Disneyland annual passes, premium, deluxe, save money

Disneyland Annual Passes – Why The Premium Pass is Cheaper Than Deluxe

Disneyland annual passes, premium, deluxe, save money
Disneyland Logo

SEE NEWEST ANNUAL PASS ARTICLE HERE BY CLICKING THIS BLUE SENTENCE. Growing up in California and regularly frequenting Disneyland as a child as well as being a Disney Annual Pass holder for the past 13 years as an adult, Disneyland holds a special place in my heart.  I have seen the price continue to go up each year for annual passes.  The biggest jump ever was when the Premium passes went from $479 to $600 and I started to question if being a pass holder was really worth it…Since Disneyland has been such a special part of my hubby and I’s relationship and has been somewhere we have regularly went since we met 14 years ago, we definitely decided to continue being pass holders. 

Disneyland annual passes, premium, deluxe, save money
1985 October Disneyland

Just recently I was talking to a friend on facebook messenger about Disney Annual Passes and he was telling me about the difficulty of affording annual passes for he and his wife and how if he could afford any pass it would only be the Deluxe Pass or the Southern California Select Passport (Southern CA Annual Passports are no longer for sale and have been discontinued until people’s passes run out as of last month.)  I started to explain to him that it was so much more worth it to buy the premium pass and that the costs would definitely come out to be the same.   He was dumbfounded by my explanation and said, “Wow, I never thought of it that way!”  I have decided to write this article to share with others why they may as well purchase the premium pass instead of the deluxe and get more days and benefits and still pretty much the same price or even less money!!

Disneyland annual passes, premium, deluxe, save money
Cars Land – Dani at Disneyland

First off, when Disneyland introduced payment plans a few years back, Disney Passes became much more economical to purchase for a large portion of the population because there is no interest fee and you can simply break your pass payments into 12 monthly payments!  In order to do the ”Monthly Payment Plan” for Disneyland, you must make a down payment of a 1 day, 1 park ticket which is currently $96! I honestly cannot believe it costs nearly $100 to go to Disneyland for one day at this point…so these passes make so much more sense to me!

Disneyland annual passes, premium, deluxe, save money
Halloween Time at Disneyland

My husband and I loved this idea because we love to travel regularly and the idea of paying for 2 premium passes up front each year was like paying for a Las Vegas Weekend getaway in full which can be pretty intimidating…But once it was broken down into roughly $100- $120 a month for two annual passes to Disney it suddenly became like an extra cell phone payment and it is a fun place we enjoy to go 2-3 times a month! 🙂  We enjoy doing what we call “Adult Disney” in which we bring our own wine to enjoy at 4 of the different restaurants in Downtown Disney that charge NO wine corkage fees!! 🙂  You can read about No Corkage Fees at Disney & more here –>  NO CORKAGE FEE RESTAURANTS

Disneyland annual passes, premium, deluxe, save money
Christmas Time with Friends at Disneyland

Why did I decide to get the Premium Annual Passport instead of the Deluxe Annual Passport?  Good question you ask!  Well, in my opinion it is cheaper and I can go anytime I want…except for some days around Halloween…honestly that part makes me angry that they close the park early to pass holders  to charge people extra to trick or treat…but don’t even get me started on that one!  Let’s first take a look at the price and benefits of each pass below.

Annual Pass Type Premium Deluxe So Cal Select
Price $699

$603 after down payment $96 makes this ($50.25/month)


$423 after down payment $96 makes this ($35.25/month)


$193 after down payment $96 makes this ($16.08/month)

Days of Admission 365 (no blackouts) 315 days 170 days
Dining Discounts 15% 10% 10%
Merchandise Discounts 20% 10% 10%
Parking INCLUDED $17 every time you go $17 every time you go

*All passes above get admission to Disneyland & California Adventure theme parks, special hotel rates, & discounts on guided tours.

Disneyland annual passes, pre
True Love Display – DIsneyland

The difference between premium and deluxe passes monthly is a  $15 difference, but you also have 50 days taken away on the deluxe pass that are basically all of the Saturdays during the summer and all of Christmas & spring break.  In addition to the 50 days, you do not receive with your pass; you also have to pay $17 every time you visit the parks for parking.  If you calculate the amount of money spent on parking, in addition to the lesser discounts, the premium pass is really the best option for your money and your time! The price honestly levels out if you look at the parking fees & the monthly payments. I mean honestly…if you go to Disneyland one time a month and pay the parking fee of $17 on your deluxe pass monthly fee, you will be paying $35.25 (your monthly rate plus $17 parking) and that makes your fee for the month ($52.25) which is actually more expensive than the premium pass and that is going only one day a month…It honestly does not even make sense to purchase a deluxe pass…

Disneyland annual passes, premium, deluxe, save money
Disneyland Holidays Castle

I hope I have helped you see why it makes more economical sense to purchase a premium pass instead of the Deluxe pass. Disney will only be making more money out of you if you purchase the deluxe pass and you will have fewer days you are able to go. I hope I have helped some of  you with your annual pass holder decision and do not forget, you can always upgrade any Disney ticket, whether it is a day pass or an annual pass.:)

Disneyland annual passes, premium, deluxe, save money
Dani in a Teacup at Disneyland

If you are planning to travel to both Disneyland and Disneyworld, there is a premier passport that allows you into all Disney parks in Florida and California for $1,029.  I have heard it is cheaper to get individual passes in Florida though. I know that when I traveled there, I was able to get  a sweet hotel deal that included a meal plan and a pass for all of the parks, but I guess that would be a whole new article.:)  To read more about Premier passes, see the Disney link here –> Disney Premier Pass .

Disneyland annual passes, premium, deluxe, save money
Disneyland – Making Chocolate Nut Treats Main Street

I hope I have answered any questions you may have about the differences between the Premium and Deluxe Annual Passes.  If you have any other questions or thoughts to add, please share in the comment section below! Have a magical day!!

For other Amusement Park deals see my articles about Sea World, Universal Studios, and Knott’s Berry Farm by clicking blue links. Also if you happen to visit Disneyland during the winter holiday season, make sure you check out my Disneyland Holiday Season post as well! 🙂

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64 thoughts on “Disneyland Annual Passes – Why The Premium Pass is Cheaper Than Deluxe

  1. When my daughter was young we used to have passes and we went all the time. I haven’t been in years and I can’t believe how expensive the passes are. I do see what you are saying about the Premium passes are better deal.

  2. For parking with a deluxe pass, my friends normally used someone with a Premium pass to go or they’d park in Downtown Disney and just validate the parking to maximize staying there and not having to pay, especially if they go after classes and are there for a few hours. Regardless, having all the days free are still pretty nice. I enjoyed reading this!

    1. Hello Kriselle! Thanks for your comment!:) Your plan above for heading in with a premium pass holder is also a great plan..it is awsm to have flexibility to go anytime though for a few dollars more:) Disney is such a fun place!:) Thank you so much for the comment and the compliment!;)

  3. If I purchase a 2 day/1 park per day pass at $178 but decide to upgrade to a deluxe pass, will the monthly payment adjust and be cheaper?

    1. If you purchase the two day pass and decide to upgrade to the deluxe pass you will have already paid for a deposit and you should be able to just pay monthly fees to have the deluxe pass, but I would call Disney and ask how that policy works because I am unsure of a prior pass counts as a deposit or if they will still charge you something up front. I believe it works differently when you are upgrading a pass. I have heard that you have to upgrade when you are using your tickets though. It cannot be upgraded on a day after it has already been used so make sure you upgrade during the 2 days you are using the pass:) I hope that helps a bit. Have fun!!:)

  4. When we decide to buy Annual Passports for myself and my Girlfriend we usually get one Premium and one Deluxe if we want to go most of the time.. The reason is we can use the Premium for parking and all discounts but save $180.00 Granted we cannot go together on ALL days but we can always work around that.. This year though we have found that we do not like going or even go on weekends much so we will probably end up with the lowest SoCal pass and work around the date.

    1. Brion, that is truly a great way to do it! If you do not go on weekends, the premium pass is definitely not a necessity, but since parking is included only on premium, I think it is good that one of you purchased the premium pass! 🙂 Have fun!

  5. When you purchase a Deluxe pass you can include Parking for the year also. So maybe you get two Deluxe, one with parking and one without. This works for us because we don’t need to go on all the holidays. Just too crowded for us!

  6. You can buy a annual parking pass for $159 (instead of paying $17 each visit) With a annual parking pass plus the Deluxe pass, it is $678. Which is actually $21 cheaper… But for that extra $21 dollars you get no block out days, which is a better deal.

    1. From what I understand, the monthly payment annual pass program is unfortunately only available to California residents. There are great deals from time to time on passes at Costco though! I would check there before visiting Disneyland:)

  7. I have been a deluxe pass holder going on 2 years now. I do see the benefit of the premium and have almost pulled the trigger on upgrading. However with work schedule and the fact the park is crazy dec 20-jan3 I wouldnt be able to make it down for christmas anyways. I have found a way around paying for parking.

    As an adult I enjoy the occaisional beer or 5. Seeing as DCA is only park that serves alcohol, I needed to find an alternative location to drink. ESPNZONE to the rescue. I found out even just getting a beer, they will validate your downtown disney parking ticket, which is good for 5 hours with validation.

    So the day looks something like this.
    8-10 am arrive and park at downtown disney
    12-2 pm, depending on arrival time, go to espn and grab a beer or lunch, validate parking, pull out of lot and pull right back in
    repeat sometime during next 4 hours,

    1. Hello Josh, Thanks for your long comment. 🙂 I agree the park does get crazy during the holidays! I love that time of year, but it gets jam packed!

      I am with you in regards to enjoying adult beverages at DIsneyland! That is awesome to know that ESPN validates for 5 whole hours! I know that the restaurants in Downtown validate, but I do not think for 5 hours. What a great deal!

      Your day sounds like a lot of fun;) I love Disneyland:)

  8. thank you for posting this! Great blog! You helped me decide to get a Premium pass! I used to always get the Deluxe pass, and now I regret doing that! Its great being able to never worry about blackout dates! And the discounts a great too!
    Thanks again!

  9. Hi. I just wanted to share my thought. First, I grew up in So. Cal. I now live in Oregon. I think that Disney should open up the option to purchase Annual passes on the monthly plan to people that have to pay for it all at once. It would be a lot more cost effective for me (a single Mom of 2) – to not have to buy our annual passes, gasoline or airline tickets, hotels, food, etc, etc – all at the same time. I miss living in O.C. where going was a day affair – or maybe 2-3. Just saying that it sure would make a difference if I could pay for our passes on a monthly basis instead of having to pay for it all at the same time. That way I could be saving for the next year, while still enjoying our current passes. Just a thought that I wish they would seriously think about. Out-of-towners are the ones that probably spend more money there, because we do not have the convenience of home being close by… I even have a sister that still lives in O.C. who would be more than glad to get our passes for us; but, they always check ID. What’s a Mom to do – LOL. Grrr…

    1. Thank you for your comment BriarRose. 🙂 I am sorry to hear about your frustration of not being able to purchase the monthly payment plan from other states. Maybe they assume most people out of state will not be purchasing yearly passes because they will not be here regularly? Whatever the reason may be, I do agree with you that it should not really matter where you reside to do that type of pricing. I always wish that they had some kind of deal to visit other Disneyland parks if you are a passholder at any Disney Park. I am visiting Paris Disney this summer and felt there should have been some discount…but nope…I paid full price. 😦 Have a blast at the parks! 🙂

  10. Thank you do much got your explanatipn😀 my husband and I have been on the fence trying to decide which pass to buy. But after reading this there is nothing to decide we will be getting the premiere passes. So excited can’t wait😃

  11. My bf and I were also considering annual passes and I’m so glad I came across your blog regarding AP’s first! We couldn’t upgrade because the tix we got were complimentary, but maybe that’s a good thing because I wouldn’t have immediately considered the parking cost (although he may have but can’t say for sure). Thank you for your insight, so helpful!

  12. Wow lots of great information here… we’re going to Disneyland and my wife and it were debating about getting annual passes. She wanted to get the deluxe and it wanted the premium. If explained to her it almost came out the same with the 17 for parking. Soafter reading this aarticle it insures me that it was right. . Can’t wait to be a premium annual holder

    1. Hello Cesar. Thanks so much for the comment! 🙂 I really do appreciate it and I am so happy I could help! 🙂 You are going to love your premium pass! So much fun! I am looking forward to going there this weekend! Have fun!

  13. The prices took a big leap in October, and they are still a great deal if you spend any time at the parks or shopping Downtown Disney. The Premier Pass is still available at $1479 as of yesterday (12/6/2015). The Premier Passport is only available at the ticket windows at Disneyland, Guest Relations office at Disneyworld and the River Springs Resort at Disneyworld. You must go in person.

    As of right now the Premier passport works with the Magic Band and Disneyworld App, but not the Disneyland App.

    There are several other passes at Disneyland that range from $349 to $1049 plus tax.

    The best deal for SoCal residents is the payment plan. 0% interest, so even if you have the cash, let Mickey float you a 0% Loan, just keep in mind you make the down payment at the ticket window and they take the first months payment the next day.

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