Huh- I knew that phrase had Disney "roots" but I never knew the specific history. Ya' learn something new every day... esp. here on OSO!Since the 1950s, E Ticket (or E ticket ride) has referred to an unusually thrilling, interesting, most-interesting, or most-expensive situation. It derives from the tickets used at Disneyland and Walt Disney World theme parks until the early 1980s. Park-goers bought tickets in different denominations, from A through E, with E tickets being the most expensive and reserved for the newest, most expensive or popular rides and attractions.
Tickets could be purchased individually or in booklets, with the purchased booklets including tickets of each category. A book may contain, for example, a park admission ticket, one A ticket, one B ticket, two C tickets, three D tickets, and three E tickets. Booklets tended to have more high-level (D and E) tickets than lower-level tickets like A and B. People tended to leave the park with A and B tickets not because they had received large numbers of them, but because the A and B rides were less common and less popular.
Formally, Disney called them coupons, but guests generally referred to them as tickets, as they were purchased in a ticket book (with admission).
The parks no longer use this method of selling tickets. All rides are included with admission. However, the phrase continues to be used, originally made popular by residents of Los Angeles. Astronaut Sally Ride commented on riding in the Space Shuttle: "This is definitely an E ticket!"
From 1997 to 2004, Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom had hard ticket events called E-Ride Nights, where a limited number of resort guests (usually 5000) would be allowed to purchase special tickets that allowed them to stay in the park and ride some of the rides (typically those which had been, or would have been, E-ticket rides) for an extra three hours after the park closed to other guests. E-Ride Nights have now been replaced with evening Extra Magic Hours, which are free for all resort guests.
The Fastpass system is currently used to give out timed tickets that allow users quicker entry to popular rides that, historically, would usually have taken an E ticket.