After a year of speculation, the unthinkable has just been confirmed. Disneyland ENDS its annual Passholder Program immediately. Passport holders will be contacted today and informed that they will automatically be refunded the unused portion of their annual passport contract.
Disneyland Passholder program ends
Back in October 2020, we shared information that Tokyo Disneyland was terminating its Passholder program due to limited park capacity and the difficulty of guaranteeing park reservations for passers-by. At the time, we were wondering if the same situation might happen at Disneyland as well. Today, this suspicion was confirmed.
Ken Potrock, president of Disneyland Resort, is in the process of sharing the following letter with all current passers-by. The letter explains the reason for the sudden change, addresses how much of an impact this will have for many, and suggests that even more information is coming.
Disneyland’s presidential letter to passersby now out:
The truth is that Disneyland really would not have been able to maintain their termination on the annual pass contract for an unknown number of months after the parks reopened due to expected drastic park capacity constraints. And while Disneyland has not yet set up their new ticket structure (they are busy submitting surveys right now to find out what guests want), they know that people would rather have the guarantee of buying a ticket and gaining access than pay top dollar for an annual pass and not guaranteed access to something they have already paid for.
As a result of the large number of passes and the low expected park capacity, something drastic had to be done. But do not despair yet. Disneyland knows that many of you identify with the parks. It’s an important part of your lifestyle, and the thought of not having access probably causes some tears (or even anger) from those of you reading this. So Disneyland hopes to embrace fans, continue to offer perks and opportunities, but has a new flexible ticketing structure that allows Disneyland to control access to the park and better serve guests during these difficult times. What the exact ticket structure will be has not yet been finalized. But it will likely be incorporated into the new park reservation system.
What current annual passes need to know
First and foremost, you will automatically receive a proportionate refund for the number of unused days on your annual pass. If you are curious how much this amount is, you can visit Disneyland Passport Refund Page which calculates your overdue refund.
But even with all Disneyland passes canceled, if you had an active park pass from March 14, 2020, when Disneyland Resort closed down, you will still receive some benefits. Passholder discounts are currently continuing at Downtown Disney and Buena Vista Street. AND from January 18 to February 25, recipients will receive a 30% discount at select locations in Downtown Disney and Buena Vista Street Monday through Thursday (regular discounts still apply Friday through Sunday).
Disney promises to ensure that passers-by are the first to hear about the new ticket program as soon as it is completed. We will definitely break it down for you and explain the changes right here on MiceChat as well.
That feeling of Disneyland
We had a moment to chat with Disneyland Resort President Ken Potrock about these changes. It was quite clear that he both understood and was concerned about how these changes would make passers-by feel. On the one hand, Disney has done everything it could to expand the program over the decades and make passers-by feel special, but the current business requirements would make it impossible to deliver the same level of access in an age of social distance and extreme park capacity constraints.
Ken is committed to creating new ways to engage Disneyland’s best fans and ensure they continue to feel connected. Nothing is off the table right now as they try to figure out exactly what fans want and how Disneyland can deliver it in very challenging circumstances.
If you have ideas for things Disney can do to help you feel the magic when the parks reopen, be sure to share in the comments below. Wanting a Passholders program is just not possible at the moment, but there are definitely things Disney can offer, clubs, special ticket events, fan items, etc., that help maintain that sense of connection to Walt’s original Disneyland.
In October 2020, we ran a poll asking if the Passholders program should be terminated, as it has been in Tokyo to allow Disneyland to better control park capacity. We were shocked not only by the number of votes and views, but also by the results.
At that time, over 72% of you voted for a version of the program. Only 19% said the program should not be terminated or changed.
The question now is, how will you have handled park tickets when Disneyland reopens? Should dated tickets simply be offered at a sliding price that scales based on demand? Do you want to be able to buy coupons reduced by the number you have purchased (which will later be planned in the parking reservation system)? Should the park be the same price every day, or do you like a sliding scale? Should park jumping be allowed, or should the parks require separate access until further notice? Tell us your thoughts below.
Let us hear from you
As an almost lifelong pass holder, this news made me personally very emotional. While I’ve been expecting this particular news for several months, Disneyland is still a very important part of my life (the fact that I run this blog is proof of that), but I understand the very difficult position Disneyland is in. I would like to think that this reset would allow Disneyland to tackle conditions that caused oppressive park overcrowding when something new was introduced (everything from a new popcorn bucket to the opening of a new attraction would make the park get to grid lock at times). Ordinary guests increasingly found the park not fun to visit because it was just too crowded. There is potential here for Disney to arrange it with a limited number of tickets available on any given day.
The rapidly rising cost of annual passes had made the renewal decision harder and harder for many. $ 1,450 for a passport without blackouts just last year. So many of you had already given up your passports and switched to take advantage of special ticket offers instead.
Would I only be willing to buy tickets when I need them? Yes. But I would like to see some kind of discount for people who visit more than just once a year, or maybe just discount ticket deals for locals at times of lesser attendance. And finally, I would like to see Disney bring back a FlexPass version that still allows the park to limit the number of visits through scheduling.
Let us hear from you people. What do you think of this news? What can Disney do to keep you engaged? And how will you see tickets handled in the near future?