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Author Information

Katherine is the Managing Editor at The Hudsucker. She has been working in libraries for the past 10 years and holds a B.A. in American Studies & Ethnicity from the University of Southern California. In her free time, the Seattleite enjoys writing fiction, going to brunch, taking long walks with her roommate, and playing Dungeons & Dragons with her friends. Katherine is a huge fan of the Seattle Mariners and has probably seen every Marvel movie at least five times. She loves classic rock and can quote even the most obscure lines from The Simpsons. Follow Katherine on Twitter: @thethingiskat.

365 Days of Magic: My Year as a Disneyland Annual Passholder


Image Credit: Disney

As a child, I looked forward to visiting my family in California every other summer because that meant we would always take a day and go to Disneyland. Growing up in Seattle, there wasn’t anything that compared to it. When I attended to college at the University of Southern California, I went there many times with my friends, and I discovered that going to Disneyland is somehow more fun as an adult than it was when I was a child. Unfortunately after I graduated and moved back to Seattle, my trips to Disneyland were few and far between. That’s why last year my roommate Daniel and I impulsively decided to buy annual passes so we could essentially go to Disneyland whenever we wanted to. Though there are definitely pros and cons to being an out of state annual passholder, in the end, it definitely felt worth it for the year.


The Experience

There’s a reason why Disneyland is nicknamed “The Magic Kingdom”. When you’re there, it’s like your troubles melt away. And there’s something for everyone – rides, shows, characters, exhibits, shops, food. Personally, I’ve always been a fan of rides, and Disneyland and California Adventure have some of the best rides. My favorites are Splash Mountain, Space Mountain, Grizzly River Run, Soaring Over California, and California Screamin’, but really I love almost every ride in both parks. Meeting the characters is also fun because it makes me feel like I did when I was a kid at Disneyland. There are certain food items I always try to get when I’m there too. Disneyland is just a fun, special place that makes me feel happy no matter what.

Going To Disneyland Whenever You Want

My friends and I with Donald Duck. Image Credit: Malawe Seng

We decided to get the Deluxe Annual Pass instead of the Premium because, even though the Deluxe has a few blackout dates, they were never during times that we thought we would want to go anyway. Daniel and I always preferred to go during more “off peak” times, like late April and late September, so we had our pick of days. We enjoyed being able to roam both Disneyland and California Adventure and not be intimidated by the size of the crowds or have to wait in hour long lines for rides. We also enjoyed the freedom that it gave us to go in and out of the parks at our leisure. It was nice being able to go in the parks, even for just a few hours, on the days we flew in and flew out without feeling like we were wasting money on a ticket for that day.


One of the biggest perks of our passes was the 10 percent discount we received on most food and merchandise. It doesn’t sound like much, but considering how expensive things can be at Disneyland, we ended up saving quite a bit of money. We felt less guilty about eating meals in the park and bringing home souvenirs because of the discount. The passes also made us eligible for discounts on Disneyland Resort Hotels, but we always stayed at nearby affiliated hotels because, even with the discount, it was cheaper.

Saving Money

Tickets for Disneyland are not cheap. Though an annual pass is a lot of money up front, we were able to get our money’s worth after just a few trips into the park. In the end, even though we only actually took two vacations to Disneyland in the year, we ended up saving money as opposed to if we had bought regular park tickets instead. Including all the discounts we received as annual passholders, we definitely ended up saving money on each trip.


Forced Vacations

One of the major cons of being an out of state Disneyland annual passholder is feeling like every vacation should be taken at Disneyland. It forces you to go to Disneyland multiple times a year, which is fine if you’re like me and love going to Disneyland, but at the same time, you start to feel bad if you take time off and don’t go. As much as I love Disneyland, it’s not the most relaxing place to vacation, though being there is good to take your mind off your troubles. Sometimes I would want to take a relaxing vacation, but would end up feeling guilty about traveling somewhere other than Disneyland. Though we were still able to get our money’s worth, we did have to cancel one of our planned Disneyland trips this year, meaning we were only able to go twice instead of three times. Even though we came out on top, there is still an odd sense of guilt over only going twice with our passes, feeling like we didn’t use them enough.


Traveling anywhere, let alone Disneyland, multiple times a year is expensive. Since my roommate and I are out of state, we had to book air fare, hotels, and shuttles for every trip we made. Though we saved on admission to the park with our passes, those other costs still added up for us. And once we got to the parks we spent money on food and merchandise as well. To us, those expenses were worth it, but it was definitely something we took into account when we were deciding whether or not to renew our passes.

Image Credit: Josta Photo on Flickr

In the end, having a Disneyland annual pass was more than worth it. Despite all the expenses and vacation planning, we had an amazing time every time we set foot in the park and made memories that will last a lifetime. We got to go on all our favorite rides multiple times and see our favorite show, California Adventure’s World of Color, every night that we were there. It sounds cliche, but there is something so magical about being at Disneyland. In any other setting I would balk at standing in line for 20 minutes to meet a costumed character, but I didn’t even blink when I stood in line to meet Pluto and Donald Duck. Most people who go to Disneyland often have favorite foods and rides, and I am no exception. I loved being able to get a frozen apple juice at Disneyland and then wander over to Space Mountain and then try to fit in a trip on California Screamin’ and Soaring Over California all before seeing World of Color. Even though my feet were ready to fall off at the end of each trip, it always felt worth it.

However, my roommate and I decided not to renew our annual passes for the coming year. We discussed potentially getting annual passes every other year, but we wanted to be able to use our vacation time to go other places. Though the expense felt worth it this year, it didn’t seem like a good idea to spend that kind of money every year. Daniel and I are planning one trip to Disneyland in 2016 though, so who knows, maybe we’ll change our minds.

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2 Comments on “365 Days of Magic: My Year as a Disneyland Annual Passholder”

  1. dianagitau September 29, 2015 at 2:50 am #

    Disneyland sounds like a whole lot of fun. I am in Kenya so may probably never get to visit the place but from your post, i could visualize it all. I went to an amusement park for the first time this weekend(i am 31 by the way) and for the first time, got to enjoy some rides on the rollercoasters and merry go rounds. It was so much fun. What you said about troubles melting away reminded me of my time at the park. It was like being a child again:-) Lovely post. Thank you for sharing

  2. lqddustt September 30, 2015 at 7:27 am #

    desneyland is the best theme park ever

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