Ticket tellers at Disneyland were surprised and amused when Tamia Richardson made her way to the counter holding a free pass from 1985.

The ticket was older than most of the people in the queue. Parents included.

Richardson from Alberta, Canada, had won the free ticket 34 years ago as part of the park's 30 year anniversary celebrations. Visiting the park, aged 14, she had been presented with a pass promising a 'free return visit' at a later date.

However, Disney had not been so specific as to exactly when this later date should be.

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It had neglected to print an expiry date on the stub, so she took it with her on a family trip to California.

Visiting thirty years later with her two teenage daughters, Richardson presented the ticket at the turnstile to finally redeem the pass.

"I was really hoping they'd take it," Richardson told USA Today. "I was less positive than more positive because it was pretty old."

1985: 14-year-old Richardson wins her free pass for use at 'a later date'. Photo / Supplied, Disneyland Resort
1985: 14-year-old Richardson wins her free pass for use at 'a later date'. Photo / Supplied, Disneyland Resort

Just in case she needed further proof, Richardson had brought a photo of her 1985 self in front of the park. The picture of a 14-year-old beaming in front of the "Gift Giver Extraordinaire"- a turnstile counter that awarded visitors with free tickets – had been taken by staff 34 years ago.

Up until that point, it had been kept with the fragile paper ticket stub in a box of mementos.

At first the turnstile ticketing desk was baffled by the Disney relic. Richardson's daughters, Mia and Maren, asked to speak to the supervisors.

"I thought that maybe there was still a chance they would take it," Richardson said. "I always help out hope, otherwise I'd have bought my tickets online like we did for my daughters."

There was a lot of back and forth with park workers about the story behind Richardson's pass.

However, true to their word the Disney staff took the ticket.

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Her only regret was not getting to keep the ticket stub. "I asked them if they could tear the stub and give me back the rest," she said. "But no, they had to take the whole thing."
They surely can't have thought she would have come back in another 34 years?

34 years on: Tamia Robinson, center, enjoys her free trip to Disneyland with daughters Mia and Maren. Photo / Supplied, Disneyland Resort
34 years on: Tamia Robinson, center, enjoys her free trip to Disneyland with daughters Mia and Maren. Photo / Supplied, Disneyland Resort

Disney tickets are extremely collectable. Stubs like the one Richardson redeemed can still be found for sale and go for over $50 on auction sites such as Ebay. (Extremely good value for a day at Disney.)

She described parting with the ticket as "disappointing", as she would like to have the memento of the occasion. However, she shouldn't feel too short changed.

The cost of a day's admission in 1985 was US$16.50. Today the price is as much as US$135 at peak admission. Even adjusted for inflation Richardson's delayed return saved her almost NZ$151 off a trip to the theme park.

It just goes to show that patience pays off.

New Disney discount ticket for late risers

Those who need a little extra shut-eye on a trip to Walt Disney World will no longer be punished for staying in bed a little longer.

The theme park is introducing a reduced-fare "Mid-Day Magic Ticket" for guests visiting after 12pm.

Guests who aren't up to a full day at the Florida resort, or are trying fit something else in on the morning, can now get a discounted afternoon-only ticket.

The mid-day ticket starts at $88 per day instead of the regular $116 full day fare.

The ticket option will be on sale until December 15.