Entering Disney in 1996.

Here is a real quick one… It recently dawned on me that someone could probably dedicate a whole series of articles to how admission to the Disney theme parks has changed over the years. Up until the 1990s, this would have only been a discussion about coupon books versus single and multi-day general admission tickets. Since then, however, there have been a number of changes to how admission is handled.

I will just contribute two photos taken in 1996 of how you used to get in to the Magic Kingdom in Florida.

First, notice the orange area in the following photo:

Magic Kingdom turnstile on August 26, 1996.

At that time, admission was a paper-plastic type ticket with a magnetic strip on it. At the turnstile you would insert that ticket into the orange slot and it would scan and allow (or deny) you access to the park.

Here is what my ticket, an annual pass, looked like in 1996:

1996 WDW Annual Pass (back).

And here is the front artwork:

1996 WDW Annual Pass (front).

Yes, my Walt Disney World annual pass was just a piece of plastic-paper with my name on it.

At the time, I thought this was quite cheesy compared to how Disneyland did theirs. They had an actual plastic ID card with a photo on it, and no magnetic strip that could become demagnetized. Here is the Disneyland pass from the same year:

1996 Disneyland AP (back).

And here is the back, promoting the recently opened Indiana Jones Adventure attraction:

1996 Disneyland AP (front).

Quite a difference in quality! In those years, it was said that Disneyland visitors were 70% locals from Southern California, while Walt Disney World was about 70% out-of-state tourists. I guess Disney just had more “regulars” to make feel special when they spent so much money on an annual pass. (After all, a one day pass to Disneyland in 1996 has just seen its price jacked up to $34!)

I never had a day pass to Disneyland, so I don’t know what they used for single day tickets at the time.

I recently found all of my Disneyland and Walt Disney World passes I’ve had since 1995. In a future post, I’ll do a photo essay showing the changes over the years.

One more thing before I go… The backside of the Magic Kingdom turnstile in 1996:

Magic Kingdom turnstile on August 26, 1996.

Ah, the things I took pictures of with my first digital camera.

Until next time…

My abandoned Disney theme park book project…

I recently stumbled across eight chapters of a Disneyland/Walt Disney World book I was working on a long, long time ago. Today, there are hundreds of such books, and many speciality book publishing companies (such as Theme Park Press) that publish niche books like these. But back then, well, we had some Disney history books, and official and unofficial guides, and that was about it.

I thought I’d share an excerpt from a draft of the opening to one of my chapters — Disneyland for Walt Disney World Fans — which, as I read through the whole thing, still seems as applicable today as it was back in the early 2000s. (This project was started in the late 90s as Disneyland was building Disney’s California Adventure and becoming a “resort”, and revisions where being made after that expansion.)

Let’s take a quick look… I’m commenting out some of the text due to it being laughably out-of-date (several places I mentioned back then don’t even exist today), but hopefully you’ll get the idea…

Chapter __ – Disneyland for Walt Disney World Fans

If you are a Walt Disney World fan, you should already have an idea of just what Disney World is, at least to you.

What the Disneyland Resort Isn’t

The Disneyland Resort is not a huge, sprawling entertainment complex sitting on 43 square miles or property with endless golf courses, outdoor activities, and resorts. It has no water parks, no nightclubs, and no campgrounds. Instead, it is two theme parks, three high end hotels, and a shopping district featuring touristy eateries.

If you could spend an entire week in Florida and happily never set foot on one of the four Disney theme parks there, a vacation to Disneyland may not be a fitting alternative.

But, if you cherish all things Disney, and enjoy rides and theming…


A Disneyland Resort vacation can be augmented with several non-Disney theme parks and experiences that are nearby.

  • Knott’s Berry Farm – Just fifteen minutes away is one of the original theme parks in America – Knott’s Berry Farm. (I’d visited Knott’s numerous times by then, and was considering devoting a small section to what it had to offer. Since then, Knott’s has been purchased by Cedar Fair and it has become much more of a coaster thrill park.)
  • Universal Studios Hollywood – Located within an hour away (depending on traffic) is the orignial famous Hollywood studio tour. (This was another area where I had a section dealing with the major “must see” offerings at Universal, as well as a comparison between the Hollywood and Orlando versions. With the addition of Islands of Adventure, I would have had to expand upon that quite a bit.)
  • Six Flags Magic Mountain…(Since I grew up in a state that had, at one point, THREE Six Flags parks, I probably wrote a bit too much about Magic Mountain. Ultimately, it would have been a parallel to going to Busch Gardens or similar in Orlando.)
  • SeaWorld – …(Another bi-coastal comparison. The idea was to pitch “Disneyland + SeaWorld” versus “Magic Kingdom + SeaWorld” but ultimately, I would have also included things like the San Diego Zoo and other unique California offerings.)…
  • Legoland – …(I had not yet even begun to write about Legoland.)…
  • …(I had planned to do some visits to the various parks so I could speak about them with more knowledge than what a brochure gave me)…

Water Parks

Although none of the local water park attractions can come close to the immersive attention to detail that Disney’s Florida water parks offer, for those who just want to get soaked, slide or swim, there are plenty of Southern California generic water park experiences to be had.

  • …(list and disucssion of various nearby waterparks; again, without first-hand experience with them, there would have been some research involved)…

Touristy Attractions

Just like the nearby International Drive near Disney World is full of more tourist attractions, shows and experiences than you could comfortably shake a stick at (let alone expect to see them all even after many visits), the Disneyland Resort area is also home to similar experiences.

  • Medieval Times – …
  • …(there are so many of these around here; I was going to base this on a similar project I was planning to do on Wisconsin Dells. Likewise, there was a similar section about the touristy things to do near Walt Disney World)…

And so on…

Since I still have a chance to resurrect this project through a new publisher (sadly, the original went out of business years ago), I won’t go into further details. But, I will say that it mostly covered common things found at both resorts (i.e., the apples to apples comparison) rather than trying to compare a golf course in Orlando to a swimming pool at the Disneyland Hotel.

I certainly enjoyed spending a few evenings reading through my early ramblings, and I hope you enjoyed this quick peek at what could have been (and maybe one day still will be).

Until next time…