Disney annual passholders can swap old passes for new plastic ones

Walt Disney World annual passholders can now swap the paper version of their passes for new plastic cards with radio-free ID chip inside. That technology is part of Disney's upcoming MyMagic+ program.

For now, the only benefit of the new annual passes is that they allow passage through the theme parks' new entrances, said Disney World spokeswoman Marilyn Waters. These entries — currently being phased in at Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disney's Animal Kingdom and Disney's Hollywood Studios — do not have turnstiles, just open spaces with card readers and finger scanners. Disney refers to the process as "touch to enter."

Annual passholders can swap their cards at Epcot's Odyssey Center, situated on the water between Test Track and the Mexico pavilion of World Showcase, during regular theme-park hours daily through May 19, the final day of the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival. Present paper passes and valid IDs to get the new card, which must be used by the same person who used the paper pass, Disney says.

This process is voluntary and optional. Paper passes continue to be honored, Waters said.

After May 19, another distribution system for the new cards will be established, she said.

Guests who have completed the swap report that they were given a choice of cards featuring images of Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck or Goofy. Unlike the paper cards, there is prominent wordage on the front indicating that it's an annual pass.

With the exception of the front gate, the new pass now works exactly like the old pass, Waters said. For instance, to receive a discount or a FastPass, the card must be presented.

Disney says that annual passholders eventually will have access to other upcoming MyMagic+ features, such as the FastPass+ service, which enables reservations for attractions in advance, and the MagicBands, colorful wristbands that will double as tickets and have other powers at Disney World. Details and a timeframe have not been revealed for those features.

DBevil@Tribune.com or 407-420-5477