Military Families: Read this before purchasing a Disney Annual Pass

Disney is a much anticipated, much planned for, much saved for park. Among military planning groups, members often share ways to stretch pennies to make the most of their Disney trip. One such tip is to get an annual pass at the parks, especially if members are planning two trips within a 12-month period. It is a smart financial move if you are doing two one-week trips, especially if you consider discounts for food and souvenirs that you might buy in the parks. If you are stationed near Disneyland or Disney World and want to go multiple times, an annual pass may seem like the financially savvy option.

Military families have another factor to consider – deployments. While the number of service members and unit deployments has decreased from the fast pace it was several years ago, there are still deployments to consider. Deployments now are often more unpredictable and on shorter notice.  Among the aforementioned planning groups, members are sharing that the active duty military member can pause or hold their annual pass for deployment. And as recently as December of 2018, Disney cast members are, or were, telling active duty military members that they can pause an annual pass for deployment.

This blanket statement of “you can pause or hold your pass” is simply no longer true.

Per Joel (pronounced like Noel, as in the Christmas song) , who self-identified as a supervisor for Disneyland Annual Passholders, there has been a change in policy in the last few months and now there is a new formula used to determine if a pass can be held.

  1. Cost Value: They determine if you have reached your cost value of your pass to determine if they will hold it. For easy math, let’s say you bought a $500 pass. Through cost value, if a one-day ticket cost $100, then after 5 visits, you would have reached your cost value. Yes, multi-day tickets are not equivalent to $100 a day, but this is what Joel said they use.
  2. Time left on pass: She did not provide specific guidance on timing. She did say that they would not hold a pass during the “renewal period” which the Disneyland ticket booth said is three months prior to end date of the annual pass. However, in February of 2018, someone on the Disney Parks Mom Panel asked about pausing her pass since she would deploy three months before the end date of her pass and she was told that there were options. The screenshot from the Disney Parks Mom Panel is below.

When I shared with Joel that current cast members are still sharing that passes can be held, she said she would pass on the correct information among the company. This MilMom said she would share the new formula as well and Joel said I should. I spoke with Ticket and Information at the Disneyland park who initially said they could pause a pass and then deferred to the Annual Passholders phone line, where I spoke with Joel.

Deployments are not something you necessarily plan for, but if you are investing in an annual pass as a military family, consider the above in your plans. Our hope is that this provides insight and accurate information to military families who are currently budgeting and planning their Disney trip, and for those stationed close to Disneyland, or Disney World, to manage expectations about purchasing an annual pass as a military family.

Attempts have been made to contact Disney PR and if they respond, it will be added.

UPDATE 1/20/2019: Disney Public Relations responded with a contact within Guest Relations. Upon speaking to Mary at Guest Relations, she confirmed that Disney policy states that they will no longer hold Annual Passes for military members who are deployed. She said there may be options in regards to the deployed service members pass and the only way to know is to call and speak to guest services – either Disneyland or Disney World depending on the park the annual passport is from.

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