A week ago, Disneyland released their Magic Key Pass Program. While named differently, and somewhat confusingly, Magic Key is Disneyland’s new Annual Pass Program. We bought our passes as soon as they were available and have been actively using them while monitoring the app. In this post, we’ll share our thoughts on the first week and what it means going forward.
I think the question that will pop up the most with Magic Key is about the reservation system so we’ll start there. Without a doubt, the biggest change from the old Annual Pass system and this one is that guests of all Magic Pass tiers will need to make a reservation for a park. In case you don’t have any background info, each tier has a certain amount of reservations they can hold at a time over a rolling 90 day window – 2 for the California Pass, 4 for the next tier and then 6 for the top two tiers.
So, how easy is it to get one of those reservations? Well, very easy so far! We have the Enchant Key, which is the second tier, and there hasn’t been a single date filling up outside of the standard blockout dates. In other words, there is nothing to worry about so far if the reservation system has given you any trepidations.
Now, there are a few caveats. Late August and September is the offseason at Disneyland and that has been especially true this year with the pandemic and travel industry not fully recovered. We’ve also heard from several people who are taking a ‘wait and see’ approach to Magic Key being offered as they want to see how the reservation system plays out. I can understand the worry since there was no way to test it out but after seeing how the calendar isn’t filling up at all, there’s no reason to wait. In fact, I would imagine that these first few months will be the easiest time to get a reservation.
While there are plenty of reservations to go around so far, the Magic Key Pass Program does have a few small kinks to work out. As everything in the world moves to digital, the Magic Key doesn’t come with a physical ticket and everything is done through the app. This is fine, although I’d prefer the old plastic AP card. Where the real issue has come in is that the linked pass we have has disappeared from our app a couple of times until we relink it. I have no idea if this is just a unique problem and isn’t happening to anyone else but we’ve experienced it a few times.
In that same vein, Cast Members who are applying the Magic Pass discounts (on merchandise and dining) either have to write down the entire number that is linked to the Magic Pass or take the passholder’s phone and scan it. It’s not a big deal to me if someone takes my phone but I certainly understand the hesitation on both sides if they didn’t want to do that, especially in this day and age. Over time, there probably needs to be a better system implemented to apply the discounts.
Finally, I can’t say that I’m a fan of the branding involved with Magic Key. There have been a few times where a Cast Member has asked me what pass I have and I had no idea what the name of it was. Turns out that I have the Enchant Key but I did just have to look at the app to remember that. What are these names, really? It’s okay to call things Gold, Silver, Flex, etc. Something like that is much easier to remember than the usual Disney buzz words. I realize this is all personal preference and your main takeaway from this post might be, “Man, Andrew has a bad memory and is complaining about a weird thing.” For the record, this isn’t a big deal and something I won’t spend more than roughly 2 minutes thinking about in the future. But, Disney please pick better names for things!
Outside of those minor qualms, Magic Key has worked well! I haven’t noticed a significant impact on crowd levels, even on the weekend. Disneyland does have a significant amount of attractions to swallow people up so there’s times where it is hard to gauge how many people are actually there. That said, if you’re looking for a last minute trip then I couldn’t recommend September more to people. Halloween decorations have arrived (more on that later this week!) and the crowd levels are incredibly low. There are days when the longest wait at Disneyland doesn’t get over 30 minutes. Plus, you might get to run into some super cool bloggers if you visit 😉
What are your thoughts on Magic Key? Let us know, along with any questions you might have, in the comments below! If you are planning a trip to Disneyland, then check out our planning guide. If you enjoy what you are reading here on Wandering in Disney please share this post with your friends, as well as like our social media pages. You can also subscribe to the blog via WordPress or email. You can do all of that on the right side of this page. Thank you for reading, we really appreciate it!