The short and sweet answer is that Disney began to phase out ticket books for general admission passes in 1980 and by the middle of 1982, ticket books were fully retired. They mostly did it because… well… that was just the direction the industry was going in by then. There’s also an argument to be made that it was ultimately beneficial for them even if that wasn’t the direction it was going in.
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With the success of Disneyland, it was no big surprise that copycat amusement and theme parks would pop up elsewhere around the country. One of those parks, which opened just a few years later in 1958, was the Pacific Ocean Park in Santa Monica California.
The Park, which came to be known as POP, wasn’t Disneyland's first competitor, nor it’s last. What made the park notable however was that after a disappointing second year of attendance, in an attempt to win over more guests and compete with Disneyland, switched their attendance model. They went from ticketed attractions to one general admission ticket that granted guests access to all the rides at the park. This would be the first major implementation of such an idea.
POP would ultimately fail and close its gates in 1967. However before that would happen, another park in the US would open and mimic the same general admission business model, but with much more success. In 1961 and at a cost of three million dollars, Texas real estate developer Angus G Wynne opened a a theme park in Arlington, Texas. Named after the six different nations that at one point or another governed the land that made up the state, Six Flags Over Texas was a success from year one.
By 1971 Walt Disney World would open to the public. Much in the same way the company as a whole was clinging to the Walt era of doing things, the Florida park opened with the same A through E tickets that Disneyland used. At that point Six Flags had just opened their third theme park, and just ninety minutes north of Disneyland a new park, Magic Mountain, would open. It, too, would sell general admission tickets.
Disney stuck with ticket books, and they were essentially safe to. Their place at the top of the ladder in the realm of theme parks gave them the security to keep towing the line, but that wouldn’t last forever.
By 1980 things were looking pretty differently. Disney wasn’t failing financially, but they weren’t looking too great either. Their box office take was stagnating, two oil crises caused issues with Disney World attendance, and most importantly, their competition was picking up pace. While Disney was just starting to work on EPCOT, their third ever US theme park, Six Flags had already opened or acquired six, and they weren’t showing any signs of slowing down.
So Disney began to test the waters, and in 1980 they introduced passport tickets to their parks, which gave guests access to all rides at a flat rate. At this point they also began to slowly phase out ticket books. The first step was to remove the A through E classifications so that ticket books were just generalized tickets for attractions. However by the summer of 1982 those too would be retired.
Something else happened in Disney in 1982: EPCOT Center opened to the public. For the first time ever a Disney resort had a second gate, and with that one change the dynamic of a Disney vacation changed with it.
Disney quickly found that, as many would expect, the average length of stay for a family on vacation at Disney World doubled when the number of theme parks doubled. This meant guests spent more money on food, more money on merch, and more money on hotel stays. With that in mind, it became beneficial for guests to spend more time at the parks, and one way to accomplish that was to remove the limitations on how many attractions a guest could ride. Ticket books worked for day trips, but Disney vacations were quickly becomingly lengthier commitments.
While they both played a role, I’d say the outside influence of Six Flags and other theme parks like Universal Studios was the bigger factor. The 1970s were a decade in which Disney creatively slowed to a near-stop, while their competitors only gained more and more speed. In fact that period of stagnation makes me wonder about whether or not ticket books would have been retired even earlier had Walt still been alive to push the company forward.