Disneyland Resumes Magic Key Sales Again! (January 2023)

Disney has resume sales of its Magic Key Annual Passes for Disneyland and California Adventure! This post covers pricing, dates, details, past precedent, and everything else you might want to know. (Updated January 18, 2023.)

As a quick recap, Disneyland’s overhauled Annual Pass program debuted in August 2021 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 Key Annual Passes on release day. (At this point, a multi-hour virtual queue is the rule, rather than the exception.)

Late that 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 Enchant Key and Imagine Key available for purchase. At the beginning of this summer, both of these had their statuses change to “Currently Unavailable” on Disneyland.com. This coincided with the summer season blockouts for the lower-tiered APs. Once summer ended, renewals resumed for existing Keyholders with tweaks and higher prices, but not new sales.

Then out of left field, Disneyland Resort resumed sales of select Magic Key Annual Passes just as the busy Christmas 2022 season started. The Inspire, Believe and Imagine APs all resumed new sales, with the Enchant pass will remain unavailable for new sales but is still available for current pass holders to renew.

“With an incredible year ahead, we’re happy to open new sales for select Magic Key passes in time for holiday giving and to create opportunities for guests to treat themselves and their families to a year full of experiences during the upcoming Disney100 celebration,” a Disneyland official said in a statement.

This was incredibly short-lived. After only a couple days of sales–complete with a virtual queue to access the sales page with a wait time of 8 to 10 hours–Disneyland suspended all Magic Key sales. With that, the question of when Disneyland would resume Magic Key sales in 2023 is once again being asked.

In hindsight, none of this should come as a surprise. Back when the new Magic Keys were announced, Disneyland Resort stated: “Pass types may be limited in quantity, and may not be available for purchase or renewal at any time.”

A Disneyland spokesperson indicated that passes had sold out “due to the popularity of the new Magic Key program and in order to deliver a great guest experience for all guests.” However, it’s also noteworthy that this occurred on the day before Thanksgiving last year, at a time when reservations were extremely limited or downright unavailable for regular ticket holders.

By Disney’s own admission, the decision to suspend new Magic Key sales occurred due to anticipated crowds at Disneyland Resort during the holiday season. As soon as the higher-tier Magic Key sales were suspended last holiday season, more reservations opened up for regular tickets.

Given the lengthy virtual queue and how quickly sales were paused before, you should absolutely join the virtual queue ASAP if you have been shut out in the past. Even though we’re currently in the winter off-season and sales just resumed a couple months ago–so demand should be lower and excess capacity should be higher, that’s only in theory.

In reality, how long Magic Key sales will continue is anyone’s guess. The downside of trying to buy now is that you might be in a virtual queue for 8-10 hours if you try to buy today…and might wait ~15 minutes if you instead wait until tomorrow morning at 6 am. The downside of waiting until then is that sales may have already concluded.

Let’s start with an overview of what each tier of Magic Key Annual Passes offers for those who are debating which to buy…

Imagine Magic Key – $449

(Only available for Southern California Residents living in zip codes 90000 to 93599)

  • Reservation-based admission to one or both theme parks select days of the year.
  • Hold up to 2 theme park reservations at a time
  • 10% off select merchandise
  • 10% off select dining
  • 25% off select parking

Enchant Magic Key – Renewal Only

  • Reservation-based admission to one or both theme parks select days of the year.
  • Hold up to 4 theme park reservations at a time
  • 10% off select merchandise
  • 10% off select dining
  • 25% off select parking

Believe Magic Key – $1099

  • Reservation-based admission to one or both theme parks most days of the year.
  • Hold up to 6 theme park reservations at a time
  • 10% off select merchandise
  • 10% off select dining
  • 50% off standard theme park parking (excluding blockout days, and available for purchase at Mickey & Friends Parking Structure, Pixar Pals Parking Structure and the Toy Story Parking Area)

Inspire Magic Key – $1599

  • Reservation-based admission to one or both theme parks except December 21 through January 1
  • Hold up to 6 theme park reservations at a time for different dates
  • Includes PhotoPass
  • Up to 20% off select merchandise
  • Up to 15% off select dining
  • Standard theme park parking included (excluding blockout days)

Here’s a side by side comparison chart from Disneyland’s Magic Key sales page:

Note: New pass sales will be paused each night at 10:00 PM Pacific Time. Guests will remain in the queue overnight, as long as they remain connected to the network and keep their browser window open. Pass sales will resume no earlier than 9:00 AM Pacific Time, the following day.

If any passes are still available when it’s your turn, you’ll have 10 minutes to enter the site. Entering the site does not guarantee the ability to purchase any Magic Key pass.

Here’s the link to join the virtual queue for Magic Key new sales: disneyland.disney.go.com/passes/compare/

January 18, 2023 Update: Although we already have Magic Keys, we’ve entered the virtual queue at multiple times today and yesterday, just to see how long it would take. In general, the process was far faster than last time a virtual queue was in use before the holiday season. At that point, the wait time was roughly 8 to 10 hours.

By contrast, the longest wait we experienced yesterday was under 2 hours. By the early evening, the wait time was under 50 minutes. At around 8 pm Pacific–what we’d assume would be a peak time for internet usage–the wait time was under 15 minutes. It got even shorter closer to 10 pm when it paused for the night.

As of this morning, the wait time is once again longer. We rejoined the virtual queue just prior to 9 am and were called shortly before 11 am–a 2 hour wait, which isn’t bad considering that people could join overnight while progress was paused. It’ll be interesting to see what happens first: the virtual queue ends or any tiers of Magic Keys sell out.

What’s not entirely clear is whether the virtual queue has become more efficient/higher capacity or there’s less demand. The former would be a first, so our guess is the latter. Given that Magic Keys went on sale a couple months ago, it’s likely a lot of the pent-up demand was exhausted then. (Anecdotally, we’ve received far fewer reader questions about Magic Key sales since then.) It’ll also be interesting to see what impact this has on park reservation availability and crowds at Disneyland and DCA as the 100 Years of Wonder Celebration kicks off and Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway opens!

As for theories as to why Magic Key sales keep being paused for so long, one 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 some APs 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.

In our view, the biggest factor is most likely demand. As stated above, 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 have only been sold intermittently for the last year.

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 for the last year has been higher than normal ‘feels like’ crowds and congestion.

Diminished reservation availability has been exacerbated by the fact that Disneyland still is operating below 100% capacity. It’s not as bad as Walt Disney World, but some 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.

Ultimately, it’ll be interesting to see what happens with Magic Key pass purchases going forward. Will there be another virtual queue lasting well into the evening tonight…tomorrow…beyond? Or, have many locals gotten their Disney “fix” (or were most able to purchase APs when they were briefly on sale last November? Will the higher prices result in a significant number of people being priced out, or is there an insatiable desire for all things Disney among locals? Will former Magic Key Passholders take a wait and see approach, or will the ‘Disney Vault’ perceived scarcity strategy spike sales even further?

As we’ve said in countless posts, it’s still our belief that things aren’t too far from normalizing. (You might call it wishful–or delusional–thinking!) At some point, pent-up demand fizzles out, inflation on necessities influences discretionary spending, and the stimulus money plus what people saved during the pandemic is going to be depleted. Perhaps Disney is anticipating–or already seeing–the same, and that explains the return of Magic Keys despite the kickoff of the Disney100 celebration being right around the corner on January 27, 2023.

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!

Your Thoughts

What do you think about the Magic Key sales resuming? Will you buying an Annual Pass or not? If so, which one? If not, why not? Thoughts on the price increases, blockout dates, or anything else? Have you had difficulty making Disneyland park reservations? 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!

6 Responses to “Disneyland Resumes Magic Key Sales Again! (January 2023)”
  1. Evelyn January 18, 2023
  2. Steve January 18, 2023
  3. Kit clark January 18, 2023
  4. Courtney January 17, 2023
  5. Angela G January 17, 2023
    • Tom Bricker January 17, 2023

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