Disney World and Disneyland annual pass holders have gone through a lot of changes recently. In addition to an increase of blackout dates (particularly around the holiday season), the cost of these passes went up as high as 30% when the parks introduced a number of new options last year. But now it sounds like the Mouse House is testing the waters to add even more blackout dates around the debuts of new attractions such as Pandora: The World of Avatar, Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission Breakout, and Star Wars Land.
According to a report from WFTV, Disney recently sent a survey to pass holders inquiring what their reaction would be to a two-month blackout period following the opening of new theme park attractions. The company asked whether they would just buy a regular ticket, upgrade their pass to include unlimited visits, or just simply wait out the two months. However, when asked about a time frame for these changes to take place, the company responded by saying that “Disney frequently surveys our guests on possible changes, some that come to fruition and some that do not.”
Now, I’m no expert when it comes to running a theme park or a business, but wouldn’t it be in a company’s best interest to treat their most frequent customers well so that they retain their patronage? I understand that overcrowding in the parks is a concern, especially when such popular attractions are coming to the parks. We saw how ‘Frozen Ever After’ accumulated lines lasting five hours or more when it first opened in EPCOT and that’s not fun for anybody. But that aside, I feel like Disney should be rewarding the annual pass holders rather than taking things away.
For instance, rather than adding blackout dates for pass holders, especially when more were just added last year, why not make the new attractions exclusive to them for a short period of time as a “members only” sort of preview? Close the rides or experiences to the general public at first, then open it up to everyone after a few weeks. After all, annual pass holders are already spending anywhere from $600 to $1500 on their passes when tickets are about $100 for a single day ticket to one park. And if that’s the only way to get into Star Wars Land as soon as it opens, then maybe that will motivate more people to get annual passes and Disney will profit more from those sales. Otherwise, fans may find that Universal Studios (which now features The Wizarding World of Harry Potter on both coasts) is the better theme park annual pass option since their highest tier (which has no blackout dates) is around half as much money as Disney’s options.
What do you think about these potential changes to annual passes at the Walt Disney World and Disneyland resorts? If you’re an annual pass holder, would you pay extra just to experience new attractions along with the general public? Let us know in the comments.