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Disneyland ends its annual pass program after 40 years, citing pandemic uncertainty

The Points Guy logo The Points Guy 1/15/2021 Katherine Fan
a group of people standing in front of a building © Provided by The Points Guy
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The ongoing coronavirus pandemic has claimed yet another Disney experience: After nearly four decades, Disneyland has terminated its annual pass program.

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The announcement is effective immediately, given that Disneyland theme parks are still closed, and affects all four tiers of passholders: Signature Plus, Signature, Deluxe and Southern California Select. All current passholders will be issued prorated refunds for the duration of time remaining on their passes.

“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,” Disneyland Resort president Ken Potrock said in a statement on the company’s website.

Related: 11 Disney World attractions coming in 2021 — and what to expect this year

“Annual Passholders have been among our most loyal and valued guests, and we want to thank them for their understanding during this closure period,” Potrock said.

(Photo by Mark Downey/Getty Images) © The Points Guy (Photo by Mark Downey/Getty Images)

The Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, California, encompasses two parks: Disneyland and the Disney California Adventure Park.

The Annual Passport was particularly popular with Disney fans who lived in the Southern California region and could best take advantage of the unlimited park visits, exclusive discounts and extended hours pre-sale tickets and slew of other privileges, depending on the pass tier purchased. Although Disney has never confirmed exact numbers, the program termination may affect as many as 1 million guests, according to the Los Angeles Times.

It’s likely that Disneyland, when it reopens, will use an advance-reservations approach similar to what Disney World introduced, which would be a logistical challenge with such a large contingent of drive-in annual passholders who are accustomed to visiting as often as they like.

Related: Best credit cards for theme park expenses

Annual Passholders who hold active Passports as of March 14, 2020, will be able to enjoy applicable discounts for merchandise, food and drinks at select Downtown Disney District and Buena Vista Street locations, and will be able to take advantage of an additional 30% discount on select merchandise Mondays through Thursdays between Jan. 18 through Feb. 25.

The theme park statement indicates there will be future membership offerings, though does not yet offer details on what those new options may entail.

Annual Passholders are encouraged to join the Disneyland Passholders Facebook group and stay tuned for information on new options as they become available.

a train is parked on the side of a building: Disneyland (Photo by Summer Hull/The Points Guy) © The Points Guy Disneyland (Photo by Summer Hull/The Points Guy)

Related: Guide to visiting Walt Disney World

The California-based properties aren’t the only beloved Disney experiences that have been affected by the COVID-19 crisis. Just this week, Walt Disney World, which reopened in July of 2020, announced that the Magical Express bus and Extra Magic Hours benefits will be sunsetting, too. These two services allowed guests who booked lodging with Disney-owned resorts to enjoy complimentary transportation between their hotels and the Orlando International Airport (MCO); enter the theme parks before regular guests; and stay late after hours.

While Walt Disney World in Florida has not ended its annual pass program and is permitting pass renewals, it has not sold annual passes to new passholders since the July reopening. Disney has said in previous earnings calls that it makes more money per visit from those visiting on single or multiday tickets than from those using annual passes.

FOR NO COST ASSISTANCE WITH PLANNING AND BOOKING YOUR NEXT DISNEY VACATION, CHECK OUT TPG’S DISNEY BOOKING PARTNER, MOUSE COUNSELORS

For now, Disneyland guests will still be able to enjoy a tiny taste of the magic at the Downtown Disney District, which has been in a phased reopening. However, dine-in restaurants and locations that don’t offer takeout are still closed at this time, and only certain retail locations remain open.

Related: 5 changes Disney World made in 2020 that I hope will stick around forever

Both Disney California theme parks, as well as Disneyland resort hotels, remain closed at this time with no announced reopening date.

Featured photo by Joshua Sudock/Disneyland Resort.

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Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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