Should you buy an annual pass to Disneyland?2007-11-15
By Robert Niles: Unlike at Walt Disney World, where the vast majority of visitors hail from outside Central Florida, at Disneyland, most of the visitors on any given day are Southern California locals. For these Disneyland fans, their ticket into the Magic Kingdom is likely some form of an annual pass.
But which Disneyland annual pass should you buy? Today, I break down the math to answer that question.
Unlike at Walt Disney World, there's no way to buy a Disneyland ticket that does not expire after a certain period of time. The unused days on a Disneyland multi-day ticket expire 13 days after its first use, or within a certain number of weeks after its purchase. So there's no point to buying a multi-day passport with the idea of using one day at a time over the next several months or years, like you might do at Walt Disney World. (See my previous blog entry explaining Walt Disney World tickets.) If you want to buy a ticket that allows you to visit Disneyland multiple times over a period longer than two weeks, you need a annual pass.
Disneyland offers four annual passes (all available on the Disneyland website):
Note that Disneyland does not sell children's passes, so kids have to buy at the adult price. And only the Deluxe and Premium APs are available to people who live outside the LA/Ventura/OC/Inland Empire/San Diego area.
So which pass, if any, should you buy? To find out, first you need to figure out how many trips to Disneyland you think you'll make during the next 12 months -- and when.
We'll compare the cost of these annual passes to buying one-day tickets for each Disneyland trip. A one-day, one-park ticket to Disneyland or Disney's California Adventure costs $66 for adults, $55 for kids ages 3-9. Disney sells a one-day park hopper for $91 ($86 for SoCal residents), but frequently offers "2fer" deals that includes a day at each park for the price of a one-day, one-park ticket.
Using the $66 for comparison, here is how many visits you'd need to make in one year using the various annual passes to get a better deal than buying a one-day ticket each time you visited:
Don't forget the black-out dates, though. A SoCal Select passport is just flushing $129 down the drain if you can visit Disneyland only on weekends.
For me, living in Pasadena, I am most likely to visit Disneyland on a weekend. Weekday traffic between Los Angeles and Orange Counties is simply too brutal for me to want to visit Monday through Friday, unless it is a holiday. That takes the Southern California and Southern California Select Annual Passes out of the equation for me. Those passes makes most sense for an Orange County resident who can make many quick trips over to Disneyland after work on a weekday and who doesn't mind staying away on the busier weekends, holidays and during the summer.
Who should buy each type of Disneyland Annual Pass?
SoCal Select - Buy it if you are an OC local family who will visit Disneyland at least three times on weekdays during the school year. (Or just twice if you are an adult visiting without the kids.)
SoCal - Buy it if you are an OC family who will visit Disneyland at least four times on weekdays and/or Sundays during the school year, or other SoCal local who will visit at least four times on Sundays during the school year. (Three times for those without kids.)
Deluxe - Buy it if you plan to visit Disneyland at least five times during the year, but not during holidays periods or on Saturdays during spring and summer. (Four times if you aren't bringing kids.)
Premium - Buy it if you are a family who will visit Disneyland at least seven times a year, usually on Saturdays or holidays periods. (Six times for grown-ups without kids.)
Forget the pass - Anyone else, including people whose visit to the Disneyland Resort within the year will fall within a single two-week period.
Readers, please add your thoughts on Disneyland APs in the comments.
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