Entrance Plaza
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Constructing... World Passports


Yes, you did read that correctly. It was $90.00 for a Two-Park Annual Pass in 1982! But, rather than making this about the not-so-wonderful world of inflation, it would probably be best to focus on some of the lesser known historical facts of theme park ticketing...

Firstly, there’s a lot of talk (especially on E82) surrounding the connections between theme parks and motion pictures, but you might be surprised to learn just how linked the two industries were. Disneyland was the first theme park to charge a gate admission, and as such a price had to be chosen. But how does one set a price for a “product” that has never existed? Believe It or Not, but for the majority of the 20th century the price of the park admission was directly based on movie ticket prices. The basic formula was the full price of a (non-matinee) adult ticket times five. The logic behind all of this was that the experience of going to a Disney park was akin to a full day at the movies. On average, the operating day was ten hours long, or five feature films, hence the Movie-x5 formula. Eventually, this pricing structure was eliminated for other models. Just in case you’re curious, if that model was still in effect the average price of a one-day park pass would be $39.45 a far cry from the $85.00 price of today’s reality. (1)

What is not discussed here is the way in which EPCOT Center changed ALL theme parks forever!

Note: For those of you over the age of 40 just skip the following paragraph.

Before EPCOT, Disneyland and the Magic Kingdom functioned on a two-tiered system of ticketing: the gate price and the famous Ticket Book system. The Ticket Books were a collection of Coupons for attractions with a very specific alphabetical ranking. An “A” ticket would be for the least of all attractions, Main Street Vehicles, King Arthur Carousel, etc. An “E” (not added until 1959) would be for the most spectacular of attractions, The Haunted Mansion, Pirates, etc. There were certain exceptions to the Ticket Books, heavily sponsored attractions like Adventure thru Inner Space, or its sister attraction If You Had Wings were free attractions allowing an unlimited number of rides. (2)

But how could one possibly “rank” the attractions of EPCOT Center?! Sure, it’s easy to say that the Astuter Computer Revue is less significant than the Universe of Energy, but how much so? In addition, ALL attractions of EPCOT Center had corporate sponsorships. And charging a little under $10 per ticket for a $1.2 billion investment isn’t exactly a sound financial practice. Subsequently, the guests were screaming for an all inclusive experience within the park, unhampered by coupons and ticket booths. As a result of all of these developments, 1982 also became the year that Ticket books were phased out in favor a single gate admission. Instead of budgeting D and E tickets or trading four A’s for one E, you could go on as many attractions, as many times as possible. And rationing how many rides you have left became endless countdowns of how many times you were able to ride Space Mountain in a single day.

All this thanks to that most unique of all theme parks - EPCOT Center!


  1. Based on the national average price of $7.49 in 2010 reported by NATO the National Association of Theater Owners.
  2. This is also the largest reason why these attractions still have such a large “cult following” many decades after their closure. The ability to have unlimited access to a great piece of entertainment will eventually embed itself into your subconscious. (Just think if you could only see Star Wars once or twice in your life? Would it really be that memorable [or successful]?... probably not)

© Disney All Rights Reserved

Photo Caption:
Although from several years later (in 1987), this would be the typical setup after opening. As one who has done ticket sales and been behind a few “desks” before, I’m both nostalgic and impressed by streamlined, uncomplicated, and unclutteredness of the setup. There’s really not much there ­- a far cry from the multi-tiered, tri-option, graphic intensive ticket pricing of today.
(Note the 15th Anniversary banner background on the pillar just outside the window.)    

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