passholder card in person. As soon as you upgrade you'll be able to take advantage of all the benefits.
An annual pass is also a good idea if you're going to be going twice within a 12 month period. For example, October 2018 and September 2019. You can upgrade your pass on the first day of the October trip, enjoy all the discounts, and still be good by the time your second trip in September 2019 is over.
But, Free Dining?
When the Disney free dining is available, you haveto purchase the Disney World Ultimate Ticket in order to redeem the offer. So if you are an Annual Passholder, you still have to buy the Ultimate Ticket if you're taking advantage of the free dining offer.
Should You Upgrade?
If you go to Disney World more than twice a year, then you should probably be an Annual Pass holder. Although if you already do that, it's likely you already are. If you spend a lot on shopping, the 20% discount soon adds up. If you're staying off-site, you can almost make up the upgrade cost in parking charges alone.
If you're not on the dining plan, then being an annual passholder is a good benefit. You get up to 20% off (food only) all restaurants (although most of them offer 10% off), but being a passholder gives you access to the Tables In Wonderland card. That card costs about $150 and gives you 12 months access of 20% off most restaurants (food and alcoholic drinks included in the discount). The Tables in Wonderland and Annual pass discounts cannot be combined.
The Annual Pass restaurant discount is only good for the passholder and 3 other guests, the Tables In Wonderland discount is good for the cardholder and 10 guests. So that's something else to keep in mind.
Only one member of your party needs to upgrade to take advantage of these discounts. If you're travelling with a large group or family, only one member of the group needs to be an annual passholder to get the benefits and discounts (you do have to be present though). I'm sure the cost of one person upgrading will be less than the whole family sharing all the discounts over a 2-week holiday. You should do the math and see if it works out for you.