Disney Now and Then: Annual Passes


I have a lot of California friends who are currently pissed. And understandably so. As many of you know, an increase in Disneyland annual passes was recently announced. While this may seem like typical news that we get every single year, this time around, the increase poses a significant change for Disneyland Resort Premium Pass holders….because their pass type will no longer exist once their current pass expires. That’s right. If you had a Premium Pass, which got you no blackout dates, your pass no longer exists when it comes time to renewal, which means if you would like the Premium experience, you no longer have the option of paying $779, but now instead you would have to purchase the new equivalent which is called Signature Plus, and costs $1,049. Almost $300 more for the same product. The one good thing, is that the monthly payment plan option still exists for SoCal residents.

I’m not a finance person. But here’s what I do know: I used to be a Disney cast member, meaning that I got into all Disney parks for FREE. The normal stress of “Did we reach the maximum amount of fun for what we paid for this trip” did not exist for me. I could walk into Disneyland, have a cup of coffee and walk by “Peter Pan,” decide I don’t want to wait in a line and go right back home and it wouldn’t have mattered. I had coffee at Disneyland. Day well spent.


I don’t work at Disneyland anymore. I don’t even live near Disneyland anymore. I live in New York. Getting to Disneyland requires a plane ride, time off work, planning, hotel stays, etc. I’ve been extremely lucky to have friends who still work at the parks who sign me in when they can. It’s extremely generous and nice and I always appreciate when friends are able to help me or my family out. As wonderful as the sign-in process is, it’s not something I can always rely on. I’ve been in the market for a Disneyland Pass, and while the price raise isn’t making me act like a 5-year-old by declaring “Well, fine! I’ll never go to Disneyland ever again! (which is what a lot of people are claiming), I still feel like it’s time to decide what kind of Disney experience I need now in comparison to then.

I need to go to Disneyland every single day. That is what would make me happy. It’s not a reality though, seeing as it takes a 3-hour plane ride for me to hug Mickey Mouse. When I do go to Disneyland, I need to focus more on the quality of the trip. If I were to purchase a Signature Plus Pass, I would have to go to Disneyland 10 times in 1 year to make the pass worth it. This is something that is simply not feasible living so far away. The plan then turns into one in which I would purchase a ticket every time I visit. So, you figure I’d be spending approximately $100 or more for 1 day in the park. It all comes down to the price of the daily rate. Are you getting enough worth in 1 day at Disneyland for what you paid? Some families think Disneyland is too expensive and absolutely not worth the price of admission even if you spent the entire day in the park. What I’m about to say might make a lot of people cranky: I think the cost of admission is worth every penny even after the price raise. Sure, the Signature Plus Pass is really expensive, but it’s not for everyone. It wouldn’t have enough value for everyone. It’s not a good use of money to everyone unless you’re the person who goes to Disneyland all the time and needs every single calendar day of the year available to them. If you need the Signature Plus pass, then chances are you live close to Disneyland, therefore qualifying you for a monthly payment option. If you’re a huge Disney-holic, those payment plans aren’t too bad.


Here’s where I’m coming from: I work in a Broadway theatre full-time. My side gig is working for a Broadway sound company that sends me to different theaters a couple times a week where I get to see Broadway shows for free. The average price of a Broadway ticket is $75-$150. Broadway shows are also trying to shorten their running times, so many shows are picking up the new trend of a smooth 90 minutes with no intermission. Think about this. $150 for 90 minutes. If you buy a drink, the drink will be $15-$20. Candy is $5. Water is $5. You will probably go out to dinner. Dinner is another $30-$40 because you’re in the theatre district. And to be honest, the show could be terrible. Yes, terrible shows happen on Broadway. I’ve seen a LOT of Broadway shows. They’re a spectacle and they’re amazing and if you’re in New York, you have to see the show. But high cost of the ticket doesn’t guarantee you that you will have the best time of your life….even though this is the standard that Disneyland is held to. If you go to Coney Island and decide to check out Luna Park, you will spend approximately $5 per ride. Yes, it’s a fun experience if you want that quirky Instagram update that you actually went on the ‘scary’ ride, but other than that, it’s not a life changing experience.


Let’s put it all into perspective. People are upset over the price increase of an annual pass because Disneyland is truly important to them. It’s something they budget for. It’s something that they need in their life. Now that I don’t work at Disneyland, I see the one-day park hopper pass as the best value for me. In one day, if I manage to see one show (and we all know that Disney shows are held to Broadway level quality, in fact, many argue that the Hyperion version of “Aladdin” is better than the Broadway version) and go on a couple rides and see the fireworks, then I have reached the value of the price of the ticket. The cost it takes for the fireworks display to be produced alone is worth it. The tons of performers that go into 1 parade performance is worth it. The care and time that goes into every single scenic element, flower, detail. It’s all worth it. The price of one ticket is the price to enter a different world for an entire day. In New York, you will spend $150 to see a Broadway show. $40 on dinner. $30 on a cab with a driver who will get lost. $20 to see a museum, etc etc etc. $100 for a day at Disneyland doesn’t seem too bad. And yes, the Signature Plus pass sounds high because of course you hear the number $1,000 and go, “say what now??” You have to break it down into the number of visits you can feasibly accomplish and what you accomplish while you’re there. The park is too crowded to not raise the prices. And they’re not lowering the quality of the park, sounds like they’re improving on it. Anyway, it’s a nice problem to have isn’t it? Having a Disneyland pass implies that you plan on going multiple times in 1 year. Sounds like a good year to me.

Erika Jenko
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Posted on October 10, 2015, in Articles, Disney Now and Then and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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