After a recent discussion with others in this forum, I did some thinking along with some math, and I came up with the following conclusions:
1) Annual Pass sales net the Disney company approximately 120 MILLION DOLLARS a year! (Note: this figure has been adjusted as per Darkbeer's additional info found below) Once the parks' operational costs are paid, it seems to me that this would be pure profit.
2) It also occurred to me that Disney WANTS the park to be at capacity as often as possible. I would love to see some numbers of sales at the parks on capacity days vs an average weekday in January. (How many MILLIONS are we talking about here?)
3) It has been argued that AP's in the park will hurt sales overall if they are not actively buying an expensive meal or actively shopping...if they are merely "taking up space." My rebuttal argument was that many in Disney management PREFER to have long wait times and fewer fastpasses as the end result is bored guests that go looking for food and merchandise. The resulting shoppers may not be AP's, but I don't think Disney cares. As long as SOMEONE is shopping, they are happy.
4) Disney is making money hand over fist on AP sales, from the $109.00 local passes up to the premiums. And it is because of this that I think AP's will be around for a long, long time.