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Disneyland Article
New Limits On Park Visits For Some Annual Passholders

Star Wars Galaxys Edge
Orange County Register
Marla Jo Fisher
June 02, 2018
June 10, 2018
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Disneyland announced the first of what could be sweeping changes coming to its annual passport program that will limit - for the first time - which parks some passholders can visit on specific days.

The changes come at a time when resort officials are debating how best to manage enormous crowds expected when the new Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge land opens in Disneyland in summer 2019.

Disney planned to send emails this morning to passholders explaining the new program, which will create two new admission calendars, meaning that some passes would be good at certain parks on certain days, but not necessarily both parks on the same day.

"As our business evolves, this is the first step in reshaping our Annual Pass program, which will better manage the guest experience and allow all Disneyland Resort visitors to have a great visit, particularly as we look forward to the opening of Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge in summer 2019," Disneyland spokeswoman Liz Jaeger said in a prepared statement.

By some accounts, there are as many as 1 million annual passholders to the Disneyland Resort, though Disney has never confirmed this.

Starting next June, instead of one calendar, passholders will see two calendars - one for each park. They will need to check both calendars to see which park they can visit on which day. The biggest changes will be to holders of the mid-priced Deluxe passport, with the higher levels experiencing no change at all.

Annual passholders can go online and use drop-down menus to see if they can visit Disneyland or DCA or both on their chosen date. A green date means yes. Gray means no.

Disneyland is extending its planning calendar to 13 months to allow people to look now and see which days they can visit in June 2019. In the past, the calendar would only have been visible through May.

The current two-park-per-day system on a single calendar will continue intact for the coming year, until the end of next May.

Since the annual pass program began at Disneyland in June 1983, people have been able to choose from different levels of passes, depending on how much they want to spend and how many days they want to attend the park each year. The lowest level basic pass, geared for Southern California locals, admits its owners only on weekdays and off-season. The highest level allows visits every day of the year, even the most crowded ones, which are typically around Christmas. Prices range from $369 to $1,149 per year.

Currently, most passholders face "blockout dates" when they can't go to the parks, however, if they are not blocked out, they can visit either Disneyland or Disney California Adventure or both. It's common for people to hop between the parks in one day.

People use the Disneyland website or use the mobile app to find out which days they are able to visit and which are blocked out.

The resorts are already often packed with pass holders, even on weekdays that formerly were considered low season, leaving observers to speculate how Disney plans to accommodate the huge demand that Star Wars will certainly bring.

Rachel Broughton of Queen Creek, Arizona, recently spent more than $4,000 on annual passes for her husband and children, so she's not thrilled to think her access to the park would be reduced. But she said she wasn't surprised to hear about the changes.

So, how does it work?

For June 2019, the new calendar shows that Deluxe passholders (Current price $729 per year) will be able to visit both parks on 13 days, while on 17 days they can visit only California Adventure, for a total 30 days of admission.

That compares to this June, when Deluxe passholders could visit either park on 25 of the month's 30 days.

The Southern California Select pass, which currently costs $369, will allow only three days of visits to Disney California Adventure in June 2019, with 27 blockout dates, compared to four days this year for both parks and 26 blackout dates.

The Southern California pass, which is closed to new purchases, will offer 20 days at Disney California Adventure in June 2019, with 10 blockout dates, compared to June 2018, which has 19 days available at either park.

"Especially with Star Wars coming, they've got to do something," Broughton said. "We are mega Star Wars fans. My husband and I have matching tattoos. But I totally get it. How many people can you pack in there? (The new Star Wars land is) only 14 acres."

In the recent past, Disney has already raised prices significantly, created a system of tiered pricing for daily tickets based on estimated demand, stopped the sale of Southern California Annual Passports except for renewals and is expected to make other changes to manage attendance.

The change announced this morning will help to reduce crowding in Disneyland during the summer of 2019, by shunting many visiting passholders into the adjacent Disney California Adventure instead.

Disney officials did not release a list of the planned blackout dates for the entire year, or how many will occur.

One bit of potentially good news for passholders. Disneyland spokesmen said they have no current plans to shelve the popular plan that allows people to pay for their annual passes on a monthly basis.

Disney observers have speculated for more than a year that killing the option of monthly payments would drive down the number of annual passholders immediately, since even the cheapest passes cost hundreds of dollars.

But financial experts point out the advantage of monthly payment plans to Disney and other parks, such as Knott's - offering a stable and predictable cash flow throughout the year.

The highest level of pass, the Signature and Signature Plus, which cost $999 and $1,149 respectively, will not change, and will not have specific park blockouts.
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Star Wars Galaxys Edge

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