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Walt Disney World annual passes: Four reasons why they're not just for locals

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If you live near Walt Disney World, chances are good that you're an annual pass holder. Disney offers several varieties, from seasonal passes with blackouts during the busy season to those that are good all year 'round, so there's something for everyone.

However, an annual pass might make sense for you even if you don't live in Florida. Back when I was 1000 miles away, I still had an annual pass most years because I came down to Disney World at least twice a year, normally staying for a week each time. That made it more economical to have a pass rather than to keep buying tickets on each trip.

Click the video accompanying this article to learn more about annual passes and their value. If you're thinking about joining the Walt Disney World annual pass family, here are the main reasons that I recommend it:

1) Cost. This benefit depends on how often you visit the parks. If you stay in Florida for a week or more, or visit more than once a year, compare an annual pass to the cost of buying tickets ala carte. Many out-of-state Disney fanatics visit often enough to make an annual pass worthwhile.

2) Free parking. If you get an annual pass that includes free parking, you save a bundle over the course of the year. I figure that my pass nearly pays for itself just because I don't pay parking fees. Most passes include this benefit, although it's not part of the seasonal passes.

3) Discounts. Even as a local, I often can't pass up souvenirs. Your annual pass gets you discounts in select stores around the parks and Downtown Disney.

4) Special events. Annual pass holders get to attend occasional special events. My favorite was the New Fantasyland preview. I got to see the new area ahead of its official opening and with almost no lines.

Those are all among the reasons why I have a pass myself, and hopefully they'll help you decide whether an annual pass is the right option for you.

Need advice or guidance from a Central Florida theme parks expert? Check out my ebooks for Kindle and Nook.

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