Disneyland super fans finally got a major announcement about the closed Anaheim theme park earlier today, however it was not the announcement they were waiting to hear. The west coast Disney Park revealed that they would be canceling their annual passholder program. Those with unfulfilled annual passes will receive full refunds.
Cue the DisTwitter outrage.
The decision was expected by many who follow the business aspect of the Disney company. The Disneyland Resort has been closed, due to Covid-19, since the middle of March 2020. The resort is expected to reopen at some point in 2021, but only after Orange County California can show a dramatic and sustained improvement in their Covid-19 numbers.
Whenever the park reopens, there will be initial attendance caps, like their sister park in Orlando. The plan will be for the capacity to slowly increase overtime as the pandemic recovery continues. This is not compatible with the hugely popular annual pass holder program, as the large number of annual pass holders returning to the park immediately would overwhelm their capacity.
Disney would be unable to satisfy the expectations annual pass members had when they initially purchased these plans, which could be a legal and accounting nightmare. So Disney made the only reasonable and logical decision, wipe the slate clean, refund all money previously paid, and promise to start fresh with a new plan – someday.
It is important to remember the key fact that Disney makes significantly more money from out of town guests than they do from locals with annual passes. At the same time, a huge percentage of guests in Disneyland are annual pass holders, a much greater percentage than Walt Disney World. Disney has always balanced this by giving benefits to annual pass holders to keep them as a reliable base, at the same time limiting their access during peak times, to keep the parks available for out of town guests.
Disney has been clear in recent earnings calls, stating that their traveling guests bring them much more income. Which makes sense, out of town visitors eat out for every meal, typically stay in Disney’s hotels, and are more likely to pay for merchandise, special VIP tours, and character dining options, expensive endeavors that most can only justify on vacation.
The company did state that they will have a new membership plan revealed at a later date. Here is the entire statement from Disneyland President Ken Potrock:
Disney has launched a website to help address refund requests. If you have an unfulfilled annual pass, you can find the information HERE.
Stick with The DisInsider as we keep you up to date with the eventual reopening of the Disneyland Resort.