It was 1985 and Disneyland was celebrating its 30th anniversary when Tamia Richardson got in line.
“When you went through the turnstile if you were 30th, or 300th, or as the 30s went up you would receive a prize,” Richardson said from her Sherwood Park, Alta. home Thursday.
Then 14 years old, Richardson was thrilled to receive one complementary return ticket to the park.
“I think I was pretty excited,” Richardson said with a laugh. “I got to wear this pin all day at Disneyland so people didn’t know if I won a pass or a car, but it was very exciting.”
Three decades later, she was planning a trip back with her daughters and knew the ticket was somewhere in an old pile of photos.
“I got it out and thought I better bring it and see if we can get in,” Richardson said.
“It didn’t have an expiry date,” said Richardson. “Why not try, right? Why not try and see if you can use it.”
Last Thursday, she brought it up to the ticket booth and it worked. Richardson was surprised no one made a big deal over the redemption.
“The lady that went away with it and came back didn’t really say anything, [and] the lady that was at the turnstile was really pleasant and said, ‘Oh, have a wonderful day,'” Richardson said.
“They gave me a park hopper pass for the day and it did have an expiry date: Aug 15, 2019,” Richardson laughed. “So I couldn’t come back with that one.”
Disneyland’s public relations team caught wind of the story from a tip the family left with the Los Angeles Times.
“We had seen some of the workers and they said, ‘Oh, you’re that family from Canada, we saw you on Instagram and we love the story!'” Richardson said.
By that afternoon, the Richardsons had gone viral.
“It was honestly really cool,” said the eldest daughter, Marin Richardson. “When the media started going we didn’t know it would turn into something this big. It was crazy!”
The Los Angeles Times reported that the day pass sold for $16.50 back in 1985, and now sells for $199.
But this wasn’t about saving a few bucks. It was about making their own special Disneyland memory.
“Disney Magic, for sure,” Marin said. “It was great.”
“As my mom would always say, ‘It doesn’t hurt to ask,'” Richardson said. “The worst they can say is no.”