Disneyland Resort has announced four fairly significant changes to the California parks that will improve the guest experience and value for money in 2023. This post shares details of the additions and subtractions, potential motivations for the moves, and more.
Disney starts the announcement by showcasing all that’s to come to Disneyland Resort in the next few months, and how grateful the company is for everyone who visits and celebrates Lunar New Year from January 20 to February 15, Disney California Adventure Food & Wine Festival from March 3 to April 25, 2023.
Then there’s the Disney100 celebration at Disneyland Resort launching on January 27, 2023 with new nighttime spectaculars in both parks, plus the opening of Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway and special offerings all year. On top of that, there are two big returns: that of the short-lived Magic Happens parade on February 24 and the reimagined Mickey’s Toontown on March 8, 2023.
As you begin to plan your trips to the Happiest Place on Earth in 2023, there are a few exciting updates to share…
More Less Expensive Ticket Dates
The Disneyland Resort reservation calendar will now offer nearly two months’ worth of $104 park ticket dates throughout 2023, which means additional opportunities to enjoy our lowest one-day, one-park ticket price.
In his letter to Cast Members, Parks Chairman Josh D’Amaro calls this “significantly increasing the number of days” that park tickets are $104.
Park Hopping Moves to 11 am
Beginning February 4, 2023, guests who enter a Disneyland or Disney California Adventure with a Magic Key pass or a Park Hopper ticket may begin crossing over between the parks two hours earlier – starting at 11 a.m. Pacific.
This means even more magic and more fun for your day as you enjoy the best of what both Disneyland park and Disney California Adventure have to offer. (Or in our case, eating an earlier lunch at DCA, which has more food we favor right now.)
Free PhotoPass On-Ride Photos
As a thank-you to Disneyland Resort guests, Disney is making PhotoPass digital photo downloads captured on any attraction during a park visit, complimentary for all ticketed park guests on the Disneyland app starting February 4, 2023 and continuing throughout the Disney100 celebration at the Disneyland Resort. Disney PhotoPass attraction photos are available at these locations.
Disney California Adventure:
Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: BREAKOUT!
Radiator Springs Racers
Near the exits of each of these attractions, a preview wall lets you view photos taken on-ride. You can link your 8-character Attraction ID, located on the preview photos, via the Disneyland app or on Disneyland.com.
More Magic Key Passholdin’
Disneyland has seen unprecedented demand for the Magic Key Annual Pass program, as evidenced by the colossal virtual queue and how quickly APs sold out when sales resumed back during the start of last year’s holiday season. The Magic Key program provides reservation-based admission to Disneyland and Disney California Adventure throughout the year.
Disneyland Resort will make select Magic Key passes available for new sales from time to time throughout 2023 as pass inventory becomes available. Check out our post: When Will Magic Key Sales Resume at Disneyland?for predictions about when AP sales are likely to occur again.
In the meantime, the parks are currently offering their 2023 Southern California Resident Disneyland Ticket Discount. If visiting during the start of the 100 Years of Wonder Celebration or for Lunar New Year is essential–and you live in SoCal–that’s a good interim opportunity for eligible guests to purchase a special 3-day weekday ticket valid through May 25, 2023.
Before we delve into the commentary, here’s a similar message from Josh D’Amaro, Chairman of Disney Parks, Experiences & Product to Cast Members (consolidated for clarity:
Happy New Year everyone!
What an amazing year we had! There was so much to celebrate – a new cruise ship, Avengers Campus at Disneyland Paris, Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind at Walt Disney World Resort, the announcement of Storyliving by Disney, award winning consumer products, books, and games and a ton more. So, I wanted to start off the new year by saying how PROUD and THANKFUL I am for each of you. You are an incredible team!
Not only did you introduce exciting new products and experiences to our guests, but you also navigated through a significant amount of change in terms of how we operate our business. These changes were centered on creating a better experience for our guests and building a future where we are constantly introducing new stories and experiences across the globe. Of course, change is never easy, and I want to express my gratitude to all of you for how you rose to the challenge and helped reshape our future.
As we step into this bright future it is important that we continuously evolve to help deliver the best guest experience possible. Many of you know that I’m in the parks fairly often … and I listen to you and to our guests about the things that are working … as well as the things that might need some change. And, as we enter this new year, I want you to be the first to hear about a few enhancements that we are going to be making – specifically ones that our guests have asked for and you’ve shared with me. And while this doesn’t address everyone’s feedback, these changes will increase flexibility and add value to our guests’ experience.
I’m excited about all of these changes and offers and want you to know that we are committed to listening, adapting, and staying relentlessly focused on making the guest experience at our Disney parks even better.
I believe there’s no other place like Disney and of course, nothing helps our guests connect with Disney like you do. And while it’s easy to celebrate the products we make, the moments we create, and the experiences we provide … I think it’s important that we recognize all of YOU who make it happen.
Thank you for all that you do. Here’s to an amazing 2023! Cheers! Josh
While Disneyland certainly wasn’t spared from Bob Chapek’s Reign of Terror™️, the consequences were hardly as disastrous at Disneyland. Sure, free FastPass went away and prices increased, but Chapek milked the Walt Disney World cash cow to the point that it was almost put out to pasture (to mix livestock metaphors).
Even early in his return, it was rumored that Iger had plans to undo Chapek’s changes, with a focus on building on the company’s rich history and legacy of “creativity, innovation, and inspiration.“ You also might recall that Iger sent a holiday letter to fans, indicating his intent to exceed our “highest expectations” in 2023. Some of you might’ve viewed that as a hollow corporate end-of-year newsletter, one that talks a good game but is meaningless without action to support it. Well, today is that action!
Admittedly, the specifics here are not as exciting as at Walt Disney World. Nevertheless, these are incrementally positive changes. Moving forward the park hopping time is one step closer to eliminating it entirely. I know this one bugs a lot of locals, but even when doing Early Entry or rope drop, I cannot think of a time when I’ve wanted to Park Hop before 11 am. It feels like this is ‘close enough’ to a solution, and I suspect anyone still complaining is doing so out of principle rather than pragmatism.
Free on-ride photos are also nice. This one doesn’t positively impact us that much as I find myself riding almost all of those attractions alone because they’re too intense for Sarah (we both do Radiator Springs Racers, but almost always via Single Rider). Nevertheless, a positive change is a positive change–even when it’s one that does not personally benefit us!
To that point, the most positive news of all here is the increase in number of $104 days. This is going to be the change that generates the least discourse, but it is unquestionably the most consequential. Many fans feign indignation about “Disney pricing out the middle class.” However, this really often means that they can no longer afford out-of-state Annual Passes or are unable to justify multiple trips per year. It should go without saying, but visiting fewer times per year or taking less extravagant Disney vacations is not the same thing as being priced out.
For our part, we have long “advocated” for Disney increasing Annual Pass prices if it meant a corresponding decrease to single day ticket prices. Of course, that’s not how demand, market pricing, or guest-balancing schemes work–so it has always been a position of principle. Nevertheless, our point was that–if a fan is truly concerned about Americans being priced out of the parks–the appropriate advocacy is for a reduction in prices for the lowest barrier to entry product–not Annual Passes or Deluxe Resorts.
Ultimately, I’m cognizant of the reality that there are a range of economic considerations that go into pricing. Off-season ticket prices are likely being lowered, at least in part, because Disneyland is forecasting lower demand for those dates, and anticipating surplus capacity. I also know that one of the reasons both Disneyland and Walt Disney World have maintained their lowest prices is for the sake of marketing. (To that point, the real move here would be to lower some dates to $99.)
Regardless of the underlying motivations, the end result is the same: Disneyland becomes more accessible, and visiting is a reality for some families who otherwise would be priced out. For us, that’s very important. Keeping Disneyland within reach as a rite-of-passage for as many kids as possible–even if only for a single day–is a good thing. Although this may be an unpopular opinion in Disneyland fan circles, single-day ticket prices are much more important in the grand scheme of things than the prices set for Magic Key Passes.
While visiting Disneyland is a luxury or non-necessity in the grand scheme of things, that once-in-a-lifetime visit to Disneyland for a small child is formative and consequential. Far more so than us entitled Passholes who drop in all the time and treat Disneyland like a glorified version of the Glendale Galleria. So kudos to Disney on improving the availability of the cheapest tickets. It’s an important move, even if it doesn’t generate much, if any, fan goodwill.
What do you think of these changes at Disneyland? Will these positively impact your visits to the parks? Even if they will not benefit you, personally, do you applaud these as incremental steps in the right direction? 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!