Disney’s Reworked Annual Pass to Debut With “Unusable” Benefits

in Disney Parks, Disneyland Paris

Fireworks behind Sleeping Beauty Castle in Disneyland Paris

Credit: Unsplash

Disney is implementing changes, and expectedly, there’s been backlash.

Since its establishment by Walt Disney in Anaheim, California, the Disneyland Resort has gained renown as the embodiment of “The Happiest Place On Earth.” As time progressed, the Disney Resort family expanded to include various destinations worldwide, such as the Walt Disney World Resort and the Magic Kingdom. Internationally acclaimed parks like the Disneyland Paris Resort, Hong Kong Disneyland Resort, Shanghai Disney Resort, and the Tokyo Disney Resort emerged, all dedicated to upholding the fundamental principles set forth by the original Disneyland, and of Walt Disney himself.

Related: Disney Removes All Signs of Annual Pass Program From Theme Park

Today, The Walt Disney Company has established itself as a prominent presence in the theme park entertainment sector. It is known for delivering exceptional Guest experiences and employing cutting-edge technology across its Disney Parks globally. Disney consistently pushes boundaries, introducing innovations — like adding augmented reality elements in attractions such as the Haunted Mansion, to craft immersive and enjoyable rides and experiences for Guests. Despite maintaining a high standard, Disney is certainly not exempt from imperfections. There has been a noticeable increase in Guest complaints, as well as changes to the way the Parks are run in recent years.

A family enters Disneyland Paris
Credit: Unsplash

What are Disney Annual Passes?

Historically, Disney Parks have offered Annual Passes (AP) to Guests, which serve as exclusive tickets providing year-long access to the respective Disney Resort or Park. These Passes come with a range of advantages and privileges, catering to Guests who plan to visit Disney Parks frequently. This program is especially advantageous for locals or individuals who can allocate both time and budget for regular visits to Disney. A program like this enables individuals and families to forego tightly packed schedules filled with consecutively long attraction wait times and back-to-back Disney Character meet and greets. Annual Passholders have therefore always had the flexibility to enjoy relaxed half-day outings or casual dinner dates — particularly beneficial for those living in close proximity to the Parks.

Minnie Mouse with a Guest in front of Sleeping Beauty Castle at Disneyland Paris
Credit: Disney

Related: Disney Officially Scraps Annual Pass Program at Disney Parks

The AP Program was especially popular in California’s Disneyland Resort due to the high number of local Guests, and the AP system persisted until the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic that hit the world in early 2020. The traditional concept of Annual Passes at Disney Parks worldwide underwent significant changes, with modifications introduced by Disney in order to (allegedly) effectively handle Park capacity, uphold health and safety measures, and adapt Park operations to the global health crisis. As a result, the Disneyland Park Resort in Anaheim, California (and essentially, every Disney Park in the world), temporarily halted the sale of new Annual Passes. But it proved the perfect chance for Disney to enact global changes — including the scrapping of FastPasses for the paid Genie and Disney Premier Access  options. Subsequently, a new membership program called the Disneyland Resort Magic Key Program was introduced as a replacement at Disneyland Resort. Tokyo Disney Resort, however, never recovered, and is missing its Annual Pass Program to this day.

Fountains light up in front of Sleeping Beauty Castle at Disneyland Paris
Credit: Androland °o° on Unsplash

Big changes to Annual Passes as we know them

Presently, it appears that another Disney Park is adopting a similar approach to Disney’s Magic Key, potentially followed by other Parks worldwide. And it’s coming with some changes to existing benefits. In our previous report on Disney’s official announcement, the company had decided to scrap the Annual Pass entirely, in favor of a new, reworked “frequent visitor” system.

Incredibly Innovative Parking Lot Coming to Disneyland Paris
Credit: Inside The Magic

This new system hit Disneyland Paris officially on July 19, 2023. Renamed the “Disneyland Pass”, it officially touted reworked blockout dates, an extra “Pop Up Space” for AP holders, and an “Exclusive Meet and Greet”.

Among the benefits that have been eliminated are Infinity Parking, discounted Disney Hotel room rates, and free bag storage. Additionally, it featured the elimination of Extra Magic Hours, for all tiers except Gold. It was evident that the number of benefits lost outweighs those gained — however new reports from source DLP Report have surfaced reporting about the actual blockout calendar rework — with Disney fans and Guests naturally weighing in on these changes. Currently, it looks like the least worth your money (likely by design) will be the Bronze tier of the new Pass:

⚠️ Blockout Calendar for the new Bronze Disneyland Pass (€289). Info currently available until March 2024.
– no summers
– no major school holidays
– very limited weekends

In response to this news, fans immediately spoke out about these changes. @debOlux comments with disdain:

Oh yeah they didn’t lie when they named it Bronze 💩 (poo emoji)

Meanwhile, other vigilant users noticed that the Bronze option is “in reality”, not even a “credible option” — the existence of the tier only being there for Disney to say that a “lower budget” option is available, but actually being something essentially unusable:

The bronze option is in reality a no credible option. It’s just there so they can say that there is a pass for Lower budgets (but that you can barely use).

Guests have also been left wondering where the promised “20 New Days” added to this new Bronze Disneyland Pass are, in comparison to the previous low-cost option, the Discovery Pass tier in the now extinct Disneyland Paris Annual Pass. Users like MarcosMC called Disney out as “fake!” for advertising these “new days” — to which user Marian Lamarian responded that hopefully, more dates will come out in May. Unfortunately, Guests have “no hopes for summer 2024, of course”:

MarcosMC: where are the 20 new days of the calendar? fake! There aren’t any new day.

Marian Lamarian: Was thinking just the same. No extra days compared to Discovery Pass. Will we see something for May? No hopes for summer 2024, of course.

Of course, changes will always happen in the Disney Parks — it was Walt Disney’s goal of constantly “plussing” up the Guest experience after all. However when changes are seemingly made in service of a better experience for the executives at the top of Disney, Guests will naturally be upset. Only time will tell whether these changes are truly for the Guests or for Disney’s bottom line, however.

What do you think of these reworks to the Annual Pass Program? Do you think it could spread to other Parks? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Experience the enchantment of Disneyland Paris, the premier theme park in Europe, situated at the heart of the continent in Marne-la-Vallee, France. Located adjacent to the vibrant Disney Village, Disneyland Paris is a must-see destination that guarantees an unforgettable adventure for both the young and the young-at-heart. Within Disneyland Park, guests can indulge in exhilarating rides, captivating shows, immersive storytelling, and delightful meet-and-greets with cherished Disney characters, including the beloved Disney Princesses. Immerse yourself in the magical ambiance of Sleeping Beauty Castle, embark on thrilling escapades across Main Street USA, Frontierland, Adventureland, Fantasyland, and Discoveryland. Additionally, you can explore the adjacent Walt Disney Studios Park, home to incredible areas and attractions like Avengers Campus and Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure.

To secure your Disneyland Paris ticket and reserve Disney Premier Access, please visit the official website.

in Disney Parks, Disneyland Paris

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