When DISNEYLAND first opened, guests could buy a ticket that only granted them entrance to the park. Less adventurous guests could save money and enjoy the shows, parades and atmosphere. Some people would buy the entrance ticket just so they could go shopping inside the park. This was a popular option during December when guests could enjoy the festive atmosphere and get their Christmas shopping done. It was a boon for the park the first two weeks of December when crowds were thinner. In 1980, however, that changed.
The company soon decided that what guests really wanted was a 'pay one price' ticket, where they could enjoy unlimited use of the attractions and didn't have to worry about buying separate tickets. This also lowered costs and staffing around the park, since ticket takers and ticket booths inside the park could be eliminated. It was a perfect arrangement, except for that first holiday season.
Guests who had been used to paying a nominal fee to enter the park were now being required to pay the full price, as though they were making full use of the park. Guests balked and it was a disastrous Christmas season in park gift shops. The park created special shopping nights after it closed at 6PM where guests could shop on Main Street at no charge. It wasn't seen as a good long term solution, however.
So the park instituted a new program- the DISNEYLAND Shopping Pass. Guests could go to the front gate, present a credit card, then get two hours to shop inside the park. If they arrived back within two hours, their shopping time was free. If they didn't, they would be charged the cost of a one day ticket. It wasn't perfect, but it worked for over twenty years.
When Downtown Disney opened with the largest Disney store in the world at the time, the shopping pass was eliminated.