Disney’s top-level annual passholders will have to shell out more than $1,000 if they want to visit Disneyland and Disney California Adventure anytime of the year.
Disneyland raised its prices for lower-tier annual passes Sunday by as much as $60, highest-tier bi-coastal pass good for visits for Walt Disney World and Disneyland by $300, and eliminated the no-blackout, $779 Premium Annual Passport.
Instead, the park is offering two new top-level passes – the Disney Signature Plus, $1,049 with no blackout days, and the Disney Signature for $849, good for visits for about 350 days, excluding select days during the winter holiday.
Both passes come with additional benefits such as parking, discounts for dining and merchandise and a new PhotoPass that allows passholders unlimited digital downloads of photos taken of them meeting characters, walking around the park and on rides.
Excluded days for the Signature pass are the two weeks around Christmas and New Year, often the theme park’s busiest time of the year. Disneyland has closed its gates at times to control overflowing crowds.
Current Premium passholders will be able to use their pass until it expires, but they will not have the option to renew. Monthly payment options are still available for California residents.
Disney on its website Sunday morning also overhauled prices for annual passes at Walt Disney World. The Disney Signature Platinum Plus pass for visits to all four Disney World theme parks and water parks with no blackout dates is $829.
“In addition to our continued investment in the guest experience and the expansion of our parks, our new selection of annual passes will help us manage strong demand and continue to deliver a world-class experience, while providing more choices for guests to select the pass that best meets their needs,” said Suzi Brown, a Disneyland spokeswoman.
The increase comes after The Walt Disney Co. this summer explored in an online survey a seasonal tiered pricing structure or demand-based pricing. The theme park – celebrating its 60th anniversary – is experiencing record attendance and is moving forward with plans to create a “Star Wars”-themed land.
“We have to look at ways to spread out our attendance throughout the year so we can accommodate demand and avoid bursting at the seams,” Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Chairman Bob Chapek told The Wall Street Journal.
Disneyland officials recently announced several attractions will close – some permanently, some for more than a year – starting Jan. 10, to make room for the 14-acre “Star Wars” land that will be built in the northern part of Frontierland and nearby backstage areas.
More than 16.7 million people visited Disneyland and another 8.7 million visited Disney California Adventure last year, according to The Themed Entertainment Association, a trade group that represents members of the theme park industry.
The latest price increase specifically targets Disneyland’s annual passholders, a core base that many unofficial Disney blog sites estimate at 1 million. Some have speculated the recent ticket increases are a much-needed way to reduce the large crowds that occurs at Disneyland during some weekends and high-demand seasons.
Brown said since 2001 – when Disney California Adventure opened – the number of passholders have increased by 250 percent. She did not reveal how many annual passholders Disneyland has.
This is the second time this year Disneyland raised prices for annual passes. In February, Disney raised prices across the board by $3 for one-day, one-park tickets – now $99 a ticket – and raised some annual passes by 11 percent.
The new price for a Deluxe pass, with some Saturday and peak-holiday-period blackouts, went up $50, to $599. Southern California passes, which are only available for renewals, increased to $459 from $389. The cheapest pass – Southern California Select – went to $329 from $299.
Reactions exploded on social media sites. Most were outraged by the higher prices, while some understood Disneyland’s growing dilemma with large crowds.
Ryan Lyle, of La Puente, said it’s unfortunate the annual prices went up again, “but the demand for Disneyland is going up, so the price goes up.”
Chris Zabriskie, of Las Vegas, said he’s done with Disneyland.
“Disneyland is that high maintenance person in the relationship that just takes, and takes,”
“I guess no more Disneyland,” wrote Todd Glickman, of Hollywood, on a Disney fan site on Facebook. “We can afford annual passes but that’s not the point. It’s just not worth it … A huge section of the park will be closed for ‘Star Wars’ land and honestly, Disneyland is boring if you go too often.”
Parking prices at the Disneyland Resort also changed.
Renewal prices for annual passholders with the yearly parking add-on went up to $199 from $169. Theme park parking increased by $1, to $18. Downtown Disney will now only offer two hours of free parking, with an additional two hours with validation from a restaurant or movie. The hourly rate changed to $12 from $6.