My husband and I have been going back and forth with this decision for a while now and we get the question from friends. Here are some of the reasons why we’d choose to renew the passes, and why we think we could do without them for the time-being.
Because it’s Disneyland! How lucky are we to live so close to the Happiest Place on Earth? The kids never tire of it because it’s always a different experience when we go. Despite the number of times we’ve been there in the last twelve months, they “haven’t lost the magic” so to speak. It still excites them.
The annual passes also allow us a pressure-free visit each time. Sometimes we spend the day in just one “land”, and sometimes we see only the shows and meet the characters. When the lines are long for one particular ride, there’s the luxury of just coming back another time when the park isn’t so crowded.
It makes for instant, ultra fun playdates. Several of our good friends and their families have annual passes too, and it’s fun to go together. As another co-parent of mine said, it beats going to the mall over the weekend.
We’ve celebrated birthdays there as well. Being with friends at Disney is definitely a whole different kind of fun than just being there with your family (all the time), and again — how many people get to do that on a regular basis?
Also, going with other people adds to the different experiences, because some will take note of things you don’t, or do things you wouldn’t think of doing. One of Sam’s friends got her to go on Big Thunder Ranch for the first time and she loved it. Another recommended the Radiator Springs Ride (which we’d never have thought to try because of the impossible lines! The Fast Passes run out pretty quick too) — and it’s become our absolute favorite.
There’s always something new in Disneyland. From a marketing perspective, Disney is an awesome brand. It keeps current, so no matter how many times you’ve watched the same show, or see the same characters, the jokes are updated. The cast members and staff stay in character too, and they react based on the latest from that particular sub-brand or Princess.
Even when things go wrong, there’s a magical story behind it. One time the Finding Nemo submarine sprung a leak and while waiting for them to fix it, the girls asked the staff what had happened. They said that “Bruce got carried away and bit the ship.” You should’ve seen them, they hung on every word!
I’m quite impressed at how Disney times the release of their merchandise too, and how they inject the “new” into their tried and true activities. Just recently they added the Inside Out Pre-Parade over at California Adventure, and so of course, despite watching the parade about a hundred times now, we still made it a point to go see just that.
At the moment they’re running their Paint the Night Parade at the main Disneyland Park — I’d say it’s one of their most awesome parades yet. The quality of the experience is unparalleled.
So, should we even ask…
Why Shouldn’t We Renew?
It’s Expensive. Even with the Annual Pass renewal discount and monthly payment scheme, Disney admittedly is expensive. And the prices go up every year (I do suppose it’s because they’re in such high demand). It’s a major motivation as to why we feel we need to go a lot — to maximize its value. Rather than spend and explore another theme park or another museum, we know we already have these passes, and therefore we should use them. Again and again.
We’re also at that point in our lives where we need to prioritize where to spend the money (I haven’t found a way to grow money trees yet). We’re soon moving homes, and the girls are venturing into other activities this fall, so every penny counts.
It doesn’t help either that when we’re in Disney, Jamie likes to shop. And she has daddy wrapped around her little finger, so she walks away with something new (and expensive), almost every time. Yes, it’s all dad’s doing. 😉
It’s Time (and Energy) Consuming. Going to the Disney Parks takes up a lot of time. No matter how short or long we stay, at the end of it I’m exhausted. Getting from the car to the tram with the stroller and the two girls, walking, carrying, holding them and the sunblock or the jackets, or the snacks and water bottles… well, you understand.
Then of course there are the rides. At some point, there’s always a line to contend with. And even without the lines, there’s the ride itself. I’ll admit that while I can still stomach these rides, the muscles in my body tighten for one reason or another, and THAT, on top of everything else, is very tiring too.
For the kids, it’s great and they sleep like babies at night. I on the other hand, have other chores to finish when we get home. So the exhaustion doesn’t help at all.
Jamie’s Height. Then there’s the “tiny” fact that Jamie isn’t tall enough to ride some rides yet. While Sam gets the better deal of it and rides twice (Read: switch pass), Jamie and I stay at side waiting.
Our other default is to sit and watch the Soundsational parade or the Pixar Play Parade, depending on which park we’re in. And while it’s Jamie’s cup of tea, the people beside probably think I’m crazy since I can sing (and dance) the whole parade from start to finish (Maybe I’ve seen it too many times ey…).
It’ll probably be another year or two before she’s tall enough, and then she’d need to muster up the courage for the thrill attractions.
There you have it my friends. Equal weight across the pros and cons. If you were in our shoes and you only had just a few more days to decide, what would you do?
I’d love to hear your thoughts!