Disneyland Annual Pass – Is it Worth the Money?
by Christy Weinberg, a guest blogger
As a former Disneyland Annual Passholder for roughly twenty years, I’ve learned pretty much everything there is to know about these magical little cards. I’ve had many different versions of Disneyland’s Annual Passport over the years, and have remained loyal to the program, even as prices and values have fluctuated. Although I no longer live near the parks, I have a wealth of information to share, when it comes to the pros and cons of having an annual pass. So, let me give you the inside scoop on every Disney fan’s most coveted possession, the Disneyland Annual Passport!
The Disneyland Annual Pass was created in 1983, as a way for Disney lovers to be able to visit the parks more frequently. Disneyland offers several different types of passes for fans to enjoy. The passes are organized from the lowest to most expensive in price, on the basis of benefits, discounts, and blockout dates. The pass is good for one year and allows you to make multiple trips to both Disneyland and California Adventure Parks. As a passholder, you will enjoy special offers, such as invitations to exclusive Disney events, discounts on hotel stays at a variety of Disney resorts, and more. Children under three are free, so you won’t have to purchase a pass for your kids until then. There are extra added benefits for residents of California, as well!
There are currently four Disneyland Annual Pass options available to the public. While the cost of these passes may increase from year to year, here’s a list of Disneyland’s current pass pricing:
Each of the passes listed above comes with its own set of benefits. The higher the price, the more benefits you’ll receive. The higher-priced passports come with a bigger discount on merchandise and dining. They also have fewer blockout dates, which means you’ll be able to visit the parks more often. All of the passes come with admission to both Disneyland and California Adventure Parks, but you may only have access to one park on a given day. Blockout dates are posted, per passport-type, on Disneyland’s website. (https://disneyland.disney.go.com/)
One of the ways Disney makes its annual passes more affordable is by offering a monthly payment plan. While this option is only available to California residents within a specific zip code range, it is extremely beneficial for those who live near the parks and visit often. I, personally, always chose to pay off my pass using the monthly payments plan. It’s especially beneficial if you are buying multiple passports for your family, as their combined price can add up pretty quickly. After a required down payment, you will pay off the remaining balance in twelve monthly installments, and there’s no interest added.
There are a couple of passes I have not included in the chart above for various reasons. First, the Southern California Annual Pass, which is only available to those who already have it, and are renewing it. Next, the Southern California Select Annual Passport, which is only available to Southern California residents. Finally, the Disney Premier Passport, which gives you access to both the Disneyland and Walt Disney World Resort Parks. This is the only pass that includes free parking and comes with a variety of benefits, all for a grand total of $2,199.00.
As far as one-day tickets are concerned, prices vary by date and park accessibility. Taking into account how often you plan on visiting, will help you decide if purchasing an annual pass is a worthwhile investment for you and your family. When I lived near Disneyland, I frequented the parks up to three times per week, so buying a pass was a no brainer for me.
Aside from the numbers and calculations that must be taken into account, when deciding whether or not to purchase an annual pass, there is so much to be celebrated. So let’s get to the fun parts! First of all, let me just say, as a longtime annual passholder, I’ve never regretted any pass purchase I made. I used my pass often and enjoyed each and every minute of my time at the parks. I felt privileged to be a small part of the magic of Disneyland. Here are my top five reasons why having a Disneyland Annual Pass is well worth it!
To be a Disneyland Annual Passholder, is to be part of a special kind of club for fellow Disney enthusiasts and lovers. The Disney community is a fun, happy, kind, and generous group of people. When you purchase a Disneyland Pass, you are initiated into the Disney family. Your purchase proclaims your love and support for one of the greatest institutions of all time. Disneyland is the original!
Walt Disney had a personal hand in every aspect of the creation of Disneyland. This was his baby, his passion project. He loved Disneyland and its guests so much, he had his own apartment there! You can see it as you walk in. It’s located right above the fire department. (Look for the lamp in the window, with a light that is always left on, to honor his legacy.)
As a Disneyland Passholder, you’ll become so familiar with the parks, and even with some of the cast members, it can feel like a second home. At least, it did for me!
Being an annual passholder has several practical benefits as well. For example, instead of being limited to spending only a day or two at the parks, which means having to rush through all the rides, you can visit at your leisure. As I said, I used to go several times per week. On a typical Disney Day, as I liked to call it, I would usually only spend a couple of hours at the park. I generally preferred to arrive in the morning, before it got crowded. After parking, I would head to Starbucks at Downtown Disney for a little pick me up. Then, some shopping at the beautiful World of Disney store. Finally, I would stroll into Disneyland.
Visiting the park in short spurts allowed me to enjoy the very best the parks have to offer. I could plan my trips at optimal times, when the parks were least crowded, traveling through at an enjoyable pace. Disneyland is a completely different experience when it’s not crowded. This is something every Disney fan should have the opportunity to enjoy.
As a person who loves shopping for Disney merch, having a pass allowed me to get a nice discount on my purchases. It’s pretty hard to walk into Disneyland, without ending up with something to take back with you, even as a passholder. So, the discount comes in handy!
The dining discount comes in handy as well. Disneyland has some amazing food to offer. As an annual passholder, you’ll have access to restaurants inside the park, which you would otherwise not have access to. You can make reservations for special occasions, like birthdays or anniversaries, and the pass discount takes a hefty chunk out of the bill, when it comes to more expensive restaurants, like The Blue Bayou, or Carthay Circle.
The moment you walk onto Disney grounds, the ambiance can immediately lift your spirits. The music, colors, smells, and general upbeat nature of Disney is contagious. When I was an annual passholder, there was truly no place I’d rather be than the Happiest Place on Earth. Disneyland makes even an average day feel special.
You can make the most of your pass like I did, by using it for date nights, playdates, or just shopping and browsing on your own. You can head to the parks after a hard day of work, or if you’re having a rough day. The possibilities are truly endless.
The bottom line is, you can’t put a price on happiness, and having consistent access to the parks is priceless. Disneyland was the backdrop of so many happy memories for me. I even told my husband we were expecting both our first child, and our foster babies at Disneyland, and the cast members always went out of their way to make these kinds of events extra magical.
There is nothing like experiencing Disneyland during the holidays, and you don’t have to visit on the date of the holiday itself, to experience all Disneyland has to offer. Disneyland has their decorations on display for a long enough time period, to ensure that as many guests as possible are able to take part in the celebrations. Needless to say, Disneyland goes all out for many of the holidays we love to celebrate. Decorations go up for Valentine’s Day and Easter, and there are photo ops galore. That being said, there are two specific holidays in which Disneyland really shines. Halloween Time and Christmas at Disneyland are beyond spectacular!
From the decorations to festive changes in the rides, to the shows, the food, and the music…Disney is the master of holiday celebrations. Walking down Main Street during Christmas time can take your breath away. It brought tears to my eyes on more than one occasion. If you’re like me, and you like to go all out when it comes to decorating and celebrating the holidays, Disneyland is the place to get you in the spirit!
As a passionate lover of Disney, I must admit, there isn’t much I have to complain about! But, there are always things that can be improved upon. So, I will give you my honest opinion about three things that could use some improvement, when it comes to Disneyland’s Annual Passport.
1. Price Increases
No one likes a price hike. We work hard for what we earn, and it’s always disappointing to see something we love to do increase in price. But, as far as Disneyland passes are concerned, this comes with the territory. Disney increases pass prices fairly often, and the increase is usually substantial. Because of Disneyland’s popularity, the parks have gotten overcrowded, and passholders are a big reason for the increase in attendance. To remedy this, Disney continues to hike up its prices, hoping to make visiting the park a little more exclusive, and therefore less crowded.
2. Pass Fluctuations
Over the years, Disneyland has made numerous changes to what each particular pass includes. Blockout dates are the most common aspect of change. Each year, it seems like more and more Disneyland dates become unavailable. Disneyland not only changes the benefits included in particular passes, but they’ve also removed certain passes altogether. It came as quite a shock to me, when it was announced that the pass I’d been renewing for years, was going to be discontinued. I was extremely upset at first. Luckily, Disney remedied the situation in part, when they allowed us to keep our passes, as long as we renewed them before they expired. Phew!
Parking used to be included in several of the pass options. Then, parking was taken away, and only available on the higher-priced passes. When parking was removed from the higher-priced passes, you were still able to purchase a parking pass as an alternative. Now, parking is only included with the Disney Premier Passport. Having parking included was a huge asset for me when it came to buying my annual pass. When you purchase a pass, it makes you feel as if every entrance you make into the park is essentially free. Having to pay a hefty price for parking ($25 standard rate) on each and every visit is a bit of a downer.
Absolutely, there’s no doubt about it!
If you love Disney and are able to budget for it, there is nothing like being able to visit the Happiest Place on Earth on a consistent basis. Not only does the pass pay for itself after only a handful of visits, but the value of what you get on an average trip to Disneyland Park is also irrefutable. Even when the prices increased and the pass options changed, I always felt that my pass was worth every penny, and more.
The quality of what Disney provides is undeniable. Experiencing Disneyland Park is euphoric and dreamlike. You’ll make the best memories at Disneyland! You’ll meet amazing people, take beautiful pictures, and never forget the times you spent with family and friends. You can visit in the morning or at night, and have a completely different experience on each and every trip. The park is spick-and-span clean, the shows are top-notch, the food is delicious, and the shopping’s amazing. But, the greatest gift of all is the magic Disneyland provides.
So, if you’re thinking about purchasing an annual pass, think no longer. Go out there and experience it all for yourself! Become part of the Happiest Place on Earth, and treat yourself to your own piece of the magic, with a Disneyland Annual Pass!
About the Author:
Christy Weinberg was a loyal Disneyland Annual Passholder for many years until her recent move out of state. Despite her change in location, she is still passionate about all things Disney! She currently shares her love and memories of the parks with fellow Disney enthusiasts.