Now that we are 2 1/2 months into the beginning of the Magic Key Annual Pass program, some fears have become reality. Each pass has been given a limited amount of Park Reservations they may hold at a time. Initial thoughts were that Passholders would panic reserve and fill their limit of days just to be able to go. Just in case the dates would “sell out”. So, as the passes went live, this became the reality. Popular days went faster than expected. Then entire months vanished. Disneyland released more availability but as they did, they vanished again.
Disney CEO Bob Chapek indicated before the program went live, in a JP Morgan Conference on May 24th, that Park Reservations would be around to stay past the pandemic. He also said that capacity would increase slowly from the limited Covid requirements but be at normal levels by the end of 2021.
Everything is not fully open at the Disneyland Resort but at this point there is enough open to give a general feeling of high capacity. The lines for the Haunted Mansion and Pirates of the Caribbean are regularly full but move. The attractions that are the red flags of significant capacity are not at max. Peter Pan at 30 minutes, Space Mountain at 55, and Little Mermaid at 25 minutes is not a bad day but it is busy. Lines to get into the parks fluctuate as well and can be madness even after 9am (the parks open at 8am) or dead empty. Pretty much like it was before the pandemic.
PARK RESERVATION MADNESS
Magic Key Passes have a limited amount of Park Reservations available to them that they can hold at the same time. Dream and Believe have 6, Enchant has 4, and Imagine (the Southern Californian pass option) has only 2. It seems rather silly for Disneyland to use the old way of referring to an AP’s access to the park, “blocked” vs “un-blocked” days. The Park Reservation REQUIREMENT basically negates that language if a day is sold out. Those days are essentially blocked, no matter how you want to look at it. So the highest pass that has no blockouts is regularly blocked out of using any day once they sell out. Panic reserving is a major flaw in the system. I totally thought it would be a disaster the moment I read the fine print that stated each pass had limits on how many they could hold at the same time. And here we are.
Park Reservations are actually NOT the norm industry wide now. Knott’s Berry Farm, Six Flags Magic Mountain, AND Universal Studios Hollywood ALL NO LONGER REQUIRE Park Reservations. Universal stopped on April 16th, Six Flags on June 15th, and Knott’s stopped on August 2nd. So why is Disneyland continuing to require a system that is locking folks out of the parks?
Chapek has said that he felt Legacy Passholders did not provide enough of a return by not spending much money on their visits. If you know me you know I spend. I have LOTS of former/now current AP friends that also spend. We eat at the park, coming back for our favorites each time. We buy the silly AP merchandise and specific seasonal stuff too. Oh we spend all right. So why downplay that?…to keep us out?
There is also the issue of bringing in new APs. How can you sell a product when that product cannot be used? Potential new APs are staying away from buying a pass right now because of that. The lack of reservation availability makes it useless and tickets have WAY more availability than any pass does. The discounts are meaningless too if you can’t use them. LOTS of folks have decided NOT to renew come next year if this madness continues. The Almighty Passgiver has already voiced his decision in this area.
Many have found what they need to do to get to visit involves more work than they had anticipated. Removing a portion of the “magic” in 'Magic Key'. Park Reservations fluctuate just like dining reservations do. People cancel all the time and that creates short spurts of availability. The cancellations free up time after midnight. Regular additional availability drops randomly throughout the day too. So it requires Passholders to constantly monitor the Disneyland website, stay up late, never not be on the website. This is not what enjoying Disneyland should be about.
Many have said Disneyland doesn’t care about Passholders at all but I only partially agree. This new system does rob us of the joy of going to the parks. Never mind that we can’t get dining reservations either but that’s an entirely separate post. Disneyland didn’t have to bring this program back though. They didn’t need to give us the random silly freebies and the special spaces. So they care…about the money, but they care. This is so much harder than it should be.
Oh and why is Disneyland still requiring Park Reservations when the other three parks I mentioned stopped months ago?
AND where is THIS?: “a new, guest-centric offering that will DELIVER CHOICE, FLEXIBILITY AND VALUE (emphasis mine) for park admission, special access to unique experiences, valuable saving opportunities and so much more.” (stated by the Disney Parks Blog on 8/3/21 https://disneyparks.disney.go.com/blog/2021/08/disneyland-resort-introduces-magic-key-program-a-new-guest-centric-offering-with-choice-flexibility-and-value/)
Oh and for those of you looking to try and sue this behemoth that is Disney because of the lack of "choice, flexibility and value"... That’s not going to happen…they covered their tracks with the verbiage in the Magic Key Terms and Conditions (https://disneyland.disney.go.com/magic-key-terms-conditions/): “Park reservations are limited and subject to availability and applicable Pass blockout dates. Passholders should ensure their Pass type is valid for park entry prior to making a park reservation. IT MAY BE DIFFICULT FOR PASSHOLDERS TO GET PARK RESERVATIONS TO VISIT ON CERTAIN DATES OR A SELECT PARK, AND PARK RESERVATIONS ARE NOT GUARANTEED FOR ANY SPECIFIC DATES OR PARK, NO MATTER THE PASS TYPE. (Emphasis mine) Additionally, park reservations may not be available on select holidays for certain parks. A Pass will not guarantee park entry. Other restrictions, such as Park Hopper® rules, may apply.”