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Disneyland annual pass programme to be “sunsetted” due to COVID-19

Disneyland Castle

Disneyland annual pass programme has been “sunsetted”. All annual passes have been cancelled as COVID-19 pandemic uncertainties continue to hit the Anaheim Disney parks – passholders will get pro-rata refunds.

Disneyland and Disney California Adventure theme parks are ending their annual pass programme, following nearly year-long closures. The multi-tiered ticketing system was very popular with local residents.

“We want to thank our Annual Passholders for their understanding during this closure period,” said Ken Potrock, President of Disneyland Resort in a statement.

“Due to the continued uncertainty of the pandemic and limitations around the reopening of our California theme parks, we will be issuing appropriate refunds for eligible Disneyland Resort Annual Passports and sunsetting the current program.”

The parks are hoping to be allowed to re-open at a reduced capacity but the annual pass news means that passholders will no longer have priority access.

Responses on social media have been mixed.

@PlaystationFife said on Twitter: “Honestly, I’m glad they did this. Disneyland is always overcrowded with annual pass holders. I think it will benefit the people who’ve never visited or the people that live far away.”

@stevelakin also approved. “It’s an honest move surely? They should be applauded for not taking people’s money if you will struggle to go often.”

However others lamented the move.

“Aww man, Disneyland is getting rid of its annual pass program I’m so sad,” said Danielle (@purepalette). “I hope eventually when the parks reopen and it’s safe to go again, they bring back some kind of membership program that’s still affordable.”

“I grew up going to Disneyland multiple times a year,” says Paula Santos (@pablitasan). “And my extended family have been annual pass holders. I’ve also known so many ppl in LA that makes Disney an identity. It’s a culture! I can only imagine there’s some anger in these circles.”

California re-opening still on hold

Disney parks, like much of the sector, have been hammered by the pandemic. The parks segment posted an $81 million operating loss in the last fiscal year (ending October 3rd 2020). This is in stark comparison to its $6.76 billion in operating income the wdyear before. Disney laid off or furloughed over 100,000 workers last year.

Gov. Gavin Newsom has refused to allow theme parks in California to open while the virus is still spreading. He has issued guidelines that tie any reopening to the infection rates and number of COVID cases per 100,000 residents.

New membership offerings promised

Ken Potrock promised that new membership offerings were under development. “We are currently developing new membership offerings that will utilize consumer insights to deliver choice, flexibility and value for our biggest fans.”

He sees the ending of the annual pass as potentially a positive move. “A nice part of this is creating a variety of different ways for people to access the park,” he said at a press conference yesterday. “If they want to come every single day, do we have a program that allows them to do that? If they want to come midweek, do we have a program that allows them to do that?”

End of Magical Express Bus for Walt Disney World Resort

Those visitors who have a premier tier pass (allowing entry to Walt Disney World in Florida as well as the Anaheim parks) will receive refunds on the California element of the pass.

However visitors have recently heard that they will no longer have the option to use the Magical Express bus to transport them from the airport, which has been met with disappointment from fans.

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