Hey, Disneyland fans — we just received some big news! After closing out their Annual Pass tickets in January 2021, everyone was curious about when Disneyland would bring back some kind of frequent visitor pass. Well, now we know what to expect with their new Disneyland Magic Key pass program, including the price and blackout dates.
What IS the Disneyland Magic Key?
What Disneyland is calling a Magic Key is essentially the same program as their old Annual Passes. I’m actually shocked at how they’re pretty similar to what Disneyland was selling before. When you buy a Magic Key, you’ll be able to visit Disneyland multiple times a year for that one price. There are blackout dates when some Magic Key passes won’t be eligible.
It’s also important to note that the Magic Key program will require a park reservation to be made. This is standard for how Disneyland is running its current ticket system. Park reservations with a Magic Key will be available 90 days in advance.
Before closing their old annual pass system, Disneyland had a Flex Pass which also required park reservations in advance. It’s no surprise to see Disney is sticking with the reservation system as it gives them a good idea of what to expect each day for crowd levels and what they’ll need for staffing.
With reservations being required, you will need to do some advanced planning. And for some locals, I can see that using their Magic Key might be less convenient than the old annual passes where they could just hop into the parks whenever they want.
You’ll make a park reservation for the day you want to visit one park or both parks. If you make a reservation for both parks you’ll be able to hop over to the other park after 1 pm. It’s not clear how you’ll need to specify which park you’ll be starting in for a reservation for both parks, they only mention that you’ll be able to park hop after 1 pm if you have a reservation for both parks.
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When Can I Buy a Magic Key?
August 25th, 2021 is the date you’ll be able to purchase one of these passes. There are four options so you’ll want to know in advance which Magic Key pass you want to buy — I’ll help you decide that with the details below. It seems that the passes will be available to purchase online and at the ticket booths.
And, good news for those of us who are planning any fall trips. You can exchange your current tickets for a Magic Key on or after August 25th. For example, I’m planning to visit the parks in September for Disneyland Halloween and I’ll be able to credit my park ticket towards a Magic Key pass on my final day in the parks.
To upgrade a park ticket to a Magic Key, you’ll visit the ticket booths at Disneyland before the end (close) of your last day’s visit. What you paid for that ticket will be applied towards the cost of whichever Magic Key you choose to purchase.
Note: While CA residents are eligible for an interest-free payment plan for Magic Key passes, they cannot do a payment plan if they’re upgrading to a Magic Key from a previous park ticket. It’s also good to know that the current California-resident discounted 3-day ticket is not eligible for upgrading to a Magic Key.
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What are the Magic Key Options & How Much Do They Cost?
Ok, so now here we’re going to get down to the details about the new Disneyland Magic Key passes. As I said above, there are four pass options. However, one of the passes, Imagine Key, is only available to Southern California residents.
One of the stand-out features besides blockout dates and discounts you’ll want to consider is how many reservations you can hold at one time. When they talk about how many park reservations you can “hold” it means that you’re able to make a park reservation for that many days at a time. So if you have the ability to hold 6 reservations, you can reserve 6 single dates over the course of the open 90-day window. If you can hold 4 reservations, you’ll only be able to have 4 dates reserved at a time.
Dream Key – $1399
This is the Mercedes Benz class of Magic Keys. It’s the best pass you can get and comes with NO blackout dates. You can visit any day of the year, including holidays. But remember, a reservation has to be made in advance. This pass also includes the best park discounts and free standard theme park parking for one vehicle.
Also, keep in mind that entry is not guaranteed just because you’re a key holder. You will need to make reservations and availability may be limited.
- Reservation-based admission to one or both theme parks every day of the year.
- Hold up to 6 theme park reservations at a time for different dates
- Up to 20% off select merchandise
- Up to 15% off select dining
- Standard theme park parking included (excluding blockout days)
Believe Key – $949
For a savings of $450, you can get the Believe Key pass, but you’ll step down on some benefits. This pass will offer you a few blackout dates, less of a discount in the parks, and only 50% off parking. If you like to visit Disneyland on the weekends, this pass or the Dream Key are your best options.
The Dream and the Believe Key passes are also the only two passes that offer you the chance to hold 6 reservations at a time. If you like to plan for 3-day vacations, this would allow you to have two 3-day trips reserved at a time.
- Reservation-based admission to one or both theme parks most days of the year (48 blockout dates mostly around the November and December holidays).
- 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)
Enchant Key – $649
If you don’t live in Southern California, this will be your cheapest option for a Magic Key pass. It’s a step down from the Believe Key and comes with more blockout dates and no discount on parking. You’ll also only be able to hold 4 park reservations at a time.
Summertime visitors will likely want to avoid this pass unless you like to visit at the end of August. You’ll also be excluded from many weekend dates and holidays.
- Reservation-based admission to one or both theme parks select days of the year (149 blockout dates mostly in the summer, weekends, and Nov/Dec holidays).
- Hold up to 4 theme park reservations at a time
- 10% off select merchandise
- 10% off select dining
Imagine Key (SoCal Pass) – $399
The Imagine Key is only available for Southern California Residents living in zip codes 90000 to 93599. And this pass comes with the most blackout dates as well as the least number of reservations.
- Reservation-based admission to one or both theme parks select days of the year (218 blockout dates).
- Hold up to 2 theme park reservations at a time
- 10% off select merchandise
- 10% off select dining
** note there is some fine print with each of these Magic Key options, so be sure you have reviewed the fine print at Disneyland.com. There is a no-show clause that will encourage people to use their reservations or cancel in advance.
California residents (all CA residents) will also have the opportunity to pay for their Magic Key in a payment plan over the course of the year with a small down payment. As I said above, this option is not available if you’re upgrading to a Magic Key from a previously purchased park ticket.
Which Magic Key Annual Pass Should I Get?
Only you can truly answer that, however, I have a few tips you should consider.
If money is not a factor and you want to visit multiple times a year including during the holidays, the Dream Key is probably your best option. This also comes with free parking, making it likely an ideal pass for a local who visits often and drives to the park. The discount on dining and merchandise will also be a great perk for a true Disney fan who likes to shop and eat when visiting the parks.
For a SoCal resident who is happy visiting the parks after work during the week, the Imagine Key is an affordable option to get your Disney fix. With 218 blockout dates, you’d likely miss many of the peak seasonal events, however with two days of reservations available it would be easy for those middle of the week visits.
So what’s left to decide between is the Believe ($949) versus the Enchant ($649). What will that extra $300 get you? Well, the main difference is 48 blockouts versus 149. If you need to visit during the main summer months of June and July, you’ll need to fork over the extra money for the Believe.
The extra $300 also gets you 6 reservation dates with the Believe versus just 4 with the Enchant. The Believe also comes with 50% off parking, but both passes offer 10% off for certain shopping and dining venues.
When comparing the cost of Disneyland tickets, you can see that you need to be planning for multiple visits each year to make an annual pass, AKA Magic Key, worth the expense. If I was planning three 3-day trips in a year then I’d likely purchase the Believe Key and it would save me money by the last trip.
But if the blockout dates fit with my travel plans (i.e. don’t need weekends or holidays) then the Enchant Key would be a good deal. A 2-day park hopper ticket from Get Away Today costs $288, so the Enchant Key at $649 would offer big savings if I was planning three 2-day trips, again assuming the blockout calendar fits my travel plans.
There are some added perks for Magic Key holders, which I’ll mention below that might help push you over the tipping point if you’re doing the math.
Magic Key Annual Pass Blackout Dates Comparison Calendar
While each Key has its own blockout calendar, I knew that when comparing the different key types it makes more sense to be able to look at the months matched up as that’s how people will be planning their trips. I created this blockout calender comparison to help you compare the Dream Key versus the Believe Key versus the Enchant Key versus the Imagine Key.
Hopefully, this calendar comparison chart will help you figure out the best Magic Key pass for you based on what your upcoming Disneyland vacation plans are.
Magic Key Extra Park Perks
If you’re the type of Disney fan that likes to feel special, Disneyland has added some additional perks for Magic Key holders that go beyond park admission and discounts.
- Magic Key terrace: a re-imagined reservation-based lounge just for Magic Key holders and their friends and family
- Magic Key Holder Month: a month-long celebration of Magic Key holders
- Special Experiences & Collectibles: access exciting, unique experiences and collectible keepsakes designed with you in mind—including special offerings during festivals!
- First Access Opportunities: be among the first to have the opportunity to access exciting new offerings at the Disneyland Resort throughout the year, including select new merchandise collections
- Downtown Disney District: discounts at participating locations
- Magic Key Merchandise, Novelties, Menu Items and More: Show your Magic Key pride! Opportunity to purchase Magic Key holder-themed popcorn buckets, sippers and menu items throughout the year.
- Magic Key Disney PhotoPass Opportunities: enjoy special photo spots and other opportunities sprinkled in throughout the year.
- Magic Key embroidery: special options available for Magic Key holders at select locations in the parks
Disneyland also said that in celebration of their 66th birthday, they’re offering a gift package to guests who sign up for a Magic Key in the first 66 days of sales. The exact language is:
“For a limited time, we will celebrate the charter members that become Magic Key holders within the first 66 days (as we celebrate 66 years of Disneyland Resort). These guests will receive a special welcome package that will include unique items such as a premium branded pin, celebratory button, magnet, and more! Plus, Magic Key holders who enter Disneyland park will also be celebrated with access to a limited-time experience at Starcade in Tomorrowland (which begins on Sept. 1), where they can enjoy charging stations, a special photo opportunity, and other fun surprises.”
There you have all the details on the new Magic Key “annual pass” at Disneyland. What do you think? Will you join?