Annual Passholders Sue Walt Disney World Over Park Pass Availability

A pair of Walt Disney World Annual Passholders are suing the resort over its Park Pass reservation system, according to Florida Politics‘ Gabrielle Russon.

The lawsuit, filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court’s Orlando division, was brought on by two anonymous passholders, known only in the filing as “M.P.” of Orange County and “E.K.” of Palm Beach County. They argue that Park Passes, required for all guests, can be fully booked on days where availability is still open for single-day tickets. Because of this, even passholders without blockout dates may not be able to enter the parks when they wish.

The suit adds:

Disney’s conduct is a predatory business practice, aimed at exploiting the customers who support it the most, its annual pass holders. Disney abused a global pandemic to take advantage of its own loyal customers and increase its revenue.

M.P. claims they paid $633.00 per Annual Pass for herself as well as her family, while E.K. paid $68.00 each month for their pass on an installment plan. They both purchased Annual Passes with the expectation that they would have access to the parks without restrictions, and without a need for prior planning. A similar lawsuit against the Disneyland Resort is still pending.

Back in August, Disney’s CFO, Christine McCarthy, stated that blockout dates could be reduced on Annual Passes if demand decreases. But it seems that despite many complaints, the Park Pass will in the future.

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47 thoughts on “Annual Passholders Sue Walt Disney World Over Park Pass Availability”

  1. This is a great lawsuit. The park reservation system sucks and it is why we let our annual passes go too. They have ruined the parks. Bob Chapek must go. No longer can you come to the park and just leisurely go from park to park. Now everyone is walking around looking at their damn phones, thereby missing all that Disney created and wanted you to look at. The whole point of the imagineers was to create things that seemed real. Now all that matters is your phone, reservations, line waits on the app, etc. The best time my wife and i ever had was we had park hoppers and just woke up each day and decided then and there which park we felt like going to. Chapek has killed that and Disney experience too. Its no longer a theme park to enjoy, but more like work. The average person who has never been there before just simply cannot go.

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    • Now that you have figured this out maybe stop giving them your money? If you go you support them and their policies. Keep banging your head against the wall…it does no good but hurt you. This is called a classic abusive relationship and most people will STILL GO BACK! SMH.
      They will not win this lawsuit. It was in the fine print.

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    • You hit the nail on the head Jim. If more people thought like you then they’d be forced to drop many of these new things developed for the pandemic and have adopted as the ‘new normal’,unfortunately ticket sales keep going up and up and along with it prices purely because people keep paying what they ask. It’s amazing how many buy Genie+ and have no clue what it is and how it works. It seems no one understands the meaning of boycott and the fact that it works.

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    • Totally agree Jim. We’re from the UK and AP holders for nearly 20 years. Am in MK and my phone is not out of my hand. The exploitation of any guest is unbelievable. Certainly makes you consider renewal of your pass. In addition wait times are totally erroneous with a feeling WDW is trying to get you to buy a LL. Pirates of the Caribbean states as 40 minutes and we got on in 9!

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  2. Seriously? There’s many things I don’t presently like about the WDW system. But it’s pretty clear in the terms and conditions at purchase.

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    • Good i hope we all get money back on on passes. We cant go on weekends. I paid for the water parks to be included and blizzard beach never opened up this summer. You have to make reservations for a park and may not get yo go during the week because theres already to many reservations. Ticket prices are the highest ever and we can’t go to the parks unless your lucky on a weekday when you most likely have to work. Keep in mind annual pass holders can’t go on the weekends.

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  3. one word to the wise. universal. go to a company that actually seems to care about customers and their business. or, stay with disney, while bob the bean counter repeatedly fleeces you!

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  4. Folks your not going to win this is for safety the parks are 100% open the reservations keep an eye on capacity so cms dont have to deal w it nor it from guests when they stop em and say park at capacity sorry… believe me its not pretty and that axiety isnt good on either end! Granted are their better ways to deal w this like the gates other parks have to count and actually have a lock pole on turnstile when #s hit capacity sure but this is how disney is wrking it… would you prefer there was a freeforall and no capacity then these guests would be complaining there its too crowded and i cannot do anything… which is it do you want to go and be safe or not??? I feel bad matt you had to report this or whenever something insane like this pops up in the newsfeed i know its your job here at wdwnt but there has to be better news out there.

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    • They own they’re own city over 100 miles of property in Florida alone.. they don’t hit capacity… I wish Houston said it hit capacity and shut the gate but we don’t have that luxury. They do?! Negative… they have a town that has its own city planners/developers/fire department/police department/hospital/oddly no churches or courts so not a real city and the reason they have been literally bankrupting Florida for decades but it’s whatever.. they’re using a bullshit excuse like covid as a weak ass reason to ruin people’s plans and vacations or spontaneous days of joy… sorry … maybe next week we’ve got our 3k peeps for the day!

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    • You’ve missed the point of the lawsuit. This has nothing to do with capacity. If the park gave out all the available reservations that would be one thing. But Disney is telling AP holders they are at capacity while still offering tickets for to those who want to purchase them. That’s the issue. While they’ve clarified that they may do this in recent terms and conditions – that wasn’t always in there and regardless of any terms – if Disney puts out advertising that misleads about how you can use the pass – fine print won’t always save you.

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    • Folks are not upset that the parks are hitting capacity. They are suing because they bought tickets and paid for a higher tier to not have any blocked dates but the reservation system DOES block dates if it is a busy date (though not an at capacity date). If you look with your annual pass for Day X, there is nothing available. If you look as if you are purchasing a new 1-day ticket for the SAME DAY, suddenly there is availability.

      Reading comprehension is important. Not sure why you would complain that someone had to report on something when you didn’t even take the time to read it.

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  5. Take it from a manager and i beg of you we need park reservations. Unless you want to go back to wall to wall guests on busy days. Stores even have lines and you can not do a thing. Its not pretty nor healthy besides covid is still a thing lots to get sick from you want to be in kissing distance to stranger? Nor mental healthy lots of front park cms quit due to issues and stress from disappointing guests. Managers have to call secuirty when they fight their way in its unreal. You do not like it go somewhere else.

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    • Cindy, while there is a complaint in the article about the reservation system, the reason for the lawsuit is that Annual Passholders that paid for no blocked dates are blocked from attendance on dates where you can still buy a 1-day pass. If you have no blocked dates, you should be able to make a reservation on any day they are not at capacity. Currently they are blocking passholders in favor of customers who are paying for an individual date, which does not abide by their own terms and conditions and is a missleading practice.

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    • But what is it Disney World CM’s say in Galatic Rewind and Haunted Mansion? Please fill all the available space. If you can see the carpet, then you can move together closer…’

      So your warning about not wanting wall to wall guests falls flat here.

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  6. After years of being annual passholders we decided not to renew. If a passholder cannot get a reservation in deference to single day ticket holder, then WDW needs to stop selling AP’s.
    There are no benefits to being a WDW passholder…..those days are gone. EVERYTHING is driven by the App with guests walking around like zombies glued to their phones.
    We are annual passholders at another theme park now and happy not to have to deal with the chaos of Disney.

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  7. Here’s the problem. Three parks, Epcot, HS and AK all have tons guests that decide they want to be at MK at 2. Seems to me that the reservation system now means nothing.

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  8. The lawsuit brought seems to be over unfair business practices. You can not say to someone who purchased the high tier annual pass without blockout dates that there is no availability while simultaneously still offering single day tickets for purchase. This nullifies whatever debate there is over park capacity.

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  9. I agree that no one wants to go back to huge crowds and insane lines but as an AP, it is frustrating that Disney is catering to day guests. They have repeatedly said they are more valuable but I tend to disagree. The people I am friends with, we go ALL the time. We have lunches, dinners, buy the merch etc. we are not the family with home made tee shirts and coolers on wheels. Disney needs to start to really listen to its core consumers, abandon politics, kick Chapek to the curb and go back to the wholesome values and storytelling where they excel. Bring back the magic!!!

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  10. The text of this suit sums up my feelings perfectly. Three times I’ve had to buy a campground space so I could use our familys platinum plus passes and once a single day ticket for myself and my husband. If they have room for people to pay more, they had room for people who already paid. They managed this system on New year’s Ever for decades. You could show up, show your pass, and get into a sold out park, there was always room. They weren’t viiolating fire marshall regulations; they had to allocate space for passholders, because that was the promise and they planned accordingly. They have better computer models now and they are choosing to exploit the pandemic for profit.

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  11. I can deal with the reservation but the no hopping before 2 pm kills me. My perfect day starts at Epcot enjoying breakfast in France by the lake, then strolling over to Hollywood for a couple of rides, lunch in Pandora then a quick walk thru Magic. Being stuck in Epcot until 2 is a buzz kill.

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  12. The excuse that this is needed for crowd control is garbage. The parks are still wall-to-wall packed and now worse, people are zombies roaming around staring at their phones. There are lines for everything. The only difference is that annual passholders (the most loyal guests) are punished for not buying single day tickets. I’ve seen this many times. Annual passholders blocked but single day tickets still up for sale. The crowd control argument is no longer valid as the place is packed daily.

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  13. We are already wall to wall guests on busy days as well as not so busy days. The reservation system is horrible and it’s worse for Florida passholders. That is why we have now chosen to go to Universal. We are now passholders at Universal and are very happy indeed – they treat their passholders GREAT!!!! Also, when Epic Universe opens, disney won’t need the reservation system any longer due to all guests will be over at Universal. You reap what you sow!

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  14. We used to have annual passes for Disneyland, then it became more cost effective for us to buy park hopper tickets for the once or twice a year we go. I think the park reservation system is great. Disney knows how to staff up for concessions, security, trams, food, etc. We are not happy with Genie Plus though. Having to pay extra (above and beyond Genie Plus) for Rise of the Resistance, Radiator Springs Racers, and Web Slingers is a big rip-off. Everyone with Genie Plus should be able to book these “e ticket” rides with the same pass, just limit it to 1 ride per day (with a Genie Plus, standby no limit of course). Genie Plus should be $15, per day, period. If the ride breaks down and you have a Genie Plus reservation, you should be able to use it for ANY ride. We had a Genie Plus reservation for Thunder Mountain Railroad (a couple of weeks ago) and the ride broke down and we could not use the “all attraction pass” for Haunted Mansion.

    As far a annual passes, if you buy a unlimited Annual Pass, you should be able to get a reservation (if single tickets are still being sold), if you make a reservation 36 hours prior to park visit. That is a allow sufficient planning for all. Make it clear that you accept those terms and conditions when you buy

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  15. This has little to do with Covid restrictions as others have posted above. Disney can easily state the park is at capacity and not allow guests or AP holders in. This is about making more money off guests and AP holders. This is why Genie+ and Lightening Lane were created. Does anyone remember when you could get a Fast Pass for free? Me too. We were passholders for over two decades but no longer interested in a system that forces you to make a reservation, wait in long lines, unless you purchase genie plus or lightning Lane. The food is overpriced and Disney has allowed the crowds to become nothing more than a bunch of influencers filming on their phones.

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  16. This has little to do with Covid restrictions as others have posted above. Disney can easily state the park is at capacity and not allow guests or AP holders in. This is about making more money off guests and AP holders. This is why Genie+ and Lightening Lane were created. Does anyone remember when you could get a Fast Pass for free? Me too. We were passholders for over two decades but no longer interested in a system that forces you to make a reservation, wait in long lines, unless you purchase genie plus or lightning Lane. The food is overpriced and Disney has allowed the crowds to become nothing more than a bunch of influencers filming on their phones. No thank you. The original lawsuit in California does seem to have some merit.

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  17. Park reservations have only affected me once, and that was Friday before Columbus Day weekend. I quit paying for blackout dates years ago because it’s ridiculously full. Plenty of reservations available Tuesday and Wednesday and some wait times still hit 160 minutes while I was there. Biggest problem is Genie +. Still have my Universal and Busch Gardens passes as well

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  18. We have been annual passholders for roughly 5 years now. Family of 4 from PA. pre covid it was great come and go to the parks anytime anyday no reservations needed as per the terms and conditions from disney free photo pass and fast pass included in membership. Every one got fast pass before covid lol. Then covid put everything into chaos. I understand disney needed to put new guidelines into place to handle attendance now that we live in a new reality. Why hasn’t disney lowered the price of annual pass renewal if your not able to use the pass as intended?? They totally changed the contract to suit them yet dont charge a lower amount for the inconvenience of not having access to parks 365 days a year. Annual pass holders should sue disney as they used the pandemic as an excuse to limit attendance of passholders and upped the attendance of regular 1 day or multi day paying admission. It falls right in line with Disney’s shift in money making. Either last year or 2 years ago a disney exec did an interview where they stated they dont make money on the average passholder. So what’s the best way to change that….. limit park access for passholders. Disney has changed their opinion on passholders. They used to love us and value us. Now apparently we are a nuisance to them lol. Let me tell you Disney exec’s while you may not make a ton on the passholder who comes to park 5 days a week to walk parks for exercise and ride a few rides you certainly make 1000s 3 times a year from my family!! 4800 a year in passes at least 3 grand a visit 3 times a year from my family so $13800 a year I give you and I cant have access to park??? Lol. I spend more money than the family who comes for a week. Let’s not forget disney keeps taking away passholder perks yet again not taking any money off. Now I have to pay for photo pass which used to be included with annual paddle and now pay for genie plus. Walt would be so ashamed of what is happening at his company. Disney managers and exec’s should be absolutely appalled at the treatment of passholders the past few years. Good on the people suing Disney. Every passholder should sue. Disney has treated us like garbage past few years and it’s time they get a reality check. Sad thing is I honestly think they dont care. Disney seems to have shifted focus to make the 1 time visitors more important than passholders. Yes I know I dont have to buy annual pass or spend money while there. We choose to continue to be passholders as it seems disney will not be selling passes in the future. Once the 18 month celebration is over in march 2023 we will see what disney does with annual pass. I honest think there will be no more annual passes or a revised annual pass just for Florida residents in the future. Time will tell.

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  19. I whole-heartedly support this lawsuit. I understand if the parks are at capacity for everyone not allowing passholders to make a park reservation. Some of the parks would reach capacity a handful of days pre-COVID. Artificially creating blockout days for passholders who have no blockout days with their pass while Disney is still selling tickets to non-passholders is criminal. We pay thousands of dollars for our IncrediPasses so that we have no blockout days. Disney could use their argument to sell us the IncrediPasses and then block us out so we are never allowed to make a park reservation. I am not saying Disney should not have park reservations (which I personally hate), just don’t block out passholders and then sell tickets to non-passholders. The “we don’t want excessive crowds in the parks” doesn’t fly in this case. I hope the passholders take Disney to the cleaners.

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  20. where have you been, the parks are more jammed now than before the pandemic, they aren’t controlling anything with the reservation system except to collect data

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  21. I hate that it’s come to a lawsuit, but I agree. We’ve been loyal passholders for years and have barely gone in the past two years. We’ll likely cancel our passes when they come up for renewal.

    The park maintenance has gone downhill. The crowds seem worse then ever—regardless of the reservation system. Hotels on property have hiked the prices so much.

    I think they are forcing out AP holders slowly—they want us to cancel. It’s sad because we continue to pay, not go and still struggle with cancelling. It’s just not the same anymore.

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  22. You are all missing the point. The reservations aren’t the problem. The undisclosed methodology of delivering reservations is the problem. A passholder can be denied on a non-blackout day even though capacity exists and single day reservations are being given out. Disney does not tell us how those decisions are made, which means passholders are at the whim of WDW and their decisions about whether they want to give 1 or 25000 spots to passholders on a non sellout day. So how can we determine whether we are getting good value for our money if we don’t know the rules about whether we will be allowed to go?

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  23. The Chapek administration has screwed up almost everything, starting with the setup of Genie+ (only one ride at a time – not great if you are a diverse family of five), the canceling of the Airport bus (when they could have just added a service charge or let the bus firm handle the system), the ghastly added costs to get on the NEW rides, to how they upset the Passholder system, etc… Everyone I know who works for WDW (some for 40 years) are unhappy and have lost some of the Disney Magic. Although I live less than 100 miles from WDW, less than 50% of my college students have ever visited WDW – too expensive. I am glad I sold my Disney stock before it dropped $30 a share.

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