Sleeping Beauty Castle at Disneyland

Yesterday Disneyland Resort sent shockwaves through its fan base when it was announced that the Annual Passport program, which allowed guests access to both theme parks on nearly any date, was being "sunset." While many holders of Aps had already been given refunds for unused days due to the parks closures, others decided to hold out and wait for the park to reopen. However, now they too are getting refunds, whether they like it or not, and the existing program is over, to be replaced by something new somewhere down the road. As one might expect, emotions are running high.

When things change at Disneyland, you will hear about it. People have real issues quite often when a popular attraction gets replaced, or even simply gets a facelift, and the Annual Passport program was no different. There are a wide variety of reactions. Many are sad, angry, and frustrated, others are resigned, and others are, to one degree or another, happy to see the AP go the way of Mission to Mars.

The people hit hardest by the end of the program are, obviously, the people who visited the park the most. While APs were expensive, if you were somebody that visited the park weekly, they were still an insane bargain. People who are used to going that often simply won't be able to afford to do so without any such program, and that will be the only option until a replacement program is released, which is likely years away.

Of course, if you're not one of those people who went to Disneyland every day, then the people who did, it has to be said, could get a little out of hand. Being a Disney Fan is such a popular thing that for many, visiting Disneyland really was part of who they were, and without that, just who are they? What are these people going to talk about at parties if they can't mention they have an Annual Pass?

Still, many are taking it in stride. If you had an AP but now it's gone, that sucks, there's no way getting around that, but it's understandable why it's happening. When Disneyland does reopen, it's going to have to manage crowds, and with so many Annual Pass holders out there who are obviously going to want to get into the park, and may feel entitled to do so, it's going to be tough to make everybody happy. This way, Disneyland can start with a clean slate.

While the AP program certainly had its bright spots, with Southern California's huge population the fact is that while we don't know exactly how many APs were out there, there were a lot. and while the passes got more expensive every year, the fact is that pass holders also spent, on average, less than people that we're making special trips. Who the more valuable customer was only Disneyland knows, but those passholders certainly crowded the park, even when capacity was at its maximum, and so the potential of visiting without all those people is certainly an attractive proposition.

There was a lot of really nice convenience in the Annual Pass program. Being able to stop by in the evening for dinner or to go by in the morning for one last ride on Space Mountain before leaving town, and not having to buy a whole ticket, was nice. Hopefully Disneyland will find a way to keep that sort of thing intact when the program gets redesigned.

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