California residents and die-hard Disneyland fans alike have been anxiously awaiting a new annual pass program to arrive for the Disneyland Resort since they were abruptly cancelled in 2020 due to the pandemic. And now, as of August 2021, Disneyland annual passes are available once again, this time under the new name, “Magic Key”. And just like the old program, Disneyland’s new annual pass program Magic Key, is not only for California locals, though it is certainly the group that makes up most passholders.
Only the Imagine Key, the lowest cost (and most restrictive) option in Disneyland’s new Magic Key annual pass program, is exclusively for California residents. All other Disneyland Magic Key passes including the Enchant, Believe, and Dream Keys, are available for anyone to purchase. Perks vary with each pass.
So since anyone can buy a Disneyland Magic Key, that makes them a viable ticket option for any Disneyland visitor, so long as you can get full worth out of the passes. Keep reading because in this article I will help you decide if purchasing a Magic Key Disneyland pass is worth it for your trip, and help you choose between the various pass options to get the one that’s best for you.
What Is The Magic Key Program at Disneyland?
It is well known to many that Disneyland attendance is dominated by California locals. Many of who we’re previously annual passholders prior to 2020 when passes were cancelled due to the pandemic. Magic Key is the name for the new Disneyland annual pass program that is available for both California locals and regular theme park goers alike.
There are four different Magic Key pass categories that offer various levels of benefits. The table below gives a brief overview of each Magic Key pass type and the benefits included with each one.
One of the biggest differences between each Magic Key pass tier are the blackout dates. Obviously, the cheapest passes have the least available dates to use the pass, while the most expensive pass allows you to visit any day you’d like…as long as you can get a (free) park reservation too. You can check the Disneyland website for the blackout date calendar for each Magic Key type.
What Are The Differences Between the New Disneyland Magic Key Program and the Old Annual Pass Program?
Speaking of required park reservations, there are a few key (…get it?!) differences between the new Magic Key program and the previous annual pass program that stand out. Primarily, with the new Magic Key pass program, guests will be required to also book a free park reservation for the park they want to start their day at, so either Disneyland or DCA. These park reservations are based on availability. This is how Disney plans to control attendance regarding capacity requirements in the name of pandemic safety.
In addition, due to the requirement of park reservations, park hopping is now also restricted under the new Magic Key program. Park hopping will only be available after 1pm if there is still room for reservations at the other park you plan to hop to. So for that you’d have to check the day-of. Another change to note about park reservations, is that guests who book a reservation and then are a no-show will be penalized.
Also, photopass is no longer included with annual passes under the new Magic Key program. Although, besides required theme park reservations and the removal of photopass, the annual pass program is pretty much the same as before. Even the prices are pretty much the same, if not cheaper for some compatible tiers. Other things that still remain the same include:
- Exclusive passholder photo spots, merch, lounges, treats, and more
- Payment plans available for California residents
- Passholder promotions for discounted Disneyland Resort hotel stays
- Exclusive passholder attraction access and other benefits (like the holiday overlay version of Haunted Mansion staying open 1 hour after park closing just for passholders)
How To Buy Disneyland Magic Keys
There are two places to purchase Disneyland Magic Key annual passes:
- The Disneyland website at https://disneyland.disney.go.com/
- The Disneyland App
If you decide to purchase a Disneyland Magic Key annual pass, the biggest thing to keep in mind is that they are only sold online on the Disneyland website, or on the Disneyland app. Magic Key passes will not be sold at the parks or at Disneyland ticket booths.
However, if you have already purchase a single-day or multi-day ticket that you are currently using (as in you’re still in the park or still on your Disneyland vacation), it is possible to upgrade that old ticket to a Magic Key pass at the ticket booths onsite in the Esplanade between the parks. These ticket upgrades are the only way to get a Magic Key pass from the ticket booths at Disneyland. Just make sure the ticket fits the requirements to be upgraded (ask the Cast Members to be sure).
Disneyland’s Magic Key Annual Pass Program is Sold Per Person
Another important detail about Disneyland’s new annual pass program is that these Magic Key passes are sold per person. That means that if you are a family, you will need to purchase a Magic Key pass for each member of your family, age 3 and up (children 2 and under are let in free).
Will Disneyland Sell Out of Magic Key Passes?
If you read the terms and conditions (as I’m sure *everyone* does, all the time…) you’ll see a line that’s been a point of concern for some Disney fans. The terms and conditions specifically state: “Pass types are limited in quantity, and not all Pass types may be available at any given time.”
Although passes are limited as the terms and conditions state, the go-to-Disney-Parks-news expert and SYFY Wire theme park reporter Carlye Wisel wrote in her recent SYFY column that “in speaking to Disneyland directly, it doesn’t seem to be a pressing issue.” In addition, the OC Register interviewed two other theme park experts in a recent article, who both agreed that they did not foresee Magic Keys selling out anytime soon, even though the terms specify that they are limited.
So despite still having a small nagging worry over pass availability, for now it seems that Disneyland will not be selling out of Magic Key passes anytime soon. Later on down the line as people begin to be more comfortable travelling, this could change. So it is something to keep an eye on if snagging a Magic Key is important to you.
Personally I am going to wait on purchasing an annual pass, even though it may mean not being able to get one later on if the Magic Key pass I want sells out. Simply because I’m not sure I will personally be able to get full value out of the pass in the upcoming year before it expires. And I know for sure that single and multi-day tickets are never going away.
Deciding if Magic Key is Worth it for Your Disneyland Trip
Obviously the cost of a Disneyland Magic Key is more (or even far more) than the cost of a single or multi day ticket. So it is important to determine which ticket option will be the most cost effective for your trip, especially if you are travelling to Disneyland from out of state.
How Many Disneyland Visits You Need to Make to Break-Even on Your Magic Key Purchase
The best way to determine if a Magic Key purchase will be worth it for you, is to estimate how many days you’ll be at the parks, and then look to see where (or if) you’ll break-even.
Disneyland Magic Key Break-Even Points:
- Imagine Key = 3 visits
- Enchant Key = 4 visits
- Believe Key = 6 visits
- Dream Key = 8 visits
Because Magic Key passes do allow park hopping (though only after 1pm and only if available), I used the cost of an average single day park hopper ticket to determine these break-even points. Keep in mind, the cost of a single day park hopper can vary based on seasonality and demand, but you also get dining and merchandise discounts with your Magic Key pass. So these break-even points should apply for just about any Disneyland trip.