Vintage Disneyland Ticket Books

Among the stronger memories of a vintage Disneyland visit were the lettered tickets, A through E, which were used for admission to each attraction. When the park first opened to the public on July 18, 1955, there was a Main Gate admission price and each ride or attraction cost between 10c and 35c in cash.

To address complaints that visitors were being “nickeled and dimed to death,” Disney introduced lettered tickets in October 1955, just three months after opening day. The “D” tickets were added in the middle of 1956 and the famous “E” ticket was introduced in June 1959 with the opening of the MatterhornMonorail, and Submarine attractions.

The “E” ticket represented the best and most exciting attractions in the park and the phrase made its way into popular culture. For example, when the first American woman was a crewmember on the Space Shuttle was asked to describe the launch, she called it “a real e-ticket ride.”

However, the lettered tickets were phased out around 1982 in favor of all-inclusive passes which allowed visitors to visit as many attractions as they wanted to wait in line for. Today, of course, there are millions of people who were born after the time when these lettered tickets were used and they have only a dim understanding of what an “E” ticket was.

This web site is a collection of images, mostly from my personal collection, of tickets so that visitors may become aware of the spectrum of tickets which have been used over the years. It may even aid in identifying the vintage of ticket books in your collection. Hopefully, it will become a source of information to minimize the outrageous claims made in eBay auctions for these items.

In time, I may develop a web application to help identify the vintage of tickets based on the size, number of different tickets, date codes, and the attractions listed. However, that will have to wait for another time.

Preview Day — July 17, 1955 – “Black Sunday”

The “opening day” of Disneyland was seen by the public on a live television broadcast on ABC, the network which loaned money to Walt Disney so that he could build the park. The video for this broadcast has been released on DVD.

It was an amazing program, reportedly the first live program to use multiple cameras. There were three main hosts, Art Linkletter, Bob Cummings and Ronald Reagan, with many Hollywood stars and the California governor.

In addition to the spectacle, there were many examples of miscues and things which didn’t work as planned.

Invisible to the cameras were the many problems on that day. Because of a plumber’s strike in Orange County, there were insufficient drinking fountains. Many attractions did not operate properly. There was even a result of a natural gas fire. This Disney website offers more detail of the opening day events and a second, green, variation of the ticket which allowed for a later entry.

This ticket is 164 x 89 mm.

1955 ABC Tickets

A:  89 x 52 mm
B: 102 x 52 mm
C: 114 x 52 mm

The first lettered tickets were introduced in October 1955. There is no printing on the reverse of the ticket. Below the letter is the word “RIDE” which was replaced by “COUPON” on 1956 ABC Tickets. The phrase “VOID IF DETACHED” appears at the bottom of the ticket near the center.An attraction of note is the Phantom Boats (Jul 1955-early 1957).

1956 ABC Tickets

A:  89 x 52 mm
B: 102 x 52 mm
C: 114 x 52 mm

ABC tickets were used for the first half of 1956. On the reverse of the ticket is a printed message which states “ALL COUPONS IN THIS BOOK ARE GOOD ANY TIME DURING 1956.”Below the letter is the word “COUPON”. The phrase “VOID IF DETACHED” was placed below the serial number of the ticket.The Mike Fink Keel Boats are listed (Dec 1955-1994) on the “B” ticket.

1956 ABCD Tickets

A: 102 x 65 mm
B: 114 x 65 mm
C: 126 x 65 mm
D: 140 x 65 mm

ABCD tickets were used for the second half of 1956. They were probably introduced along with the Rainbow Caverns Mine Train in July 1956.On the reverse of the ticket is a printed message which states “ALL COUPONS IN THIS BOOK ARE GOOD ANY TIME DURING 1956.”

Noteworthy is the short-lived attraction, Keller’s Jungle Killers (Feb-Sep 1956), a wild animal exhibition which appeared in the same tent used for the Mickey Mouse Club Circus (Nov 1955-Jan 1956).The Sleeping Beauty Castle walk-thru (opened Apr 1957) was listed on the “C” ticket.

1957 Bonus Tickets

Bonus: 66 x 65 mm

These bonus tickets were included in an early 1957 ticket book.The reverse of the tickets state “THESE SPECIAL BONUS TICKETS ARE NOT SUBJECT TO REFUND. ALL RIDES AND ATTRACTIONS ARE SUBJECT TO AVAILABILITY.”

1957-58 ABCD Jumbo Tickets

The reverse of the tickets state “These coupons are not subject to refund and may be used only for admission as indicated. Listed attractions are subject to price change and availability without notice. ALL COUPONS IN THIS BOOK ARE GOOD AT ANY TIME.”

The Jumbo Ticket Books are 3-3/8 inches high, much larger than most other lettered ticket books of this era.Based on the attractions listed in a complete ticket book, this format was offered between June 1957 and June 1958. The “B” ticket includes the Viewliners and the Midget Autopia. The “A” ticket in the complete book seen lists Satellite-View of America, the 1958 name for Space Station X-1.

Bonus: 139 x 86 mm

1958 ABCD Tickets

A: 102 x 65 mm
B: 114 x 65 mm
C: 126 x 65 mm
D: 140 x 65 mm

The 1958 ABCD tickets returned to a 65  mm height (2-1/2 inches).This may be the first ticket to include the welcome message from Walt Disney as a separate blue sheet at the front of the book. Earlier ticket books displayed the welcome message on the cardboard backing. On this book, the back cover features an ad which states that additional ticket books can be purchased at ticket booths and souvenir stands throughout the park.

Some “A” tickets feature the horse-drawn “Fire Wagon” while later ones list the motorized “Fire Engine.” The “B” ticket lists the Midget Autopia & a Shooting Gallery in Frontierland and Main Street. The “D” ticket lists a train station in Tomorrowland.

1959 ABCD Tickets

This early 1959 ABCD ticket book included at least two bonus tickets. In the example pictured, the tickets were good for the first four months of the year.The Sleeping Beauty Castle was demoted to a “B” ticket attraction in 1959.

The Rainbow Caverns Mine Train was featured on the “D” ticket, the highest ticket level at the time. In June 1959, when the “E” ticket was introduced, the Mine Train was lowered to a “C” ticket. It was raised in 1960 to a “D” and an “E” ticket in 1961 with the opening of the Nature’s Wonderland area in 1960.

Bonus: 89 x 65 mm
A: 102 x 65 mm
B: 114 x 65 mm
C: 126 x 65 mm
D: 140 x 65 mm

1959 ABCDE Tickets

The famous “E” ticket was introduced in June 1959 along with the Matterhorn BobsledsDisney-Alweg Monorail, and Submarine Voyage.

The Rainbow Caverns Mine Train was listed on the “C” ticket.

This was the first ticket book to feature a date code on the cardboard backing. In this case “596” indicated that the ticket book was printed in June 1959. The date codes were used throughout the end of the lettered ticket books. Another code “495” appears on many books but this is not a date code.

A: 104 x 65 mm
B: 112 x 65 mm
C: 121 x 65 mm
D: 130 x 65 mm
E: 140 x 65 mm