ticket sales at magic kingdom

Frustrating Your Fans: A Cautionary Tale About Disney

May 10, 2022



In August of 2021, Disney announced that they were bringing back their annual pass holder program! Yay! But then… we read the fine print.

Previously, if you planned to go to Disney more than 10 days in one year, it was worth it to have this pass as the annual pass was equivalent in price to a 10 day park ticket. They’ve revamped the program, adding additional tiers where they are charging more for less, taking away perks that were historically included with the annual pass. 

We’re going to discuss the not-so-welcome changes to Disney’s Annual Pass program and better ways that you can unveil unwelcome — and even welcome — changes to your programs and products.

Breaking Down the Annual Pass

Before we dive into the new annual pass program, let’s back up a bit. Annual passes are not for every Disney fan, as you really need to be going to the parks for 10 days, sometimes less if you are taking separate trips, to make it worth your while. In the past, the annual pass holder program has been great for locals and for people who go essentially more than once a year. The other big bonus with annual passes in the past was that it came with perks. You received discounts at certain restaurants, off merchandise throughout the parks, and an included Photopass. 

So what’s new with these reinstated annual passes? There are now four types of non-local passes, two for Florida residents only, and the base prices of all passes have increased significantly. There are also “blackout dates” where you can’t use your pass, specifically high traffic times during the year like spring break and Christmas. We do love the new names and logos on the passes – something we can point out that Disney did right! But Magic Bands and water park access are extra costs, and there’s caps on park reservations, too. They are really pushing their customers to spend more at Disney, offering further incentives for staying on Disney property, like early access to the parks.

The takeaway here is that every business has to take a look at its business model and increase prices at some point. There are labor shortages, the cost of living and manufacturing prices are increasing, we have to consider the impact of the pandemic, and so on. All businesses have to figure out a way to stay profitable. However, we are begrudgingly renewing our annual passes – and it feels like they are “nickel and diming” things with these new passes. 

Before Increasing Prices…

When you are re-evaluating your business’s pricing or offers like Disney just did, you’ve got to take your most loyal customers into consideration. Do you really want them to be the ones taking the hardest hit?

As you’re building your offers, products, sales, and types of promotions think about how they will be perceived from your customer’s point of view. Doubling the price of your program may not increase your revenue because your pool of people who are going to buy into it might shrink drastically. 

Ask yourself: “Why am I increasing the price? What is the justification? Does my target audience change with these price increases?” 

We understand that Disney lost quite a bit of money because of the shutdowns that happened as a result of the pandemic. However, these price increases really ticked off so many of their biggest fans. We’ve heard many people say that Disney is no longer affordable for the average American family; it’s clear their target audience is changing as they are going after a more affluent customer base. 

Before you increase your prices, let your customers know that this is coming down the pipeline and explain why. With a few of our clients, when we had to increase prices due to excessive shipping costs and manufacturing increases, we’d let them know in advance – 30 to 60 day warnings. For the most part, people will understand if you give them a reasonable explanation and increase prices marginally.

Avoid Frustrating Your Fans

Disney definitely bummed out many of their most loyal customers with these changes to their revamped annual passes. While increasing prices is inevitable, no one wants to alienate and frustrate their best customers! We hope you take some of these ideas so you can better reveal changes happening with your products and offers. 

Don’t forget to subscribe to Pixie Dust & Profits and tune in each week, as we share more tips from the Mouse that can help you grow your small business. Be sure to follow us @pixiedustandprofits and check out magic.pixiedustandprofits.com for some free goodies! See ya real soon.



loving the podcast?

Leave us a review on iTunes!
It helps us know you're listening and ready for more!

you said

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

leave a comment

even more pixie dust!

bonus BUSINESs builders

get access

We're magically breaking down big-business strategies for your small business in this pack of 3 mini-workbooks and 2 bonus audio files!