Let me begin by saying it isn’t all that bad, but I have been constantly frustrated with my experience so far. I have been thinking about getting an Annual Pass for myself for a while now, and when asked what I wanted for Christmas this year I mentioned it to my (extremely) generous father and he approved the idea! Great, I thought, this is going to be the best year ever!
However, quickly I realised there was little to no information, and what information I did find was contradictory or patchy, so I thought I’d fill in the gaps for anyone else thinking of treating themselves!
Buying the Annual Pass
I go to Disneyland Paris every year and I’d done the research as to which Annual Pass would be best for me. I finally settled on the Disney Infinity Pass, it’s main draw was the great discounts it offered: 20% off Disneyland Paris shops and -15% off restaurants.
Great, now I’ve decided what Pass I want, how do I sign up?
From here you have multiple options:
- You do it over the phone
- You send off an Annual Pass order form
- Or you do it when you are in the park
The first thing I want to start with is, DON’T use the order form option. This entails you printing out, filling in and posting a form to France. Before you even start filling in the form, look at the bottom – payment for the Pass means sending your card details through the postal system… Secure? I think not.
After discovering this, I decided to sort it out over the phone. Much to my dismay, after being on hold for some time the operator said I was unable to do so (this is the opposite to what is stated on the website). This leaves me with the only option: pay at the park.
After a bit more snooping (I like to be organised and wanted to get the Pass sorted before we booked a family trip), I found that I can actually do it online, but only through the French site.
I use Google Chrome as my home web browser, which is great as it has an in-built translation tool. This makes me wonder why the Disney site doesn’t just have an option to convert it to English itself.
I’d made it through a good chunk of the booking journey before I came across the following message:
This translates as – “if I sign up on the French site all communication to me will always be in French”.
My French extends to “Bonjour”, “Au Revoir” and “Merci”, so realistically I don’t want all the details sent to me in French. I wanted to doublecheck this so I rang the phone line again (same number) and the operator confirmed I wouldn’t be able to change the language afterwards.
Disney operator: “Why don’t you just do it over the phone?”
Me: “Because I was told I wasn’t able to.”
The time between this and the first phone call (to the same telephone number), was approximately 20-30 minutes earlier…
Disney operator: “Oh you must have got an operator out in the US, they can’t do it over there”.
Correct me if I am wrong in thinking that if I was paying £300+ to buy a product and you can’t do it, you would just transfer me to someone who can? Obviously, I was going around and around in circles but managed to sort it out over the phone and they said it would arrive in the post in the next few weeks.
My Pass information arrives
Less than 2 weeks after I applied a very exciting package came through my door.
It was only after I had opened the letter I realised that it wasn’t as magical as I thought it would have been.
All I got was an invoice. Where was the fanfare? Where was the congratulations? Most importantly, where was my Annual Pass?!
What I hadn’t realised was they had sent me a normal paper park pass which had fallen out without my realising as I opened the letter. But what do I do now and where was my shiny Annual Pass I see in so many Instagram photos?
The operator had mentioned that I needed to go to the park within the first 6 months of buying my pass to swop it to the card version. Luckily for me I had planned to go away for my birthday weekend in January.
Retrieving my Pass
The first day we arrived at the parks headed to ‘Bureau Passeport Annuel’, which is located in Discoveryland on the left as you enter the land from Main Street USA.
Lights were all on and there was a staff member outside so all was looking good, even better there was no queue inside! I headed up to the staff member and told them I was there to get my Annual Pass sorted. They asked me to wait in the queue outside in the rain. At this point I am beginning to wonder why I thought an Annual Pass would be a good idea, because so far I was £313 down, and wet. Why couldn’t we wait inside? No idea.
When I was eventually let inside, there were two queues to join but no indication as to which was for what. It wasn’t just me who was struggling, I saw two other families having to ask Cast Members where to go.
I was eventually guided into the right queue and wait for a desk to open up. Because there had been so little information available to me up to this point I had come with a list of questions about what my benefits were and how I claim them.
Note: Make sure you take photo ID (passport) when picking up your Annual Pass
They didn’t warn me before about this, but luckily I had brought mine. They scanned my passport, I was asked to write down my address, email and phone number as well as asked if I wanted to opt in to information about discounts and event details which would be sent through to me. Obviously, I said yes! Who wouldn’t want to receive discounts and invites to special events?
I was presented with a welcome booklet with all the details about the Infinity Pass, however, once again it was all in French. I wasn’t hard for me to whip out my Google Translate App, all members of staff speak French and English, so how hard is it to translate one simple booklet?!
I tried to go through my list of questions but my server didn’t really understand what I was asking (even though she was trying really hard – I appreciated the effort) so I left it for the day and headed off to meet the rest of my group and to get warm and dry again.
Using my Pass
This was the most exciting part, heading into the park to use my Annual Pass for the first time.
This is when I really when I started to get to grips with all the benefits. If you want more details on the current discount you receive with your Annual Pass see the Disneyland Paris website, here I have highlighted a few of my favourites.
With an Annual Pass you get an exclusive entrance at both parks, which is at the far-left hand side.
You have access to the Parks’ Magic Hours and you can take guests in with you.
Note: They must have tickets bought through your Annual Pass.
This was one thing that should have been made clearer, I asked when I picked up my pass if my family could come in early with me and was told yes. It was not until we arrived at the park entrance ready for our magic hour that we were told we were only allowed in with Annual Pass friend tickets.
With the Infinity Pass you can get your friends 1-day park hopper tickets for 35 Euros. This is restricted to 20 a year, and you can only use five per week (Monday-Sunday). If you use all of these up, you can still get -20% off the normal ticket price.
One of the great features of the Infinity Pass was that we got a free PhotoPass+. You can pick this up at any photo sales point. I got mine from New Century Notions Flora’s Unique Boutique on Main Street USA.
Any photos taken by the official photographers within the park (during peak months), at character meet and greets and all ride photos can all be added to your card. Simply type the code into their dedicated app or get them to scan your card.
Disneyland Paris restaurant discount
This trip we ate very well with meals at The Steakhouse and two of our favourite places to eat in Disneyland: Walt’s and Vapiano. With the Annual Pass we got 15% off all food and drink. Don’t be fooled by what it says online “Disneyland Paris restaurants” means any eating establishment not just those with table service! The only restrictions include alcoholic drinks and only certain locations within the Village accept the discount. These included Annette’s Diner, New York Style Sandwiches, The Steakhouse and Café Mickey (basically all properties owned by DLP themselves).
Don’t miss out on your free “non-alcoholic aperitif” at table-service restaurants. On arrival, present your Annual Pass which will be scanned by your server and returned with a house cocktail right to your seat.
Note: This is only for the Annual Pass holder not their accompanying guests.
Disneyland Paris shops discount
Now the biggest discount – souvenirs, just scan the card at the till and 20% will come straight off your bill! This last trip I wasn’t planning on getting a new suitcase but it was a steal! (55.99 Euros instead of 69.99!)
The discount is apparently restricted, and some items are not included, but so far I haven’t bought anything that wasn’t discounted. (This may apply to items on sale?).
VIP seating for Disney Illuminations Show and for the Parade
I was interested to find out about the VIP seating, and like the cocktail offer, only the Annual Pass holder can access this benefit.
This is where it gets complicated. You can’t reserve your space on the day, it has to be at least 24 hours in advance. This cannot be done in City Hall, you need to ring the dedicated phone line for Infinity Pass holders (choosing an English or French speaking option) and here they will check to see if there is any space and provide some kind-of of voucher. On the day you take this to city hall where they give you an actual ticket to get you into this area. Yes, it really is this complicated. I didn’t do it this trip because I wanted to share the fireworks and parade experience with my family, but next time I will definitely be trying this out.
Free use of guest storage for the day
On our final day in the parks, we had our suitcases as we were staying in Magic Circus and wanted to save time getting to the station later that afternoon. Next to the Disneyland park entrance (right hand side) is a luggage store where you can keep items for a day. With the Pass you can store 3 pieces of luggage for free! As there were four of us, we split the cost of the remaining suitcase, which was only 5€ for the day.
Arriving back after a great trip to Disneyland Paris I began to think about whether the Annual Pass was worth the money. The simple answer to this is YES. Whilst the overall experience of actually receiving your pass is poor, once you have it you’re good to go and you can’t beat the discount value! We went for 3 days, staying in the Vienna Magic Circus Hotel and between the 4 of us the discount saved paid has off the Pass already.
Whilst we didn’t stay in a Disney hotel this time, as we got such a good deal on a partner hotel (50€pp for 3 nights, including breakfast: hotels.com), next time I plan to stay in a Disney hotel and I’d be interested to see how much of a discount we get on a room only booking.
Invitation to special events (film screening, preview events, etc.)
My last complaint is that I was looking forward to getting special offers and communication about my Infinity Pass through from Disneyland Paris. However, after still not receiving any information a month after returning and seeing lots of talk on Twitter and Facebook about a new event many people had just had emailed, I decided to chase this up.
I rang the phone line and they had recorded my email address wrong, and couldn’t resend the communication so I had missed out on this particular event. I look forward to receiving my first one going forward, now that they have hopefully amended my information.
The event in March is celebrating the 10 year anniversary of the Hollywood Tower Hotel.
I felt one part missing from the Annual Pass experience is the magic, feeling special and being treated well. I look forward to the changes I’ve seen in other people post which include special Annual Pass merchandise and pins.
New: Disneyland Paris AP Merchandise! Available to anyone. On sale April 12 at Flora’s. pic.twitter.com/YMIXQBpSoo
— ED92 (@ED92live) February 1, 2018
The experience didn’t start off great, but it hasn’t deterred me and I will be looking forward to future trips now that I know much more information.
Would I recommend an Annual Pass to other people? Yes! But I hope this article prevents anyone else from having as stressful time as I did, trying to get to grips with my pass!