By Jennifer Stuart
Annual Passes change on a fairly regular basis but the changes announced this week at Disneyland are significant. Read on to find out how they will affect the crowd levels at Disneyland Resort and how they may be linked to the new Star Wars Land - Galaxy's Edge.
These new changes will affect Deluxe Passes (the lowest level of annual passes available to those who live outside of Southern California). These passes have seen a steep increase in price over the last few years, as Disney has tried to get a handle on the large number of people who purchase these passes. The Deluxe Pass has always had a number of blackout dates (dates that pass holders are not able to use their passes). Usually these are at the busiest times of the year such as the 2 weeks around Christmas, American Thanksgiving and other major holidays, as well as Saturdays for peak periods.
The biggest change is that the blackout dates are now park specific, i.e. you could be blocked from one park but still be able to access the other park. In theory this could work either way but in practice will mean that these passes will be blocked on certain days from Disneyland and will still be able to access Disney California Adventure. This is part of the continued efforts of Disney to draw more crowds away form Disneyland and into California Adventure in order to deal with the overcrowding at Disneyland. This has included switching the popular Paint the Night Parade to Disney California Adventure and re-imagining the Paradise Pier area into Pixar Pier.
Note: Days in green are days the park is available to Deluxe Annual Passholders
How does this connect to the new Star Wars Land? Crowds are expected to reach unprecedented levels with the opening of Galaxy's Edge and Disney has to find some way to manage the large number of annual passholders. Disney has announced that Galaxy's Edge will open "summer 2019" at Disneyland. (fall 2019 for Disney World). Speculation is that it will be at the end of June 2019 based on the new blackout calendars. Notice that Deluxe Passholders are blocked from Disneyland for both Saturday AND Sunday starting in June 2019 and then are blocked out for the whole last week of June. We won't know if this blackout will continue into July until that calendar is released on July 1 of this year. We will update this post when we know for sure, but we predict that the blackout would be another week for sure and possibly until after the 17th of July (Disneyland's anniversary) which is already a busy day.
Part of how this affects the value of a pass is in the limits to choice. The first limit is that on more days you are limited in your choice of park. This is optics - rather than increase the number of days that the pass is blocked out, there is a reduction in choice instead. The other limit to choice is the number of rides available in each park. Taking out shows and vehicles and walkthroughs etc., Disneyland has 31 rides and DCA has only 20. I am the first to agree that rides are not the only things to do in either park, but they are certainly a big part of it. Add to that the attractiveness of the new rides in Galaxy's Edge and the closure of Bug's Land to make way for the new Marvel area of DCA (scheduled to open 2020.) This means that while Disneyland is blocked out there will also be 4 less rides in DCA.
If you are thinking about purchasing a pass or re-newing a current pass this will certainly give you more to think about as Deluxe Passes are currently priced at $729USD with no reduction for children. The next level pass -- Signature Passport -- is not currently showing blackout days for June but it is also priced at $999USD.
All Photos and screenshots by Jennifer Stuart
Questions? Comments? We would love to hear from you. HAs this changed your thinking about annual passes?
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