Should I buy an annual pass to Disney/Universal/Six Flags, etc.?

Should I buy an annual pass to Disney/Universal/Six Flags, etc.?

In this article, our friends at Theme Park Insider give a very excellent and detailed look as to whether or not you should purchase Annual Passes to a variety of Theme Park Franchises throughout the United States.  Pay particular attention to their lists for each park showing when you would “break even” after purchasing one of these Annual Passes………………………..

September 2, 2016, 2:21 PM · At what point does it make more sense too buy an annual pass to a theme park, instead of just buying daily tickets?

That’s the question that many smart fans ask when they’re pricing their trips to Walt Disney World, Disneyland, Universal, or other theme parks. So let’s take a look at the current ticket and pass prices for these and other popular parks around the country. We will consider the current one-day prices for each park, plus the parking fee, then compare that with the various annual pass options. For each park and resort we’ll tell you the number of visits you’d need to make for each annual pass to become a potential better deal than buying one-day tickets.

Keep in mind that this is the minimum number of times you must visit for a pass to be a better deal than one-day tickets, not counting any in-park discounts. With two exceptions, all annual passes at the Walt Disney World, Disneyland, and Universal Orlando resorts allow access to all parks on each day of your visit, so we’ve compared the price of those to the one day Park Hopper or Park-to-Park ticket in calculating the minimum visits. The more times you visit on an annual pass, the better deal it becomes, but if you’re not going to visit the minimum number of times, it’s probably not worth it to upgrade (unless you’re really planning on buying a lot of food and souvenirs).

And just because you will visit more times doesn’t mean you should buy a more expensive version of the pass. An annual pass is no good to you if you can’t use it. There’s no sense in considering a pass that’s valid only on days you can’t visit. For Disney and Universal, which have blockout dates on some of their annual passes, look for the lowest-priced pass that is valid for all the days you’ll likely visit the park.

For example, the price difference between Disneyland’s Signature and Signature Plus annual passes is $200, but the Signature is blocked out only for the two weeks around Christmas and New Year’s. If you aren’t going to visit during that period – the busiest time of the year at Disney theme parks – then there’s no reason to pay more to get the Signature Plus, no matter how often you plan to visit during the rest of the year. We’ve linked the current blockout calendars for each Disney and Universal resort below, so you can check those against your travel plans.

Annual passes for the Six Flags parks, and some annual passes for the Cedar Fair and SeaWorld and Busch Gardens parks allow you to get into all the other parks in their chain, too. That’s potentially useful if you are planning to travel around the country, so consider the number of visits you might make to those parks total when counting your minimum visit numbers.

Also, all parks but one offer monthly payment options on their annual passes, so you don’t have to pay for the entire amount up front. We will note below which passes include free parking and which ones have no blockout dates. Here are the numbers, as of today:

Walt Disney World

One-day: $97-124 (varies by park and date of visit)
One-day park hopper: $155-164
Parking: $20 (all parking prices are per vehicle, not person)
3 visits — Epcot After 4pm: $249 – includes parking. No blockout dates. Available to Florida residents only.
2 visits — Disney Weekday Select: $259 – includes parking. Florida residents only.
3 visits — Disney Silver Pass: $389 – includes parking. Florida residents only.
4 visits — Disney Gold: $549 – includes parking. Florida residents only.
5 visits — Platinum: $749 – includes parking. No blockout dates.
9 visits — Premier: $1439 – includes parking. No blockout dates. Includes admission to all Disneyland/Walt Disney World parks.
Blockout calendar: disneyworld.disney.go.com/passes/compare (Fine print at the bottom)

Disneyland

One-day: $95-119 (varies by date of visit)
One-day park hopper: $155-169
Parking: $18
2 visits — SoCal Select: $329 – area residents only.
3 visits — Disney California Adventure only: $330 – available at Costco.
3 visits — Deluxe: $599
6 visits — Signature: $849 – includes parking.
7 visits — Signature Plus: $1049 – includes parking. No blockout dates.
9 visits — Premier: $1439 – includes parking. No blockout dates. Includes admission to all Disneyland/Walt Disney World parks.
Blockout calendar: disneyland.disney.go.com/passes/blockout-dates

Universal Orlando

One-day: $105
One-day park-to-park: $155
Parking: $20
2 visits — Seasonal: $284.99, $259.99 Florida residents (2 visits)
2 visits for Florida residents, 3 for everyone else — Power: $344.99, $319.99 Florida residents – 50% off parking.
2 visits for Florida residents, 3 for everyone else — Preferred: $384.99, $349.99 Florida residents – includes parking. No blockout dates
3 visits for Florida residents, 4 for everyone else — Premium: $539.99, $489.99 Florida residents – includes valet parking. No blockout dates. Includes front-of-line access after 4pm.
Blockout calendar: www.universalorlando.com/Theme-Park-Tickets/Annual-Passes/Blockout-Dates.aspx

Universal Studios Hollywood

One-day: $99-110 online (varies by date of visit), $115 at gate
Parking: $18 before 5pm, $10 after 5pm.
2 visits — Season: $119
3 visits — Gold: $289 – includes parking before 5pm.
4 visits — Platinum: $589 – includes parking before 5pm. No blackout dates. Includes front-of-line access – normally $194-244/day Blackout calendars:Gold Pass, Season Pass
No monthly payment option available on annual passes

SeaWorld Orlando

One-day: $74.99 online, $99.99 at the gate
Parking: $20
2 visits — Fun Card: $99.99 online – No blockout dates for rest of the calendar year.
2 visits — Annual Pass: $168 – includes parking. No blockout dates.
4 visits — Platinum Pass: $336 – includes parking. No blockout dates. Includes admission to all SeaWorld/Busch Gardens/Sesame Place parks.

Knott’s Berry Farm

One-day: $50 online, $72 at the gate
Parking: $18
2 visits — Regular: $90 – No blockout dates
3 visits — Platinum: $189 – includes parking. No blockout dates. Includes admission to all Cedar Fair parks.

Six Flags Magic Mountain (Flash Sale)

One-day: $54.99 online, $79.99 at the gate
Parking: $20
1 visit — Gold Pass: $74.99 – includes parking. No blockout dates. Includes admission to all Six Flags parks.

Six Flags’ annual Flash Sale runs through Sept. 5, and, yes, if you are planning on visiting any Six Flags park between now and the end of 2017, you’re best off just going ahead and buying a pass right now, while the sale is still on. The prices vary by Six Flags park, and you have to activate the pass at the park from which you bought it.

In addition to the great deal on season passes, Six Flags is selling heavily-discounted Season Dining Passes right now — for $79.99 at Magic Mountain. Those are good for lunch, dinner, and a snack on each day of your visit between now and the end of next year. Here’s the list of included meals and snacks at Magic Mountain — that’s most of the options in the park. Again, that price is good only through Sept. 5, so get it now if you’re thinking about Six Flags visits.

 

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