Membership Program vs. Annual Pass: Will They Be That Different?

in Disneyland Resort

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Back in January 2021, Disneyland Annual Passholders received an email from Ken Potrock, President of the Disneyland Resort. Passholders were informed that the Disneyland Annual Pass program was ending and that their beloved theme park passes would no longer be valid. It is easy to say that Disneyland APs were crushed by the information — especially since no information on a future pass program was provided at that time.

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Disneyland Annual Passholders became Legacy Passholders — and they waited anxiously for Disney to announce a new Passholder program. Unfortunately, they are still waiting. While both Ken Potrock and Josh D’Amaro, the Chairman of Disney Parks, have said that information on a new “membership program” is coming soon, they have not revealed any specific information in several months.

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Credit: Josh D’Amaro Instagram

Since ending (or, as Disney said, “sunsetting”) the Annual Pass program, Disney officials have been very careful not to refer to any future pass program as an “Annual Pass” specifically — they have instead referred to it as a “membership offering” or a ”membership program” that will be catered to Disneyland superfans. And that is where the crux of the confusion seems to lie.

Ken Potrock Mickey Mouse
Credit: Ken Potrock Instagram

Again, Disney hasn’t said specifically what the new membership offering will be at the Disneyland Resort, or what it will include. But many fans are already anticipating some big changes.

Some Disneyland fans believe that the reason the new plan is being called a “membership program” is that they think that Disney will begin selling some version of an Annual Pass that will potentially cost more but have fewer perks. This is mainly due to the fact that Disney executives have said that they had to reevaluate and change the program when the parks were forced to shut down. While they may be true, it should be remembered that Disneyland’s old Annual Pass program was also a membership program, of sorts.

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Now, that may be a controversial statement, but in essence,it is true. A membership program is a program where people contribute something — in this case, it is a down payment and subsequent monthly payments (or one complete full payment) — and they receive something in return from the organization (Disney) that they paid.

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Annual Passholders paid Disney for access to the theme parks — more access for more money for a set amount of time. They paid a set amount of money in order to gain access to the theme parks — for some, they paid a handsome fee that got them unlimited visits to Disneyland and Disney California Adventure, but it cost far less money than individual tickets would have. That is the same way a gym membership works: you pay the gym fees, and you have access to the gym.

The problem that Disney may be facing is that the term “membership program” sounds sterile and impersonal. Disneyland Annual Passholders truly felt like they were a part of the Disney family. And changing from a Passholder to simply a “member” does not give off that same magical feeling.

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The new Disneyland Annual Pass program may be quite different from the past programs. There are rumors swirling that Guests will have to pay for their passes in full and monthly payments will no longer be offered to in-state residents. There are also rumors that the new theme park passes will have many more blackout dates than the old ones, even ones in the top tier. At this point, all we can do is wait and see what Disneyland offers its former loyal Passholders, with an announcement about details coming in the not-so-distant future.

Keep in mind that, as mentioned above, Disney hasn’t shared any exact details about what the new membership offering will be for the Disneyland Resort. But with little information to go off of, fans are wondering what they should expect in the future. Only time will tell.

What do you hope to get out of the replacement AP program at the Disneyland Resort? Let us know in the comments!

Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of Inside the Magic overall.

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