Opinion: Disneyland Paris Doesn't Want Annual Passholders Anymore
It came nothing short of a shock this morning when Disneyland Paris announced their new annual passes. Their social media pages - and all over Facebook fan groups - are full of thousands of angry and frustrated customers. After thinking it over, the only conclusion I can come to is they just don't want annual passholders anymore.
Walt Disney World sort of had the same problem. They had too many annual passholders filing up the parks so they kept raising the prices and even stopping sales at times, and even though some of the perks and benefits changed, they didn't get gutted like these new Disneyland Paris ones.
On March 13th 2023, Walt Disney Company CEO Bob Iger said:
I've always believed that Disney was a brand that needs to be accessible. In our zeal to grow profits, we may have been a little bit too aggressive about some of our pricing. I think there is a way to continue to grow that business, but be smarter about how we price so that we maintain that brand value of accessibility.
On March 30th, 2023, Disneyland Paris abruptly suspended the sale of all their annual passes, with the message:
We are always listening to our guests and continually strive to bring new experiences and develop new products which deliver choice, flexibility and value for our Annual Passholders. We are currently developing a new product range based on the valuable feedback you have given us and as a result, we are pausing sales of new Annual Passes.
Today, we are delighted to present our brand-new Disneyland Pass programme...
The statement from CEO Bob Iger and the statement from Disneyland Paris when they pulled the old annual passes were both very positive and gave guests a lot to look forward to. Bob Iger admitted that park pricing had been too aggressive, and Disneyland Paris said they read all the Annual Passholder feedback and were making some changes. The new annual passes that came out today completely contradict both of those statements.
The biggest complaint about the Disneyland Paris annual pass is the fact you can only have 3 park reservations at a time, and I think many people assumed that the new passes would add some flexibility to this, considering it was the number one complaint since the park reservation came into play after the pandemic. That part didn't change.
It's unclear if CEO Bob Iger knew had any input on these changes or even knew about it at all (Disney is a huge company to manage after all). Where did Disneyland Paris find the feedback that was asking for higher prices and reduced perks?
Now, were the prices going to go up? Yes, of course. Business is business, and that's fine. We're in a high-inflation environment right now and even with Bob Iger's statements, it was inevitable the prices were going to go up. That's usually okay, as long as the value goes up with it. I will argue all day that the The Walt Disney World UK Magic Tickets are incredibly good value, even when they increase the price £30 every year. But increasing the prices and getting rid of the AP entrance, AP hotel prices, Infinity parking, privilege tickets, dedicated fireworks viewing area, reducing discounts, and no more included bag storage, is just bizarre. Even more so when you think a bunch of them cost next to nothing to actually run. This whole thing baffles me and the best conclusion I can come to is they don't want annual passholders anymore. Annual pass holders were thanked for their loyalty in the email sent out when passes got pulled, but this is a weird thank you. I'm not sure they'll be able to get away with ditching annual passes completely, so they do the next best thing and price people out and make them less attractive. I have no doubt some people will continue to buy and use these annual passes, as locals might still justify them.
Maybe things will change or some explanation will be shared shortly, but for now, there are thousands of unhappy customers. If a huge price increase and a gutting of the perks is a way to reduce the number of annual pass holders, they might just get what they wish for.
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