Disneyland Just Brought Back Annual Passes, But…
On Tuesday morning, Disneyland surprised everyone by announcing the return of the Magic Key program. But there’s a catch.
Here’s everything we just learned about Disneyland’s updated strategy for annual passholders.
Why Disney Stopped Selling Annual Passes
Those of you who read last week’s Disney Headlines know about the current countdown clock on annual passes.
On August 25th, 2021, Disneyland Resort introduced its new annual pass program, Magic Key.
Loyal fans could purchase passes to the Happiest Place on Earth, just as they always had.
However, the new version came with a catch. Due to pandemic-related concerns, Magic Key owners needed Park Passes, too.
Without Park Passes, Magic Key holders couldn’t enter either Disneyland gate, even though they owned annual passes.
Disneyland officials promised exclusive Park Pass inventory for Magic Key purchases. But unfortunately, the reality didn’t match the expectations.
Persnickety Disneyland guests repeatedly posted social media images of sold-out Park Pass calendars. Entire months showed no availability.
Guests who paid for the highest tier of Magic Key, the Dream Key, felt particularly angry about this matter.
They’d spent $1,399 plus tax for theme park access every day of the year.
What they didn’t anticipate was a Park Pass shortage to prevent them from visiting daily.
Disneyland officials acted shocked about the matter, indicating that they’d met all the promises of the Magic Key program.
Eventually, the tenor of the conversation between the two groups took a turn. As a result, a class action suit is ongoing between Magic Key owners and Disney.
Last month, a few Magic Key owners pointed out that their passes had expired for reasons too arcane to detail.
Now, people who bought passes on August 25th, 2021, only have a few days left before they expire.
Disneyland had offered them no recourse for renewal. Instead, the company’s plan appeared to be letting all Magic Key subscriptions expire before starting anew.
Notably, that hasn’t happened. Disneyland just restored the Magic Key program, albeit with some changes. Here are the details.
Magic Key V2.022
Disneyland will once again sell four tiers of Magic Keys. The lowest three tiers keep their previous names, while the top tier gains a new one.
Your Magic Key options are now:
- The Imagine Key
- The Enchant Key
- The Believe Key
- The Inspire Key
NEW: Disneyland Magic Key renewals open Aug 18.
Renewals only – no new sales (for now). Dream Key gone.
Inspire $1599 (new)
Believe $1099 (was $949)
Enchant $699 (was $649)
Imagine $449 (was $399)
All passes have blockouts. Inspire: Dec. 21 – Jan. 1. No pass gets 365 days. pic.twitter.com/w6q5YEKH8t
— Scott Gustin (@ScottGustin) August 16, 2022
Let’s take them from the top. The Imagine Key previously sold for $399 last year. It’s an exclusive option for Southern California guests.
Disney has raised the price by $50 (or 13 percent) to $449 for 2022.
The 2021 version listed 218 blockout dates, and we expect a similar number this year.
Last year, the people who didn’t live near Disneyland could purchase their cheapest option, the Enchant Key.
In 2021, its price was $649. Disney has also bumped that one up $50 (or eight percent) to $699 for 2022. You do get two excellent perks, though.
Enchant Key owners receive 25 percent discounts on standard parking and 20 percent off Disney Genie+ purchases. It’ll probably include ~150 blockout dates.
The Believe Key has increased $150 to $1,099, a 16 percent price hike.
This annual pass only lists about 50 blockout dates, which averages out as roughly one per week.
You also gain unlimited digital photos as a free perk. Plus, you get that 20 percent annual pass discount.
I think the Believe Key qualifies as the sweet spot for Disneyland annual passes right now.
You only face a handful of blockout dates. We don’t know the specifics yet, but Disney has indicated they will mostly occur around holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas.
The price increase, while significant, still brings this annual pass in line with the top-tier ones we’ve tracked at Walt Disney World.
Plus, you get the free photos and the Disney Genie+ discount that could counterbalance the price increase.
The Other Magic Key
The big story here is the Inspire Key, which replaces the Dream Key. I say this for two reasons.
First, the Inspire Key has raised the bar on annual pass pricing. It costs $1,599 per person!
People who own the Dream Key can renew with the Inspire Key instead. However, all current annual passholders can choose to purchase whichever tier they prefer.
You may decide to drop down to the Believe Key, which costs $500 less. That goes double when I tell you the second part of the story.
Despite its $1,599 price tag, the Inspire Key includes blockout dates, which the Dream Key did NOT.
Disney has indicated that this annual pass won’t provide park entry from December 21st through January 1st.
So, loyal Disney fans who make Disneyland a holiday tradition must purchase single-day admission.
Those 12 Days of Christmas dates also represent the annual calendar’s most expensive single-day admission prices.
As you might imagine, current Dream Key holders aren’t happy about this revelation.
On the one hand, they DO get to renew annual passes, which wasn’t a certainty before today.
Conversely, Disney is letting annual passholders know that it’s gonna maximize holiday park revenue with or without them.
Yes, this is a power move, and there’s no point in pretending otherwise.
What Does This Change Mean?
Starting on Thursday, August 18th, Magic Key owners may renew their passes.
That’s the good news. The bad news is that this option is only available to current owners seeking to renew.
Disneyland Resort won’t sell Magic Keys to new customers. The presumed reason for this strategy is to protect the Park Pass inventory for current owners.
Also, Disney protects itself in court by giving guests the renewal option. Now, it can argue that some passholders must not be that upset if they renew.
Similarly, Disney can say that it didn’t punish anyone by canceling the program. Instead, the company paused Magic Keys until it learned more.
After all, we are just coming out of a pandemic. It’s reasonable for Disney to try to track guest behavior for a while before planning annual pass allotments.
Realistically, that’s not the explanation for what just happened, though.
During a recent call, Bob Chapek explained park revenue as “partially offset by an unfavorable attendance mix at Disneyland Resort.”
Many analysts speculated that the “unfavorable” guests in this scenario are the annual passholders who pay less per visit than other tourists.
In short, Disney and its most passionate Disneyland fans are feuding over the future direction of the park.
The class action lawsuit currently working its way through the court will impact how Disney proceeds from here.
For now, Magic Keys are back at Disneyland, albeit for renewals only. Will this change impact Walt Disney World any? Stay tuned…