Disney Fights Back Against “Predatory” Park Pass Lawsuit

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Child wearing Mickey Mouse hat with parents in front of Cinderella Castle

Credit: Disney

Disney is fighting back.

guests on space mountain at disney world
Credit: Disney

For those who don’t know, Disney was sued last year by a pair of Annual Passholders. The group claimed that Disney is unfairly treating Annual Passholders through its Park Reservation system, something that got a major overhaul during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Guests can still park hop, but they will need a valid ticket and reservation date to do so. Guests also need to wait until 2 p.m. to visit their second Park.

Despite complaints, Disney is still utilizing this reservation system. Things did change late last year when Disney dropped the 2 p.m. Park hopping requirement for Annual Passholders, but all Guests still need to make a reservation for the day they choose to visit any of the four Parks or two water parks.

Disney Guests at Spyglass Grill at Walt Disney World's Caribbean Beach Resort
Credit: Disney

Once Walt Disney World and Disneyland reopened to Guests after temporarily closing due to the ongoing pandemic, the theme parks implemented a new reservation system to help monitor Park capacity called the Park Pass system. In order to enter a theme park at Walt Disney World or Disneyland, Guests must not only have valid Park admission but a valid Park Pass reservation.

Erica Kelly and Marilyn Paone both sued Disney in October after they claimed that they couldn’t find any available reservations when they wanted to visit the Parks, even though their Annual Passes had no specified blackout dates. Now, Disney is fighting back against the lawsuit, filing a motion to dismiss it entirely.

“Changing the terms of their annual passes’ park access due to a pandemic, after expressly reserving the right to do so, is not plausible bad faith, injustice, or an unfair business practice,” Disney said in the motion.

The new Magic Kingdom Central Plaza area between Main Street, U.S.A. and Cinderella Castle is now open to guests. The new landscaping is the first milestone of a multi-phase project that features sculpted gardens, charming fountains and winding pathways. This area is designed to be reminiscent of castle gardens and offers extraordinary viewing locations for parades and fireworks. Magic Kingdom is located at Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (Matt Stroshane, photographer)
Credit: Disney

“Kelly and Paone omitted from their complaint everything that Walt Disney Parks and Resorts did for annual passholders during the transition to the reservation system — including, most notably, giving every passholder the chance to opt-out and be refunded,” Disney said in court documents, clarifying that the two women carried on with their Annual Passes.

The original lawsuit claimed that Disney was operating in a “predatory” manor and that “Disney abused a global pandemic to take advantage of its Platinum pass holders and unilaterally changed its Platinum passes, even after the threat of the pandemic subsided.”

Stay tuned here at Inside the Magic for updates on this story. 

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