Today Disneyland guests purchase “passports” that give them the run of the park and its rides. Once upon a time — more than 20 years ago — it was a different story.
Originally, visitors to the park purchased ticket books with coupons ranging in value from A through E. The beloved E ticket ruled the day, granting entry to the big rides like the Matterhorn Bobsleds.
That ticketing system is so ingrained in the minds of Americans that people still call any exciting experience an “E ticket” event.
“We had a 10-ride book and then a 15-ride book because there were some who thought that it would better help distribute guests around the park,” recalls Jerry Wright, Disneyland resorts director of attendance planning and analysis.
Over the years, guests demonstrated that they sort of naturally distribute themselves throughout the park.
“Whenever we would sell out the park for use for a day to a corporation and people wouldn’t have to use the ticket books they’d love it and we didn’t have the pileups that we thought we’d have at the more popular rides,” Wright says.
As passports were introduced, the response of visitors was clear.
“The ticket books just didn’t sell anymore because no one wanted to bother with getting stuck with lower-value tickets. Since then I’ve never heard a guest say that they wished we still had the ticket books,” says Wright.
On June 16, 1982, Disneyland became an all-passport park.
The E ticket is still a valuable commodity for collectors. Dozens of ticket books are posted in auctions on Ebay, fetching anything between $25 and $35, even $50.
The latest ticketing addition is Fast Pass, allowing quicker access to attractions. It too has proven a big hit.