Line chart showing Disneyland one-day ticket price vs annual passport price (1981-2019, adjusted for inflation), showing linear growth for one-day ticket prices and exponential growth for annual passport prices.

(see notes below for data sources and more info)

The Gool Old Days

My sister and I were lucky enough to have Disneyland annual passports growing up (thank you, mom and dad!). I remember the prices being super low in general, like in the $20 range with a Southern California discount for single tickets, and I thought maybe my memory was deceiving me until I looked up the historical prices. In 1995 the cost of an adult ticket without the SoCal discount was $33, which puts the costs about where I remember them. That is about $55 in 2020 dollars.

And the annual passport prices were $99 with blackout dates or $199 with no blackout dates. Adjusted for inflation in 2020 dollars, that's $166 and $334 respectively, which sounds pretty reasonable.

Modern day (2020)

In comparison, I looked up current prices now and am pretty shocked at the cost. Adult one-day, one-park tickets are now $129 at their regular price, with the annual passes costing $599-$1149 with blackout dates, or $1400 with no blackout dates.

I can't imagine bringing an entire family to Disneyland for just one day (good I guess, since I'm single…). I definitely can't fathom buying the now-astronomical annual pass prices. I'm super glad to have visited way back when, while costs were still reasonable for those who aren't super rich.

There are now so many price brackets with different blackout dates that you need a spreadsheet to compare them. For those who aren't SoCal residents, there are at least five options for annual passports (the priciest being the $2,099 Premier Passport with admission to both Disneyland and Walt Disney World), and even more options for those who are residents.

Interestingly the whole “annual passholder” thing has become somewhat of a status symbol in Southern California now, with LA drivers proudly adorning their cards with a trendy “Disneyland Annual Passholder” sticker, and with the internet full of YouTube videos of people promoting Disneyland for free by posting “passholder unboxing videos” and such. I guess I'm just getting old… I don't understand this world anymore (maybe I never understood it).

Breaking out the data charts

To get a bit of perspective, I did a bit of research to help me understand the price increases over time, which resulted in the chart above.

Even adjusting for inflation, the one-day ticket prices have gone up as expected, but the prices for annual passports is way more insane.

Adjusted for inflation, the cost of a one-day ticket in 1981 was about $30 (in 2020 dollars), while it is $129 today (in 2020), an increase of 430%. If you look at the chart above, the increase has been pretty linear.

In 1984, no-blackout annual passes were first introduced at the price of $65 ($160 in 2020 dollars). That same no-blackout ticket has increased to $1399 today (in 2020), an increase of 874%. If you look at the chart above, the rate of increase in the last 15 years or so has been exponential.

Because the one-day ticket prices get smothered over time, I created another chart based on the same data, only showing the one-day prices over time:

Line chart showing Disneyland one-day ticket prices from 1981 to 2019, showing linear growth over time.

Notes for the chart

Sources for the chart

Sources for current ticket prices