Then about 1997 Disneyland suddenly dropped their Annual Passport rates to $99 and we once again joined in. Over the next 11 years we continued as Annual Passport holders even as prices crept up. In early 2009 I declined to renew because the price for the Deluxe Passports that we purchased had gone up to $329 apiece. That same passport today costs $469 and regular Annual Passport holders are not happy.
Disneyland Resort parks have faced an unusual business dilemma in recent years: Too many regular customers.The beauty of the Annual Passport is you could attend the park without the pressure of feeling you had to see and do everything on that visit. We would often go on a Friday night, eat dinner at a favorite place, and then walk around and enjoy the scene. If lines weren't bad we might ride on something, but that was never a priority. It was just a chance to escape for a few hours to a magical place.
Nearly 1 million people now have annual passes, prompting Disney to make changes to its program that could thin out crowds and possibly weed out some passholders, a Disney watchdog blog reports.
The company last week dramatically upped prices for annual passes by as much as $150 each, topping out at $649 for visitors who can come every day. Annual passholders visit parks an average of almost 10 times a year, reports Miceage.com, a Disney watchdog blog. A single-day, single-park pass now costs $87.
Disney declines to disclose annual passholder numbers.
At the same time, Disney for the first time is adding perks and special events for annual passholders, attempting to achieve a balance between the needs of regular customers and one-time tourists. By funneling annual passholders to come to events during less-crowded times, more space is open for visitors who come from afar.
“Disneyland Resort Annual Passports offer a tremendous value for guests to experience our world-class attractions all year long, and they pay for themselves after just a few visits,” said Suzi Brown, a Disneyland Resort spokesman, in a statement.
But $469...plus parking? Not a chance. I don't think I would feel like I was getting that good a value at that price. And if you don't want any blackout dates the price jumps to $649. Ridiculous. It basically prices middle class families out of the Annual Passport market. What used to be a little bit of extravagance is now an unaffordable luxury, and that's a shame.
I'm glad I had a chance to take my kids when they were growing up. Those were wonderful family times I'll always cherish, such as having characters in the Main Street Electrical Parade come and shake my very young daughter's hand as they walked by, or seeing the joy on my son's face when he was finally tall enough to go on Space Mountain. I'll always have the memories, but I'm sorry I probably won't be able to make any new ones.