Disneyland Resort kicked off its 59th summer season with not just a 24 hour party cooked up by the marketing department, but also by a ticket price increase and restrictions on Annual Passes approved by stressed-out executives in the Team Disney Anaheim building. On Sunday, May 18th the Resort rolled out increased pricing for both Annual Passes and basic tickets to Disneyland and DCA, which shouldn’t have been a surprise to most Disneyland fans as a price increase in the late spring happens like clockwork every year.

It’s a Twist!

The twist to this annual ritual was the sudden suspension of sales for the Southern California Annual Pass, the popular mid-tier level of pass that allows SoCal residents to visit on many Sundays and Friday nights throughout the year. As the number of Annual Passholders held steady at about the 1 Million mark since Cars Land opened, the TDA planners have been increasingly nervous about the impact several hundred thousand of the SoCal AP holders have been inflicting on the Resort during Sundays in the spring and fall.

The concern is that parking spaces around the Resort often run out by Sunday afternoon as too many AP’s arrive with only one or two people per car, and both parks become packed to the rafters with locals “dropping by” to wander the parks and ride a few attractions, many of whom do so without spending any significant amount of money on meals or merchandise. The Resort’s infrastructure, particularly it’s parking and internal transportation systems, are simply not designed to handle such an inefficient crush of humanity on Sunday afternoons or Friday nights. With the numbers of Annual Passholders continuing to drift slowly upwards throughout 2014 after 2013’s price increases, TDA had to take the unprecedented step of suspending sales of some AP’s and raising prices on everything else to try and manage the growing demand.

Of course the news of yet another ticket price increase at Disneyland was met with howls of protest on internet message boards and in the local media, with vocal complaints from locals who swear they’ve just been priced out and will look elsewhere for entertainment. But those complaints are as predictable as the annual increases themselves, and the numbers of people swarming the Resort continue to grow every year. In particular, TDA has been thrilled to see increasing demand from big-spending Canadians, Australians and New Zealanders in the last two years.

Summer is Here!


The official kickoff to the summer season was the 24 Hour Party bundled under the rather odd “Rock Your Disney Side” marketing tagline, and it was a clear example of why price increases and rationed Annual Passes are needed in Anaheim. The 24 Hour Party, a feature of several events back in the 1980’s, was first brought back in February, 2012 as part of that year’s Leap Day celebration, “One More Disney Day,” on February 29th on both coasts. But while that first 24 Hour event was manageable in Orlando, it went viral in SoCal and caught Disneyland management totally off guard. On the evening of the 29th the freeways and surface streets leading to Disneyland became choked with traffic as people poured in to spend the night at Disneyland. Shuttle buses full of Cast Members were stuck in gridlock on Harbor Blvd. for hours, the Santa Ana Freeway backed up to the LA County line, and Disneyland closed its gates by Midnight as thousands of people swarmed the Esplanade trying to get in. The California Highway Patrol and the City of Anaheim were both furious at Disneyland at the mayhem the Leap Year Day event created, and Disneyland President George Kalogridis had major damage control to do for weeks afterwards.

Since then, Disneyland has hosted two more 24 hour parties, but now they over-plan accordingly and the events go off almost flawlessly, although parking for both visitors and Cast Members is still a real headache. This latest overnight party last Friday was the busiest event thus far, and shows just how much Annual Passholders can drive attendance at these unique marketing events.


The attendance patterns for the last three parties tell the story here, realizing that a paying customer is only counted once per day by Disney at whichever park they enter first:

One More Disney Day 24 Hour Party – 2/29/2012
Disneyland open 6AM to 6AM – Attendance 88,000
DCA open 10AM to 8PM – Attendance 17,000
Combined Event Attendance – 105,000, with 63,000 Annual Passholders (60% of the total)

Monstrous Summer All Nighter 24 Hour Party – 5/24/2013
Disneyland open 6AM to 6AM – Attendance 71,000
DCA open 6AM to 6AM (with a Grad Nite) – Attendance 44,000 (including 7,000 Grad Nite guests)
Combined Event Attendance – 115,000, with 65,000 Annual Passholders (56% of the total)

Rock Your Disney Side 24 Hour Party – 5/23/2014
Disneyland open 6AM to 6AM – Attendance 74,000
DCA open 6AM to 6AM – Attendance 48,000
Combined Event Attendance – 122,000, with 73,000 Annual Passholders (61% of the total)

Then compare that last 24 Hour Party day that ended at 6:00 AM to the next day’s Saturday operation, when both parks reopened three hours later at 9:00 AM. The Saturday of Memorial Day Weekend featured a triple blockout of Annual Passholders, very typical throughout summer and during busy seasons, which causes a sudden demographic shift as out-of-town and international tourists flood the parks. Just three hours after the 24 Hour Party ended both Anaheim parks hosted a full day with the following attendance:


Saturday, May 24th, 2014
Disneyland open 9AM to Midnight – Attendance 51,000
DCA open 9AM to 10PM – Attendance 30,000
Combined Days Attendance – 81,000, with 15,000 Annual Passholders (18% of the total)

A Saturday like that is quite average for summer or peak holiday weeks, and those are the days when the Resort rakes in revenue from every corner of the parks. Merchandise sales skyrocket as tourists snap up t-shirts and souvenirs by the bagful, food sales swell at all three meal periods since tourists rarely eat beyond the berm, and demand for extra-cost revenue generators like guided tours and Photopass shoot through the roof, not to mention the big money to be earned as Disney’s hotel occupancy rates swell to 95% or higher. It also helps that the majority of visitors inside the parks on Saturday entered via a full-fare ticket averaging $80 per head, instead of the $30 per visit the Annual Passholders are entering the park with via their monthly payment plans.

Those varying party attendance levels over the past two years also tell the story of DCA’s wild success after its re-launch and the opening of Cars Land in June, 2012. DCA is now pulling in a healthy chunk of Anaheim’s combined daily attendance, and playing host to happy crowds for an entire day with its full roster of rides, attractions and major entertainment. It’s no wonder that DCA’s annual attendance for calendar year 2013 crested the 10 Million mark for the first time in its history, mostly due to the first full year of operating with Cars Land and its instant-classic E Ticket, Radiator Springs Racers. Annual attendance over 10 Million will leapfrog DCA beyond the annual attendance of both Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Disney’s Animal Kingdom at WDW, and get it within striking distance of overtaking Epcot. The transformation of DCA into a very worthy second park for Disneyland has been stunningly successful, and has produced results beyond Burbank’s wildest dreams.

Park it!

But the worry behind the recent price increases is not just the crush of Annual Passholders who are content to roam Anaheim’s successful parks, usually without a merchandise bag in sight as they nurse a drink or churro as their sole purchase for the day. TDA is now dealing with years of deferred decisions on expanding its parking inventory, while their Anaheim neighbors have pushed forward with expansion plans of their own. Hotel occupancy in the Anaheim Resort District continues to climb faster than the average nightly room rate, and Anaheim’s healthy statistics have been outpacing the national averages. The growing tourist demand for the Disneyland Resort hasn’t gone unnoticed by the big hotel chains, as Hilton, Marriott and Hyatt all have over a thousand new hotel rooms now under construction within a 10 minute walk of Disneyland’s turnstiles.

Most worrisome for TDA is the project coming this summer to expand the Anaheim Convention Center by demolishing the big underground parking structure and the 1,000+ parking spaces it contains along Katella Avenue. The Anaheim Convention Center will be adding a 200,000 square foot multi-story expansion where that parking structure currently stands, connected to the main convention center by a skybridge. Disneyland routinely uses hundreds of extra parking spaces at the Anaheim Convention Center on busy Sundays, but soon the convention center won’t have any room to spare and will be limiting the number of days and amount of spaces it will be willing to offer Disneyland’s parking department. TDA hopes to buy some breathing room by quickly converting the RV park it just bought on the corner of Harbor and Ball Road into 1,400 Cast Member spaces, but that still leaves a parking deficit on the busiest Sundays in the year ahead.

Disneyland’s Diamond Anniversary Celebration

TDA is also concerned about the crush of Annual Passholders that will descend on the Resort in less than a year when the 60th Anniversary party kicks off. Now that TDA has clawed back some of its funding from Burbank, while Orlando suits continue to scramble for cash, clout, and excuses as they crisis-manage the MyMagic+ debacle, the Anaheim team is confident they can pull together a solid roster of offerings for the 60th Anniversary party. As we’ve mentioned before, the 60th is now slated to feature a re-Imagineered fleet of Fantasyland dark rides, a stunning new night parade and new fireworks show at Disneyland, and kitschy temporary offerings throughout the year playing up a nostalgia-fueled marketing campaign designed to appeal to sophisticated locals and casual tourists alike. The year-long event will be marketed as Disneyland’s Diamond Anniversary Celebration, with faux-diamond encrusted décor used liberally around the Resort.

TDA’s marketing team, often a tad disconnected from the reality of resort operation, is plowing ahead with plans to hype the Diamond Anniversary Celebration as if there was plenty of parking and waning demand at the ticket booths, which obviously isn’t the case. To kick off this Diamond 60th Anniversary and to bring us back where this update started, TDA’s marketing team is now proposing to host a 60 Hour Party in early 2015 to begin Disneyland’s 60th Anniversary. Both parks would open on a Friday morning and continue to operate for 60 hours straight all weekend long. And regardless of how many people complain about the latest price increase, you can bet both Anaheim parks will be packed that weekend and likely break attendance records once again. Start looking for your parking space now.

If you’ve got an hour or so to spare, join the MiceChat Podcast crew as we take a field trip to Disneyland. As we walk through Frontierland, New Orleans Square and Critter Country, we chat about what’s new, what’s coming, history, trivia and more. Then we transport back to the MiceChat Studios to examine the question, which Disney resort has the most rides . . . Disneyland Resort with its two parks or the Walt Disney World Resort with four parks? You might be very surprised by the answer.

Direct Link | iTunes

Well, that does it for this update. Are you ready for a 60 hour party? Would you be able to say awake for the whole thing? Would you even try?

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  • Ravjay12

    It’s really sad that Disneyland won’t have a major new attraction for its 60th anniversary.

    • FixitKronk

      You could have a new attraction since capital improvements are regularly approved by Burbank because they can be deducted over several years of taxes. But the operating budget (aka cast members pay) has to grow by only 1-2% in order for the quarterly reports to show continued profit. And with insurance and min wage increases eating up that growth, a new ride would necessitate the closure of an old ride rather than just hiring more workers. It’s an accountants world and we just play on it sorry.

      • ayalexander

        I agree. This is exactly the type of thing Disneyland fans need to hear. Its difficult and lots of paperwork and budgeting to build a new attraction… still I would also like to at least see an old tomorrowland attraction built into a new one.

  • Carnation Dave

    Parking is a pain. We stay off property and take a shuttle. My in-laws celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary with Disneyland’s 50th. We will be celebrating their 60th along with Disney too!!! Bring on the 60th celebration.

    • stevek

      We routinely park in the Toy Story lot and never have an issue with parking. Maybe because we generally get there early though our last visit was on Sunday, 5/18, arrived and noon and still got a park literally steps from the buses.

    • Susan Hughes

      I’m sure they’ll use the new lot on Ball and Harbor (formerly the trailer park) They used it during the 24 hour day for CM parking. It’s officially called the BCML (Ball Cast Member Lot).

      • ayalexander

        Thats a strange name, especially since there is already a BCML just north of Mickey and Friends parking structure. They both have the same name? And the trailer park isn’t even paved over yet.

      • Browncoat

        That’s the wrong lot, only BCML is BCML. The RV space doesn’t have an official name yet.

      • Susan Hughes

        “BCML” is the term given to all CMs when referring to the old trailer park located on the corner of Ball and Harbor. And yes…it was used during the 24 hour day.

  • Pingback: Disneyland 60 Hour Diamond Anniversary Celebration Takes Shape | Everything TravelsEverything Travels()

  • eicarr

    Where does all that parking money go? Does parking have to be $50 a day for them to afford more parking with a peoplemoover? With all the early bird pearks of Disney owned accomidationes, I’d love WDW priced motels to stay at. But prices and availability keep my motel money out of Disney’s pockets.

    • Drew Martin

      I’m with you. I’ve never understood why the entire tram route from Mickey and Friends isn’t a Peoplemoover. Seems like that would save tons on tram cost and employee costs, while increasing efficiency at the same time.

      • ayalexander

        Agreed. And a peoplemover transporting people from the parking structure to the entrance esplanade would add an experience that hasn’t been seen before at a theme park or large venue. And at least a people mover wouldn’t take up precious real estate, (because you have the option of building the track above ground level)

      • Imagineer45

        I agree, this make perfect sense.

      • FredSimmons

        Agreed. A PeopleMover would be great.

      • Will G

        This Peoplemover suggestion really fires my imagination.
        But, what was the hoiurly capacity of the Peoplemover and what is the capacity of the trams?

        I’d like toi see an elevated Peoplemover parallel to tram on the ground

        But it would need improvements to keep people from getting out and falling off

        I believe that people-remover claimed more lives than anyother thing else in Disneyland. So the lawyers probably would oppose.

        But still,. to see an elevated Peoplemlver cruising from Micky & Friends to the bag check – and possibly through Downtown Disney… that would geek me out.

      • Marko50

        The reason the People Remover claimed lives is because there was no way to stop them or the rotating tires on the track. Or so I read in Mouse Tales.

      • ayalexander

        The “new” peoplemover used to carry guests from Mickey and Friends, wouldn’t be like Disneyland’s traditional peoplemover, it would be enclosed. Think: peoplemover on-board the Axiom from Wall-E, except with giant glass doors and a glass roof.

      • Will G

        Good idea enclosing the peoplemover to keep people from falling off. But then it would also need to be Air Conditioned over a long stretch.
        Probably shouldn’t put a glass roof on it. That could make it a green house.

        Still need work to keep people from getting out of their cars… I recall a story of a drunk or stoned person getting out of their car and getting crushed when they tried to climb into someone elses car.

        And still emergency egress if there’s a failure.

        All of this can be solved with enough money and motivation.

        I just don’t have faith that that motivation exists in the Disney company.


  • 60 hours? While it sounds like a lot of fun, it would also be a logistical nightmare starting on that 2nd day when the previous day’s crowds combine with the current day’s crowd. Never mind the dangers of trying to stay awake longer than 24 hours.

    Marketing might want to do this, and it was done back in the 80’s as well, but Ops might be able to put a stop to this still.

    • ayalexander

      I have to say, I would LOVE to go to a 60 hour party event. I would ride every last ride in Disneyland even Casey Jr. However, I would be worried about all those people trying to stay awake longer than 24hrs with all those sugary treats, coffee fueled bodies and environmental stimulation all around them. I can see a few guests having heart attacks, in my crystal ball. But nevertheless, if I survive without a trip to the Emergency room then… let me rephrase that: whether or not I survive a trip without going to the Emergency room, either way, it would be the most fun in my life. I haven’t been to a 24hr party yet, but a 60hr sounds like the most fun in the world.

      • At least one of the MiceChat staff members is trying to get me to do a Gumball Rally during the 60th. Even with the crazy crowds, every team would absolutely be able to complete the event in one 60 hour day. 😉

      • FredSimmons

        What you would really see is a lot of guests just falling asleep in the park, as their bodies (and reality) took control of their attempt at sleep-deprivation – and then the cast members trying to figure out what to do with them.

        There’s a potential legal problem there, too. If they wake up sleeping guests, and that sleep-deprived guest gives up and returns to his car, there’s a chance that might result in an accident on the way home…

    • stevek

      Only the biggest Disneyland nutjobs, I mean fans, will try to stay for a full 60 hours. I personally could never do it…even 12 hours is a bit much for me.

    • MainSt1993

      Agreed, Dusty! And as people get more and more tired, some will become irritable. Get the right two irritable people together and next thing you know you have a fight on your hands. TDA should do a bit more thinking on this one.

      • ayalexander

        I don’t know… I think it went pretty smoothly in ’87. Besides the angry people usually bail out before a big problem, while the happy fans are just having the time of their life.

      • Marko50

        It doesn’t take a 60-hr party for a fight to happen. I’ve seen several in my – {ahem} – many years of visiting.

  • thebear

    Great update!! Thanks for all of that amazing information! The more frequent updates are definitely appreciated!

    • Marko50

      I second the emotion!

  • Disney_Dad

    It wouldn’t really make good business sense to open new attractions during significant anniversary years since the celebrations always seem to do enough in themselves to drive attendance. Better to add new attractions at other times when it’s less easy to catch public attention.

    • stevek

      With attendance at the current levels, why invest when you don’t have to. While having more rides/attractions would make wait times better, people still come in droves and stand in long lines…complaining all the way but still shelling out cash.

  • FixitKronk

    I was at the parks this past Sunday and as I rode the autopia with my six year old I noticed that all foliage on that ride has been allowed to die. It really jumped out at me considering how well the rest of the parks are taken care off. Could this mean that autopia is still secretly scheduled to be shut down come end of summer for new construction? I mean why let a packed and popular ride go to rot unless it’s budget has been marked for termination? Thoughts…

    • It’s an unfortunate consequence of the Sub refurbishment. They turned off the sprinklers in a large area around those two attractions.

      The Autopia is safe for now. Star Wars has been delayed indefinitely, which means that both the Subs and Autopia are safe until something better comes along.

      • FixitKronk

        My son will be happy to hear that. Thanks dusty

    • Fantasmic4

      I highly doubt it as a keen eye will also notice that they have laid new soil and planted some new foliage, including succulents.

      • If you read previous In The Parks updates from Fishbulb you will note that he has covered the dying foliage around the Subs for a while now. They may be replanting now that they are planning to reopen the attraction . . . but they certainly let a lot of stuff die off over the last many months.

    • CinderellaGirl

      NOOOO! Not Autopia! It’s a classic!

    • Imagineer45

      This is most likely just because of the sub refurb. They have turned off the sprinklers.

  • Park Hopper

    Disney’s really dug themselves into a hole with the annual pass program, and now they’re digging themselves out, really, the only way they can.

    It just seem to me that operations and marketing haven’t been listening to each other for a very long time. Marketing just kept pushing and pushing the annual passes. Big posters coaxed guests to turn their day in to a year. It was on the guide maps. For a while it was even on the bottom of receipts. Then they introduce easy payment plans to make it even more enticing.

    And as the numbers of annual pass holders climbed, it had to be clear that Disneyland’s infrastructure just couldn’t handle them. But I bet that bottom line looked really, really good, especially during the years that DCA was floundering. And I’m sure there were executives who thought people would use them like gym passes; buy them on a whim, use them two or three times, and then toss them in a drawer and forget them. But it has long been clear to me that the people running Disneyland do not understand or appreciate their own product – one of the reasons why the 1st all night party caught them so much by surprise. So, they just kept pushing the annual passes.

    Now DCA has matured into a destination in its own right. Big spending tourists are starting to descend on the resort and the annual pass holders have served their business purpose. They are now more of a hindrance than an aid and can be disposed of.

    So, how do you get rid of a few hundred thousand low spending customers without pissing them off? Short answer: you don’t. You’re going to create a lot of ill will toward Disneyland and toward the Disney brand in general. But there’s really nothing else they can do at this point, short of dramatically expanding Disneyland’s capacity. And since My Magic+ has sucked all the expansion money away from all North American parks, that’s not going to happen. So, they raise prices, discontinue the lower tier passes and weather the storm of ill will. That’s really all they’ve got.

    But with these kinds of attendance problems, if I were them, I’d be fast tracking that third gate.

    • You are absolutely right.

      The monthly payment program is exactly when the problems began. But, if they get rid of that, they’ll also lose too much revenue too quickly. They are sort of stuck raising prices and possibly phasing out the cheaper passes.

      When DCA was fixed, it dramatically shifted crowds from Disneyland to DCA and allowed the entire resort to handle more daily guests. It was a BIG win for Disney. The 3rd gate is ABSOLUTELY necessary to offset overcrowding in the two existing parks. And they need to do it before their reputation of being too crowded and too expensive starts hurting attendance.

      Time to build that new parking structure, close the Toy Story Lot and start building Star Wars and Marvel Lands in the old Strawberry Field.

      • ayalexander

        I agree. A third gate has now become necessary. I can’t wait for the Pumbaa Parking structure with the concrete over-head walkway leading to the esplanade. But if a third Gate is built, Disney will need to built two more parking structures in addition to the new Pumbaa structure. One large structure for Cast Members (since a measly 1500 car lot on Ball and Katella won’t be enough for Cast Members) and a parking structure to replace the Toy Story Lot in order to handle the guests at the third gate. This would mean three total guest multi-level parking structures: Mickey and Friends, Pumbaa, and (lets call it) Toy Story parking structures.

        And who here thinks a fourth resort hotel is now necessary, built on part of the Simba lot?

    • SuperRob

      “It just seem to me that operations and marketing haven’t been listening to each other for a very long time. Marketing just kept pushing and pushing the annual passes. Big posters coaxed guests to turn their day in to a year. It was on the guide maps. For a while it was even on the bottom of receipts. Then they introduce easy payment plans to make it even more enticing.”

      Most people don’t understand what Marketing really is. Marketing is not the same thing as Advertising. Marketing is how to go about making a product available. Advertising is how to go about letting people know they product IS available. There are four “P’s” in Marketing, and Promotion (Advertising, and other promotional activities) is only a small piece of it. (For anyone interested, the other four P’s are Product [Tickets, Passes, etc], Price, and Place [Distribution, third-party resellers, etc.].)

      That said, could Marketing simply keep the AP available, but stop advertising it? They likely could. But on what criteria is the performance of the marketing department at Parks judged? Ticket and AP sales are likely used primarily, because they’re a nice, fat, quantitative measure that’s easy to determine. Did you increase Ticket and AP sales 5% over last year? Good, here’s your bonus. Clearly, they need to reduce attendance from a certain segment of guest, and the only option Marketing has in that case is to suspend sales of the product entirely. Not a great position for them to be in.

      Don’t blame Marketing for doing what they’re supposed to do, which is make the tickets available and price them according to demand. If you must, blame the Finance guys who set their goals, because the goals clearly aren’t in line with the needs of the park. There was talk here (and in the article) about how Marketing is somehow out of touch with Operations. But if Finance is setting the goals by which both are judged, then it’s up to all three departments to work together to determine what goals will meet all their needs. It’s simply unreasonable to expect that Joe Marketeer who is making changes to the Guide Maps is going to talk to someone in Ops and get sign off on a placement for Annual Passes. It’s ludicrous.

      It is amusing to watch people armchair quarterback this stuff. It reminds me of an old saying about the economy … which is that it’s not about which lever to pull, it’s about pulling all of them a little. There is no one solution to any of these things, and there never is when there’s this many interconnected parts. The solution is tweaking things just a little to figure out what effects it might have.

      • ayalexander

        Well said. Well said. I wish I could word stuff like you, this is the kind of thing I want to say in my comments but can never word it so it sounds like I know what I’m talking about. So with me, I keep my mouth shut until someone says what needs to be said.

    • Gibson510

      Very good point.

      It can almost be boiled down to a simple supply and demand problem. Increase the supply(rides, parking, third gate..) to meet the demand. I agree, put the third gate on the fast track.

    • FixitKronk

      Agreed Park Hopper,
      How do you meet pre established revenue expectations when your second gate is a ghost town? Have the marketing guys offer a zero interest payment option to die hard locals. Then cook the books to show the resort(both parks) met expectations. We all get to keep our jobs. For a while anyway…
      Then where the board of directors realises what a boondoggle the second gate is they invest in it. So as the annual passholder totals continue to spiral out of control at least a new and improved DCA can handle the extra capacity. Meanwhile we continue to not only meet but exceed ticket revenue growth expectations.
      However someone forgot to tell the locals to stop comming like they do their gym passes. Now parking can’t handle the numbers, and food services probably sees wild swings in consumption as they guess how much food will be consumed by 100,000 people on different days.
      The only way the execs would feel confident walking away from all the guaranteed monthly income the so cal annual passes bring in, is if they believe the resort as a whole can garner enough tourist dollars to offset that.

    • Susan Hughes

      There is one very simple answer to the problems of too many Annual Passholders (too many of which are “Passholes”)…STOP THE MONTHLY PAYMENT PLAN!!! That is when all the evil began! If Disney is that important to someone or their family, then saving up their money during the year to pay in FULL for an AP is a no brainer. Just do it!
      And for those complaining that I’m being elitist and shutting out a certain demographic, that’s just a lot of bull. If they can make a monthly payment with no problems, then they can put that same amount of money away each month and pay in full at the end of the year. If they can’t, I shed no tears for your dilemma.

      • SuperRob

        This is, quite frankly, a ridiculous assertion. The monthly payment plan simply shifts purchasing an annual pass to the beginning of the year instead of the end of one. Basically, it’s an easy way to get someone to commit a year sooner, which is good for Disney.

        Psychologically, though, it SEEMS much more affordable, and that’s the big reason why Disney does it. Just like the cell phone companies used to hide the real costs of your cell phone from you by breaking the payments across a two year contract, Disney was doing the same with the annual pass. (It’s also easier for Disney to “hide” price increases, since the cost of the monthly payment doesn’t go up much. A $3 a month increase doesn’t seem so bad, but a $36 increase of the pass is a meal or two. They’re equivalent, but one seems more palatable.

        Really, the issue is that with the price of entertainment increasing in many places, Disney is still very reasonably priced in terms of $/hr of entertainment. So it’s no surprised in a rough economy that people would look to something like that more often.

        Regarding passholders not buying in the parks, I think it’s fair to say that if Disney marketing has done their jobs, they know the effects a price increase will have (it’s a relatively straightforward price elasticity formula), since the people who stop buying will need to be covered by some of the people still paying. If enough people keep paying, it’s a net increase in revenue. Eventually something will give and they’ll end up on the wrong side of the equation. Considering prices go up every year, they don’t appear to have hit this point yet.

        I’m sure the locals do buy less than out of town guests, but I think the articles assertion that they buy a churro and that’s it for the day is on the extreme end. People will always try to economize, and remember that Disney does offer discounts to passholders, so they’re not paying as much as the out of town guests even if they DID buy things. Suggesting that Disney no longer wants passholders in the parks because they don’t spend is groundless. What I find curious is that it’s the pass with the most blackout dates that’s been suspended. If park crowding is the issue trying to be solved, why would you suspend selling the pass that brings people in on the least busy days?

        From the article, it sounds like the real problem is Sundays, which are not blocked out, and are causing crowding problems. I suspect that this is why they’ve really suspended the pass … because they’re going to change it to address this problem, possibly blocking out Sundays and removing any parking benefits. It’s just easier to stop selling one and start a “new” pass with the changes, because it deflects from the “you took away this thing” arguments, with a “this is a new pass option” one.

      • Marko50

        Thanks, SuperRob. It’s a much better rebuttal than what I was going to post: Another cut and paste, Susan?

        Oh, wait…

      • rodc

        They cancelled the locals pass with the LEAST blackout dates, removing all Fridays and Sundays from play. They have the kept the pass that covers the least busy days, as they should logically do (see https://disneyland.disney.go.com/passes/).

      • Susan Hughes

        It’s simple math that explains the problem with the monthly payments. When I first bought an annual pass in 2007 (paid in FULL), there were (according to micechat) about 117,000 APs. Once the monthly payments were introduced it quickly rose to over 1 million. It would have never grown to that amount if passes had to be paid in full.

  • astjames15

    I just did the 24 hour event with my 13-year-old and 8-year-old. Our mission was to ride every ride in both parks and we did it!! It can be done in 24 hours. I have no idea how my kids stayed up that entire time, but they are rock stars! Wouldn’t do it anywhere but Disneyland.

  • scarymouse

    60 hours at Disneyland is interesting , now would that be a park hopper for one day or three ? Now if it for a one day, although there would be no way I could pull off 60 hours but I would be interested in sleeping all day and going to the park over night instead of dealing with the daytime crowds.Still very weak for a diamond anniversary.

    • ayalexander

      Well I think for a 60 hour party, the crowds are more congested at night for two reasons, 1) party goers that like to celebrate at night (you can bet there will be dance parties throughout the parks) and 2) everyone else is thinking “I’ll sleep all day and go to the park at night instead of dealing with daytime crowds.”

  • HocusPocus

    I would like to address the issue of “Annual Passholders who are content to roam Anaheim’s successful parks, usually without a merchandise bag in sight as they nurse a drink or churro as their sole purchase for the day.”

    My husband and I have been APs for many years. We have one Premium (for the parking) and one Deluxe and we live in SoCal. We do not like to go on busy days. So, even though we don’t have many blocked days, we prefer visiting on fall and winter weekends, and weeknights during the summer. Ever since I lost my job in 2008, the passes are the only entertainment expense we have kept. We like to support our local economy. We like to support Disney. We like to go for “dinner and a ride.”

    For every visit, we stay about 3-4 hours and ALWAYS buy at least one meal at a restaurant. On top of that, we ALWAYS buy two or more of the following items: trading pins, t-shirts, hats, scarves, jackets, stuffed toys, DVDs, kitchen towels, popcorn, ice cream, and candy to take home (love the English Toffee and the Coconut Patties). That is a list of stuff we buy “regularly” so it doesn’t include special gifts bought throughout the year on birthdays, anniversaries and holidays, for ourselves and/or family members.

    I would like to point out that, because we are an environmentally-conscious family, WE DO NOT CARRY MERCHANDISE BAGS. Instead, we put the items in our backpacks or bags that we have brought from home that we always have with us. If we decide we want to buy a large item, like our $250 Stitch sculpture, we will wait till the end of the day before doing so. So what I’m saying here is that just because people are not carrying Disney merchandise bags does NOT mean they haven’t bought anything. Furthermore, I think that we probably buy enough merchandise to make up for 2 other families that don’t.

    Secondly, my husband and I have no family nearby, so it is only the two of us in the car when we park. Sorry about that, it can’t be helped. Trust me, I prefer to take mass transit to my job and if there was an efficient bus or train from downtown L.A., we would definitely use it. As it is, there is only the 460 bus which takes 2.5 hours one way and that is too long of a commute for those of us who only spend 4 hours at the park.

    If the problem is passholders not spending enough money, why not provide more average or lower-priced meal and merchandise options? How about some $10 t-shirts? $5 hot dog meal? Or how about also giving the lower tier passes the 15% or 20% food and merchandise discount? I bet they would buy more stuff then! It’s insulting to think that Disney is trying to find ways to get rid of passholders instead of trying to find ways to keep them. That’s so not cool.

    • FredSimmons

      Speaking for myself, in years when I’ve had an AP, I’ve always had a meal at a Disneyland restaurant on all my visits – usually one of the high-end ones (Blue Bayou being my favorite). Dining there is one of the main reasons I go to the park, I usually only go on one or two rides.

      And I go almost exclusively on uncrowded weekdays, simply because I hate being crowded, and loathe standing in line. (Give me a semi-empty park any day.)

      I don’t, however, buy the merchandise. I’m just not into souvenirs and t-shirts. But if I were a tourist from Nebraska, I still wouldn’t buy souvenirs. The fact that I’m local has nothing to do with my shopping preferences.

    • Marko50

      Yes!!!! English Toffee!!! I usually buy four slabs per visit.

  • Ravjay12

    I’ll bet you we’ll see a water park before we see a third gate. They’re cheap to make and very profitable and don’t have to be run all year long. Almost every theme park has one, and would give theme an advantage over nearby Universal, and would definitely take some business away from Knott’s and Sea World.
    Raising prices again and being exclusive about their annual passes just makes people think twice about going to Disneyland. We are definitely looking at alternatives like Universal, Knott’s and Sea World when we visit California again. It is so much easier and costs Disney less money to raise prices on admission than merchandise and food.

    • ayalexander

      Yes but the problems with water parks is every day that they are not running, they cost money, and plus Disney knows Knott’s has a water park and that there are a few water parks in Orange and L.A. counties. Disneyland Resort wouldn’t build a water park instead of a third gate, the Anaheim Resort land property costs too much to own something that only runs seasonally. Another water park is already being constructed just a few blocks from Disneyland anyway. Great Wolf lodge has already broke ground and started full-fledged construction on their newest water park/resort property near Harbor Blvd and Lampson Ave. It would no longer be wise to build a Disneyland Resort water park since the Anaheim/Garden Grove resort district will already have one.

      • FredSimmons

        I had never heard of Great Wolf Lodge, so I checked out their website’s video: http://www.greatwolf.com/mason/waterpark

        Personally, I’ve never thought a water park was a good idea for Disneyland. It’s something that’s too easy for other parks to do well. Disney wouldn’t have its usual quality edge over the competition.

      • ayalexander

        FredSimmons, what are your thoughts on the new Great Wolf Lodge near Disneyland? Do you like it or dislike it? Personally, I like it, Great Wolf Lodge has quality family entertainment and because of their park being indoors, they have climate control and offer their water rides and pools year round.

      • Marko50

        Yeah, but you don’t get to go to the Great Wolf waterpark unless you’re staying at the Great Wolf Lodge.

      • ayalexander

        Marko50 thats not true. Great Wold Lodge in Garden Grove will be charging admission to locals and tourists. Its the guests staying at the Lodge that will have FREE access. But other than that, those that aren’t guests, will be charged admission.

  • Imagineer45

    It is such a shame that a new attraction will not be built for the 60th. I get it is better marketing if they build a ride when the park is in a low season, but it would still be nice.

  • disney_leonard

    One concern I have with a 60 hour event is how they would handle various levels of AP. For instance, a So. Cal AP may get in on Friday which is not blocked. But they would be blocked on Saturday. So if they leave the park and want to come back a few hours later they may not be allowed to. That would encourage people to stay in the park even though physically exhausted. That could lead to some people just “camping” out for long periods. Think the last hours of Grad Nights when some kids packed the train and slept. And on that note, I would hope they would pick a non-Grad Night weekend if they hold this thing.

    • hannahwonka

      Hi, past Main Entrance cast member here!

      For the 2013 24 hour day the whole day counted as one day to our computers. If you entered the park anytime on that day you would be let in. There was a glitch with the computers where if you entered for the first time after 12 am on that Saturday your pass would technically be blocked for that day, but we were just told to override them. If you had entered the park earlier in the day your pass would be good for all 24 hours, but either way you would still be allowed into the park.

      The 2014 event worked the same way, where 12-6 am on Saturday still counted as Friday as far as block outs were concerned.

    • billyjobobb

      Why not just do it like Halloween and charge extra for it!

      • Marko50

        Could be some legal ramifications as my AP is supposed to be good 365 days a year.


      easy, they can just add a blackout date. this is still a year in advance. blackout dates are subject to change without notice

  • sediment

    Maybe they could start working on this 60-hour party as a hard-ticket event? See how many people go then. Say, $100 for the whole weekend, like a 3-day pass. I mean, you know a lot of people will go for 10 hours, go home and sleep, then come back.
    (The better strategy would be to go at 1AM until 10AM, THEN go to sleep, then come back at 1AM.)

    Sure, give a discount to AP’ers so they won’t complain (as much).

  • StrikeYerColors

    I’m with Dusty. Third gate needed to happen yesterday… And a Star Wars and Marvel have such huge, expansive universes AND huge draw… Family friendly, popular across all demographics including genders… Only a third gate could do these two franchises justice! I hope thousands of Imagineer pencils are turned towards it already!

  • mainejeff

    I’m sure that they will come up with a few a 60th Anniversary pins and 60th Anniversary princess costumes and everyone will be happy.

  • daveyjones

    we are premium APs who always stay off property and walk. even though we get free parking, i wouldn’t dare run the gauntlet, especially on busy days. it’s just a nightmare to park at the resort.

  • angle

    I’d just like to add that this comments section is filled with very interesting, insightful and well-written posts. Thanks to everyone that took the time to contribute.

  • Will G

    Wow. Lots of fairly well thought out comments.

    I just want to help the sharp pencil boys and the math geeks, and point out that last Friday, Disneyland actually kicked off their _60th_ Summer season – not their 59th.
    Remember 1955 was their first summer season.
    1956, which marked their first anniversary, had their second summer season.
    So count all the summer seasons and you find that 2014 is the 60th summer season, while the 60th anniversary (the completion of 60 years) will be in 2015 – during their… 61st summer season ;-P

    But that’s still not going to build a third gate, two guest parking structures, a cast member parking structure, and a new hotel.
    (which I believe my true love gave to me on the 7th day of Christmas – or should give to me,)

    Will G

    • ayalexander

      You’re thinking of it weird, its not the 60th summer season yet. An anniversary celebrates from the moment of the special day, not from the first year of the special day. Think of it this way: summer of 1955 doesn’t count because Disneyland opened in the middle of the summer instead of the beginning of summer. So June of 1956 was the start of Disneyland’s first (full) summer. -I think that’s the easiest explanation. Had Disneyland opened JUNE of 1955, then yes, 2014 would be Disneyland’s 60th summer. But it opened in July, middle of summer season.

    • ayalexander

      (continued) Another way to think about it is, I’ve been with my significant other since November of 2012; (the last third of the fall/Autumn season) But I wouldn’t have actually celebrated my first fall season with them until December of 2013, simply because you don’t count the season of the original “special day”.

      So to recap: on July 17, 1957, Disneyland’s second anniversary, Disneyland could proudly say they lived through 1 summer season. 🙂 And consequently: Disneyland can’t say they lived through 60 summers until the start of Fall of 2015, simply because you don’t count the season that the special day originated from if the day took place mid-season. Whew… I had to convince myself, somewhere along the lines there lol.

      • Will G

        But, if you went to work for Disneyland in July of 2014, by the time we reached October 2014, you would say 2014 was your first summer season. It may not have been a “full” season, but it was the first.

      • ayalexander

        I get what you mean, but you can’t officially say you worked a summer season until your 2nd anniversary. I mean if you wanna be literal, yeah you can say in october that you worked a summer season, but with the way that anniversary events go, you can’t say a full season, until after you went through, non-stop, full season. That means Disneyland resort woundn’t be able to say they had 60 summer seasons until September of 2015.

  • themur

    Does no one who buys an Annual Pass have a credit card? If Disney wasn’t offering an interest free payment plan people would spend a few bucks more a year making monthly payments on their credit card! I don’t see the monthly payment plan as the cause of all the evils; just the proliferation of low cost annual passes. A generation of So Cal people have grown up expecting to go often, not just as part of a special treat now and then. Better hang out than the mall!

    • billyjobobb

      it’s psychological.

      How much is a new car? $199 a month gets em in the door a whole lot faster than $24,999.

      Do I want to spend $500? That’s a lot of money. A little more than $40 a month…. WOW! What a deal!

  • billyjobobb

    What if Disney were to just add a new layer of restriction?

    Do it like a timeshare.

    Choose 4 days each month? Same blackouts, but you could only use your pass up to 4 times a month? Instead of each and every day that isn’t blacked out? Get rid of the daycare crowd.

    I was in Florida for president’s day and it was easily the worst day i have ever spent in a Disney park. Packs of screaming children. Didn’t buy anything, kept trying to cut in line…..

  • wityblack

    I think they should let people sleep in the Muppet Vision 3d theatre, the Hyperion, and at Captain Eo

    • Marko50

      Don’t they do that already?

  • Klutch

    Here in Colorado the big ski resorts are starting to treat their Season Passholders like Disney is treating Annual Passholders. It’s a similar situation. The big ski resorts keep building gigantic and expensive lodges to woo upscale visitors who book ski vacations for a week or more. These people drop huge amounts of dollars on food, lodging, spa treatments, etc. Meanwhile, locals buy a season pass, do day trips and spend little or nothing. So, the ski resorts are raising prices and increasing blackout dates for the season passholders. Yet, they rake in a lot of cash from those passes, so they can’t give them up altogether.

    At the slopes, you typically can’t even get into a lodge unless you’re a guest. The lodges also have nice locker rooms where you can “ski out”; for guests only! Even if you’re a guest, you can’t use the locker rooms the day you check out.

    Look for similar changes for Disneyland APs. Pretty soon, all the perks will be reserved for resort guests. Eventually, the appeal of the annual pass will fade and that’s just what Disney wants.