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Former Annual Passholder Suggests Walt Disney World No Longer Values Passholders in Letter


In a letter to the editor of the Orlando Sentinel, a now-former Annual Passholder suggests Walt Disney World no longer values passholders.

You can read the letter, penned by Kristen Richards, in full below:

Money has overshadowed magic at Disney

Walt Disney World lost the magic. I grew up in Anaheim and spent my seventh birthday riding the Matterhorn in Disneyland – seven times! Now, I enjoy the Magic Kingdom regularly as a passholder with my own daughters. But we are not going back – because Disney World has lost the magic. And it isn’t COVID-19’s fault. It is Disney World’s fault.

Walt Disney Co. CEO Bob Chapek said, “Typically someone who travels and stays for five days to seven days is marginally more valuable…than someone who comes in on an annual pass.” I can tell you how betrayed I felt when I read that, Disney World no longer values passholders because we’re “worth less” than others, something new policies make very clear.

The problem is that Disney put money before magic. It put money before courtesy. It put money before show. It put money before efficiency. It has been five months and I am still waiting on a refund for my annual passes.

My message to Disney – Bring back the magic and I might just want to bring back the jmoney. You need to tell your passholders that we are part of the Disney family as we always have been. You need to say, “Welcome home!” to passholders.”

Annual Passholders! Do you agree or disagree with the content in the above letter? Let us know in the comments below.

H/T Orlando Sentinel


  1. Disagree. People seem to forget that Disney is a business. Everyone loves the magic they provide, but that can’t be done without monetary input. That money doesn’t just appear. As annual passholders, while we should be seen more valuable in a loyal customer sense, the fact is we spend less on “tickets” per visit, less on merchandise with out discounts, less on resort rooms, etc. A non-annual passholder will earn them more per visit, which is what they need as a company to stay alive. Especially at a time like this. So to encourage more non-annual passholders to visit, of course they’re going to offer what seems to be more rewards & better deals. Their only other option to at least try to stop hemorrhaging money would be to raise our prices even more and to lessen the benefits we do have. It’s not like they’re ignoring us and don’t listen. They made more reservation spots available to us, they gave us early access days, room discounts, and they have even allowed us to cancel our passes out of a contract that we signed saying we can’t. It’s not a perfect solution and there won’t be one. But they’re doing what they can. And if others don’t want to stick around and wait it out, that’s fine. It just leaves more room for me and my family to go.

  2. I completely disagree with this “letter”. I have been a passholder for 2 years, I dont know what more the author expects Disney to do for their passholders. Disney gives us discounts on dining, merchandise, parking and hotels. They have passholder only entrances to get into the park. We has access to exclusive collectable merchandise, if thats your thing. Plus during COVID they were more than fair with how they handled the extension of our benefits. So I am not sure what the author feels he is entitled to that he isnt getting strictly as a passholder

  3. completely disagree! Pass holders are presented with an amazing value, the passes should be raised in price to make crowds lessen and give more value to the park. It is simple economics, where as passholes just want Disney to bow at their feet. I would pay 4 times the price for an annual pass.

  4. Disagree. Disney is a business, without making money, they can’t survive. They need income from guests who are willing to pay to stay in their resorts. We are out of state passholders and pay much more for our passes than Florida residents do. I am happy that our passes were extended after the closure and were gifted an additional month. If I weren’t happy with the choices made by Disney, I would have had my passes refunded. I’m curious why those unhappy didn’t choose to receive a refund.

  5. Disagree – The Disney Magic isn’t created by you standing in the park and just waiting for it to happen. It requires you to submerge yourself into the world. You have to be a willing participant in the story of your visit to their theme parks. If you can’t allow yourself to “let go” for any reason, then the magic you are looking for will disappear. It’s not Disney’s fault is you loose the magic, it’s your fault.

    That being said, in order for Disney to do their part they will need not only your participation but some of your money … and time as well. The money allows them to provide the entertainment, the time allows them to show you the entertainment, and your participation allows yourself to enjoy the experience. We have the easiest part in order for the magic to work. Just “let go” of the anger and worry and the magic will work once again.

  6. Overall I disagree that Disney is screwing over APs more than one time visitors; Scrooge McDisney is trying to nickel & dime anyone and everyone coming to visit. We have been going to WDW with our family and friends since the 1980s and had been annual pass holders many of those years. We have seen a steady transition from the ‘magic’ to a what have you done for me lately Business. The parks have gone from an bi-annual family vacation to a budget breaker for the average working family.
    In 1996 I did my master’s thesis on the Keys to Customer Satisfaction at WDW, sadly I no longer see that Disney magic.

  7. I disagree as well but I see your point. Reading that statement from the CEO makes it seem cold towards passholders but like other commenters already said. Non-passholders dish out more money to Disney while passholders pay MUCH less on their venture there. I think the CEO should issue an apology or clarify his statement but I do see his point. Disney has, as a business, has been immensely imaginative throughout its life but they haven’t been able to invent a way to grow money. Before you severe your ties to Disney i really think you should consider all angles. Its a business after all. I do not have a passholder for Disney but this article has not discouraged me from purchasing one when I’m able too. But I’m not happy the CEO said that either. He should value BOTH non- and passholders alike.

  8. Your argument needs massive strengthing. You can’t just simplify it like you have. I agree with you. But you need to go into much greater detail. Explain how the courtesy had changed. How it’s not about a show anymore. How the magic is gone! There’s hundreds of examples over the last 10 years. You need to extensively break them each down. Your article should be pages and pages. Please and thank you!

  9. I would say I spend as much if not more at Disney on an annual basis then a family vacationing for a week at Disney. I go to the parks and Disney springs at least 20-25 days out of the year. Every time I go I get some thing to eat with my family at one of the restaurants I buy treats to take home.When I have out-of-town visitors I take them to Disney parks and/or Disney Springs. Often I buy souvenirs or impulse buys because I love Disney (this includes Dooney’s when they have one I MUST own). We go to every Epcot festival and try most of the food at all of the little kiosks. I always go to the not so scary and the Christmas party I pay for tickets for everyone that goes with me.We get hotels several times throughout the year for a night or two For overnight stays. We are not rich, we’re not even wealthy, we’re just a normal middle-class family. I just love Disney so that’s where I choose to spend the extra money I have. I think passholders are fiscally as valuable we just play the long game when it comes to giving Disney the money over the year instead of in one lump sum. But you get your Money out of us Disney. And we smile ear to ear as we hand it over.

  10. I do not like the reservation system. I would rather have it that passholders could go 2 or 3 times a week when they want too. .There are days we make reservations for that are great days and some are very rainy. Before we could decide not to go on those days, now if we have reservations we either have to go or the “punish” us like kids and take our privilage away for 30 days or something, I cant exactly remember. To get more people there, they should have divided the day into two halves for at least he magic kingdom. Some people are day people and some are evening people. Twice as many people could go that way. Most of the time we like the mornings but there are times we would like to be there in an evening when the sun is starting to go down. No park hopping has only been a big deal once for us when there was something at two parks we wanted to do……..Then there is the ” no more passes for that day” and it took us 4 weeks to get passes for Hollywood studios, couldnt get in till sept 1. Love that park too and would like to go on occasion. Then we had gone to Epcot one day and the next day my son asked us to get something for his step son at Norway since his family is from there, but when I tried to get reservations I could not for the next two weeks. That seems rediculoous for a passholder. This is the hard times I am having with this . I still enjoy the magic, I do miss the parades and the fireworks but the day parade we had seen many times and was getting old anyways, I really mss the evening parade, period. Always loved that as many times as we had seen it. ( the light up floats so pretty) Seeing the lights lit up on main street at night and through the parks is sad to not be seeing when the sun goes down earlier also. Many things I miss, some things are great. Will love it more when the train and the people mover is back . Till then we will just enjoy it and we bought tickets for Universal for those days we cannot get into a disney park.

  11. I disagree for the most part, however I will say that covid has really made everything not just Disney but you really see and FEEL it at Disney the loss of “magic” and “family” my “HAPPY” place has been overshadowed with guests and CM alike being miserable with the new safety rules. Yes we all know it’s necessary and yes we all CHOOSE to go however until this pandemic and fear is over I don’t think anywhere is going to feel “HAPPY” or “MAGICAL” for a while. I absolutely LOVE Disney and I am giving them the opportunity to show US (AP and guests) how much they have missed the “magic” that Walt dreamed of and brought to life for all of us young and old to enjoy. With that being said, if a year from now Disney doesn’t change for the better I will have to re evaluate my love and support that I so easily have for all things Disney. I think we all need to be patient and give them some time, this is a scary time full of uncertainty for everyone. If after all this is over and Disney doesn’t return to the old ways then I can agree with the above letter.

  12. I agree and disagree with pieces of these statements. I do believe as a passholder I am not getting what I am paying for given how things used to be. The reservation system is nice to protect all of us from overcrowding and that is personally what kept me a paying member; however, it is disheartening both fiscally and emotionally to not be able to reserve a park unless I want to go two months from the time I make the reservation (three months for Hollywood Studios weekends) only to see that there are several parks and dates available if I were purchasing tickets or staying at a resort. I agree from a business perspective with Disney that passholders essentially put forth less money on visits, and money is what keeps businesses afloat both large and small, but Disney could meet passholders half way and open up reservations the day of or day before for parks whose capacity hasn’t been met or where reservations had been cancelled same day. If reservations are shown green (available) for non-passholders, then clearly there is space available for passholders, just open them up last minute. Just like fast passes had done for everyone. Most fast passes were always gone but then people cancel and you get lucky and they pop up. I think this is what is missing from Disney to keep passholders satisfied. Paying money and not being able to utilize their passes for months at a time depending on the park they want is not great service for the loyal paying patron but obviously easy money for the business which they need to stay afloat and keep people employed.

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