If you’ve ever been to a Disney park, you know it doesn’t come cheap. And if you haven’t been to a Disney park, I’m guessing the insane cost is one of the biggest factors in that decision. As a traveler, I like to spend my money wisely. Instead of buying boatloads of expensive shoes, I save money regularly to put toward future trips. But there is one thing that I do pour an exorbitant amount of money into, something that pops up frequently in my blog posts. Year after year, I pay hundreds of dollars to have year-round access to Walt Disney World.
The money I spend annually is enough to buy a mid-range flight to London, yet here I am. I’ve been to Disney World literally hundreds of times, and I still haven’t been to London. I’ve even flown thousands of miles and spent even more money to visit Disneyland! It just doesn’t make sense.
Because I do write about Walt Disney World so often, I wanted to write a quick post addressing the question of why I choose to spend so much money on what many people would say is a sugar-coated land for people who can’t deal with the real world. To be completely honest with you, I often feel like I have to defend my decision to visit the parks so often. Disney’s “not real.” It’s not for everyone. I get it. That being said, it’s a place that I love, and it’s something that I don’t mind paying for in the least. With recent price hikes and an ever-increasing list of ride closures, however, it seems crazier than ever to keep clinging to my annual park pass. Here’s why I just renewed my pass for one more year.
The nostalgia is real: I grew up on Disney movies, and while my family visited Disneyland once or twice, we never quite made it to Florida.
Growing up, I loved all things Disney. Sing alongs, Barbie dolls, stuffed animals, playsets, and especially the movies. We all had those VHS tapes we rewound and rewatched over and over as kids. Mine was The Little Mermaid, and getting to see places like Prince Eric’s castle brought to life as an adult melts my heart a little bit.
As an adult, I also love learning about Walt Disney, the man himself, and being inspired by everything he brought to life. The parks are a testament to everything he stood for, and I love standing in a place that is still filled with his energy. There really is no place in the world like a Disney park, and I love visiting whenever I like.
It’s a vacation anytime I want it: Despite visiting a Disney park at least once every week or two, every new visit feels like a vacation from the ordinary. There is always something new going on, from recurring park events like the Food and Wine Festival to brand-new attractions and lands, like the upcoming Rivers of Light show at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.
With Disney World in my backyard, there is always something to do. It’s nice to leave work while the sun is still shining, and head straight to the parks to relax and hang out for a while. It’s like a mini vacation, whenever I want it!
It’s money well spent: Believe it or not, I’m not kidding! A single-day ticket to visit a single park starts at $97. As a Florida resident, I save dramatically on the cost of admission. The overall cost of my annual pass is broken up into monthly payments of about $40. I just have to visit one time each month, and it’s already money saved over a one-day ticket. Considering how often I do visit the park, it’s a steal. It’s nice to know that, come rent time, I can go to the park armed with snacks and a water bottle, and leave without spending an extra dime. That $40 per month wouldn’t get me very far even in planning a local trip, and the $500 spent annually might buy me airfare to London, but it won’t cover the costs of accommodation, food and sightseeing. All costs considered, $500 really only covers a domestic weekend trip with budget hotel and airfare. With that in mind, I’d rather be able to visit Walt Disney World whenever I like, and pay for some of their extra offerings when I do have extra cash on hand.
It makes me a better host: I love hosting family when they visit Orlando. Inevitably, they will want to go to Walt Disney World.
Instead of stressing about buying expensive park tickets for myself and my guests, I can take myself out of the equation and focus on finding the best deal for out-of-towners. Want to go to Disney? No problem. It’s already built right into my budget, so I can help to cover the cost of tickets for family members when needed. Plus, my guests will never be bored!
I have access to Passholder-only opportunties: Disney likes to show their annual passholders that they are appreciated. I get extra perks throughout the year, like attraction previews, special savings, and passholder-only merchandise.
At the 2015 Food & Wine Fest, for example, free port glasses were handed out to passholders after their third festival visit. At the Flower & Garden Festival, which continues through the end of May 2016, I get three exclusive festival art prints…absolutely free!
It’s become a special place: I liked visiting the parks when I first moved to Orlando. It was fun, it was novel, and it gave me something to do while anxiously waiting to hear back about potential jobs in the area. Over the past nine years, I’ve formed so many wonderful friendships and created so many memories at the Disney parks, and it truly has become a place with special significance for my life here in Orlando.
It’s where I celebrated birthdays, cheered myself up after breakups, and bonded with lifelong friends. My first date with my future husband was at Epcot, one of the four parks, and it’s impossible to visit now without thinking of some small sweet memory created there.
Walt Disney World may not be the place for everyone, but for me, it’s an important part of my life in Orlando. I can’t imagine living here and not attending the annual Flower & Garden Festival, or staying at home while all my friends go to the parks without me. Orlando is more than just theme parks. We’ve all read the blog posts declaring that fact, and to be honest, I find it a little preachy. It’s true that there are plenty of other things to do here. I like hiking, going to the beach and trying new restaurants, but when it comes to value, convenience, and plain old doing what I enjoy most, a visit to Walt Disney World wins out every single time.