You can't allow free admission because that would make crowds horrible... and you will have to find some way of requiring tickets for shows, I don't know... maybe make the first showing of Fantasmic an E ticket and the second one a D ticket.... unfortunately while you could enforce it for allow people into the taped off areas you would still have too many people just lingering in the areas causing over crowding.
The more I think about it the I'm convinced that the real problem is just the APs that often only come for the shows... but when you can't get rid of the APs your only other option is to stop the shows.... it would save money and reduce crowds... and after you've seen one parade you've really seen them all.
Step 1) Eliminate all levels of multi-day passes and charge everyone the same C-note to enter with unlimited access to rides and attractions.
Step 2) Offer an alternative to the POP (Pay One Price) admission, say maybe $55 for entry and 10 attractions (3 E, 3 D, 2 C, 1 B, and 1 A)
This way gluttons can still chug-a-lug away (for a price) and those who don't want to pay for more rides than they really wish to experience can do so too.
Not really sure this would work as I am sure the conditions that caused it to be removed still exist. Older attractions are so devalued now that they would need to be offered for free or replaced entirely.
Or there would be an even bigger push to modernize older attractions to draw a bigger crowd and justify expenses. Rides like Pirates and Small World would almost certainly need to be completely revamped while Tiki and Lincoln just disappeared.
Refurbishing older rides really only works to the parks benefit if they have capacity that isn't being utilized. Adding Jack Sparrow to Pirates, updating the Mansion and adding characters to Small World are good examples of modernizing to the point of increasing utilization. But those changes have been highly controversial with the fan community.
Updating Snow White and Pinocchio would make sense as their capacity doesn't seem to be fully utilized, but updating Toad and Pan would just end up leaving folks who couldn't ride unhappy at the end of the day.
There is however a lot of underutilized attraction capacity at DLR that would need to be analyzed in a pay-per-ride scenario. I'm not sure there is a whole lot that can be added to the Main Street Vehicles or Mark Twain to make them exciting enough to charge even just $1 for a ride. At least nothing that doesn't involve characters or lasers.
And also let us no discount re-ride ability. When the park was fairly young ticket books worked because few people had been to and/or experienced the attractions of Disneyland. Would a guest be willing to pay a premium price to ride Pirates for a second time, or a 10th time, or a 50th time?
I don't get where people are saying that with ticket books it was free admission. I have three complete books and there is an admission ticket (can't remember the cost and they are packed away), but there was a cost for admission. I remember the tickets and how after your ran out of (especially E tickets) that you had to go get in line to purchase additional ones. And sometimes those lines were long! So, I'm one that has "been there, done that" and has no desire to return to the tickets.
But people talk of the premium disney experience. No matter how you sell the ticket books, there is nothing premium about them. Most things in life with pay as you go are perceived as the exact opposite(Pay as you go cell plans, southwest airlines, carnivals, etc).
I don't want the return of ticket books (my family always went to the annual State employees' private party so I rarely had to use them) but it might be interesting if there was a special event some time where tickets were required. It might be fun. Or not.