Column: Disney reboots annual passes as wait times dwindle

In the land where dreams come true, visitors of some of Walt Disney World’s most popular attractions are discovering wait times of 10 minutes or less.

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Splash Mountain, Avatar Flight of Passage, Soarin’ and Frozen Ever After are some of the top rides that often have wait times of more than two hours, but a combination of schools reopening, soaring COVID-19 cases, and the scorching heat have caused cancelations and reschedulings from out-of-state visitors and Florida residents, according to the chatter on social media.

My husband and I decided to check out the parks to see how accurate those wait times are on the free “Wait Times for Disney World” app. Sure enough, 20 rides, three parks and nine hours later, we found those times are pretty accurate.

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We took a Thursday road trip and our Weekday Select Florida Resident annual passes to Orlando and discovered empty parks with plenty of space to social distance. And with the updated face covering protocol for indoors and on rides only, the chance to remove masks while outside gives visitors a break from the heat.

There are still some differences in events and performances at the park from pre-pandemic days.

There’s no hugging Goofy or other characters, and performances such as the Lion King are cut short using less personnel and less audience participation.

Minimal waiting at Avatar Flight of Passage vertical

Food service relies heavily on ordering online and picking it up when ready to avoid lines accumulating as well.

Disney announced on Monday that annual passes will go on sale Sept. 8, just in time for the upcoming 50th anniversary celebration starting Oct. 1.

“We are introducing four new Annual Passes offering the flexibility and choice to meet guest needs, each designed based on Passholder feedback,” Disney’s Eric Scott said in a release. “These passes will help our biggest fans experience all that’s to come during ‘The World’s Most Magical Celebration’—from new attractions and nighttime spectaculars to dazzling decorations at all four theme parks and more.”

A complete explanation of what the new pass program will entail is available on Disney’s official website.

Florida residents have three options: Disney Pixie Dust Pass (aka weekday pass) at $399 plus tax, the Disney Pirate Pass at $699 plus tax, and the Disney Sorcerer Pass at $899 plus tax.

According to Scott, the option to purchase an annual pass is not guaranteed in the months ahead, though.

“Please note as we continue to manage attendance to provide a great experience for everyone, at any time, Annual Passes may be unavailable for purchase,” he stated.

Magic Kingdom lines non existent

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