It’s no secret at this point that Disneyland Resort made the move to “sunset” the Annual Passport program. But, according to the Disney CEO, there are some positives that have come of that decision.
During a Q&A session with Morgan Stanley, CEO of The Walt Disney Company, Bob Chapek, shared some insight into how the Disney Parks have weathered the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. He indicated some hope for the reopening of Disneyland, sharing that there will be some costs associated with reopening the Southern California Disney Parks, and that this time of closure gives the company time to reassess the Annual Passport program.
Disney CEO Bob Chapek stated the following:
“There’s no doubt that after we reopen a park after it’s been closed for a long period of time, there’s going to be some reopening costs, we’re going to go rehire labor, which we’re more than glad to do, we want to put people back to work. But at the same time, there is a fundamental shift where we can be more efficient, practice these yield management strategies in a more profound, unlimited way, if you will.
We’ve made some changes already, you know. You’ve heard about some changes in our Annual Pass program at Disneyland, which, you know, in a non-COVID environment would have been a tough one to make because they just keep renewing and renewing. But, you know, when you start lapping a year, without anybody going for an Annual Pass program, that gives you the chance. And so we’re going to use that though in order to have an even better Guest experience at Disneyland and really manage the crowds so that no matter what day you go to Disneyland, you’re going to have an extraordinary experience.”
Chapek’s comments regarding the (now “sunsetted”) Disneyland Resort Annual Passport program will not come as a surprise to many. This rhetoric is consistent with what Disney officials have continued to share regarding the program — that this time of Disneyland’s extended closure has given the company an opportunity to reassess the program, sunset it, and revamp it entirely so that it offers a better Guest experience in the pandemic era.
Many Annual Passholders had expressed concerns for the reservation requirements and other restrictions that will inevitably be part of the new experience when visiting Disneyland. Now, Disneyland Resort can start the new Passholder program fresh with a clean slate — though the theme park destination promises that former APs will be the first to hear of new offerings.
The Disney CEO also shared that the company aims to provide “an even better Guest experience” at Disneyland and manage crowds well so that every day at the Southern California Disney Parks will be a magical one. Considering that all-new regulations will be in place when the theme parks reopen and capacity will be highly limited, the idea of using the new Annual Pass program as another form of crowd control also seems like a natural move for the company.
After all, we already know that Walt Disney World Annual Passholders are required to make theme park reservations like every other Disney World park Guest. So, seeing as Disneyland Resort hosts tens of thousands more Passholders than Disney World does, it’s clear that the company believed something had to be done on the West Coast prior to the theme parks reopening.
Currently, the Downtown Disney District remains open (as it has since July 9, 2020), but the theme parks of the Disneyland Resort (Disneyland and Disney California Adventure) and the hotels of the Disneyland Resort (the Disneyland Hotel, Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel, and Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa) remain temporarily closed at this time. Recently, Disney announced plans to continue the phased reopening of the Disneyland Resort by offering a special ticketed event at Disney California Adventure Park called A Touch of Disney and reopening the Disney Vacation Club villas at the Grand Californian.
A replacement for the Disneyland Resort Annual Passport program has not yet been announced, though there are many new perks that continue to be announced for former APs, now known as Legacy Passholders.
What do you think of Disney CEO Bob Chapek’s perspective on reopening Disneyland Resort and the canceled Annual Passes? Let us know in the comments.