By: Lucy Panicacci
Starting Aug. 18, Disney annual pass owners must renew their passes for more money if they want to continue taking advantage of annual benefits. The more expensive passes will include more block-out dates, or days pass-holders cannot use their pass for entry. These costly, more restricted passes have left loyal Disney fans upset, and made them ask the question: Is Disney trying to take advantage of annual pass owners?
When it came time to renew annual passes, Disneyland’s priciest pass, the Inspire Key, rose from 1,399 dollars to 1,599 dollars, and unlike the previous most expensive pass, the Dream Key, it included block-out days. Owners cannot use the new key during one of Disney’s most popular times of the year: the days leading up to and after Christmas.
In May 2022, Disney suspended the sale of all annual passes to prevent overcrowding during the summer. However, according to Len Testa, owner of the travel company Touring Plans, there may be a reason beyond that. Testa stated, “On one hand, [annual pass owners] provide a reliable source of revenue—the investment bank UBS estimated early last year that annual passholders at Disneyland account for about one half of annual visits—but on the other, annual passholders tend to spend less than other visitors per visit.”
The release of Disney’s third-quarter earnings report on Aug. 10 reaffirmed Testa’s beliefs. The report concluded that profits could have been more, but they were “partially offset by an unfavorable attendance mix,” indicating that there were too many pass holders in comparison to single-day ticket purchasers.
Pass holders reportedly felt mistreated in response to Disney’s preference for single-visit tourists. Upset owners filled the comment section of Disneyland’s Instagram page. User kimmidanielle stated, “‘Unfavorable attendance mix’ aka the most loyal guests who spend hundreds – thousands of dollars a year on merch on top of their passes. And we’re treated like garbage.”
Despite the upset among its cult-like following, Disneyland maintains a high revenue. While attendance is still below pre-pandemic levels, Disney is generating record profits. During its most recent quarter, Disney profits were 2.2 billion dollars. However, what does this recent choice mean for the future of Disney?
The business model of Disneyland is changing. Rather than increasing the number of people in the parks, they are attempting to maximize the money each visitor spends. Disney is starting to prioritize out-of-state visitors and single-day purchasers over legacy fans. While many are still willing to pay the price, this key institution of California is becoming more of a cash grab than a magical experience.
(Sources: The Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times)
Categories: Local News
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