Disney World Responds To Lawsuit Regarding Annual Passes

To say that Disneyland and Walt Disney World have been dealing with problems regarding their annual pass systems since bringing them back after the pandemic closure would be an understatement. On both coasts, fans have found various causes for frustration, primarily the reservation system, which can still limit a pass holder's ability to enter the park even on days the passes are valid. This has resulted in a pair of lawsuits but Disney World has now filed a response to the suit in Florida. 

Both Walt Disney World and Disneyland instituted a reservation system when they reopened during the global pandemic, in order to manage the parks’ then-limited capacity. However, while things are now “back to normal” at least as far as capacity goes, the reservation system has remained. Disney has argued the reservation system is necessary as a way to manage capacity inside the parks.

There have been numerous situations where annual pass holders at Disney World who have passes with no blackout dates are still being unable to get into the parks if there are no reservations available. This led two women to sue Disney World back in October.

In recently filed court documents, Disney World has asked that the lawsuit be dismissed, arguing that the resort took steps to help pass holders transition into the reservation system, and gave everybody the chance to get their passes refunded if they did not like the new system. Florida Politics reports that in part Disney’s response reads…

Kelly and Paone omitted from their complaint everything that Walt Disney Parks and Resorts did for annual pass holders during the transition to the reservation system — including, most notably, giving every pass holder the chance to opt-out and be refunded.

Disneyland Resort is dealing with a nearly identical lawsuit in California. That lawsuit also focused on annual passes without blackout dates still being limited by a lack of reservation ability. Another issue in both suits is that in not all cases are all reservations actually sold out. Both resorts keep reservations in different “buckets,” so it can transpire that reservations for annual pass holders can sell out, while reservations for standard ticket holders are still available. 

Because the lawsuits against the parks are so similar it stands to reason that we should watch Disney's response to both to see how they might handle them. Disneyland made a similar motion to dismiss the California lawsuit after it was filed, which was denied by the judge, but this argument may be more appealing to the judge.

Since these lawsuits have been filed we have seen a bit of movement from Disney Parks on the reservation system. It’s been announced that at some point in the near future, Disney World annual passholders will be able to enter the parks without a reservation in the afternoon. At Disneyland, park hopping availability, which is equally controversial related to the reservation system, has been moved up so that guests can move between parks at 11 am rather than 1 pm. There are still hopes the reservation system at Disneyland or Disney World could end entirely one day, but thus far there are no clear signs of that. 

Dirk Libbey
Content Producer/Theme Park Beat

CinemaBlend’s resident theme park junkie and amateur Disney historian. Armchair Imagineer. Epcot Stan. Future Club 33 Member.