Three data points suggest that Disney may discontinue offering Annual Passes.
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Disneyland Tokyo Has Discontinued Annual Passes
While it’s not clear if the change is permanent or temporary, Disneyland Tokyo has ceased sales of Annual Passes. Some have suggested that Tokyo Annual Passholders tend to be an immediately local crowd, similar to Disneyland California. The California parks have not re-opened, the future of annual passes for those parks is unknown. For the time being, Shanghai Disneyland, Hong Kong Disneyland, and Disneyland Paris continue to sell annual passes at the moment.
Disney Wants to Swap Local Customers for Higher Yield, Lower Frequency
I’ve discussed the blatant and reprehensible approach Disney took during the Coronavirus crisis to discourage local (Florida Annual Passholders) and replace those visits with infrequent visitors. The local visitors occupy the same amount of space in lines for rides but are unlikely to stay in a hotel and will spend less on food and beverage.
On a purely per-visit basis, local Annual Passholders do, indeed, spend less money. However, on an annual basis, those guests are worth more and fill in the revenue gaps that infrequent guests leave. With occupancy limitations from COIVD-19, the Parks had to pick and choose who to welcome and who to exclude. Their steps were smart on paper but foolish for the long term.
Some Passes in Florida No Longer Available
Disney World in Florida is no longer offering Platinum Passes in Florida for all members. Some have been permitted to purchase Annual Passes if they were prior AP holders but that has not been universal for all members. Anecdotally, the parks in Florida appear to have returned very near capacity on a daily basis though Disney has not disclosed daily park attendance. This is a contrast from just a few weeks ago where Disney laid off 28,000 amid significant attendance struggles. If true, it would only further embolden Disney to keep the negative changes they have made for existing Annual Pass holders and resistant to resume them or add additional Annual Pass options.
Disney’s statements on its Q3 2020 earnings call would be enough to justify the speculation that a movement away from Annual Passholders was imminent. Compliment that with some Florida Annual Passes no longer available for purchase (or requiring prior loyalty and exception) along with Disneyland Tokyo discontinuing Annual Passes seems more like a trend than an aberration. In the tradition of “one more thing” (a la Steve Jobs), Park management was changed earlier in the year and no doubt, Disney Parks president Josh D’Amaro will want to recover park revenue in the most challenging environment possible. In the ever-changing world that Disney visitors face, it makes sense to use a travel agency to navigate the hurdles.
What do you think? Is Disney moving away from its most loyal customers? Are these standalone, temporary changes?
I was lucky to be able to buy annual passes yesterday as I am DVC and had AP going into Covid. Since it was a voucher they don’t “expire” until 2030 which used to be the standard expiration date of Disney tickets. If they planned to eliminate them completely I think they would have adjusted that date to something closer in.
I could see Disney not restart widespread AP sales until this pandemic is over and capacity can get back to normal. I also could see the passes becoming more expensive for locals (and even DVC). But I’d be surprised if they eliminated them entirely. It’s too much low hanging fruit.
I’m going to argue against this idea. The main reason is that although on paper non-local visitors seem like the cash register they once were, the real money for WDW is the locals and nearby Floridians like me. I spend tens if thousands of dollars a year on visiting WDW over the course of three to four weeks a year on site. I am a DVC member, a Platinum AP holder (3 people) and we enjoy Epcot Food & Wine.
Disney management could not take the position that locals need to be paired down or priced out of visiting by charging daily rates versus being an AP member. This option would make sense if the pandemic strictly limits the number of people allowed into the parks but even if the resorts are at full capacity the parks would still be nearly empty. If AP was discontinued WDW would need to lower prices to ensure every single room was occupied nearly every day. Thereby defeating the purpose of pushing out locals.
So if the AP was discontinued, WDW would be worst off than they were in the early 90’s.
That’s okay, we’ll stop going altogether. Plenty of other things to do in Florida.
This article has so much misinformation. Tokyo Disney is NOT owned by Disney. Disney licenses out the names and characters to The Oriental Trading Company. Disney has no control over the decision to stop the passholder program in Tokyo. Hong Kong and Shanghai are owned by the Chinese government (53% ownership) and by Disney (47% ownership). So Disney, has some say in the decision making for those parks. Disney also owns 100% of Disneyland Paris as well as the Orlando and California parks.
The Platinum passes in Walt Disney World include admission into both Disney water parks. The water parks currently due to COVID so Disney removed the platinum pass and refunded a portion of the pass to passholder who had that pass.
The post does not indicate that Disneyland Tokyo parks are owned by DIS outright. However, to suggest that DIS has no say whether annual passes are offered in Tokyo is unlikely. The brand has to conform to Disney’s corporate standards and those would extend to products they offer, prices for those products, and the marketing by which they are offered.
I am a Fl resident but I live far enough away ( an hour and a half) that we stay in a hotel at least 2 nights when we go. I certainly don’t want my AP to be discontinued either. I also wish that Disney would have increased capacity by now, but with I ternational travel still closed I cemetery understand why theyvare being cautious.
So I’m hoping this is, as Disney says “temporary abnormal.
This would be a good move. Disney World is extremely crowded and parks are barely enjoyable. I remember the lines were nothing like they are now when I was a kid. Fast passes are the only thing that justifies going to the parks. Disney is a magical experience because of sentimental memories as a kid. Now it takes an hour to get a signature/photo with a character. I don’t see this building memories with kids especially in this age of distraction of iPads and iPhones. Of course I will take my kids in the future but it’s harder to enjoy.
Disney doesn’t need people who are coming to Disney 4 times a year. It should end the Florida discount that floods the parks and end the annual passes. Raising prices of tickets won’t do much because people will pay anything to see Disney. The high prices keep the riff raff out but it’s still crowded. Improving the guest experience regarding wait times for rides and lines will lead to spending more money and guests staying longer in Disney properties. Whatever money they’ll lose by not offering annual passes will be made up for.
Well, aren’t you just so elite.
I would be interested in seeing your data that supports your statements. Disney is operating at a substantially decreased volume. Many additional perks have been provided to AP holders. I am not sure of this articles intentions but it reads like a hit piece and having been to the parks I assure you it is overstated.
@The Revolt – Thanks for reading and for your comments. In my eyes, I don’t see any AP enhancements at all. They extended AP expiry dates but only because the parks were closed and they’d have to (it would be illegal not to due to contract law.)
Disney has taken away Park Hopper, Fast Passes, and reduced access to Passholders through the reservation system while daily ticket purchasers are not subject to the same limitations.
In fairness, what additional benefits do you see that I’ve missed?