Friday, May 23, 2014

Disneyland Passes

By D'land Diva

Well, another year of being an annual pass holder at Disneyland has passed and what should happen? They raise the prices of annual passes AGAIN. Now, I'm not talking a few bucks here, like they do for the other admission tickets. Nope. Annual passes, all of them, go up between $20-$30 each year. Parking, which must be added onto every pass except the premium pass has also increased by that amount. This year, the powers that be also decided to do away with the favorite Southern California pass that allowed Disney lovers to attend the parks on weekends (the other So Cal pass blocks out holiday times and weekends, and the Deluxe and Premium passes are significantly more money and not as popular).

Should I renew? Do I just keep agreeing to pay the increase in prices because in the end it is worth it to me?

Let me start at the beginning.

I bought my first Disneyland Annual Pass in the year 1999.

There was A PASS at that time. I paid less than $200 for the pass (I don't remember the exact price, but it was higher than $150 and less than $200). Daily ticket prices were around $35. People were complaining about the expenses then!
Over the years the cost and complexity of the annual passes at Disneyland have changed. There became two pass options, then four. The lowest price pass started somewhere in the $100 range and severely limited attendance days (no holidays or weekends) and the highest price pass had no blackout days and free parking. I have always opted for the highest priced pass or the next highest price pass. I was a teacher for many years, and weekends and holidays were when I could go to the park so the other passes did me no good!

So I have been an annual pass holder at Disneyland for fifteen years. Disneyland is my go to place. It holds so many memories for me and my family- from some of my first dates with my husband, to the intense morning sickness I had with my son and sitting on Main Street moaning, to waddling into California Adventure nine months pregnant with my daughter trying desperately to be one of the first people to ride the new Little Mermaid Attraction. For goodness sakes, my husband proposed to me at Disneyland. It's like an old friend, I don't know if I could live without it! Over the years, we have kind of looked at our annual passes as a necessary expense- like car insurance.

But...this year my youngest has reached the age where we need to buy a pass for her. With the increases in price for the passes, each member of our family would pay $700 for this year's pass. That is $2,800 for our family to have passes. Sure, we could go down to the cheaper pass, but my husband is a teacher and we need the extra weekend days to visit. We would be able to visit the parks on Sundays, but not Saturdays. Christmas vacation would essentially be blocked out, as would much of Thanksgiving break. Now that the other pass has been done away with, the only other option for us would be the lowest price pass which is a weekday only pass. With two little ones in school, it's not reasonable and we wouldn't use it all that much.

I truly do understand where Disney is coming from with this one, too. There are a million plus annual pass holders. Park attendance is...sometimes downright miserable. We have learned to get to the parks early in the morning on Saturdays, when most of the passes are blocked out in order to get on a decent number of rides without having to wait an hour for something like Autopia. From Disney's point of view, visitors to the parks are getting the raw end of the deal- and when it comes down to it, the visitors are where the parks make the most money. If I were taking my vacation and had to wait two hours to ride on Splash Mountain and another hour to ride Dumbo and an hour and a half to ride on Star Tours due to annual pass holders, I might be a little bitter. But, is raising the prices really the way to go here? Clearly the price increases in the past didn't lower attendance. Maybe getting rid of the So Cal pass will help? I think the better option to reduce the number of pass holders would be eliminate the monthly payment plans for passes. It is a drastic approach for sure, but I believe it would get the job done.

But I digress...

Sure, it's a first world problem, the cost of a Disneyland annual pass. But I suspect in the end, my family will once again cave and maybe eat top ramen dinners once a week to pay for our passes. The 60th anniversary of Disneyland is coming up in 2015. We cannot miss it!

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