No expiration date: Alberta woman tours Disneyland with 34-year-old free pass

Tamia Richardson has always held onto mementos and trinkets.

When the Sherwood Park resident discovered a 34-year-old voucher to Disneyland tucked away in a shoebox, she knew she had to redeem it.

“I was wanting to find pictures and stuff and then I found my ticket,” she said Tuesday, from California. “I was like, ‘I’m going to see if I can try to use it.'”

In 1985, Richardson travelled to southern California as a teenager to spend a month with family friends in the sunshine.

‘Happiest place on earth’

While Richardson was there, she spent an afternoon at Disneyland, which was celebrating its 30th anniversary.

As part of the celebrations, park staff handed out prizes as people walked in the gates.

“I guess they had a bunch of different numbers,” Richardson said. “Every 30, every 300, every 3,000 … like, everything with 30 in it received different levels of prizes. Mine was the cheapest but it was a return ticket to Disneyland.”

The complimentary Disneyland Passport from 1985 was in pretty good condition when Richardson found it.

She decided it was finally time to redeem it. She booked a trip to California with her two daughters, her mom and sister. They planned to visit the friends she was with 34 years ago when she won the voucher.

Richardson had no idea if Disneyland staff would accept her voucher. She pre-purchased tickets for her daughters, but decided to take her chances with the voucher at the Disneyland gates.

They visited Disneyland on Aug. 15. Richardson got a warm reception at the turnstiles.

“Basically [the gate attendant] went [to the] back and when she came back she said that they would honour it. They gave me a Park Hopper Ticket for both Disney California Adventure [Park] and Disneyland.”

It was quite an upgrade for Richardson, who said a day pass in 1985 cost her about $16 US. As of Tuesday evening, a basic, one-day park admission costs approximately $90 US.

Disneyland’s Park Hopper passes didn’t even exist in 1985. California Adventure Park opened in 2001.

Richardson said it was a full circle moment for her, but also for one of the park photographers, too.

“He remembered the gift-giving machine, or whatever it was called,” Richardson said. “He would have been working that day he [told us]. So, that was kind of fun.”

She did have to turn the 34-year-old voucher over to Disney staff, but in return, she was given some other collectible items.

Since redeeming the voucher, her story has been attracted the attention of media from around the world, something the school counsellor at Ardrossan Junior Senior High calls surreal.

“I just wanted to make sure my ticket would work,” Richardson said, laughing.

“That’s all I really wanted …was to make sure I could come and use it because that would be really special to me.”

She’s happy she shared the experience with her daughters.

“It’s just a fun, little story that closes the loop from the original time that I came,” she said. “This place holds a lot of memories for our family.”

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