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5 Reasons Disneyland Doesn’t Want More Annual Passholders

Long lines clog the entrance to Disneyland.

Long lines clog the entrance to Disneyland.

Disney has a plan to pare down the number of Annual Passholders (AP’s) at the Disneyland Resort. We know this. One question that remains is why?

The answer has less to do with AP’s themselves and more to do with who the preferred target customer of the Walt Disney Company is.

Disney’s Perfect Guests

Disney's Preferred Customer: The Mythical Wealthy Family of Four
Disney’s Preferred Customer: The Mythical Wealthy Family of Four

Every business has an ideal customer. For surfboard companies, it’s surfers with money. For camping equipment companies, it’s outdoor-lovers with money.

And for Disney, the target group is what I call the ‘Mythical Wealthy Family of Four.’ Simply put, they’re vacationers with disposable income and a reason to spend it.

Why am I bringing this up? It’s important to know who the ideal customer is to really understand why Disney doesn’t really want more Annual Passholders right now.

1. Annual Passholders Fill Up Space

Crowded entrance to Disneyland.
Crowded entrance to Disneyland.

Bear with me here, I’m going to throw a few numbers at you.

Disneyland Guest Area Hasn’t Grown Much Over The Years

Guest areas added to Disneyland between the mid-80's and 2013.
Guest areas added to Disneyland between the mid-80’s and 2013.

In 1984, when Premium annual passes were first made available to the public, the guest accessible area at Disneyland (DL) was about 72 acres and park attendance was 9.8 million. In the years to come, the park guest area would increase slightly with the addition of Splash Mountain (1989), Mickey’s Toontown (1993), and the Indiana Jones Adventure (1995).

In 2014, Disneyland had a guest area of about 75 acres and attendance of about 16.8 million.

That’s an increase of 7 million guests in effectively the same acreage, resulting in about 1/3 less space per guest on an average park day!

Disney California Adventure Guest Area Has Grown, But So Has Attendance

Guest areas added to Disney California Adventure between the 2001 and 2013
Guest areas added to Disney California Adventure between the 2001 and 2013

When it was first built in 2001, Disney California Adventure (DCA) had a guest area of about 41 acres with attendance of about 5 million. By 2014, the area had increased to about 56 acres (thanks in large part to Carsland) and attendance to 8.8 million.

Even with the recent amazing expansion, guests at DCA still have about 1/4 less space per person on an average attendance day at the park.

The Disneyland Resort Is Busier Than Ever

Let’s look at the same numbers on a resort level.

After the completion of DCA in 2001, theme park guest area in the Disneyland Resort (DLR) rose to about 117 acres with attendance of 17.3 million. The number of visitors continued to grow, outpacing new construction efforts.

In 2014, DLR attendance was 25.5 million and total theme park guest area was 132 acres, leaving about 1/4 less space per person, like at California Adventure.

Numbers don’t lie: more people are visiting the Disneyland Resort than in past years, with only a relatively small growth in the resort guest-accessible area.

You might know this phenomenon by its other name: overcrowding. In the mid-90’s, there were fewer than 100,000 Annual Passholders. Now we number around 1 million.

There are simply more of us getting in the way of Disney’s ideal customer, our ‘Mythical Family,’ which leads us to the next point…

2. AP’s Increase Wait Times

This is fairly easy to understand:

More people in the park equals longer lines for rides and shows.

Fastpasses Don’t Fix Everything

Disneyland Fastpass

In order to make up for longer lines, the FASTPASS® service was invented to save a place in line for guests and magically shrink wait times. And it works beautifully, but there’s a catch: AP’s know how to ‘game the system’ a bit.

Our ‘Mythical Family’ might understand the concept behind this time-saving device, but they won’t be as successful using them because…

AP’s Know The Park Better Than Just About Anyone

Practice makes perfect and the very fact that someone is an Annual Passholder makes it very likely that they’ve visited the park before, probably many times before. This means they know things like:

  • Which lands, rides, and shows to visit and when
  • Where the lines will get longer later in the day
  • What the transit time between attractions is
  • What attractions, shops, and restaurants are near each other
  • Which FASTPASS® machines aren’t linked into the network

Disney’s preferred customer has nothing on the practiced passholder. They can read all the books they want and get all the advice in the world, but nothing beats actual time spent on the ground and that’s what AP’s have in spades.

3. Annual Passholders Make Shorter Visits

A significant number of AP’s live within a two-hour drive of the Disneyland Resort, making it very convenient to pop over for a half-day with ease. Some local passholders treat the DLR like a city park and meet friends there for a few hours just to hang out.

Disney uses past visitor data to schedule everything, from the number of balloon salesman on Main Street to the canoes on the Rivers of America. The shorter, random trips some AP’s make are hard for managers to plan for and therefore cause many of the other AP attendance problems.

Poor planning can lead to improper Cast Member scheduling and a scarcity of ride vehicles on popular attractions, once again messing with the vacation of Disney’s preferred guests.

4. AP’s Fill Up The Parking Lots

The Mickey and Friends Parking Structure and some outlying parking lots around the Disneyland Resort.
The Mickey and Friends Parking Structure and some outlying parking lots around the Disneyland Resort.

The Mickey and Friends Parking Structure is the largest in North America and was built to hold 10,000 cars. If every car inside was owned by a ‘Mythical Family of Four,’ then 40,000 guests could fit inside.

But annual passholders often visit the park in groups far less than four, often just one person per car. Disneyland managers have tried to discourage this behavior by increasing the daily cost of parking, from $8/day in 2003 to $17/day in 2015. A year of parking for Annual Passholders has also increased in the past decade, from $40 to $169.

Most recently in February 2015, new sales of the AP yearly parking option were cancelled. This couldn’t help but have the effect of decreasing both the number of trips Annual Passholders take as well as the number of cars they bring with them.

AP’s fill up spaces that could be used for Disney’s preferred guests, sometimes just for part of the day, making the big-spending family park in an outlying lot and get bused to the resort.

Not only are regular resort guests inconvenienced, but Disney Cast Members as well. When guests spill into overflow lots, CM’s are pushed further out into the outlying parking lots, where they’re shuttled in on inefficient and cramped trams or forced to walk over a mile just to get to their job.

The significant time delay between parking at the resort and finally arriving at work also leaves more cars in employee parking lots longer, further contributing to the problem.

5. Annual Passholders Often Don’t Spend Extra Money

Disneyland has merchandise for all ages.
Disneyland has merchandise for all ages.

On your first trip to Disneyland, you have to spend a bunch of money. There are Mickey t-shirts, plush toys, magnets, ornaments, and kitchenware to buy, not to mention fancy sit-down dinners and professional photographs. On your second trip, maybe you’ll get a thing or two you skimped-on last time, but not a whole lot.

How about the third trip? Tenth? Hundredth?

You get the point: AP’s aren’t as likely as the ‘Mythical Family’ to spend a bunch of extra dough on their regular trips, thus cutting into the Disney bottom line (and they don’t like that). This is perhaps the largest problem with Passholders.

Now that I’ve harped on AP’s, here’s a few reasons why we’re good for the Walt Disney Company and why we should continue to be embraced.

1. Annual Passholders Provide Guaranteed Income

While you can’t exactly predict when the ‘Mythical Family’ will schedule their Disney vacation, if you buy an annual pass Disney knows for a fact that they’re going to get a big chunk of change from you. Whether it’s all at once or in monthly payments, they’re going to end up with $300-700 of your money in their bank account.

This one is pretty straightforward: Disneyland is going to be manned and ready whether you buy an annual pass or not, so it’s good for Disney to pocket some money for something they were going to do anyway.

2. AP’s Don’t Have To Ride All The E-Ticket Attractions On Every Visit

I don’t need to ride Space Mountain on every visit to Disneyland. I’ve been on it a hundred times, so if it has a long line I skip it. For the same reason, I don’t need to go on Soarin’ Over California everytime I enter DCA. I’ve done it.

How about you? We all have rides and shows we love. They’re our favorite and when asked why we like to go to Disneyland, they’re the first words on our lips. But because a ride is your favorite, and you’ve been on it a bunch of times, it probably doesn’t kill you to miss it on one trip. Or maybe multiple trips?

There are a whole slew of rides I haven’t been on since my son was born over a year ago and I’m okay with that. I know that when I come back, they’ll still be there. A lot of AP’s have the same mindset.

So while Passholders can be the cause for longer wait times, the reverse can also be true. I say let the ‘Family’ wait in those lines. I’ll just chill on a bench and soak in the magic.

3. AP’s Are More Likely To Purchase ‘Value-Added’ Tickets For Special Events

In recent years, Disneyland managers have concocted a whole slew of special events requiring an extra ticket at extra cost. Mickey’s Halloween Party and the Candlelight Processional are perfect examples. A lot of these ‘value-added’ events happen during the school season, when our favorite ‘Mythical Family’ is stuck at home and less likely to travel.

So who buys these tickets? Local AP’s, that’s who. The Halloween Party has 14 dates and they all take place between late September and Halloween night. What’s that sound like? School season.

I know it’s a little off topic, but how about the D23 events that take place in the park? Our Family probably wouldn’t travel across the country just to see a screening of Sleeping Beauty, but a local AP would show up, dumping a little extra cash into the Disney coffers.

4. Annual Passholders Are A Good Source Of Information

Since they visit the resort more often than the average guest, Passholders are uniquely qualified to inform the WDC about what’s happening in their parks. Which plans are working and which ones aren’t. What rides and shows need to be replaced and what would be good replacements.

It wasn’t until I was a Passholder for several years that I realized I could give direct and specific feedback on Cast Member activities by leaving comments at City Hall. No matter how many times I visit, when a CM goes the extra mile for me, I always try to leave them some positive feedback.

While I don’t like to complain to Disney, and seldom have cause to do so, anyone can also use this process to leave negative feedback.

Passholders Are Perfect Brand Advocates

Brand Advocate: A person or customer who talks favorably about a brand or product and then passes on positive word-of-mouth messages about the brand to other people.

It has been pointed out to me that I often talk too much about Disneyland and Disney in general, which is probably true. Like a lot of AP’s, I do go overboard on the Mouse at times and not just about big premieres and park openings either. Most Passholders I’ve met can talk endlessly on the smallest of details, like which Hitchhiking Ghost is the coolest (Gus) or which shade of Sleeping Beauty Castle they prefer and why (I like the pink- it’s happier).

Hitchhiking Ghosts on the Haunted Mansion Poster, Disneyland
Phineas, Ezra, and Gus: The Hitchhiking Ghosts on the Haunted Mansion Poster, Disneyland

As reader Steve pointed out, AP’s are not only valuable information resources to the WDC itself, but to other park guests and the ‘Mythical Family.’ Our animated interest and palpable love of Disney parks is transferable to regular folks out in the real world, which leads to their later vacations to Disney resorts.

While managers do a pretty good job of engaging the fan community as a whole, Disney could do more to engage Passholders directly. For example, offering a larger array of discount options for AP’s looking to escort out-of-town friends and family through the resorts would be a good start. Harnessing AP brand-advocates and giving them more incentive to spread the word is a win-win situation for everyone.

5. AP’s Can Spend A Lot Of Money In The Park

Wait a second- didn’t I just say a minute ago that Annual Passholders were cheap? You weren’t dreaming, because yes I did.

However, as a reader pointed out to me, some AP’s do spend a healthy chunk of money during their visits to Disneyland. These Disney fans might collect pins, Vinylmations, watches, or artwork. Or they might simply like to purchase their wardrobe at the park.

Some passholders do the bulk of their Christmas shopping at the Disneyland Resort, and my wife and I look forward to browsing the seasonal merchandise to see what new treasures we can add to our collection. So although we may not spend as much every visit, we still have our big spending trips from time to time.

Conclusion

Disneyland Annual Passholders can definitely create problems for the DLR. We show up all the time, get in the way, and usually don’t spend a whole lot of extra cash at the park.

But we add value to Disneyland and the Disney company as well. We’re brand-evangelists. We love to talk about Disney to everyone and anyone. Not only do we love visiting the resort, we love other Disney products as well, like their animated films, books, and games.

When looked at in a vacuum, AP’s can get in the way of the Mythical Family of Four and hinder their ability to give even more money to the WDC. But don’t discount the possibility that we’re a big part of the reason the family showed up in the first place, spreading the word and whispering in everyone’s ear about all things Disney.

I’m not giving up my annual pass anytime soon, and with Disney’s strategy to decrease the number of SoCal AP’s in general, I may even buy Deluxe passes so my family can spend even more time spending less money at the Disneyland Resort.

What do you think about all this? What’s your annual passport plan? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below. And make sure to read the 5 Steps of Disney’s (Not So) Secret Strategy To Axe Passholders and our Ultimate Guide to Disneyland Annual Passports. Thanks for reading and I’ll see ya’ real soon!

[Disney AP Guide Blurb]
[Mail Chimp Post-Bottom Signup Form]

39 thoughts on “5 Reasons Disneyland Doesn’t Want More Annual Passholders

  1. Of course, we’ve all got it that if you are an AP, you automatically get a discount to everything you buy. So whenever I go, I like to spend my money on merchandise, as far as collecting. I collect pins, (I buy a pin each time I go), and, of course, a charm for my charm bracelet. It is super fun, and being an AP comes in handy. B-) 😉

  2. Of course, we’ve all got it that if you are an AP, you automatically get a discount to everything you buy. So whenever I go, I like to spend my money on merchandise, as far as collecting. I collect pins, (I buy a pin each time I go), and, of course, a charm for my charm bracelet. It is super fun, and being an AP comes in handy.

  3. An interesting discussion. I had no idea passes were available in the mid 80’s! I wonder how I missed that one in high school?!

    We’ve been pass holders on and off since the late 90’s. The park has become much more crowded over the nearly 20 years. The numbers you present, while eye opening, don’t really surprise me as I have been the longer lines and wait times. Also, we seem to find fewer and fewer times where this is not an issue.

    We were also ones to let out passes lapse a few months and then come back, but not so easy to do these days when you have So. Cal. passes.

  4. I’m a passholder since 2006 I go a lot and I can tell you that I spent like 4000$ to 5000$ a year in restaurant and merchandise I don’t think the passholders are the problem that park is so crowded I believe and I’m sure that is because there is no other place like Disney, you never get tired of everything they have to offer, I rather go to Disney in a week or weekend and spend 100$ in food or snack and have a special day with my family than go to the movies for 2 hours and spend the same, also as a passholder I can tell you that there is a increment of South America, England, Canadian in the las year there are countries that had restrictions in their politics about the change of their currency to dollar and that also started getting more people in Disney, I’m Hispanic and no to bragged about but we tend to spend the money that we don’t have and go to Disney I can tell you this because I spoke with a lot of my friends and relatives and eveithey want is go to Disney no matter whar they spend, that is my point of view Disney will always be the best place to go and have the time of your life with your family😃👍😀🎉

  5. Here’s an easy solution to control the crowds at Disneyland. Offer passholders special hours from 10:00 p.m. – 7:00 a.m. everyday of the year at $200 per person. This way the park is not overcrowded with vacationers and passholders during the day. Passholders will not be able to attend during the day unless they purchase an additional day pass. So, basically the park will be open 24 hours a day! Wahlaa…solved!

  6. I’ve been an AP holder for 5 years starting with SoCal (cause it offered Sunday) then going to Premium (for the Saturdays and parking) and renewed back to SoCal with parking. I have an eight-year-old niece that I bring to the park with me or I go with my adult friends who also called Disney passports at nights.

    I would agree that all of my friends usually go to the park for few hours at a time instead of all day now. And with the Disney Wait time apps, we know how full the park is and how maneuver around the park during busy times probably better than any mythical family of four.

    I do enjoy Disney but I would also say I do not buy a lot of the Disney products at the Disney resorts. However, I always buy my meals at full-service restaurants like Big Thunder Ranch BBQ and I buy snacks like the dole whip and churros. So I do actually spend at least an additional $20-$40 per visit.

    I have seen the park getting more and more crowded every single year. And I can’t see that Disney can probably come up with some type of flexible passes one day that would allow people to come on non-peak times I like the SoCal Disney select passports. Or restrict the entrance time that one of these passport holders could enter. I actually like going to Disneyland in the night time because I think it has a cooler feel, but I have seen that it is generally super crowded at night right now and I would have to say that it’s probably because of all the local AP holders who are getting off of work and bringing their families

    In any case I do plan to renew my Disneylanf passport again and hopefully they will still allow SoCal passport renewals for continuing AP holders. If not there is always Knotts Berry farm just a few miles away… I know… Not the same!! But they do have good roller coasters there too. And the Knott’s Passports with no restrictions are under $80 per year!

    Overall, the AP passport is worth it if you go enough. And honestly, it’s one of the amazing privileges of living in Southern California. We get the magic of Disneyland in our backyard!

    1. Typo in my commen in my 4th paragraph.. I meant to say “I CAN SEE Disney coming up with flex time” entrance times instead of “can’t see” I think with the smart phones and apps, Disneyland can someone control the entrance times of their AP members more if they wanted to.

  7. We have been an annual pass holder for years off and on. Sometimes we take a year off and then we come back. In the year off, we might go to the park once. The increase in premium annual pass prices to the $1000+ mark is saddening. I think they are going about trying to reduce AP Holders the wrong way.

    I know what I am about to say will upset some AP Holders, but I think it is the root cause of the problem. The ability to pay monthly for your AP is what makes it affordable for pretty much everyone to buy AP’s. Instead of raising the cost of the AP’s to reduce or control the AP Holder numbers, Disney should just remove the ability to pay monthly. I don’t have numbers, but my guess is a ton of people who use the monthly pay option because it is more affordable and there is no extra cost to do it.

    By eliminating the ability to pay monthly, I think there would be a significant reduction in people who purchase AP’s (at least Premiums or whatever they are called now). The Premiums seem to be the target of the most significant price increase. This must be which AP’s are purchased the most. The reality is that many people can’t pony up $700 to $1000+ dollars per pass upfront. I think you would still have many that would and some of the avid Disney Fans who couldn’t would find a way, but I think that there would be a reduction in AP Holders.

    In doing this, I think the price could be reduced back down to the $700 mark for Premium passes (maybe bump it up a little bit but stay under $1000) and it would balance out the AP Holder numbers but still make it affordable and a value for some people. The 1000+ price point even with the monthly payments is not going to stop a lot a people. I think the monthly payment option is the key to Disney’s dilemma. But that is just my opinion.

    1. I agree. If they just removed the monhtly option I’m sure most people wouldn’t renew because they wouldn’t be able to front the whole amount at once like you said.

      1. I think that is the solution! Make ’em pay all at once!

    2. This would definitely reduce the number of pass holders. Unfortunately (and Disney knows this) it would reduce it by an unacceptable percent. I am familiar with PMPM models and from experience I’d estimate only 10% of AP holders full pay upfront. By eliminating this option they would certainly see a 50% drop and possibly more. If that is their target then they should do it OR go to larger first payment amount (25-30%) and spread the balance over the remaining 11 payments. That would cut the number down by at least 20%. Probably more in line with their goals.

    3. I would be interest to know the estimated number of pay per month AP guest compared to pay in full. In 2016, I decided not to renew my AP, not to the cost, but due to all the construction and El Nino during the year. Plus how is the 61st anniversary going to compare to the 60th?

      1. Good questions Gabby. To be honest, I have know idea how many AP’s make monthly payments. Like the number of passholders in general, Disney keeps that info close to the vest. As far as the 61st anniversary, I don’t think there will be anything special. I’m sure they’ll take down the diamonds and go back to business as usual.

      2. I’m so glad I found this site…I have a question and have never been to Disneyland (we live near Disney World and go there often though). We really just have one day to spend at Disneyland..kids are older now, 14 and 16, but we’d like to see as much as we can. Would it be better to go on a Monday, or on a Sunday? The days we’ll be in town are the 17th and 18th of July, and of course, the 17th is the 61st anniversary, though I know the 60th anniversary is ongoing up to September, I think.

        Do you think the parks will be packed on Sunday versus Monday?

        Thank you!
        Karen

        1. Hello Karen. If I had to bet, I’d say Sunday would be the busier day. It will be the busy summer season, so both days will probably be pretty packed, but some folks will have to work Monday, which may reduce the crowd level slightly.

          1. I’d thought the same thing–would definitely be the case at Disneyworld. We’re staying at Grand Cal, so we’ll have the experience all three nights, but just one day to devote to the parks. I wonder if the park hours will be different on Sun vs. Mon? I can’t seem to get the calendar to pull up to show the hours.

            And, doesn’t sound like anything is planned for the 61st anniversary since the 60th will still be underway.

            Thanks for the response!

  8. We have been AP’s since 1996 and we spend a lot of money inside the park. Watches, jackets, shirts, home decor and my fair share of princess outfits…okay a lot of stuff! We also tend to eat at the higher priced restaurants. We rarely use fast passes, if the line is long we will catch it later. We also don’t camp out for hours for the parades, fireworks or Fantasmic.

  9. That is all very well and good, but if someone is a local, it’s very likely that they “know someone” and can get in for free (aka Cast Member sign ins). I know I don’t go very often so I don’t abuse the privilege, but those who know the REAL cheap way to do Disney (loaf of bread from Bpudin sliced, with butter and a couple of knives lasts two people a whole day for food for $5; you can ask for a glass of water and/or a glass of ice and it costs NOTHING — and those who have been often enough know which spots hand out the big cups rather than the “kid size” cups) take up space without adding extra to the bottom line either. And I highly doubt that Disney will tick off their employees by limiting sign ins to less than the 16 per year they already receive (or unlimited after you work there a certain number of years). So what limiting passholders does is tick off your loyalest customers in pursuit of the almighty dollar.

  10. I think there is also a separate customer, like me (and most of my family), who love Disneyland but live too far away to visit enough to make APs reasonable. Instead, we save for a bit and then make a big trip knowing we’re gonna spend money in the parks cuz we want to enjoy every minute of it. And I also talk about Disneyland every chance I get cuz I love it so much.

  11. My wife and decided make are current AP our last. Disneyland has became overly congested and become a waste of time and money. I understand there are many who think and feel otherwise? However when you’re on a budget it’s tough. Nevertheless, blessings to all who put forth their genuine time and energy into sharing the Disneyland experiences.

    1. Thanks Richard! I’m sorry you’ll be leaving the AP flock, but hope you enjoy your visits until then. Have a great weekend.

    2. My husband & I have had the top passes for 12 years. We didn’t renew this month & will probably not make any visits in future. All 3 of our sons & their families have not renewed either. They are in law enforcement & have option of attending DL on weekdays. They just can’t handle all the crowds anymore. It is “terrible” what DL has become. Walt Disney would be so disappointed! It is sad! Now it is about the mighty dollar. We paid for our passes in full amount as soon as they were due. Payment plan was not a good idea to offer. Numbers seemed to increase tremendously.
      One of the issues I have – arriving at 9:30 & not being able to park in building structure. Cones have blocked entrance so we are directed to a parking lot – seeing the structure was empty as we drove over ramp & saw inside. I guess “early bird doesn’t get the worm.” One time it took us 42 minutes to get parked from where cones were set up blocking structure entrance. Then we got on the 3rd bus to DL entrance. In all – it was almost 1 1/2 hours before we walked off the bus. This was a weekday in Feb.
      I have emailed customer service 3 times about different issues. They just give you answers to “pacify” you. The article was so informative – “5 things Disney doesn’t want you to know.”
      Let me tell you – I work for a school district – jr high – & several students have told me their families aren’t renewing passes anymore. Maybe that is what DL wants.
      It will just make room for rest of you to enjoy “the happieat place on earth.”
      Enjoy!!!

      1. Thanks for the comment, Linda. A lot of what you say makes sense. I hope you’re still able to enjoy Disneyland at some point in the future. Even with all the bs, it’s still a magical place for me.

  12. Do you think complete abolishment of annual passes would work toward decreasing the cost of general admission? If everyone with an annual pass had to pay, let’s say, $45 (a very unlikely estimate I know) each visit would it possibly workout in Disney’s favor in the end? Or do you, as an AP, feel like you would make fewer trips and ultimately spend less money in the park throughout the year?

    1. Thanks for the comment Brenden. There’s a lot of possible scenarios to contemplate here.

      To address your base question, I don’t think Disney will ever decrease the cost of admission. The Disney ‘product’ is so valuable and essentially will remain so forever. Raising prices on AP’s absolutely does work in Disney’s favor, to a point. The trick is to incrementally raise prices to achieve maximum profits. This can’t help but preclude some people from buying more expensive passes, which helps with overcrowding, while everyone else pays more to get in, which helps with the bottom line.

      They’ve been doing this for a long time, trying to find the sweet spot in pricing that keeps the parks relatively full with people wealthy enough to spend big bucks when the get in.

      The plan could backfire on them in a number of ways too. In order to recoup the value of more expensive tickets, Annual Passholders could visit the park more often in the face of increased prices. That’s what I would do, but a) I’m stubborn and b) my family will spend our vacation dollars at Disney parks regardless of price because it’s our happy place.

      How about you? Are you an AP? What would you do?

    2. If you buy a $1000 pass and go twice a month your already paying 45 a visit. No one like to pay more for anything but the crowds have become crushing (which isn’t fair to the people paying the daily rate and unable to do much). I’m willing to pay more to enjoy the park more (this from someone who remembers $99 a year with no blackout and parking!). Another option might be to limit AP to after 5 or add more blackout days. Bottom line is they have to cut down on the crowds, cover their costs, and make the park fun for everyone. Not an easy task.

    3. If it were 50-60 per ticket I would visit at least once a month as I do now. But I might spend more than $100 each time because I would know that the monthly wouldn’t be coming out of my checking account. I love Disneyland we will have to look at which pass we will get this year. I have these Disneyland withdrawals every so often. Especially if the month has not gone so well.

  13. We are only going in to our second year with our premium APs and as a family of six I do make sure we get our monies worth with at least one day visit a month. I’m not 100% sure DL is trying to cut back on APs since they just got the green light to expand the park.

    1. Thanks for the comment Lena. You could be right about Disney’s motives. I’m not sure how much they’ll expand the capacity of either DL or DCA though.

      As part of the agreement to invest $1 billion in exchange for no gate-tax for the next 30 years, Disney specifically mentions the addition of a 5,000 spot parking structure as well as new attractions. While it’s possible they’ll expand the outside the current boundaries of each park, I think it’s more likely that they’ll simply refurbish and re-theme areas/attractions in the existing square footage of each park.

      Specifically, I think Disney will do a total re-theme of both Tomorrowland and Hollywoodland. There will also no doubt be backstage infrastructure improvements. While the addition of extra parking spots will temporarily alleviate one problem, the lack of any appreciable new park square footage and the increase in value of existing space will probably just exacerbate the overcrowding problem, to which Annual Passholders greatly contribute.

      What we really need is a solid third gate in Anaheim, which would spread crowds out a bit more. However, Disney has said that their $1 billion investment will not encompass a new park.

      Thanks again for reading and I hope you enjoy your Premium AP’s this summer!

  14. We have had AP for decades, and we do pop in for short, frequent (several times a week) visits as we live in OC. But I think we’re great for the Disney bottom line because we do not get on any rides yet buy meals, snacks, and merchandise whereas the first-time visitor may not after paying hefty park hopper passes for his family. I see a lot of families ditching the park at mealtimes only to return later. As pin traders and Disney addicts, we spend far more than most at the parks throughout the week, month, year.

  15. Great dialogue. It’s a shame that AP haters focus only the the perceived selfish reasons people buy APs. People buy APs for many reasons. I have an AP & live an hour away; however, you won’the catch me driving the congested freeways just to spend a couple of hours at the park just to hang. I purchased my AP so that I can see my family, who is scattered from WA to CA, when they are visiting the DR. We try to avoid holidays & the summer months because of the crowds. I often stay at a hotel-sometimes at the DR hotel, leaving my car at the hotel-not at the park. And yes, I spend a lot of money at the parks. Sharing Magical time with family is why an AP has great value for me & why I build those expenses into my budget & why I won’the apologize for being an AP holder😊.

    1. I’m glad you enjoy your AP. I do too! Thanks for the comment.

  16. I live 30 miles from DLR but only visit the park once a year. However, we go big staying on property dinning at the higher end restaurants, souvenirs, and over priced drinks at the pool to avoid the afternoon crowds. In regards to AP spending I believe the “cheaper” spenders has a correlation with Disney offering monthly payment plans. If your struggling to pay all at once for your pass I’m sure theres other financials issues that directly result in spending less at the parks. Getting rid of monthly payment plans could be the right compromise for Disney while still offering the passes.

  17. I’d also add that AP’s are also Brand Ambassadors.

    The mythical family will return home, talk up the park for a week or two and show off their vaca pics. AP’s won’t shut up about the park! As we see new things coming we’re talking them up to friends, co-workers and on social media. We get excited about minor changes and new developments.
    AP’s even pick up extra park maps to give to the Mythical Family to help them plan their vacation, tell that family which dining reservations to make, etc.
    It would be better to find a way to use APs to their advantage rather than try and turn us off.

    1. Good point Steve and completely true. I know I’m always quick to make a Disney reference in any conversation. Thanks for the comment.

    2. AS an AP I do this all the time. Maps, ideas & things to see.

  18. I completely disagree with # 5. Annual Passholders Don’t Spend Extra Money. Every year since I got my first pass in 1994, I have spent more money in the parks during the year than the cost of my annual pass. I am a pin collector, a watch collector, t-shirts, food, drinks, and more food. I would say that 95% of the time I spend money inside the parks from each visit.

    #5 can’t be made as a general statement. I know I am not the only one, many of my friends also spend way more money inside the parks each year than the cost of their annual pass. Plus the D23 club, plus D23 events, etc…

    1. Thanks for the comment Tim! You make a good point. I know a few AP’s who spend quite a bit as well. While I do buy a bunch of Disney products outside of the park, as well as watch/purchase Disney movies, my family doesn’t spend nearly as much inside the park as we used to and neither do most of the regular AP’s I know. There’s certainly different types of park-goers and Disney fans though. Maybe I need to add another point for the pro-AP argument and write something along the lines you mentioned. I appreciate your input. Thanks!

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