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Disneyland (Sort of) Brings Back Annual Passes

August 5, 2021
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Yes, the rumors are true! Annual passes are out at Disneyland!

In their place, the Happiest Place on Earth just announced the Magic Key program. Here’s everything you need to know.

Are These Annual Passes?

Yes, please don’t let the new terminology fool you. When you buy a Magic Key, you’re purchasing theme park access at Disneyland Resort.

However, Disneyland officials had hinted that the program would change and evolve.

Disneyland operates differently from Walt Disney World, as local Southern Californians comprise a more significant percentage of park guests.

As such, Disney executives sought to modify the system to solve a prior and a current problem.

The 2021 one stems from Disneyland’s recent reopening, which included the implementation of Park Passes.

Disney introduced this mechanic to control crowd control more effectively during the age of COVID-19.

The older problem stems from longtime Disneyland Annual Passholders overcrowding the parks.

I know that sounds like a good problem to have. Still, park strategists expend many resources finding the best ways to maximize revenue per guest.

Park survey scores increase when Disneyland isn’t as crowded. So, the continuing problem for Disney comes down to getting fewer people to pay more.

The new Magic Key system represents Disney’s attempt to solve the system. It empowers Disneyland fanatics to choose their visitation tier.

So, in a way, Magic Key works similarly to Disneyland’s surge pricing model, the tiered system with fluctuating admission costs.

Guests pay more to attend Disneyland on crowded days on the park calendar. We’re talking about holidays, the summer, Spring Break, and such.

Meanwhile, you can save money by buying a ticket on one of the dates that are traditionally the offseason.

Magic Key slightly modifies this season, but the underlying premise is the same.

You must purchase a more expensive ticket to avoid blockout dates.


What Are the Magic Key Tiers?

Photo courtesy Tom Bricker

The new Magic Key system comes in four forms. The price difference between the bottom and top tier is precisely $1,000.

That fact alone identifies that Disney wants its diehard fans to pay more. It isn’t willing to cede the business of the more casual Disneyland guests, though.

How does the system work? Well, for an upfront payment of $399, you can buy the Imagine Key. This tier entitles you to:

  • “Reservation-based admission to one or both theme parks select days of the year”
  • Up to 2 park reservations at a time
  • A 10 percent discount on food, beverages, and merchandise

The catch with the Imagine Key is that it’s only available to Southern California residents.

Disney also offers members of the Imagine Key program a $19 per month purchase instead of a one-time lump sum charge. You must make a $179 down payment, though.

Otherwise, the essential detail here is that the new Magic Key program reduces visits via Park Passes.

On the lowest tier, you can only book up to two at a time. So, it makes visiting regularly a bit more challenging.

The next tier is the Enchant Key. With this Magic Key, you double the number of prospective Park Passes to four.

Obviously, Enchant Key includes blockout dates as well, but we don’t know whether it’s the same ones as Imagine Key yet. I would presume better availability, but that’s speculation.

Enchant Key offers a $40 monthly payment plan after the $179 down payment. Its discount perks are the same as Imagine Key.

The Best Tiers

You’ll pay $949 for Believe Key or $1,399 for Dream Key. Interestingly, the primary sticking point isn’t Park Passes, though.

With the Believe Key, you get:

  • Up to six Park Passes at a time
  • 50 percent off theme park parking
  • Admission “most days of the year”

This version also requires a $179 down payment followed by $65 per month.

The Dream Key becomes the best possible admission pass at Disneyland Resort. It’s the equivalent of the prior Disney Signature Plus Passport, albeit with some differences.

With the new Dream Key, you get:

  • Up to six Park Passes at a time
  • Complimentary theme park parking
  • 15 percent off food and beverages
  • 20 percent off merchandise
  • Park access on every day of the year

Unlike the old Signature Plus, the Dream Key does NOT entitle the guest to MaxPass and its accompanying PhotoPass downloads.

I stress that Disney could feasibly add these amenities later, but the Parks Blog lists everything in detail. The absence of these mentions seems intentional.

The Dream Key also includes a payment plan if you don’t want to front Disney the $1,399. You’ll pay $179 down, followed by $102 monthly.

By the way, I would encourage that you read Disney’s post to learn the exclusions and caveats on some of the discounts.

Otherwise, the only other thing you need to know is that the new Magic Keys go on sale on August 25th.

Right now, any speculation about Walt Disney World annual passes is premature…but that won’t stop anybody from doing it anyway!


To learn more about how to experience the magic for less, rent DVC points or rent out your DVC points as a Member visit the friendly team at DVC Rental Store. To purchase a DVC resale contract visit our partners at DVC Resale Market.

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