Disney is being sued by annual passholders who say the company has reduced their access to its Florida theme park

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Visitors walk along Main Street at The Magic Kingdom as Walt Disney World reopens following Hurricane Ian on September 30, 2022 in Orlando, Florida.
  • Two holders of Disney World annual passes have sued Walt Disney Parks and Resorts.
  • They claim that Disney changed the conditions of its Platinum Pass and restricted which days people can visit.
  • The passes “do not even resemble the original agreement,” the lawsuit claims.

Holders of Disney World annual passes aren’t able to visit the park as freely as they could before the pandemic, a class-action lawsuit claims.

Two Disney World passholders sued Walt Disney Parks and Resorts on October 18, claiming that Disney changed the conditions of its annual passes during the pandemic and no longer gives them enough access to the parks, including seemingly restricting which days they can visit.

Disney changed the park entry system at Disney World in Florida to control capacity at the start of the pandemic. As well as having a valid ticket to get in, visitors also had to reserve a spot, with owners of the most expensive passes – Platinum and Platinum Plus Passes – being limited to three days of reservations at a time, which has since been raised to five.

The lawsuit claims this resulted in a “severe restriction” on when they could visit parks and was a “wholly different agreement” to their original contract. For example, if someone were to reserve five days at Disney World next spring, they wouldn’t be able to visit between now and then.

Passholders thought the reservation system would only be temporary “because they had not been subjected to this system pre-pandemic,” the lawsuit says.

Park hopping was also restricted after lockdowns ended. While prior to the pandemic annual passholders could swap between Disney World’s four Florida parks “without restrictions,” the option was removed entirely between May and December 2020 amid capacity limits.

A tourist looks at a park map during the Flower and Garden Festival at Epcot at Walt Disney World in Orange County, Florida on May 30, 2022.
A tourist looks at a park map during the Flower and Garden Festival at Epcot at Walt Disney World in Orange County, Florida on May 30, 2022.

Since 2021, visitors can now only park hop after 2 p.m. each day.

The lawsuit also claims that Disney has seemingly introduced restrictions on how many Platinum and Platinum Plus Pass holders can visit parks on certain days. Unlike the two lower-priced annual pass tiers – the Gold and Silver Passes – the Platinum and Platinum Plus Passes come with no “Blackout Dates,” which are busy days where you can’t get entry with your pass. 

On some days, Platinum and Platinum Plus Pass holders can’t reserve slots, even though there are single day passes available, per the lawsuit.

“Disney has effectively subjected Platinum Plus Passes and Platinum Passes to Blockout Dates, because the pass holders are subject to days and times in which their passes cannot be used,” the lawsuit claims. Disney is “unfairly favoring” single ticket or multi-day ticket holders “to make a larger profit,” the lawsuit alleges.

The lawsuit accuses Disney of breach of implied contract, breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, and unfair and deceptive trade practices.

“Disney has abused a global pandemic to take advantage of its Platinum passholders and Platinum Plus pass holders even after the threat of the pandemic has subsided,” the lawsuit claims, saying that the passes “do not even resemble the original agreement.”

“Disney’s conduct is a predatory business practice, aimed at exploiting the customers who support it the most, its annual pass holders,” it adds.

Disney told Orlando media outlet News 6 that it had been “upfront” with passholders about changes to their tickets and “offered them the flexibility to opt in or opt out of the program early in the pandemic, including refunds if they desired.”

“This lawsuit mischaracterizes the program and its history, and we will respond further in court,” it added.

Disney scrapped the Platinum Plus, Platinum, Gold, and Silver Passes in September 2021, replacing them with four new tiers of passes. Sales of the new passes are currently paused, though existing passholders can renew their tickets.

Disney World has also put up prices and has scrapped or started charging visitors for some services that were once free, like shuttle buses from the airport and parking for resort guests.

Read the original article on Business Insider
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