The first step on your journey in Wizard 101 to Wizard City is to create an account.
To do this all you have to do is sign up on the Wizard 101 Homepage. and follow the instructions to download the program onto your computer.
Types of Accounts
There are three different types of account access: free to play, subscription and access pass.
Free to play is of course free, however you can only access 'free to play' locations. These are basically the starter locations in the game, and do take a decent amount of play time. So you can play in these for awhile as you decide how you would like to buy access to the rest of the game.
Access passes work via Crowns. Crowns are an in-game currency that you can purchase online from KingsIsle. You can use them to buy access to particular locations. (Note that in order to enter a location, you must have completed any required quests to enter that location) Once bought, a location is permanently unlocked for every character on your account. "Access Pass Players" can access the ranked Player vs Player Duels but must pay 80 crowns for each battle.
Subscriptions give you access to every game location, including the Player vs Player Duels as long as you continue to pay for the account (as above, you must have completed any required quests to enter any new location). You can purchase a subscription in intervals of one month, six months, or a year. A family plan offers a reduced cost monthly subscription that allows multiple accounts in the same house. Note that, excepting the family plan, only one character from an account can be logged in at a time.