So, it has finally happened. A Disneyland Annual Passport is being offered at a cost of more than $1000.
It has been said that timing is everything. In this case, is anyone really surprised? Given that Disneyland continues to attract record numbers of guests, even with a minimal investment into new infrastructure for the Park, you should not be. Disney is only doing one of those things it does best. Taking advantage of visitor demand.
You can argue that the Annual Pass is either the best thing Disney every came up with or the worst. At one level, the company manages a large float of cash that they don’t have to work for every day. Even with monthly payments for California residents, you can’t deny that the boost on a monthly basis of income looks good to those Accountanteers.
The company also knows it has created some of its own troubles with having too many Annual Passes. The person who visits the parks more often is less likely to spend the same per capita per visit than an ordinary guest. Less on souvenirs or even food and beverage. And those local guests can add up causing over crowding for high demand days such as the Christmas/New Years holidays. One need look no further than special events where the parks were open for an extended period. Locals flooded the parks around the clock, over flowing parking lots and more.
It has been said that Disney could do away with Annual Passports entirely and would still manage to draw record attendance from guests. It might hurt for a few financial quarters as that cash flow eventually stopped but it would not be the end of all things theme park. Enough folks would still pay the admission price just to be at Disneyland.
So, what’s the scoop on the high priced Annual Passports? Here is the official Disneyland web page link. Disney will be continuing to offer the passes, albeit with a twist on the previous offerings.
The newly renamed Annual Pass (The Disney Signature Plus Passport) will now cost $1049 per person. Disney has added an extra value to the pass by adding the PhotoPass Service. It also includes resort parking as well as continuing the discount for dining (up to 15% at some locations) as well as 20% for merchandise purchases. And of course, it has no blackout days.
Yet, that may not be the best value, in my opinion. The next option down the ladder at $849 is the Disney Signature Passport. This offers all the same values as the higher cost pass with a seasonal blackout from Saturday, December 19th through Saturday, January 2nd. If you can skip visiting during this extremely high demand period, you manage to save $200 on the cost of that pass.
Having spent a number of New Years Eve’s at Disneyland in the 1990’s, it was cold and overcrowded. There were some fun and memorable times to be sure, but I can skip those now. Saving that $200? Might just be worth it.
Finally, Disney offers the Disney Deluxe Passport for $599 with a number of black-out dates, only 10% discounts for dining and merchandise. Parking is not included.
And don’t forget, these are the prices for age 3 and up. No more Child Annual Passports.
Disney also is no longer selling the bargain Southern California Select or Southern California Passes, but they can be renewed. And the former no black out Premium Pass is also being discontinued in favor of the Signature series passes.
I think it fair to say that the Disneyland Annual Passport program has not seen its sunset yet. A twist in pricing and offers is something we AP’s have come to expect. Will this move help with overcrowding at the Park? I think we will know better next year. But I suspect that the people who want unlimited access to Disneyland will be there to pay the price, no matter where it goes.