As Disneyland ponders how to deal with hordes of visitors during peak seasons, it raised the prices of annual passes on Sunday, introducing one that costs more than $1,000.
In the biggest change, Disney stopped selling a pass that let users attend its two Anaheim theme parks any day of the year, replacing it with two pricier options.
The now-discontinued Premium pass, which cost $779, allows unlimited attendance to Disneyland and Disney California Adventure Park and provides discounts on some food and merchandise. People who already have Premium passes can keep using them until they expire, Disney spokeswoman Suzi Brown said. But they cannot be renewed.
The new Signature Plus pass, costing $1,049, includes all the benefits of the Premium pass, as well as parking and unlimited downloads of keepsake pictures taken through the PhotoPass program. (Walt Disney World in Florida has a similar photo program, and a standalone purchase of unlimited downloads there costs $199.)
The new Signature pass, costing $849, is the same as Signature Plus — except it contains about two weeks' worth of blackout days. Visitors cannot use it to gain entry during the Christmas and New Year's holiday season, which is the parks' most popular time, Brown said.
The prices of Disneyland's other annual passes also rose: The Deluxe pass, which allows admission for both Anaheim parks 315 days of the year, rose 9% to $599. The Southern California pass, which allows admission 215 days a year and can only be renewed, not purchased new, rose 12% to $459. The Southern California Select pass, which allows admission 170 days a year, rose 10% to $329.
And the Disney Premier Passport, which allows unlimited admission to the attractions not only in Anaheim but also in Florida, now costs $1,439, up 31%.
Additionally, the price of parking at the Anaheim parks rose to $18 from $17.
All price changes took effect immediately. Single-day admission prices, which jumped to $99 in February, remained the same.
Earlier this year, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts sent a survey to visitors that indicated it was thinking about charging more for admission on peak days.
Disneyland has been struggling with overcrowding. During a 24-hour party in May to launch the Anaheim park's 60th anniversary celebration, the entrance gates were temporarily closed twice when the park reached capacity — an estimated 80,000 guests, according to insiders.
The same thing happens occasionally during the Christmas holiday season, Brown said. "Typically on those days we would stop allowing guests in at some point midday … and then usually we would reopen to guest sometime in the early evening."
The price changes come less than two months after Walt Disney Co. Chairman and Chief Executive Robert Iger announced plans for a new "Star Wars" land in the Anaheim theme park. Construction is set to begin next year, with several Disneyland attractions closing Jan. 10 to make way for the expansion.
But several "Star Wars"-related overhauls and attractions are scheduled to begin in Nov. 16 in Disneyland's Tomorrowland area, in time to help promote the upcoming movie "Star Wars: The Force Awakens."
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