The Reality of the Florida Resident and the Annual Pass Relationship

When we were planning our relocation last year, one of the items on our budget list for Florida living was the Walt Disney World Annual Pass. Not only that one, but also a possible Sea World and Universal one as well. Having lived here now 7 months, I wanted to pass on how much we have “really” used any of the annual passes we have and why you may want to think about how much you will really be using your own. Enjoy!

Of course one of the biggest reasons we moved here was to enjoy Walt Disney World anytime we wanted, so that annual pass was a no brainer. But, we found there were several to choose from. Certain passes have black-out dates, some are for just the four parks, then you have the premium pass which covers all 4 Parks, the Water Parks and Disney Quest. With the regular AP you get 10% off the Disney merchandise, and with the Premium you get 20% off.  So let’s start with which one our family chose first, which is the Premium Annual Pass.  For FL Residents, which started in 2009, you can make a small down payment then make a monthly payment making it affordable for families to enjoy it all year round.

Do we make the most of the Premium Pass? For now, we have.  I, myself, have CLEARLY used it to its potential.  For the monthly payment I make for the 4 of us is only a little more than the cost of one day at WDW.  Why do they make it so cheap for FL Residents? Well, I’m betting that they think you will only have the weekends to really enjoy them, and that’s if you live close enough to go that much. So here is why I wanted to blog about this, MAKE SURE you are going to get the most out of the pass you choose. If you live more than 45 minutes away, how are you getting the most out of it when you go maybe once or twice a month? Just keep the distance in mind when choosing your Annual Passes.  It’s nice to have the freedom to go whenever I want and not really have to think about it, and I love getting the 20% off when I have to buy something in the Parks. But, I will tell you this, we have the Water Parks included and we went a total of ONCE since we have gotten here. Why? Well, we aren’t huge water park people, but we thought we would try it out. I hope to do more with them this summer, I think we were just incredibly busy last year and it never really occurred to us we COULD go.  Because we live very close to WDW,  and that I do buy enough items to want a discount, the Premium Annual Pass has worked for us so far.

Now, on to Sea World. We have Annual Passes there, and we have been there a total of 3 times since June. Incredibly sad since I figured we would go there every other week- but there is something to be said again about distance. WDW is so close that its like driving to the Mall for me, whereas Sea World is 20 minutes down dangerous I4, so I am not always so inclined and happy to drive over there with the kids or by myself. I saw myself feeding dolphins on my own and walking the Park, but I feel way more comfortable at Disney World. The down payment for us was small, and we make monthly payments on it as well, but they are VERY small, so I guess that’s why we thought it was worth the shot. We have already talked about not renewing them for next year unless something changes.

Universal Studios is even farther from us yet, about a 30 minute drive.  With again the traffic on I4 and the crazy busyness around Universal, I haven’t gotten comfortable with that area at all yet.  Not to mention, I am not a fan of Universal at all. We were blessed with tickets both times I have gone, which was a great way to do it because I knew we would never use Annual Passes for this Park.  If they could make one for JUST the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, we would be in. But, since that day isn’t coming, we will pay for a one day occasionally now and then and enjoy it that way.  Like Disney, when Universal puts out a FL Resident deal for a 3 day pass, that’s when we will probably enjoy it again.

The reality of living here and having all of these Theme Parks nearby is that most can only enjoy them on the weekends or every couple of months. Life still goes on with school, jobs, and day to day things we all do whether with live near a park or not. Before you break the bank on signing up for a mutltitude of Annual Passes, think about how much time you are REALLY going to spend there and if the money is worth it. Time IS money and you want to make sure that the investment is something you are prepared for. If nothing else, try it for your first year of residency, like we are, feel it out, then you will know moving forward what you truly wound up using. I hope this helps those of you relocating here soon and what passes will be worth your time. See you in our LIVE Chat tonight!

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5 thoughts on “The Reality of the Florida Resident and the Annual Pass Relationship

  • We find that the savings on Disney merchandise and parking pays for a large chunk of the pass. Factor in the savings on food and it can be great. Our Tables in Wonderland card nearly paid for itself in a single visit.

  • Parking is a big factor. If at least one person in the family has a full annual pass, parking at the theme parks is free. A premium pass isn’t required, but the seasonal pass (and anything below that) doesn’t get that benefit. And at $14 per day last time I was there, the parking fees can easily add up to the $100 or so difference between the seasonal AP and the regular AP. A Florida resident OR an AP holder can buy Tables in Wonderland; you don’t have to be both.

  • Dad lives in Naples and has pretty much figured out that the savings in Parking fees have saved a HUGE amount in the number of visits per year.

    My Step-sister is on the East side of Orlando and when Dad and Step-mom go for a visit, they’ll sometimes head over to Disney for some Dinner or just to goof off a bit. Then they get more use out of it when I come down for my yearly visits.

    I’m hoping that they’ll soon do annual passes for out of state park-goers also.

    • They DO have annual passes for out-of-state guests. They cost more, but they have them. You can’t get the weekday, seasonal, and Epcot after 4 pm passes unless you’re a Florida resident. But the Annual Pass, Premium Annual Pass, and Premiere Pass (which gives you everything a Premium AP does plus serves as an Annual Pass for Disneyland Park And California Adventure) are all available to to anyone.