Disney Parks, over the weekend, announced another price increase to their annual passes and a new annual pass structure. The weekend’s increase was the second increase since May 2014 and structure change and the introduction of blackout dates to the Walt Disney World calendar for some “lower tier” annual passes. This is a lot of change for people to digest in a short period of time. In general, people do not like change and protest that change. “I’m never buying annual passes again…..Disney has priced me out of the annual pass market.”
This article is just going to focus on the annual passes at Walt Disney World not the annual pass fee increases and structure changes at Disneyland.
Walt Disney World and Disneyland have gone through a massive evolution in ticketing since the two parks open. At first, you paid a flat admission and then bought books of tickets like at the county fair and the rides were grouped by attraction level. Most people know these as the old “A-E Tickets.”
When Walt Disney World opened in 1971, they also used the old A-E Tickets.
The more popular the attraction was the higher ticket level it received. These attractions on the E-Ticket were some of the popular attractions when the park first opened. As the parks evolved, it became easier to have just a single park admission which covered all the attractions in the park. People didn’t have carry around books of tickets. They had just one ticket and that covered everything in the park.
Disney called these Disney Passports and it was valid for one day or multiple days. All the passports in the picture above were for one day. If you wanted to visit multiple parks in the same day, you had to buy a passport for each park. There was no “park hopping.” Also remember, at the time, there was just Magic Kingdom and EPCOT in Walt Disney World and just Disneyland in California. There was no Hollywood Studios, Animal Kingdom, and Disney’s California Adventure. This was in Disney’s mind the most efficient way to do ticketing. As more people wanted to “park hop,” Disney responded with an early version of the park hopper:
This ticket gave a person unlimited admission to both the Magic Kingdom and EPCOT. As you can see, they called it the World Passport. It also required a person get their hand stamped if they left a park but wanted to return to either park in the same day. Hand stamping was the next thing to go as Disney introduced the Key to the World Card for on-property guests and a credit card swipeable paper ticket for off-property guests.
These are first generation Key to the World Cards and each resort on Disney property had their own style of card. Some people would intentionally stay at different resorts so they could “collect Key to the World cards.” To standardized things, Disney introduced the second generation Key to the World Cards:
Now reach the present, Disney has phased out the Key to the World Card and moved everything to their new program: The Disney Magicband. This wearable band works as your park ticket, room key, charging privileges. Basically, anything that person needs for their stay is now on this wearable band.
Now moving through all these different technologies and investing in new parks, attractions, resorts, and upgrades didn’t come cheap. Some of those costs were passed along to the consumer. When Walt Disney World opened in 1971, admission to the park was $3.50 plus the cost of the ticket books for the attractions. Ticket books were eliminated in 1981 and admission to Magic Kingdom was $9.50 which quickly rose to $17 in 1983. It took until 2002 for one-day tickets to cost $50. In 2014, the cost of a one-day ticket for the Magic Kingdom now costs $99. We still haven’t crossed that $100 threshold but I could see it happening with the 2015 ticket increase. Now, let’s take a look at the ticket options available to someone going the parks in the near future: Standard One-park/day tickets – Walt Disney World These tickets must be used with 14 days of first use. They can be bought for a little as one day and as many as 10 days. For just a one day ticket: Magic Kingdom $99, All other parks $94 If you buy a multiple day ticket, it’s one price starting at $188 for a two-day ticket to as much as $354 for 10 days worth of tickets. For children aged 3-9, the one day Magic Kingdom ticket is $98 while all other parks are $93. Multiple day tickets start at $175 for a two-day ticket and go to $334 for a 10-day ticket. The biggest increase in costs are over days one through four (costs for guests aged 10 and over): one-day ticket $99 (Magic Kingdom), $94 (all other parks) two-day ticket $188 three-day ticket $274 four-day ticket $294 After the fourth day, the price increases $10/day up to the 10-day limit. There are two options which you can purchase for your standard tickets: Park Hopper and Water Parks and More. You can purchase both options for your standard tickets. The Park Hopper gives the guest the ability to visit multiple parks within the same day. If a guest doesn’t purchase this option, the guest is limited to one park per day. This option is relatively inexpensive at only $60 whether a guest purchases a two-day or ten-day ticket. The $60 cost is the same. Same applies for the Water Parks and More options. This option gives the guest the ability to go to Disney’s two water parks (Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach), the DisneyQuest Interactive Theme Park in Downtown Disney, play Disney’s Oak Trail Golf Course, a round of mini-golf at either Winter Summerland or Fantasia Gardens miniature golf course. This also $60 per ticket. However, if you are staying four days, then the guest has four available visits to the above locations. Finally, a guest could combine the two options for $86 per ticket. Annual Passes – Walt Disney World A guest, if they plan to make multiple visits within the same year, can purchase an annual passes. There are two types of annual passes a guest could purchase: A Standard Annual Pass: Provides a guest with access to all four parks with park-hopping privileges. Complimentary parking at Walt Disney World Resorts, quarterly newsletter, discounts an limited-time offers on resort stays, merchandise, and dining. This annual pass is $634 for 2014. A Premium Annual Pass: Provides a guest with everything that a standard pass does. In addition, a guest has unlimited access to the attractions featured in the Water Parks and more option for a standard ticket. This annual pass is $754 for 2014. Standard Ticketing – Disneyland Resort Ticketing for Disneyland is a little different from Walt Disney World. There are only two parks: Disneyland Park and Disney’s California Adventure. However, a guest can still purchase a one-park per day ticket or a park hopper. Tickets for adults start at only $86 for a one-day ticket or $131 for a one-day park hopper ticket. Disneyland has Magic Morning option for purchase which gives early access to Disneyland Park on Tuesday, Thursday, or Saturday. This option can only be purchases on ticket lengths three days or longer. Annual Passes – Disneyland Resort There are three types of annual passes available at the Disneyland Resort 1) Deluxe Annual Pass: Provides 315 days admission to the Disneyland Resort. There are 50 blackout dates. This pass costs $499 without parking or $638 with parking in 2014. 2) Premier Annual Pass: No blackout days (365 days of admission) and includes parking. This pass costs $669 in 2014. 3) Premium Annual Pass: Admission to both Disneyland and Walt Disney World resorts. Acts a Premier Annual Pass at Walt Disney World. Available for purchase only at Disneyland ticket counters, Guest Relations at Walt Disney World, and Downtown Disney at Walt Disney World. This pass costs $979 in 2014. There’s a brief introduction to ticketing both past and present at the Walt Disney World and Disneyland Resorts. Thanks for reading!