A Disneyland Magic Key passholder is suing Disney over the limited availability for theme park reservations. Attorneys for the Santa Clara County woman who filed the $5 million suit are trying to get the complaint certified as a class action, which could make all of Disneyland's Dream Key passholders parties to the claim.
The case moved from Orange County Superior Court to United States District Court yesterday, since Disney Parks Experiences and Products recently moved its headquarters from California to Florida. The suit asserts that Disneyland promised that the top-tier, $1,399 Dream Key would have no blockout dates, but Disney ended up not allowing Dream Key holders to make park reservations on dates when tickets otherwise remained available for sale to single-day and multi-day ticket buyers.
"The problem was that Disney had decided to block out reservations so that they were only available to new purchases and were not available to Dream Key passholders," the suit claims.
My colleague Brady MacDonald details the suit and its claims over at the Orange County Register.
Disneyland's marketing and news releases announcing the Magic Key program made clear that all levels of Magic Key holders would need to make a Disney Park Pass reservation to use their Magic Key passes to visit the parks. Indeed, one of the features listed for each level of Magic Key pass was the number of concurrent reservations a key holder could have at that level, from two to six reservations. All visitors to the Disneyland theme parks must make reservations to use their ticket or Magic Key pass to visit on any given date.
I and other reporters covering the introduction of the Magic Key program noted that Magic Key holders and regular ticket holders would be pulling from different reservation availability pools when trying to book dates to visit the parks. The fact that Disneyland required potential visitors to check different calendars for Magic Key holders and for regular ticket holders to see reservation availability also should have implied that there were different pools for each ticket type.
Nevertheless, the suit alleges that the plaintiff "did not know — and had no way of knowing — that the Dream Key was, essentially, a 'second class' ticket with limited availability because Disney had reserved an unknown majority of the available reservations for single day or other full price ticket purchases."
Is that enough to be considered a "block out" date that would put Disney in legal jeopardy over its marketing of the Magic Key program? That's a question for the court to decide. A Disneyland spokesperson told the Register, "we intend to respond as the case proceeds in court."
Now, on to the analysis.
The one thing that I believe the suit does get right lies within the quote, "Disney appears to be limiting the number of reservations available to Dream Key passholders on any given day in order to maximize the number of single day and other passes that Disney can sell."
Yeah, that's pretty much the whole point of the Magic Key program - to limit the number of annual passholders who come to the park on any given date, so that Disneyland does not become so crowded that other guests won't want to buy a single or multi-day ticket to get in, as it was frequently under the old Annual Pass program.
That's nothing deceptive, to me. That's just obvious.
Some vocal Disney fans have been accusing the company of making a cash grab with changes such as Magic Key and the new Disney Genie+ program. Well, I wonder how many fans will look at this suit and consider it a cash grab of a cash grab. In the parks or out of them, Disney never fails to give its fans plenty to argue about.
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