Walt Disney World suspends sales of most annual passes – what travelers need to know

Walt Disney World has temporarily stopped selling most annual passes less than two months after relaunching the program following a pandemic-related hiatus.

Of the four types of annual passes that theme park visitors can purchase at Walt Disney World, the three most expensive options are now listed as currently unavailable, but are expected to return at some point next year.

The only annual pass that is still on sale, the Pixie Dust Pass, is only available to Florida residents and has blackout dates during the holidays when it cannot be used to enter them. parks.

When Disney DIS,
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announced that it was revising the annual pass program to Walt Disney World in September, it warned it could periodically suspend sales. Travel experts are now calling it the new normal, thanks to a new system put in place amid the pandemic that is forcing Disney theme park visitors to make reservations before their visit – even if they have already purchased tickets. or annual passes.

“Unfortunately, the end result is that fewer people will be able to visit Walt Disney World during the holiday season, and many who were planning on giving away annual passes as Christmas presents will have to find something else,” said Alicia Stella. , travel site owner Theme park stop. “Next time, a little warning from the company would be nice.”

Disney theme parks are still operating at a limited capacity, although the number of people admitted to the parks each day is much higher now than it was earlier in the pandemic. Earlier this year, Disney CEO Bob Chapek reported that the company expected Florida parks to return to full capacity by the end of 2021, but that was before the Delta variant hit. causes an increase in the number of cases nationwide.

According to the Walt Disney World website, the company has also suspended ticket sales for certain dates throughout the holiday season.

Theme park fans across the country at Disneyland have criticized the company for implementing the reservation system. People who had purchased “Magic Keys” – Disneyland’s new form of annual passes – have periodically voiced concerns on social media that they could not easily secure reservations despite spending up to ‘at $ 1,400 for a pass. Last month, Disney announced that it had “sold out” the most expensive tier of Disneyland passes, the Dream Key.

“Disney will continue to cap attendance for the foreseeable future by using the park’s reservation system to manage access,” said Len Testa, co-author of “The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World” and president of the website. Travel Plans Touring.

These bookings are split among annual pass holders, people who buy tickets for specific dates and people who buy tickets valid for any date, Testa said. He said the company “would reallocate the amount of bookings in each ‘compartment’ to favor out of town customers, who spend more, over annual pass holders.”

The suspension of annual pass sales may also be “Disney’s way of avoiding litigation that would arise if they sold passes that could not be used due to these capacity limits,” Testa suggested. .

The choice to suspend annual pass sales could also reflect the challenges Disney has faced in rehiring staff for its theme parks after having to lay off thousands of workers throughout the COVID-19 crisis. The company offered hiring bonuses of $ 1,000 for certain roles, including housekeeping and line cooks.

“They just don’t have the people yet to run all the restaurants or hotels at pre-pandemic levels,” Testa said.

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