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Monday, March 4, 2013

The Disneyland Annual Pass Conundrum - Price vs. Value

Where Dreams Come True - At a Steep Price

As I've mentioned before, Mrs. DisneylandTraveler and I have a Disneyland trip on the horizon, hopefully in the late April - early May time frame. We have been Disneyland annual passholders on and off for the last 10 years or so. Our system has worked something like this. For our next trip, we each would get park hoppers ranging from 3 to 5 days. Once we got down to Disneyland and began enjoying ourselves immensely, we'd start talking about our finances, schedules, and calendars as to how soon we could come back and maybe even how many times we could possibly come back in the next 12 months. If all looks good, we'd take our parkhopper tickets and convert them into annual passes and the sweet Disney freedom to just walk in and out of the park would be ours. The decision was an easy one a few years ago but that was when the Annual Passes were cheaper, much cheaper.

I think our first annual pass might have been somewhere around $239 each. We would always get our annual passes in the Deluxe category as the Saturday and holiday blackout dates were not big deal for us. Since we already had park hopper tickets we were converting to annual passes, the cost of the conversion usually amounted to the cost of a real nice dinner at the Blue Bayou or something. Skip the dinner, get the passes. It was a no-brainer. 

But that's all changed. That Deluxe Annual Pass that used to be in the mid-$200 range is now $469 (each!). A Premium Annual Pass runs $649. (Thank you Cars Land) You have to look long and hard at where the value line is located. We would have to absolutely make two extended multi-day stays during our pass period to justify the cost of the passes. Three trips would be better. 

Then there is the pressure factor. If we just stuck to multi-day park-hoppers, there is no pressure to get back to Disneyland. We'll get back when we are good and ready. With annual passes in hand, the pressure is already on to make the next trip whether you have the funds budgeted or not. 

But there is a huge advantage in having an annual pass, especially for Mrs. DLT and I living about 450 miles away. After 6 or 7 hours of driving, with annual passes in hand, we could go over to park for a few hours once we checked into our hotel. With park hoppers, you are always on the clock so to speak. You would never waste a park hopper admission day for a "few hours" of park time like you would with an annual pass. If you are Disney cheap like me, you would also have a tendency to never, ever, leave the park from the time it opened until the time they told you had to get out to maximize Disney day.

What to do....what to do? It really depends on if we can make those two extended trips in a 12 month period. I think we can, I hope we can. Disney used to make this decision pretty easy. Now? Not so much.

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