Already struggling with crowding problems, Disneyland resort officials have long hinted that they will be forced to add restrictions to deal with the surge of crowds when a Star Wars land opens next summer.
The first attempt at controlling the expected throngs was announced recently as the resort added blackout dates — thus cutting access — for some pass holders who want to visit Disneyland next year.
To help make up for reducing access to Disneyland, the resort reduced the number of blackout days — thus increasing access — to visit neighboring California Adventure Park. The price of the annual passes hasn’t budged because of the latest changes.
In the past, the annual passes let holders visit both Anaheim, Calif., parks, with the same number of blackout dates for both parks. Starting in June 2019, some pass holders will see more blackout days for Disneyland and fewer for California Adventure Park.
“As our business evolves, this is the first step in reshaping our annual pass program, which will better manage the guest experience and allow all Disneyland Resort visitors to have a great visit, particularly as we look forward to the opening of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge in summer 2019,” the resort said in a statement.
In the most extreme case, holders of the Southern California annual pass get to visit Disneyland as many as 19 days this June but will be blacked out from visiting the park for the entire month of June next summer.
The Southern California annual pass — one of the least expensive passes sold at the resort — is no longer for sale to new pass holders but can be renewed for existing pass holders.
A holder of a Southern California annual pass gets to visit California Adventure next June for 20 days, up from 19 days this month.
For the second-most-expensive pass, the Disney Deluxe Passport, the number of June days that are available and not blacked out at Disneyland drops to 13 days from 20 days.
The Disney resort has displayed the blackout calendar only for the 12 months starting in June, so what will happen the following months is unclear.
The $1 billion Star Wars expansion, under construction at the northwest edge of the park, will include two attractions: a ride that lets guests fly the Millennium Falcon spaceship, and another that throws visitors in the middle of a battle between the Resistance and the First Order.
Images and models of the Star Wars area depict a land with rock formations, trees and earth-colored domed buildings. Several spaceships, including an X-Wing Starfighter and a TIE Fighter, are parked between buildings in the model.
To make room for the new expansion, Disney eliminated Big Thunder Ranch in Frontierland, Big Thunder Ranch Barbecue, Big Thunder Ranch petting zoo and Big Thunder Ranch Jamboree. Also, employee offices just outside the park have been removed.