Disneyland annual pass holders who have been itching to renew their expiring passes will soon get the chance to do so, but with two less-than-magical caveats.
Prices are going up for all the passes, with the top-tier annual pass climbing from $1,399 to $1,599.
And even the priciest annual pass won't get you into the park for several days before and after one of the busiest times of the year: Christmas.
The price hikes — as high as 16% — and the limitations on Christmas visits are the latest chapter in the saga of the resort's annual pass program, which is very popular with hard-core Disneyland fans but has been blamed for increased crowding at the resort, especially during the peak summer and holiday travel seasons.
The previous annual pass program was scrapped during the 13-month pandemic shutdown and replaced last August with a new annual pass program dubbed Magic Key. It created four annual passes that ranged in price from $399 per year for Southern California residents to $1,399 for the option with no block-out days and the greatest flexibility for making reservations.
But in May, Disney paused all sales of new Magic Key passes to better control crowding at the start of the busy summer season. Starting Aug. 18, current pass holders will be able to renew their Magic Key passes for a 12-month period, but the resort won't be selling annual passes to new holders, presumably to better control crowding at the parks.
The top-tier pass in the new plan, known as the Inspire Key, will cost $1,599, replacing the Dream Key, which sold for $1,399 last year and had no block-out dates. The Inspire Key will include unlimited photo downloads and a 20% discount on use of Disney Genie+, the app that lets visitors pay extra to skip the long lines on the most popular rides.
But the Inspire Key won't get you into the resort from Dec. 21 through Jan. 1. You'll have to buy a daily ticket for those dates — priced at $164 per person per day. And be warned: Tickets may sell out fast as the resort often reaches capacity around Christmas and New Year's Day.
Although the new Inspire Key will block pass holders for 12 days around Christmas, Disneyland spokeswoman Suzi Brown said parkgoers can still partake of the holiday festivities because the resort celebrates the holiday for eight weeks, starting in early November.
"We think we have a lot of options for our Magic Key holders to experience,” she said.
The Believe Key, which was priced last year at $949 with 48 block-out dates, most of which fall around Thanksgiving and the December holidays, is now priced at $1,099. It also includes unlimited digital photo downloads and the 20% discount on Disney Genie+. Brown said the block-out calendars for the annual passes will be similar but not exactly the same.
The Enchant Key, which was priced last year at $649 with 149 block-out dates, including most of June and July and the days around Thanksgiving and Christmas, is now selling for $699. It now includes a 25% discount on standard parking and 20% off Disney Genie+.
The Imagine Key was priced last summer at $399 and sold only to Southern California residents. It had 218 block-out dates, with no available weekends and most of the summer blocked out. It will now sell for $449. It includes 25% off standard parking, plus the 20% discount on Disney Genie+.
A Disneyland pass holder sued the resort in December, saying she bought the most expensive pass, assuming she could get unlimited access to the park. The lawsuit claims access to the park is limited because the resort now requires a reservation to visit either Disneyland or Disney California Adventure Park, regardless of the annual pass status. The reservation system was added at the resort last year to help Disneyland manage the park crowds.
Disneyland officials say they have been clear about the terms of the annual passes and plan to defend against the lawsuit.
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.