Disney World's biggest AP mistake is not catering to out-of-state guests

The Disney World Annual Pass options have enough variety for everyone but they are missing the boat with out-of-state guests.
Disney Annual Passholder entrance sign. Credit: Brian Miller
Disney Annual Passholder entrance sign. Credit: Brian Miller /

There is something special about being a Disney Annual Passholder. It's like being a part of the Mickey Mouse Club. But Disney has it all wrong.

I can't believe I am saying this, as an AP holder, Disney's decision to keep out-of-state guests from enjoying the perks of an AP are a mistake.

There are currently 4 Disney World APs available but only one for those who live outside of Florida.

  • Pixie Dust - $439.00
  • Pirate Pass - $799.00
  • Sorcerer Pass - $999.00
  • Incredi-Pass - $1,449.00

The difference between each pass is availability. The Pixie Pass is Monday through Friday only and has a lot of blackout dates. The Pirate Pass includes weekends but comes with similar blackout dates. The Sorcerer Pass includes weekends but has a limited number of blackout dates, and the Incredi-Pass has no blackout dates. It is also the only pass currently available to non-Florida residents.

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out why Disney doesn't want the OOS guests to have a cheaper pass. Prices for a single day at a Disney World park can range from $119.00 to $174.00 depending on the time of year. To park hop, visit multiple parks in one day, that price jumps by nearly $100.00. Clearly, Disney doesn't want to give up that kind of money.

If APs were cheaper, OSS guests would more likely purchase an AP instead of paying those daily rates or buying multi-day passes that come with a marginal discount.

Let's say Disney sold OSS APs for $799.00 per person. A guest would only need to visit a Disney park 6 times if the average ticket price per day was $125.00. In most cases the price per day is higher and that reduces the number of needed visits.

Disney could, however, sell a more reasonably priced AP with more limits on use, more blackout days.

Disney is missing out on one thing, however. Return visits. A returning OSS will spend more at the gift shops, on food and beverage, they will spend more on resorts and are far more likely to return and do all of those things more than once a year. A Florida resident is far less likely to buy merchandise or stay at one of Disney's resorts.

There should be a cheaper option for OSS guests. A "Pixie-Pass" type AP that restricts weekends and carries a lot of blackout dates. How many "Out of State Pixie Pass" APs would Disney sell at the price of $799.00?

If the average price for entry is $140.00 and only available Monday through Friday with blackout dates, an OSS guest would have to come back to Disney World at least one time to break even as the breakdown would put that guest at 5.7 visits to get their money back.

That next visit will also come with more spending by that guest. Enticing discounts at a Disney resort equals more money for Disney, another dining plan, more Genie+ purchases, more food purchases, and more gifts at the gift shop.

By pricing out the OSS guests, Disney is losing money. There really should be a tier for the out-of-state guests who may visit Disney one week out of the year. Consider also that most guests that travel to Orlando visit Disney two, maybe three times that week. They will also visit Universal Studios or SeaWorld or simply take an off day. Entice them to come to your parks instead.