After shutting down their Annual Pass Program amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, Disneyland has decided to relaunch the beloved program. However, it will look quite different than before – and that’s made many Disney fans more than a little upset…
A New Disneyland Annual Pass Program
During the coronavirus pandemic, Disney took the time to shut down its Annual Pass Program. Many thought they would never bring it back. However, they have…and many are not happy about it. The famous theme park in southern California has replaced the Annual Pass Program with the “Magic Key Program.” The company also says that it plans to introduce the Magic Keys to Walt Disney World as well.
At Disneyland, at least, the Magic Key Progam has four tiers, ranging from $399 to $1,399. The cheapest option, the “Imagine Key,” comes in at $399, but is only available to Southern Californian residents. However, it also has the most amount of blackout dates. As the prices increase for the Enchant Key ($649), Believe Key ($949), and Dream Key ($1,399), the blackout dates decrease. However, blackout dates are not the only part of the deal changing. Magic Key Program holders will also need to reserve tickets in advance, and MaxPass (pre-purchased FastPasses) and PhotoPass (pre-purchased photos) are no longer included.
“Disney corporate is trying to find the right balance between out of town visitors who spend more money and annual pass holders who provide a reliable stream of income,” said Len Testa, president of travel website Touring Plans. “Disneyland has a fixed capacity. They haven’t said how they’re going to slice the pie.”
Needless to say, many former Annual Pass Holders are not happy with the new program…
The Program’s Downsides
Quite a few southern California residents who previously had Annual Passes are not happy with the Magic Keys. “I qualify to buy the Imagine Key pass for Southern California residents but there are way too many blackout dates for someone like me who has a teen who plays elite sports and doesn’t like missing school,” said Katie Dillon, a former Annual Pass holder.
Meanwhile, many theme park experts think the park reservations, while great for Disney, will scare away potential passholders. Especially the local ones. “Disneyland is a ‘locals park,'” said AJ Wolfe, editor, and owner of travel website Disney Food Blog. “They head into Disneyland in the evening for dinner and a ride on their favorite attraction. They pop in last minute on a Saturday morning. There isn’t too much planning involved.” And reservations mean no more spontaneous trips to Disneyland! And there’s quite the penalty for no-shows: a 30-day ban from visiting the park.
“It’s a completely different experience than it was before,” Wolfe said. That’s certainly an understatement!