Theme Park Annual Pass Strategy Guide for Universal Orlando – Disney World – Seaworld – Busch Gardens Tampa

Orlando & Tampa Theme Parks Annual Pass Strategy Guide

Walt Disney World Resort – Universal Orlando Resort – Seaworld – Busch Gardens Tampa

 When purchasing an annual pass at a theme park it is a very complicated process. Each of the Florida theme parks has multiple options for the annual pass and also plenty of things to consider for the benefits of each individual pass. This guide will go over the things to consider prior to purchasing an annual pass at one of the theme parks. The overall thinking in this guide can be used for theme parks throughout the USA. But for the focus it is around the Orlando, Tampa Florida area. 


Theme parks that will be mentioned are:


Universal Orlando Christmas Celebration - Annual Pass Holder

Universal Orlando resort which includes 

  • Islands of Adventure
  • Universal Studios
  • Volcano Bay is the new water park. 


Disney Hollywood Studios Christmas - Annual Pass

Walt Disney World Resort which includes

  • Animal Kingdom
  • Hollywood Studios
  • Magic Kingdom
  • Epcot
  • Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon -The Water Parks

Sea of Trees at Seaworld

SeaWorld and it’s Aquatica Water Park.


Busch Gardens Tampa Christmas

Busch Gardens and it’s Water Country Water Park.


This guide will also be helpful at local zoos and local aquariums which also have annual pass options.

Important considerations when purchasing an annual pass.

First and foremost always be sure to read the options for the tickets and annual passes on the website for the theme park that you’re interested in purchasing from. be sure to read the fine print and take a look at the block out days for each pass. It is a good idea to use a computer or a large tablet when viewing the websites to get the most and best information.


Tickets versus Annual Pass.

Sometimes a ticket can be the way to go. When considering only going once it is important to add the price of the single day ticket plus the price of parking for the day plus any potential losses of the annual pass discount for things like food and merchandise as this can add up very quickly. it is common at many attractions for 2 to 4 days worth of single day tickets to  cost more or be cheaper than a one year and annual pass

Pay full price versus the monthly price.

This is very important because some of the parks will offer a discount for purchasing the pass in full and especially when it comes to renewing the past it can be the difference between getting a discount or not. Some parks are okay with giving a discount if the pass is being paid for on the monthly payment plan. there are some that will not give any discount for renewing the pass as well. discounts can come in the form of extra months  and/or Price discounts. 

Free parking.

Free parking is one of the top benefits that an annual pass should have.The  cost quickly adds up and may pay for the annual pass all by itself. picture of going eight times a year at $25 this is $200 saved, 12 times is $300 saved.First, always decide who needs the parking. The person that needs a parking space is the person that will be driving a vehicle. Children do not need a pass that has free parking. as long as one adult in the group has the parking pass it will save money throughout the year. Currently in 2020 most theme parks are $25 to park.

Parking at Theme Parks

Check the blockout dates.

A blockout date is various days in the year where the passholder cannot get into the theme park. always look for this blockout date calendar on the website for the past that you’re interested in purchasing typically there is some kind of a link that says blockout dates apply be sure to click on it to see what day is the annual pass will not be good for. 

  • Common times of the year when blockout dates may apply are during the summer time when it is typically too hot to go anyway but very busy this may include the month of July and potentially some of August or even June.
  • The holidays can be common especially the last two weeks of the year which include Christmas week and New Year’s Eve. Some passes will not be good on weekends and other various holidays like spring break. 
  • Some of the less expensive passes may be blocked out during times of year when concerts and other special events for the holidays  and more may be happening

Time of the year to purchase

Various times throughout the year will offer the best discount on passes.  Although this may not be a good method because there is a chance that the various theme parks will not offer count that year so play potential by I may just end up waiting for nothing. With that said, some common times maybe the month of August, September and October. around the Thanksgiving Black Friday holiday sale time of year. and potentially if the park wants to increase its attendance.


What do higher priced passes offer?  Will you use it?

Always start at the lowest price pass that is within the budget.  Look and see what it offers.  Create a checklist and look at the other passes that are being offered in price order. Decide what is needed for both individuals and Families. 

Sometimes the higher price passes are not worth it.  Many times families end up purchasing more expensive passes not even realizing that the additional cost is not something they would ever use. Unfortunately when this is done they are now stuck with a budget that cannot afford going to other theme parks.  For example  Disney has some very high price passes and for the price of one of those it is possible to have cheap passes to SeaWorld, Busch Gardens, Universal, and also Disney.

What interests you and your family?

The theme parks include a lot and something for everyone. Here is a few things to consider.

  •  Fireworks
  •  Food festivals
  •  Concerts
  •  Rides both low-impact rides and high-impact rides.
  •  Zoos
  •  Aquariums
  •  Educational offerings
  •  Holiday events

Consider days off and the availability to use the pass.  This would include time off from work and school. 

Passholder Upgrade Policies.

Check and see if it is possible to upgrade the pass over the year. it may be possible to upgrade but it might not be worth it financially. Sometimes the cost will be close to or the same as though the more expensive past was originally purchased. If this is the case it is a good idea to wait until the year is close to ending and telling the theme park you want to upgrade for next year.

Use caution when speaking to customer service phone Representatives.

It has been my experience that calling on the phone to discuss annual passes can be a very poor experience. Many of the representatives are just reading the website and trying to interpret it for themselves. Sometimes calling back two or three times can get very different results. I have found the best service in person at one of the customer service booths. even in person it may be a good idea to speak to someone else for a second opinion.

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