Southern California Passports are back at Disneyland

September 22, 2016, 10:39 AM · The Disneyland Resort announced this morning that it has resumed sales of its Southern California annual pass. The next-to-least expensive two-park annual pass tier is available to Southern California residents at Disneyland Resort ticket booths, with online sales expected to resume soon.

Disneyland had dropped the SoCal AP tier in 2014. It's one step above the Southern California Select pass, which is valid for admission only on weekdays during the school year and not during the summers and holidays. The Southern California pass also allows park admission on non-summer, non-holiday Sundays as well as a few extra weeks of shoulder season in June. Disney dropped the pass in part to help control crowd levels on Sundays during the school year, which had grown to the point of being nearly unmanageable thanks to the large number of SoCal AP holders.

With the SoCal option off the table for the past two years, many locals looking for a (relatively) cheap annual pass opted for the SoCal Select option, which provides part of the reason why the park now is often busier in late August — when the summer SoCal Select AP block lifts — than it is on many mid-summer days. Disney's new three-tier pricing for one-day tickets further helps to limit attendance on peak days, so let's look at today's announcement as Disney's latest step toward "load balancing" its attendance across its 365 days of operation.

Ultimately, Disney management's ideal would be an equal number of people visiting on every day, allowing the resort to budget income and expenses uniformly across the year, leaving no excess capacity on "slow" days while avoiding excessive crowds on "busy" ones. Achieving that ideal is likely impossible, but by offering multiple annual pass tiers with varying blockout calendars as well as varying prices on single day tickets, Disney can try to steer its crowds from traditionally busy days to formerly less popular ones.

And it appears to be working, as it's rare to see truly empty days at the park anymore, while the summer peaks don't seem to be quite as high as they were in summers past, either. (We'll see how the change from the Premium to Signature annual passes affects crowds this Christmas season, too.)

Here are Disneyland's current annual pass prices. Monthly payment plans are available on all but the DCA pass.

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Replies (9)

September 22, 2016 at 11:08 AM · Further cementing Sunday as the busiest day of the week to visit the Disneyland Resort.
September 22, 2016 at 11:35 AM · Friday night and Sunday are both busy. They should offer staggered Saturdays as another pass category. I've been on the fence for buying a pass for a long time. I'm ready to buy before they shut down the deal again and before the next price increase. Too bad the parking pass isn't returning.
September 22, 2016 at 1:28 PM · I only own one annual pass... a $63.99 Great Adventure Gold Pass... and I thought $212 was expensive for a Cedar Fair pass... and none have backouts.
September 22, 2016 at 2:30 PM · Do people really save money when buying an annual pass?

How many times a year would a sane person visit Disney, if annual passes didn't exist?

Why not explore some of the other great entertainment in California instead? Universal Studios, Knott's Berry Farm, Magic Mountain, Sea World, San Diego Zoo, the national parks, the beach, the Hollywood Bowl, the Getty Museum, the La Brea tar pits, etc. etc. etc.

September 22, 2016 at 10:01 PM · I'm a little surprised to see this pass back, but it does make it more affordable for Southern California Residents to own a Disneyland pass while maintaining a normal schedule. I still think Disney should replace the Southern California passes with ticket packs (for example, replace the Southern California pass with a ticket good for 10 visits within a 12 month period), but perhaps the lack of season parking will help reduce the Sunday afternoon crowds a bit.
September 23, 2016 at 7:45 PM · "Why not explore some of the other great entertainment in California instead? Universal Studios, Knott's Berry Farm, Magic Mountain, Sea World, San Diego Zoo, the national parks, the beach, the Hollywood Bowl, the Getty Museum, the La Brea tar pits, etc. etc. etc."

Universal is pretty cool. Knott's is boring. Magic Mountain has devolved into a teen gangbanger hangout; the park is filthy and the "safety measures" are frighteningly nonexistent. Sea World? Oh, HELL no; I'd rather visit a prison. The San Diego Zoo is a great visit, but it's in San Diego, and accommodations are even pricier than Anaheim. The Getty Museum and the La Brea Tar pits are world class, but not everyone is interested (especially kids), and they don't even need a full day. Believe me, we've done lots of stuff in SoCal (I highly recommend Dearly Departed Tours in the Hollywood area). But we love Disneyland; my grown daughter and I enjoy the history, the little details, and the memories.

September 24, 2016 at 10:55 AM · Knotts is becoming one of my top theme parks. Matt Ouimet had done wonders with the place.
September 25, 2016 at 5:35 PM · I'm sure others have mentioned this before, but having a theme park pass allows for flexibility in your schedule. No longer are you trying to jam as many rides and shows into one day. Instead it becomes "we'll go next time". When I had a pass that's what I did with Disneyland Resort. If I was visiting friends near the parks, I may drop by after hanging out with them just to check out an attraction or a shop.

Yes there is plenty to do in So Cal, but having an annual pass does save stress and money if used properly.

September 27, 2016 at 9:43 AM · Teddy Gingerich - I totally agree with you on Knotts, Magic Mtn and Sea World. I prefer DCA, Disneyland to all of them, I have cheated on Walt by going to Universal - had a decent time seeing WWOHP and Jurassic Park. It is missing the magic or polish that the Disney Parks have, I will admit.

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