The Disney Company has always known that annual passholders are the least profitable guests at their theme parks. And now the company is doing something to stop the bleeding: it has eliminated the annual park pass program entirely.
The annual passholder demographic is largely dominated by people who live close to the parks, and while they come frequently and buy food, they don’t tend to buy much merchandise or stay in Disney hotels. Someone local to Anaheim, for instance, could come in often enough that their annual pass would work out to just a few dollars a visit plus the $30 or so they spend on lunch. Compare that to a one-time tourist, whose three-day park-hopper pass costs upwards of $100 a day on top of hotel, three meals in Disney-owned restaurants, and that $80 hoodie.
With strict entry limits probably the most important key towards keeping Disney World open in Orlando and getting Disneyland California’s gates open again at all, it’s easy to see which crowd they’d rather keep. The state of Florida has capped Disney World at 35 percent occupancy. Disneyland in California, which is much more densely built, will likely face even tighter restrictions.
Prior to Disneyland’s closure in March, there were more than a million annual passholders, nearly all of them living in Southern California. For nearly a year, those passes have been on hold, payment suspended while the parks (Disneyland and California Adventure) have been closed. But no one should be truly surprised that annual park pass program has been eliminated entirely now; Disney Company has been flirting with the idea for a while, which was made plain when they canceled the Southern California resident special annual pass rate in 2017.
According to officials in Disney’s Parks, Experiences, and Products division, a program to replace the annual park pass is under development. In Florida, annual passes may resume in 2022, with increased restrictions and fewer privileges. There is currently no prediction for when annual passes might resume in California.
Photo: Tourists walk across the street toward Disneyland. Credit: David Tonelson / Shutterstock.com