It has taken me a bit of time to process my thoughts on Walt Disney World’s new Annual Passholder program and its effect on the Disney Vacation Club community. On the surface, I expected worse. But what matters the most to me is how these choices affect all of us as Disney Vacation Club owners. What does it mean for current owners? What does it mean for the future? And I think most profound, what does it mean for the value of direct ownership?

Annual Pass Options for Disney Vacation Club Members

Before we dive in too deep, let’s take a moment to review the two new annual pass options available to Disney Vacation Club owners:  

Disney Sorcerer Pass

New Price: $899 plus tax

Renewal Price: $764 plus tax

Highlights of This Pass:

  • Visit one or more Walt Disney World theme parks on the same day with an advance park reservation*
  • Pass is valid for use most days, subject to blockout dates on select days during select holiday periods
  • Make and hold up to 5 park reservations at a time on a rolling basis
  • Passholders staying at Disney Resort hotels or other select hotels are eligible to make park reservations for each day of their Resort stay(s), in addition to holding 5 park reservations at a time
  • Bonus reservations will be added to the calendar from time to time, allowing you to make extra reservations on select days at select theme parks. Bonus reservations do not count as a reservation hold
  • Customize with add-ons like Disney PhotoPass downloads and the Water Park and Sports option
  • Standard theme park parking
  • Discounts on dining, merchandise and more

Disney Incredi-Pass

The Incredi-Pass represents the only annual pass option available to all Disney Vacation Club Members (direct and resale). This pass replaces the Platinum pass previously offered. 

New Price: $1,299 plus tax

Renewal Price: $1,104 plus tax

Highlights of This Pass:

  • Visit one or more Walt Disney World theme parks on the same day with an advance park reservation*
  • No blockout dates apply
  • Make and hold up to 5 park reservations at a time on a rolling basis*** (reservations are limited and are subject to availability and applicable pass blockout dates)
  • Passholders staying at Disney Resort hotels or other select hotels are eligible to make park reservations for each day of their Resort stay(s), in addition to holding 5 park reservations at a time
  • Bonus reservations will be added to the calendar from time to time, allowing you to make extra reservations on select days at select theme parks. Bonus reservations do not count as a reservation hold
  • Customize with add-ons like Disney PhotoPass downloads and the Water Park and Sports option
  • Standard theme park parking
  • Discounts on dining, merchandise and more

Disney World is Becoming More Expensive

Whether you’re a direct or resale DVC owner, there is no denying at this point that taking a Disney vacation is becoming more expensive. From Disney Genie+ to annual pass price increases, it is hard not to feel like Mickey is reaching a bit too far into our pockets.

While I’ve not put any specific math behind this, most families should plan on spending at least an additional $200 per person. This factors in many of the added costs we’ve recently learned about.

What surprises me the most about this is the failure to encourage direct DVC sales by offering exclusive direct member benefits. We’ve always known that member exclusives and extras could be removed at any time, but they continue to be one of the primary reasons many choose to purchase a direct contract. Even offering them for a limited time after your initial purchase would significantly aid in boosting direct sales.

Are Direct DVC Benefits Still Worth the Price?

With discounted annual passes being the primary benefit for buying a direct contract, the new pricing significantly questions the value of direct vs. resale.

Rather than make my quick assumptions on whether this value still exists, I turned to the DVC Fan Facebook Group. Out of approximately 1,000 responses, 68.3% of members believe that the value of buying a direct Disney Vacation Club contract has been lost or significantly diminished as a result of these annual pass changes. 

This result is lower than I expected, which reinforces something I have emphasized many times before. The decision of how and in what way you purchase your Disney Vacation Club membership always has and is still a personal financial decision for each family. Depending on your family’s size and priorities, a direct purchase may still make sense. You haven’t told me how to spend my money, so I will pay you that same courtesy.

As a current owner and also someone who covers Disney Vacation Club and Disney for a living, these impacts will not change much in terms of our Disney plans. I believe, however, that they will have a profound impact on those that chose to buy into DVC in an effort to save money on their Disney vacations. If I were starting today it would be hard to convince me that the value remains worth it to buy direct, but that again is my opinion for my situation.

Share your thoughts with us in the comments below and let us know if you still see a value in a direct purchase after all of these recent changes or if you will be heading the route of the resale market!

Paul Krieger

Amy and I are new Orlando, Florida residents where we live with our dogs Odie the greyhound and Hermès the Spanish galgo. We are DVC owners at Animal Kingdom Lodge, BoardWalk Villas, Grand Californian, Grand Floridian, and Polynesian, Disney World Annual Passholders, and love educating Disney Vacation Club members on how to both use and maximize the value of their DVC points!

19 thoughts on “Thoughts on the New DVC Annual Pass Options

  • I very much appreciate your perspective and your open mindedness about buying direct and whether or not that makes sense for some. And while I’m not eager to fork over more cash, if it will allow Disney reduce crowds, that will directly improve my experience so I’m willing to pay for that. Same with Genie+. If it improves the experience, it will be worth it.

  • The greatest value of buying direct will be the ability to book at RR and all future resorts. It’s hard to appreciate that benefit now. But it will slowly become more apparent as time goes. I could see why Disney provided so many perks to members 10 or 20 years ago. Membership numbers were so much lower back then. Now that there are so many members, it probably costs Disney that much more to provide perks. Do I wish Disney vacations were cheaper? Sure. But I also want a better experience. If paying more doesn’t lead to that, then I’ll start questioning the value for me. Thanks for the article.

  • Quick question on member annual passes. Can I upgrade a 6 day ticket to a member annual pass? And if so, do I go through member services or the disney world annual pass phone number?

    • You can try to start with Member Services but for an upgrade of a ticket they will probably pass you off to ticketing. I’d probably try the ticketing or AP line first.

  • We are people that are traveling over Thanksgiving this year. Thank goodness we were able to activate our gold passes in July. I had thought we would plan for next Thanksgiving too, but with the blackout dates with Sorcerer, that’s probably not happening now. I will do the math to see what the cost of tickets is for then vs. the upgrade, but most likely we will just skip it and go another time. It would cost our family of 3 $1020 to upgrade at the renewal rate.

  • With no annual pass discount or special DVC exclusive annual pass, it has become very hard to see any value in being a DVC member at all. I have been a member since 2006 Saratoga Springs. I have used at all the parks around the world (excluding Shanghai which still does not offer it to use there ). I would never pay the current prices with or without restrictions. It seems to be basing the rooms at $600+ per night. Over the years my taxes and fees have doubled. Right now feel the least appreciated ever as a member. For the first time I am seriously considering selling my contract. I would make a very handsome profit. I would NEVER have thought this back when Ken Potrock was in charge. Great DVC annual passes along with Epcot lounge, etc etc. Being a DVC member today means here’s your points. See you next year. Your not important to our business. They will have it very easy with sales 2021 through 2022. It will be interesting when Universals third park opens. Disney feels it can do what it wants. A very dangerous and short sighted attitude. Once you lose someone, you don’t get them back easily. 2024 will be an interesting year.

  • This is the last time I will purchase an AP which was in May and then was $200 more. Stop making excuses to justify Disney in raising prices!

  • I think the biggest thing I will miss is the free photo pass. I am not going to pay extra for that benefit. I already get frustrated that hotels outside of Disney get most of the benefits DVC members receive. I also worry that they will be able to change blackout dates to fit their needs.

  • Quick question. I am both a DVC and Platinum AP. At my renewal this coming January we will be forced to go with the new Sorcerer’s Pass. We have always stayed New Years Eve at one of our DVC resorts and gone to EPCOT. So my question is this: the AP says that day is blacked out, but the DVC says when staying on property you can get park passes. Which rule takes precedent? It doesn’t make sense for us to buy a one day ticket with an annual pass or upgrade to the incredi-pass for one or two extra days. We are local to Disney.

  • Fingers crossed, we plan to go to Disney week of Thanksgiving unless COVID numbers stay the same or ouch, get worse. We have a 10 day park hopper/water pass that we have not used since we canceled Sept trip, and I had planned to upgrade to Sorcerer AP before then. But when i saw the blackout period for Sorcerer AP, we decided to use our existing 10 day park hopper/water pass the week of Thanksgiving, and on our last day Sun Nov 28, just go to the park and upgrade our tickets to Annual Pass (Sorcerer). This is something we can do, correct?

  • we are new owners ( both Direct and Resale) and have never had an annual pass, so I don’t feel gouged by Disney. Since we are planning to do 2-3 trips a year from now on, AP seems the route to go. We’re shallow enough to look forward to AP exclusive merch, in park discounts, and previews where applicable. The Direct perks such as Epcot lounge, Top of the World lounge ( when it opens again) and the discount on APs were the reasons we bought a direct Riviera contract ( also really wanting to stay at Riviera).
    Since we have no history, the AP and Direct perks don’t seem like a negative to us. Gives a year, and I’ll be happy to complain with the rest of you.

  • We have taken advantage of member pricing for annual passes in the past. Being from Canada we haven’t been able to visit Disney since 2019. We are hoping to plan a 10 day trip in 2022 and will not purchase an annual pass. With all of the changes, cost of passes, canceling magical express, adding a car rental and Genie +, we will see how the total costs work out and possibly look at selling our membership if it is too much.

  • Perhaps with the just announced DVC leadership change that they might take a step back and evaluate how they can provide more value for direct to DVC purchases. We’ve all gotten beat up paying more for less. I think most will agree that the Schultz-era was likely the roughest in DVC history, plus service levels took a turn for the worst. Fortunately it was a relatively short reign and perhaps we can hope for better days ahead for DVC.

  • Have to say that I look at things differently than the author of this article. I think the new AP program essentially pushes people to buy DVC direct as opposed to buying resale and here is why. IF you are NOT a Florida resident but want an AP, your ONLY option now is the Incredi-pass at a whopping $1299 plus taxes if you don’t have a “DVC blue card”. That works out to $5196+ for a family of 4 which in my mind is very expensive. Conversely, DVC direct members / blue card members can purchase the new Sorcerer pass which is $899 plus taxes which for a family of 4 amounts to $3596+, which amounts to a savings of over $1600 annually. That difference adds up quite quickly over a few years.

    Admittedly, it is not an apples to apples comparison when looking at the Sorcerer AP vs Incredible-pass due to black-out dates during Christmas and Thanksgiving but other than those 2+ weeks, the passes seem to be quite similar.

    Do I hate that DVC members now need to pay $200 more for each AP over the old Gold Pass? Absolutely. In fact, this will likely be the first time we chose NOT to renew our APs but IF I were a new buyer and NOT a Florida resident, than buying direct would likely be more appealing to me than buying resale given the access to the Sorcerer AP.

  • Paul offers a fair and even-handed explanation, which I commend. However, the value of purchasing direct under the new arrangement seems unquestionably diminished. A lot. The biggest financial benefit of a direct purchase was the discount on a Platinum AP. Now, to have an AP with no blackout dates, a DVC member must buy the Incredipass with no discount. Why pay the thousands of dollar more, then, for the Blue Card? A discount on merch? You’d have to buy a ton of souvenirs to make up that difference. Staying at the Riviera? You still have 14 fabulous resorts to choose from, and if you’re dying to stay at Riviera, you could rent out your points for a year and put the cash toward a stay there. The Sorcerer’s Pass does come at a discount, but also a cost increase over the comparable Gold Pass. Diminishing the value of an interest to the affinity group that has made the biggest-possible financial commitment to Disney seems at best tone deaf, at worst rapacious.

  • While saying the prices are to bring crowd levels down is just a smoke an mirrors trick. Disney has been and will continue to cater to the wealthiest guests. That has been the move for the last ten years. As a DVC member, welcome home is not the norm anymore as is the case with the namesake. It’s not Walt Disney anymore, just Disney. Sad.

    • I have to agree with this. As time progresses the DVC resorts are more interested in their cash only guests. In many cases ignoring their owners or at the very least behaving like you are bothering them when you ask for something. We own at BLT and i absolutely hate the resort for that reason and i try not to stay there if possible. We have debated on how Walt would feel about his company. They general census was that he would not be happy. He was a conservative family man who wanted to create a place that everybody could go to, to spend time with the family. This is no longer the case. You should not have to go into debt to go to Disney World.

  • I just bought DVC in 2019 and because of COVID have not had a chance to stay at RR yet. Now with all the price hikes, Genie+ , the having to make a park reservation, the reduction of benefits of staying on site, etc I cannot afford nor no longer wish to go to WDW annually. Had I known these changes were going to be made I would have never purchased DVC period. For the first time this year I have cancelled my WDW trip and am going to Universal HHN instead. Done with Disney. Looking into selling my DVC.

  • As a tagalong companion to my DVC friends I cannot purchase the new $1,299 pass plus Photopass that we had had for decades paying much less money. Now Disney can rent out their DVC resort on weekends. We are ALL getting the Pixie Pass to save that extra money so we can get Universal annual passes and use them any weekends and holidays. We can stay off property in a full home with pool for less than using DVC weekend points. People are happy to have less people in the parks but Disney has not figured out lower crowd levels mean we, former happy passholders, now just do Universal and spend our hard earned money happily in OTHER local theme parks. We always booked Disney resorts during Christmas Week because of the ambiance and now can delight in NEW festive offerings. I thank the Disney team for allowing us these new experiences. We NEVER would have walked away from Walt Disney World. We started our vacations there in 1971 and this will be our first year 2021 at Universal. Thank you WDW for opening our eyes to new and different memories at reasonable prices. TTFN

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