Disneyland's New Magic Key Program Is Already Causing Headaches For People Trying To Get Into The Park

It’s only been two months since Disneyland Resort officially unveiled its replacement for the Annual Passport program, the Magic Keys. The new option for guests that wanted to visit the happiest place on earth frequently was remarkably similar to the program that existed before, which surprised a lot of people, but there was one significant addition, the need to make reservations prior to visiting the park. 

As with Walt Disney World, reservation availability is limited, but Magic Keys pulls reservations from a different calendar than standard ticket holders. This has resulted in a situation where even those that own the most expensive Magic Key, the one that is supposed to have no blackout dates, are still having trouble getting into the park, while standard ticket guests are not.

As of this writing on October 4th, owners of the Dream Key, the most expensive Magic Key, have no access to either Disneyland resort theme park until October 19. Only Disney California Adventure is available Oct 19-21, before the parks go dark again. The next time a Magic Key holder can get into Disneyland Park is currently October 26.

For standard ticket holders, however, while the park does appear to be booked solid on October 4 and 5, parks are available on October 6 and 7. Next week availability opens up even more. And starting October 17, it’s basically all open as long as you have a normal ticket, not a Magic Key.

Disneyland website Magic Key availability

(Image credit: Disneyland.com)

Needless to say, there are Magic Key holders who are less than thrilled with the current situation. While Disneyland Resort made it clear at the outset that access to the parks was dependent on reservation availability, it was unclear at that point just what that meant. And the fact that reservations are available to standard guests, meaning that the park is not hitting capacity, makes the people who just gave Disney a chunk of money feel like they’re not getting anything for it.

When I first wrote about the new Magic Key program I said it would “probably” be good, but that “probably” caveat was specifically in regards to how the reservation calendar worked. If Magic Key holders had little problem getting in when they want there would be no problem. There is a problem.

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A lot of people who have Magic Keys are southern California locals, who might not so much plan to visit Disneyland as they might simply decide to stop by and grab a snack or ride a couple favorites. The beauty of the Annual Passport was the ability to just drop in without a plan, but that benefit of the AP is gone, at least for the moment.

I’m not a Southern California local but back when I had an Annual Passport I rarely planned a trip more than a week or two in advance, as things stand now even that is largely impossible.

Part of the issue is likely that Disneyland is not back to full capacity yet. The park rarely got full prior to the pandemic, and since there are a couple of days this week where Disneyland looks to be entirely full, that’s likely because 100% capacity is not an option. One hopes that once that changes, reservations won’t be a problem anymore.

Until then, however, this lack of availability, for those that have already paid to have availability, may continue.

Dirk Libbey
Content Producer/Theme Park Beat

CinemaBlend’s resident theme park junkie and amateur Disney historian, Dirk began writing for CinemaBlend as a freelancer in 2015 before joining the site full-time in 2018. He has previously held positions as a Staff Writer and Games Editor, but has more recently transformed his true passion into his job as the head of the site's Theme Park section. He has previously done freelance work for various gaming and technology sites. Prior to starting his second career as a writer he worked for 12 years in sales for various companies within the consumer electronics industry. He has a degree in political science from the University of California, Davis.  Is an armchair Imagineer, Epcot Stan, Future Club 33 Member.