ALL Magic Key Annual Passes Sold Out
Disneyland announced that it has “sold out” of all annual passes in its Magic Key program. This post shares details and commentary about why this is happening. Plus, thoughts on the timing of the news right before the start of summer blockouts and while a lawsuit is pending about AP reservations.
As a quick recap, Disneyland’s overhauled Annual Pass program debuted last August with a new name, higher prices, and required reservations for all tiers. Demand was high from the outset, with a virtual queue and all-day waits to purchase Magic Keys on release day.
Late last October, Disneyland paused sales on the top level Dream Key. This came as park reservations were almost entirely gone for weekends over three months into the future. Then in November, the Believe Key also sold out amidst a similar shortage of reservation availability.
That left only the $649 Enchant Key and $399 Imagine Key available for purchase over the course of the last several months. Now, both of these are no longer available for purchase and have had their statuses change to “Currently Unavailable” on Disneyland.com.
It’s also worth noting that both of these lower-tiered Magic Keys are blocked out for pretty much the duration of the summer season. The Enchant Key is blocked out from June 3 until August 14, 2022 and the Imagine Key is blocked out June 3 until August 21, 2022.
That’s a pretty significant detail, and could explain why sales of these two lower tier Magic Keys are being paused. If the passes cannot be used for the better portion of the next 3 months, why bother selling them?
That’s a simple and straightforward explanation, and one that passes the smell test. However, it’s also not in line with historical precedent. Disneyland has long had Annual Passes with lengthy summer blockouts, and I don’t recall those sales ever being officially paused.
Of course, a lot has changed in the last couple of years with this entirely overhauled AP program, so that could’ve, too. In this case, Disneyland would have good reason for purposefully changing this policy.
In the past, a relatively popular loophole for circumventing the summer blockouts was buying multi-day tickets, using them, and then upgrading to lower-tier Annual Passes that otherwise would’ve been blocked out. The explanation for this move could be as simple as closing that.
Another theory is that the company is embracing the “Disney Vault” strategy of creating demand through scarcity, or rather, perceived scarcity. It’s possible that Disneyland has survey data showing a high dissatisfaction rating among Magic Key purchasers and low intent to renew.
That wouldn’t be the least bit surprising, especially with the difficulty so many have reported in securing reservations. However, if these same fans believe they might not be able to simply purchase passes at their leisure down the road, they might err on the side of caution and renew when their time comes.
Speaking of renewals, there has been some confusion about whether this will even be possible given that Magic Keys are sold out. Existing Magic Key passholders will be able to renew.
Whether that means renew their existing Magic Keys or renew to a new Annual Pass product remains to be seen. While it seems unlikely that Disneyland would relaunch the Annual Pass program again only a year after launching the Magic Key program, nothing would surprise us at this point.
Another wrinkle is the Magic Key Passholder lawsuit in the Central District of California. The complaint in this suit alleges that Disney misled and deceived pass purchasers by artificially limiting capacity and restricting reservations. The lawsuit argues that Disney has effectively created a second tier of blockout dates by virtue of allocating reservations differently for passholders and regular ticket holders, in order to maximize the number of tickets that Disney can sell.
The federal judge ruling on Disney’s motion to dismiss found that the “plaintiff has adequately pled facts supporting how a reasonable consumer may be deceived by the advertisement, which states ‘no blockout dates.’”
In the past, we were unconvinced that this lawsuit had any role in the ‘sold out’ Magic Keys. That’s still my belief, although my confidence in that wasn’t as high as it was even a month ago.
This was primarily predicated on the fact that Disneyland had not totally paused Magic Key sales–the lowest tiers of passes were still being sold both. If the company truly feared a massive class action lawsuit, no passes would be sold at all. Beyond that, Disney could easily avoid future litigation by clearly defining blockout dates and how those function in relation to reservations. Since the passes originally went on sale last fall, additional verbiage has been added to its marketing doing exactly that.
As such, it seems unlikely that the lawsuit has caused Magic Keys to stop being sold. However, I’ll concede that it’s “more likely” than it was previously.
The bigger factor is that Disneyland theme park reservations have been hard to book for months, with many dates–even in what should be the off-season filling up weeks in advance. Availability is definitely getting better, but part of that is probably due to the fact that the most popular Magic Keys haven’t been sold for the last ~6 months.
It’s also not as if Disneyland is setting aside availability for buyers of regular tickets and the parks are going mostly empty despite the lack of AP reservations. To the contrary, our consistent experience at Disneyland since around last October has been higher than normal ‘feels like’ crowds and congestion.
Diminished reservation availability has been exacerbated by the fact that Disneyland still is operating well below 100% capacity. As you’re also undoubtedly aware, some stage shows are still dark, not all atmospheric entertainment is back, and not every venue in the park (dining, in particular) is fully efficient due to staffing shortages.
This is mostly “invisible” to guests and may seem insignificant in the grand scheme of things–but it’s actually reducing attendance limits by a meaningful amount. During recent earnings calls, the company acknowledged that both Disneyland and Walt Disney World are still operating with undisclosed capacity caps in place, not for the sake of safety but due to a lack of staffing and other resources. Suffice to say, the self-imposed limitations on attendance impact Magic Key sales, as Disneyland would (understandably) rather prioritize regular ticket buyers who spend more per visit.
To that point, Disney just released a new multi-day Summer & Fall 2022 Disneyland Ticket Deal for Californians.
While there are likely many motivations for selling discount tickets during the summer tourist season (an unprecedented move until last year), the lack of Magic Keys is likely one explanation. It’s likely that this will bridge the gap until the parks are back at full capacity, as Disneyland has already discovered it cannot open the floodgate on Magic Key sales without causing other issues.
Ultimately, it’s not really surprising that Disneyland is suspending sales of the last two Magic Keys. There are several reasons for this to be happening, and the timing also makes sense.
Personally, I’m still unconvinced that any larger overhaul of the Magic Key program is on the horizon or that the lawsuit is influencing the sold out status. From my perspective, the simple and straightforward explanation is the correct one: there’s a supply-demand imbalance right now. Once the summer travel season comes to an end, I’d fully expect Magic Key sales to resume in August (so long as park capacity can increase by then). Probably at higher prices, though!
Planning a Southern California vacation? For park admission deals, read Tips for Saving Money on Disneyland Tickets. Learn about on-site and off-site hotels in our Anaheim Hotel Reviews & Rankings. For where to eat, check out our Disneyland Restaurant Reviews. For unique ideas of things that’ll improve your trip, check out What to Pack for Disney. For comprehensive advice, consult our Disneyland Vacation Planning Guide. Finally, for guides beyond Disney, check out our Southern California Itineraries for day trips to Los Angeles, Laguna Beach, and tons of other places!
What do you think about all Magic Key Annual Passes selling out? Have you had difficulty making Disneyland park reservations? Hoping the passes will return this fall? Do you agree or disagree with our assessment? Any questions? Hearing your feedback–even when you disagree with us–is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!
I’m heading to Disneyland in October to take my daughter for her 5th birthday and first visit. I gre up going to Disneyland on a whim and had a top tier AP for a while. I’m so upset with the way things are since re-opening. I’m hoping we will still have a good visit but I’ve heard nothing but terrible experiences with the new system.
Everyone is on here chiming in on annual passes, but I’m over looking at the picture of the judge from Mr Toad’s Wild Ride like, “how in the heck did that photo come out so good?” In between the low light and the movement of the car that is a legit pic, my man!
We went to Disneyland last Tuesday. It was very busy. Dinner at Napa Rose was a joke. Our server explained that half the kitchen including bread, soup and pizza has not reopened. So you are paying a lot for a choice of four meat or fish entrees and very small sides (two small roasted potatoes, etc). And Chapek told the chef last month to switch something out for CHICKEN! So now he is a chef! We paid over $500 for four diners and left hungry. We had a dinner for nine at an exclusive LA club for the same price and left satisfied. It’s sad, we always enjoyed the Napa Rose and Disneyland but things are not the same right now.
I suppose it’s possible that the reasoning is as simple as “why sell a thing people won’t be able to use right now”, but keep in mind they also sold a Nintendo Power Glove to use for your second ride on an attraction that, at the time, you could only ride once. So if anyone will try to sell a useless thing, it would be Disney. On that note, if anyone would buy a useless thing, it’s a California Disney fan. For that reason, I feel like it’s a more longer term “pause”, but maybe I’m wrong, as I am known in people-who-are wrong-circles for being very wrong.
The reservation system is, in my opinion, making the parks more crowded not less. They want to be able to control the capacity-staffing dynamic, which is understandable (although I think they use the day’s reservations as more of a cost-cutting measure –as in, what’s the bare minimum staffing we need for this amount of guests?). But the parks, as you point out, feel more crowded than normal, despite this alleged cap number. I’m pretty certain it’s because locals are staying longer. Pre-closure, you could just show up for a couple hours, maybe get a couple of kiosk FastPasses but now with a reservation system thwarting spontaneity and a FastPass system that now costs $20/day with no free option, who wouldn’t try to “make a day of it” now? I still do the couple hours thing because I don’t like people and people tend to not like me, but I’m also not one of the diehard “death before standby” types who needs to get Genie+ every visit. With that, and the need to plot out your Disney trips on the calendar, the parks feel more crowded because they really are, at least for longer periods of time. So much for limiting capacity.
Definitely agree with reservations inducing more demand–people feel locked into visiting (versus deciding day-of and maybe taking a spontaneous trip to the beach instead) and also increases length of stay, especially with parking not included on most passes. Wouldn’t surprise me if there were other unintended consequences of the technology currently in use (e.g. does Mobile Order redistribute crowds?) that may seem minor but in aggregate make a big difference.
I don’t agree about using the system as a cost-cutting measure to right-size staffing based on reservations. At least, not yet. I think fans collectively underestimate the impact of staffing shortages, and how those reduce capacity and the perception of crowds.
Tom, I kind of feel like you and Darren are saying the same thing. If we accept (and I think we should) that:
a) there are staffing shortages
b) said shortages are causing Disney to limit park attendance
c) Disney likes money and doesn’t want to leave any more on the table than they absolutely have to
How does that turn into anything other than capacity caps at the maximum level their current staff can handle? Or said another way, the bare minimum number of staff that can accommodate the number of people in park?
The only slight difference I see in the two perspectives is one implies Disney is being cheap with the low staff levels while the other implies Disney is doing the best they can, but big picture it seems you both agree that the current staffing levels are dealing with the largest crowds they can feasibly handle. (Handle in this case meaning physically get through, not necessarily well.)
Yeah, that’s probably true. There’s not much about which Darren and I disagree–both of us have famously horrendous judgment.
I also think the low staff levels are a form of being cheap–Disney could raise wages and have a lot of this fixed within weeks. (Or, they could’ve been more aggressive in rehiring earlier and avoided a lot of these issues, too.) They’re opting for hiring bonuses instead, not wanting to take on the long-term burden of elevated labor costs. Their gamble is that the job market will cool off. Regardless of whether they’re right or wrong, that’s cheap.
On the one hand, I’m feeling clever because I upgraded my three-day pass to Enchant on May 16 (knowing I’ll be returning in September, and the upgrade was cheaper than a two-day ticket). On the other, I feel like a patsy because the food situation was so lame-yet-expensive, and yet I’m “rewarding” Disney for the bad experience. I guess only time will tell, but I do wish they’d channel price increases into better wages for (presumably) more competent employees.
I was planning on using that loophole next month! I was gonna buy a 3 day park hopper and upgrade to one of the two passes after the second day. I would have happily bought the Magic Key that -wasn’t- blacked out for my dates, but it wasnt available.
Now I suppose I’ll buy the new California ticket, even though we are only going for two days. From what I understand this ticket doesnt need to be used up right away- so I’ll hold the last day til Fall, and MAYBE some sort of AP will be on sale by then!
Ugh. I think you’re pretty spot-on. We are a family or Dream/Believe holders (and litigators!), who love Disney but haven’t been thrilled with the Dream key experience. For anybody used to the true top tier annual pass, this is an enormous downgrade in convenience. We almost certainly would not renew and just take 3-4 trips on tickets instead of monthly trips on passes, except I’m worried we might not be able to buy top tier keys again—also, then I have to convince my husband to drop $2k for our family of 5 each trip instead of one annual budget allocation of 6k.
I love Disney but downgrading the AP experience and making FP paid LL (which, in my opinion is actually less effective than FP and significantly inferior to MP), along with the amount of time I spend on my phone to maximize LL (at DL and WDW) makes me think I’d rather spend the money on other relaxing vacation experiences instead. Having said that, we have plans for at least 2 more DL trips, Disney Wish+WDW, and Disneyland Paris, between now and September. So my dissatisfaction hasn’t registered with Disney shareholders just yet.
This says it all. All the reasons why the experience is way more inferior but going to DL, WDW, Disney cruise and DL Paris within a span of 4 months is why Disney will not make the experience any better. They will just keep grinding away. But have fun …..
Speaking as the sucker who keeps shelling out more money for inferior experiences, I think the trend can only continue so far. Part of my reasoning is that my kids are only young and loving Disneyland (with their parents) for so long— but even we will take fewer long weekends at Disney and more long weekends skiing this winter, whether or not we renew. It’s not a great sign for Disney that I find a 10h RT drive to mammoth and 2 days skiing in freezing temperatures less stressful than a 50mi drive to the Disney resort.
Also, upon reflection, I think a lot of what Disney can get away with is due to the fact that many of us were home for nearly all of 2020 and much of 2021, so we have extra vacation days, travel budget, etc. The point of my original post was that some of the changes they’ve made will almost certainly hurt them, but not that pain will he deferred a few more months (or until the economy crashes, whatever happens first).
I’m am speculating that the less crowded recent days at WDW could be driven by the recent declines in stock and housing market.