I hear this rumor every year - and I mean EVERY year for at least the past three to five years. So I thought I'd do some digging. It didn't take long to be honest. I just called Disneyland's Annual Pass customer service (714-781-7277).
By the way, 7277 spells out PASS in case you were wondering, which I'm sure you were. I don't know what the other numbers spell though. My best guess is PIPU, but I don't think that means anything… or does it?
Anyways, to make a short story even shorter, both of the reps I called (yes 'both' because I'm the next Sherlock Holmes and I called twice for some extra sleuthing) laughed. They both laughed. The first was a woman, who was incredibly nice, said she hears this rumor every year. She assured there is no indication Disney will stop offering payment plans for Southern Californian residents anytime soon. The same thing goes for the gentleman I spoke to (also very nice); he said he hadn't even heard the rumor and, again, there isn't even a glimpse of that happening soon. I also have a few friends who work for Disney in various departments that have given similar responses. This just doesn't seem to be something on Disney's radar, so why does this rumor keep popping up?
I have a few theories. Call me Sherlock.
1. Overcrowded Parks
It's no secret Disneyland and California Adventure are becoming more and more crowded every year. It's a fact. Here's a great (short) article on just that if you're interested (I mean I was…). There's going to be more space (Ha. Space pun) opening up soon with Star Wars Land, but that's also going to bring in a larger influx of excited Disneygoers. So when I hear the rumor about axing SoCal AP holders' payment plans because the park is overcrowding, I don't immediately reject the notion. The theory being, less people would purchase a pass because they'd have to pay full price, therefore less would buy resulting in a less crowded Disneyland experience. Not too far fetched if you ask me. But in reality, this wouldn't stop the growing attendance of Disneyland. It may make a little dent in it, but in the grand scheme of things, the crowds will always grow if Disney keeps being Disney.
2. SoCal AP Holders are Getting Too Much for What They Pay
The theory here is SoCal AP Pass holders will only go to the park for 2 to 5 hours because they can go whenever they want, they bring their own food, and they don't use the paid parking. Because of these things, Disney is losing money. That's the theory. It actually seems quite probable when you first hear it, but I don't think it's the truth. I would think they are the ones who purchase the most out of everyone from inside the park. The ones who are least likely to purchase things from inside the park, to me, would be the ones who have traveled across the country, or world even, to be there. If you live in SoCal and have a pass, things from Disneyland would be so much more accessible to you. Of course, this is all just speculation.
3. Disney Just Wants to Make Money
Here's another well researched and written article and while I don't agree with everything in it, there's still a lot of valuable information about the progression of Disney's Annual Pass program. The theory here is the most common of the ones I hear today - Disney is turning into this money hungry company who cares more about the profit than the consumer. This was the conclusion of the article I linked, saying Disney has lost the way Walt originally intended and it's given into valuing money over the people paying. But I want to argue the opposite. Disney still seems to operate with Walt's original foundation. That's why they're still so successful as a company and still regarded as one of the best in the world. Plus, if Disney didn't keep raising their prices, I think the parks would become even more overcrowded and the quality of the parks would eventually go down. Sure it's expensive, but it's still worth the price. That's how I've always felt about Disney. They're not just in it for the money, they're in it for you as well.
So I guess to make a short story that went long short again; NO, Disney is not removing the ability to use a payment plan for your AP as a SoCal resident anytime soon. If they did, it would come as a surprise to us all. Disney isn't out to get you. They want you to attend their parks and have the best possible experience because that's how they make the money to do even more magical, innovative, and impossible achieving works of art every day.
Now go and enjoy your Annual Pass! While you still can… :)