Formerly a Disneyland Pass Holder Addict, Yours Truly

Hi, my name is Julianne and I've been an annual pass holder addict for nearly twenty years.

My Last Trip as a Pass Holder Jan. 2020
Let that sink in.

Twenty years.

Twenty years ago Britney and Justin were an item, the hottest toy on the shelf was the Furby, Toy Story 2 was my favorite Disney movie and the cost of my first Disneyland annual pass was $99.

And now, for the first time in a long time, I am no longer Annual Pass Holder.

I'm just as shocked as you are about this news!

I let the darn things expire and have no intent to renew them in the foreseeable future.

And it just might be the greatest decision I've made!

Wait what? Am I saying a pass isn't worth it?

No, not at all. I've been in love with Disneyland since I was a kid. Each year I would beg for a trip to Disneyland for my birthday. As a kid, I was there when Toon Town debuted, when Indiana Jones changed the landscape of Disneyland rides, and when California Adventure disappointed us all and then slowly started earning our respect. As an adult, I've both experienced the parks as a Childless Millennial at Disneyland (before that was a thing) and witnessed the magic in my kid's eyes when they met Minnie for the first time.

Mickey's Halloween Party 2017
Plus, if you're a nostalgia addict like me (and apparently the approximated one million other Annual Pass Holders) then it's entirely worth every single penny.

Merriam-Webster defines nostalgia as "a wistful or excessively sentimental yearning for return to or of some past period or irrecoverable condition." Do you ever feel warm and fuzzy after catching a whiff of crayons? It’s the same basic idea. Did you ever visit Disneyland as a child? Even just once? It's doesn't matter if you remember the entire trip, your body remembers the excitement, the fun and the magic.

Am I saying that your body has a chemical reaction to visiting Disneyland?

Yes, that's exactly what I'm saying.

According to How Stuff Works your body releases "feel-good chemicals like dopamine" when experiencing nostalgia. And it's not just physically being at the parks that can trigger a nostalgia high. Certain songs, especially those from childhood and early adulthood, certain smells, and certain sites can also trigger the same reaction.

So, if you think about it, Disneyland is an overstuffed nostalgia high complete with every experience required to ride those nostalgia chemicals for an entire day.

Simply put, Disneyland takes us back to when we were young, carefree and believed in the magic. 

With My Brother in the Late 80's

And what if you've never visited the park? Would you have the same immediate love and adoration for the experience?


Disney has done an incredible job at infiltrating our lives with their content for nearly 100 years. As a child did you watch Sleeping Beauty? The Little Mermaid? The Lion King? All of these characters exist within the parks. You're bound to stop and savor a childhood memory at some point throughout your trip. And, if you've somehow been living under a rock for the past century and have no childhood connection to anything Disney, the sheer act of experiencing childhood glee can trigger the same reaction. 

There is no escape. Walt Disney has created a world of nostalgia within an orange grove. 

According to Walt himself, "I don't want the public to see the world they live in while they're in the Park (Disneyland). I want to feel they're in another world."

Seems like he's succeeding in this mission. 

But fair warning, according to Neurology Times  "Nostalgia can be a useful emotional strategy or a harmful addiction... When used as a coping strategy, a person can deliberately trigger feelings of nostalgia by... visiting comforting environments of the past."

Hmmm, this is starting to sound a lot like Disneyland

My Future Husband and I in 2009

As an adult, you start to see truths about yourself that you may have missed. For me, my truth is I'm a creature of comfort. I gravitate to the familiar, the steady and the nostalgic. 

Unfortunately, I'm never going to get anywhere if I'm always in the same place.

So really, ditching the annual pass is a declaration that I'm ready to try new things, explore new places and embrace new experiences. 

And don't get me wrong, an annual trip to the Happiest Place on Earth is highly within reach... but so is gifting my kids a slew of new, exciting and different memories. 

Out with the old and in with the new, I always say!

It's exciting, really.

Where should I go next?

Julianne Haness is a stay at home mom, artist and blogger based in the Los Angeles Suburbs. Follow her on Instagram for daily musings about mom life, Disney life and creative life.


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