Disneyland is literally my happy place, and I try to go as often as I can — but I've never had an annual pass (I know, I'm shocked myself). But I have two trips planned this year, so I thought maybe this is the time to pull the trigger on joining the pass-holder club. Since it's freaking expensive — and I live in Northern California — I reached out to some people who either currently have or have had passes in the past to see if it's worth it. If you're also considering shelling out the dough for an annual Disneyland pass, read these pros and cons first!
Why It's Worth It:
- "When friends come to visit and want to go to Disneyland, it's super convenient to already have a pass to be able to meet up or tag along with them."
- "Getting to experience all the seasons (well, seasonal decorations at least) and new attractions as they open is the best. Having a year-round pass lets you see and do it all."
- "The novelty of going to Disneyland for just one thing like getting a yummy cocktail at Carthay Circle in California Adventure or taking a sunset ride on the Mark Twain Riverboat feels really special and magical."
- "Going on a solo Disney trip is actually really fun. You can ride attractions alone (single-rider lines for the win!), eat at restaurants alone, and we promise it's not as weird as it sounds!"
- "Because I go to Disneyland several times a year, it is cheaper for me to buy the pass as opposed to purchasing a park hopper ticket each visit. Furthermore, having a pass means I don't feel guilty if I only go for a half a day or a few hours, because I didn't pay for a full day."
- "My churro consumption has definitely gone up, and I'm not complaining."
- "Having a pass means that people tend to invite me along if they're heading to Disneyland, which is a major plus."
- "One of my favorite things about the annual pass is you get a 10 percent discount on any merch you buy in the park and 10 percent off dining, which really comes in handy (especially for me)."
- "You never have to worry about whether or not you have access to both parks. There are some blackout dates, but they're usually the very popular weekends, which I try to avoid anyway because of lines so that's never really an issue. I think it also comes with free parking, but I've never taken advantage of that since I'm always coming from out of town. Usually if I go twice a year for two or three days, the cost takes care of itself!"
- "You don't have to wait in line to get a hand stamp when you leave a park since your photo is on the card. I know this doesn't sound like a big deal but it actually makes a huge difference, especially if you have to book it from Disneyland over to California Adventures to catch the next show at The Hyperion."
- "The discounts don't hurt either — bring on the reduced-cost Disney apparel and cheaper lobster nachos."
- "I never felt rushed to see or ride everything in a day, and I could arrive late or leave early without feeling guilty. It made me appreciate the tiny details of the parks more. The 10 percent discounts on merchandise and food helped out too!"
- "It was absolutely worth it. Especially while I was dating my then-boyfriend. Date nights were way more fun, and trips to Disney were far less pressure because you don't have to stress about fitting EVERYTHING into one trip. You get a discount on food, can join in with friends whenever people from out of town want to come visit, and can just head in for a night of a couple rides and dinner if you so choose. If it's too hot or crowded, just leave! You can always come back."
Why It's Not Worth It:
- "The concept of 'just popping in after work for a few rides or to watch the fireworks' sounds really simple in theory, but the reality is that once you add in commutes both ways, traffic, finding parking, and walking to the park, it's never quite that simple. I found myself going way less spontaneously than I thought I would, especially when I don't have friends with passes."
- "The first time I had it (when I paid for it) I think I did go enough times to make the cost worth it. This last time (when someone else had bought my pass as a gift) I think I only went like four or five times total in the year, which doesn't fully even out."
- "The pass does put a little bit of pressure on me to make sure I use it enough times throughout the year to feel 'worth it,' but this pressure results in more Disney visits, which is always a good thing."
- "I believe I went over 20 times within a year. I spent WAY more than I intended in all since I had to pay for gas (from San Jose, CA), food (breakfast, lunch, dinner), hotels, gifts, etc. I could have potentially gone on multiple cruises or to Hawaii or Asia or something with the total amount I spent on those trips. Was it worth it? At the time, yes. Looking back on it, I think a three-day park hopper would have been enough."
- "Totally worth it if you live in Southern California . . . may not be worth it if you live farther."
So, if the pros outweigh the cons to you, we suggest getting a pass ASAP. If not, you can still experience the magic of Disney with a single-day ticket. Any day at Disneyland is a dream!
— Additional reporting by Lauren Harano