When Disneyland opened in 1955, visitors purchased an admission ticket to the park at the main gate booths and then purchased separate admission inside for each attraction. Less than three months after opening, Disney began selling “Value Books”, each of which contained several of each coupon labeled “A” through “C”, to supplement the pay-per-ride system. Attractions were then designated as “A”, “B”, or “C” attractions, and visitors needed to either purchase a specified coupon from a nearby booth or present the discount coupon book with the correct coupon attached. As determined by Disney, “A” attractions were the smallest or least popular, “B” attractions were more popular and/or more advanced, and “C” attractions were the most popular and/or most advanced. In 1956, Disney introduced the “D” designation for the most popular attractions and upgraded several former “C” attractions including Jungle Cruise to “D”.
In June 1959, amid the completion of Disneyland’s first major expansion, Disney introduced the “E” designation for the park’s most popular attractions and made the new Submarine Voyage, Matterhorn Bobsleds, and Disneyland–Alweg Monorail “E” coupon attractions. Additionally, the Santa Fe & Disneyland Railroad, Rocket to the Moon, Rainbow Ridge Pack Mules, Rainbow Mountain Stage Coaches, Mark Twain Riverboat, Sailing Ship Columbia, Rafts to Tom Sawyer Island, and Jungle Cruise – all previously “D” rides – were upgraded to “E”. “E” remained the highest attraction/coupon designation for over 20 years. Several “E” attractions were added throughout the 1960s and 1970s. In 1971 the coupon system was duplicated at the Magic Kingdom when it opened.
The coupons had a face value for use on rides, with an “A” ticket worth 10c, “B” 15c, “C” 25c, “D” 50c, and “E”, 85c. This meant one could ride any ride if the ticket or a combination of tickets met or exceeded the value of that ride, so one could overpay an “A” ticket ride with a “B” ticket or higher, or present an “A”, “C”, and “D” ticket together instead of an “E” ticket.
The coupon system was gradually phased out with the introduction of unlimited use tickets beginning in the late 1970s. This was largely due to competition from Magic Mountain, which, when it opened in 1971, allowed its visitors unlimited use of its attractions after paying the admission fee. By June 1982 coupons vanished entirely and were replaced by the present-day system where main gate admission entitles visitors to all rides and attractions, excluding coin-operated arcades.