Decisions, Decisions – Some thoughts on Disneyland’s Annual Passports

When it comes to purchasing an Annual Passport (AP) at Disneyland, Disneyland AP
holders have something that most WDW passholders don’t – choices.
Disneyland offers four different types of annual passes at different
prices, the major difference between the passes being the number of days
the passholder gets admission to the parks.

There’s the Premium and Deluxe APs, which anyone can purchase, and
also the Southern California and Southern California Select APs, which
are only available to residents of southern California.

Got all that? There will be a test later.

All of the passes provide admission to both Disneyland and Disney’s
California Adventure, but as I mentioned earlier there are
limitations with some passes. With the exception of the Premium
AP all of the other passes have some number of “blockout days” –
days which the AP is not valid for park admission. Not surprisingly,
as the price of the pass decreases the number of blockout days
increases. Blockout days are scattered throughout the year, and
as you might imagine, the times when Disneyland is busier are the
days that are most likely to be designated as blockout days. These
generally include weekends, holidays, the two weeks around
Christmas/New Year, and spring break. (We view blockout days as an
indicator of the days we really don’t want to visit, because the parks
are just too busy!)

Here’s a list of the currently available APs:

Premium: $359.00, no blockout days
Deluxe: $239.00, 45 blockout days
Southern CA: $154.00, 149 blockout days
Southern CA Select: $124.00, 195 blockout days

Now, as you can see, the So Cal Select is a pretty good deal at $124 –
less than the price of two single day tickets! But with all those
blockout days, which include all Saturdays and Sundays, most of June and
August and all of July, unless you can go during the week in the
off-season it’s not very useful.

AP holders *do* have the option of going to the parks on a blockout
day, but must purchase a blockout day ticket at the main entrance
ticket booths to do so. This costs $30/day, and must be purchased
on the day that it is going to be used. For park admission, you
must show your AP *and* the blockout day ticket.

Another choice for Annual Passholders is parking. It’s included in the
Premium AP, but it’s an option on the others. For $59/year you can
add parking to your AP, which allows you to park as many times as you
want in the Mickey and Friends parking structure. Since it currently
costs $11/day to park, if you plan to visit more than 5 times it’s worth
doing. Only one person in the car needs to have the parking
feature on their pass.

Something Disney has recently added as an option to APs is stroller
rental – for $49/year you can present your pass at the Stroller Rental
location and get one stroller per day.

For those familiar with the Walt Disney World AP, one thing that’s nice
about the Disneyland AP is that it’s plastic, like a credit card. (Yes,
I know the WDW APs aren’t made of paper, but they sure feel flimsy!) And
it is personalized with your picture on it. Though unlike a WDW AP you
can’t purchase/activate it at any ticket booth – after purchasing the
ticket part you MUST go to the Annual Passholder processing center inside
Disneyland. They’ll take your picture and create your real AP on the
spot. After that you can renew by mail or on Disneyland’s AP web
site, and they’ll mail the new AP to you. (I recently renewed on
a Saturday and my new passes arrived in the mail on Tuesday!)

APs provide passholders with a number of discounts around the Disneyland
resort – dining, stays at resort hotels, and even merchandise and
services. It’s always a good idea to ask if there’s an AP discount
anytime you make a purchase at the Disneyland Resort!

My husband and I are a mixed passport family – I have the Premium AP and
he has the Deluxe. It makes sense for one of us to have the parking
option (which is included on the Premium AP), and there are times when I
visit on Deluxe pass blockout days. This year we knew that he
would be going twice on blockout days to attend events at this
year’s Food and Wine Weekends, and we thought about spending the
additional $120 to upgrade him to a Premium, but in the end we
decided that even with $60 in blockout day tickets we were still
$60 ahead in staying with the Deluxe.

But here’s a little ditty I composed when we were thinking about it…

To Premium Pass or not to Premium Pass…that is the question.
Whether ’tis nobler to stand in line
And suffer the stings and purchase price of a blockout day ticket
Or to sigh and lay out the additional $120,
And by purchasing a Premium, avoid them.

And now for the test (what, you didn’t believe me???):
If Laura has a So Cal Select AP, and Lee has a Deluxe AP, on how many
blockout days can she accompany him to the park before she would have been
better off getting a Deluxe AP to begin with?

Until next time…when I will probably talk about “Taste”, the AP event
at Disney’s Food and Wine Weekends this Saturday…


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Laura Gilbreath is a native of San Diego, CA. She has been making the trek up Interstate 5 to Disneyland since she was a small child and terrified of talking tikis and hitchhiking ghosts. She and her husband Lee enjoy trips to Disneyland and Walt Disney World, as well as sailings on the Disney Cruise Line.

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