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Disneyland stops selling its Southern California annual pass, but it may come back someday

Disneyland stops selling its Southern California annual pass, but it may come back someday
Crowds walk down Main Street in front of Sleeping Beauty Castle at Disneyland in Anaheim in June. The park has suspended sales of Southern California annual passes. (Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times)

To help manage crowds at the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, the theme park has temporarily halted new sales of its Southern California annual pass, one of its least expensive passes for locals.

Beginning on Monday, the theme park stopped selling new passes for residents of Southern California, which were priced at $469 each, Disneyland spokeswoman Suzi Brown said. Existing pass holders can get their passes renewed, but no new passes will be sold for an undetermined time.

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"Our annual passes are very popular with guests," Brown said. "We continuously seek the appropriate balance that helps manage demand for our product and allows us to deliver a world-class experience for all guests."

This isn't the first time the Walt Disney Co. park has taken such an action. Disneyland suspended new sales of the Southern California Annual Passport in 2014 to help address surging attendance that led to long lines and frustration, especially on Sundays.

At the time it was suspended, the Southern California pass sold for $359 and gave pass holders access to Disneyland and neighboring Disney California Adventure for 215 days of the year. Major holidays and popular vacation periods were blocked out.

When the pass was brought back in 2016, it sold at the front gate for $459, with access to both parks for 227 days a year. The extra $100 for a dozen additional days works out to a 21% increase on a per-day basis.

The park is suspending sales of the passes in part to prepare for an expected increase in visitors when workers complete a makeover next year of California Adventure Park to inject more characters from movies created by Pixar Pictures, a subsidiary of the Walt Disney Co.

The park is likely to get an even bigger surge in crowds in 2019, when it is slated to complete construction of its new 14-acre "Star Wars"-inspired expansion at Disneyland, dubbed Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge.

The $1-billion project will include two attractions, a ride that lets guests fly the iconic spaceship the Millennium Falcon and another that throws visitors in the middle of a battle between the Resistance and the First Order.

Disney executives have also announced plans to overhaul parts of California Adventure Park with characters from another Disney subsidiary, Marvel Entertainment.

This is not the first effort to address overcrowding at the parks. Last year, the resort adopted a new pricing policy that charged higher daily ticket prices on popular days and lower prices for low-demand days.

Southern California residents can still buy the Southern California Select passport for $339, but it allows access to the park for only about 150 days a year, blocking out weekends, holidays, spring break and most of the summer.

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