Disney World passholders sue over reservation system

Two anonymous Walt Disney World passholders sued Walt Disney Parks & Resorts this week, claiming the resort breached its contract with annual passholders by maintaining its Park Pass reservation system.

The plaintiffs, who are referred to by the initials E.K. and M.P., say the system that requires all visitors to make a reservation to Disney’s theme parks blocked its highest tiers of passholders from visiting the parks on certain days, despite Disney formerly advertising the premium passes as allowing unlimited access.

The class action lawsuit, filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court’s Orlando division, refers to Disney’s highest annual pass tiers by their prior names, “Platinum” and “Platinum Plus,” which Disney retired when it reworked the pass program last fall. The rework included increasing the number of reservations that a passholder can make.

In an unsigned statement, Disney said it recognized annual passholders as among its “biggest fans and most loyal guests” and has been forthcoming with them about updates to the pass system.

“We offered them the flexibility to opt in or opt out of the program early in the pandemic, including refunds if they desired,” it read. “This lawsuit mischaracterizes the program and its history, and we will respond further in court.”

The plaintiffs claim Disney debuted the new pass system to “cover up its own wrongdoing.” Disney’s current annual pass website states passes are subject to reservation availability and other terms.

E.K. and M.P. further allege Disney is “unfairly favoring” visitors with single- and multiday tickets over these passholders “in order to make a larger profit,” records show. M.P. paid $633 each for her family’s Platinum Passes, while E.K. paid $67.75 a month for hers.

“Disney appears to be limiting the number of reservations available to Platinum Pass holders and Platinum Plus Pass holders on any given day in order to maximize the number of single day and other passes that Disney can sell,” they claimed.

Disney has separate reservation calendars for annual passholders and standard ticket holders.

The lawsuit does not say why E.K. and M.P., of Palm Beach and Orange counties respectively, filed the lawsuit anonymously. Their lawyers did not immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday.

This is the latest lawsuit brought by Disney passholders over the reservation system, which was adopted as Disney World reopened in July 2020 to control crowds during the pandemic. It has remained since with some adjustments, such as reintroducing park-hopping under a new 2 p.m. start time.

A similar lawsuit over Disneyland’s Magic Key program is ongoing after a California judge allowed it to move forward in May.

Disney leaders have suggested the park reservation system will continue into the future, with executives praising its capabilities to gauge and manage theme park demand. The company has suspended the sale of most tiers of its new annual passes since November 2021.

[email protected] and @katievrice on Twitter