Home Disney News Disney’s CEO comments about Annual Passholders leave some reeling

Disney’s CEO comments about Annual Passholders leave some reeling

Disney's CEO comments about Annual Passholders leave some reeling
Credit: Disney

At the end of Disney’s Quarter 3 financial call yesterday, Disney CEO Bob Chapek chimed in to discuss the differences between Passholders and ticketed guests. Read on to see what he said in context.

As you probably know, Disney held their Quarter 3 financial call yesterday afternoon. CEO Bob Chapek and CFO Christine McCarthy both presented information and then took questions from various financial institution representatives.

Disney’s new CEO, Bob Chapek

At the end of the call, Chapek was asked about the parks under-performing upon reopening. He made a comment about the relative value of Annual Passholders.

His comment has been circulating through social media and left a bad taste in the mouths of Disney’s most loyal guests.

Chapek’s Quote in Context

Chapek was aiming to clarify that the less-than-expected performance of the reopened parks was not due to offering discounts. Instead, the parks have been suffering from a “disruption in travel patterns“.

With fewer out-of-state guests flocking to Florida to visit the parks, the proportion of local Passholders visiting the parks right now is much higher than usual.

Bob Iger and Bob Chapek at Galaxy’s Edge

Chapek stated matter-of-factly that Annual Passholders do not bring as much value to the company in terms of revenue. Chapek compared them to guests who come from out-of-state and stay for a week in a Disney resort.

“As you know, different guests, depending on where they are coming from, have different relative values in terms of their contribution as a guest to the park. Typically someone who travels and stays for 5-7 days is marginally more valuable to the business than someone who comes in on an annual pass and stays a day or two and consumes less merchandise and food and beverage.”

Disney CEO Bob Chapek, August 4, 2020

So, Chapek didn’t explicitly state that Passholders are not valuable to the company. He implied that the company doesn’t make as much money when the parks are filled with passholders.

According to the call, the Orlando parks are currently about half out of state visitors and half local visitors. This is outside the norm for Walt Disney World.

Increasing Revenue From Passholders

Hopefully, Chapek and the parks division will start to think creatively about getting passholders and locals to spend more money inside the parks.

Passholders also save 20% on Banshees in Pandora right now

The current 30% discount on merchandise is a good start, and the Passholder resort rates for early fall are enticing!

more Passholder Merchandise please!

I (Rebecca) am hoping to see more food and beverage discounts soon. For the 45th anniversary, Passholders even received a discount on even quick service food options!

the Passholder Magazine “Mickey Monitor”

Another way to increase revenue with the Annual Passholder set? Passholder exclusive merchandise, snacks and menu items! Exclusive Passholder experiences, like tours, would also sell well.

Offering Passholder exclusive items and experiences conveys that Passholders are appreciated by the company.

Passholders Feel Taken For Granted

Many Annual Passholders feel like they are getting a raw deal from the Walt Disney Company. The Annual Passes we purchased prior to the pandemic don’t have the same value today as they did in January.

Could we at least get some more cute freebies? Like this Flower and Garden print from 2016?

The main issues for Passholders are the loss of park hopping and the need for park reservations. Without a resort stay, Passholders are limited to booking 3 days in the parks at a time. And parks keep “selling out” for the Passholder category.

I have seen numerous comments in our Facebook group, Kenny the Pirate Crew, talking about feeling taken for granted as Passholders. Chapek’s comment, while tecnically accurate, stung a little.

Final Thoughts as a Passholder

Ok, except for Haunted Mansion and Pirates! Even we can’t figure those out.

When the park pass reservation system was announced, like many Passholders I felt a bit swindled. After all, I purchased a pass without blockout dates and now my pass can be blocked out if the park reservations are full.

However, as someone who stays in Disney resorts when using my pass, I have been minimally affected. Other Passholders are local or use outside accommodations when they visit.

REminder: You Can Cancel your Annual Pass Until August 11, 2020 for a partial refund.

Personally, I buy annual passes because I love to come and go as I please and to visit parks on my arrival and departure days without feeling like I wasted a ticket.

Until the pandemic hit, I always felt valued as an Annual Passholder and loved all the little perks they offer from magnets to discounts to special merchandise.

Gotta have magnets!

It’s really in the last few months that I’ve started to feel like they think I’ll stick around no matter what they do.

Here’s hoping that the Walt Disney Company soon sees that they shouldn’t take Passholders for granted. We may be their “most loyal” customers, but we don’t wish to be seen as guests who will keep coming no matter what.

Annual Passholders With Resort Reservations Not Limited on Days
The VI Passholder Line can be reached at 407-939-7277

Are you an Annual Passholder? How are you feeling in terms of Disney valuing your loyalty at this time? Sound off in the comments on Facebook and in our Facebook group!


  1. Guess what park is an extra 15 min drive from Disney? Yep Universal. And guess what park is a 30 min drive. Yep Busch Gardens/Adventure Island. So we will see what changes Disney decides on because frankly I can get an annual pass to Universal and Busch Gardens for almost the same price as my Disney pass. I’m sure both of those businesses would be happy to have my money.

  2. My husband and I are also out of state passholders. We went in July 2019 and October 2019. We had also booked a week in May 2020. We don’t stay on property. We currently are booked for October 2-9. Our adult son planned on going with us in May so we purchased a 5-day parkhopper ticket. We can no longer park hop. We were able to book 5 days in the park for our son but we could only book 3 days. So now in addition to losing the parkhopper feature, my son will lose 2 days in the park because he doesn’t want to go into the park alone, since we annual passholders are being punished by only being able to book 3 days. I can see limiting annual passes for local people, but we live 1200 miles away and our passes will now expire in December. This trip in October is our only opportunity to use the passes before they expire. We had planned on spending time in Epcot for the food and wine festival, but I guess we will spend our money at Universal instead.

  3. This is our first year to buy annual passes. We live out of state and wanted to come 3 times this year, for anniversary, birthdays and a holiday. Because none of those happened before COVID getting a partial refund would mean we spent money and got nothing for what we spent so we chose not to do that.
    Because my job is education related I can’t go just any time of year. My days are now even more limited and I can’t use the features I paid for- park hopping and water parks. I really get angry when I see the message for the annual passholders on the website telling me you can’t get everything you’ve paid for.
    I don’t see us ever buying another annual pass. Had I gotten a refund for the days these features weren’t available I might look at things differently. But clearly my passholder renewal money and being an out of state passholder who would have use the food and resort and liked to buy pins especially, isn’t enough for Disney for them to see my value.

  4. Nice to know…..glad we canceled our passes and got refunds. My hard earned money will go somewhere else it’s appreciated!

  5. We are so disappointed with Disney! They have totally dropped the ball with Annual Passholders. Without the entertainment, the food we are used to, no park hopper, etc. we opted out, but did try to get a reservation in before the cancellation of the 12 of August: IMPOSSIBLE! We called about that and they said we had to make a reservation at a hotel to get in! The nerve! And if you look at their new reservation system, there is nothing available for annual passholders, but there is for those buying new tickets and those with a Disney Resort reservation. They could care less about Annual Passholders! This leaves a bad taste about spending on an annual pass for 4 in the near future. Universal here we come!

  6. The issue with that comparison is based on a single year. You would have to compare a longer period of time to really make an accurate comparison of value. A passholder may keep their passes for 5 years or longer. While a couple who comes and spends a week may only visit and stay once every 5-7 years. So your value of a passholder is significantly higher over the longer term if they average the yearly numbers. Passholder = $520 over 5 years while Non-passholder family of 4 is still only $232 per person over that same 5 years. But like you said, way to many variables to just guess at it.

  7. My husband and I have an annual pass (we live 1200 miles from Disney) and we purchased a 5 day ticket for our adult son, for a trip originally planned for May (we stay off property at another timeshare). We are now going in October, however, our son can make reservations to go into the parks for 5 days but my husband and I are only able to book 3 days in the park. I am beyond angry right now. Special consideration for out-of-state passholders should have been allowed on a case-by-case basis, since we are scheduling a vacation for 1 week and are not able to visit the park more frequently like the in-state passholders have to option to do. Once this trip is over, we will not be able to use the pass again prior to its expiration in December. With regard to spending money in the parks, we spent a tremendous amount last July and again in October when we went during the Food and Wine Festival. We were hoping to do so again this year, even with it being scaled back a bit. Unfortunately, since we aren’t permitted to schedule more than 3 days that won’t be happening. Our son will also lose 2 days on his pass because he has no intention of going into the park by himself when his “Disney-fanatic” parents aren’t permitted to go. So much for “no blackout dates” on the Annual Passes we purchased.

    • Thanks for reading! I’ve heard that they are releasing same day park availability for passholders for epcot, animal kingdom and magic kingdom. So, hopefully you can still go to the parks. I agree as an out of state passholder, we paid for no blockout dates and that’s what we should get.

  8. I spend more money when it is enjoyable . When it’s packed to the walls, I go in for one hour and leave spending close to zero dollars. For example, I spend about 100 dollars at Epcot for food and wine few weeks ago. On a typical day, I would go in and spend 30 Dollars for food and leave quickly.

  9. If the passholders need discounts to spend in park, then you’re obviously not as valuable on a per capita basis as overnight guest. If passholders want to up their value to the company they need to up their in park spending without a bunch of discounts.

    • Hi Zack thanks for reading! The point is that passholders come all the time, so we have tried Be Our Guest restaurant, etc. already and don’t have the urgency to buy souvenirs because we know we will be back. Passholders always get merchandise and resort discounts, I’m suggesting they add food discounts bc part of their beef with passholders is that they don’t eat in the parks.

      Part of the reason we don’t eat at expensive sit down restaurants is we have already had the experience. Maybe a good discount would entice passholders to re-do big ticket dining experiences. Personally, most in park dining is one and done for us. BOG was decent but it cost my family of 3 $200+ for some decent, not great, food.

  10. My bf and I are annual pass holders and truly feel shafted, and for the CEO of WDW to say we are not valuable is truly telling me how Disney feels about AP holders. They have taken away MANY of the perks. We do eat in the parks and it’s rare that I get a snack out of my backpack. I get a lot of gifts so we do spend money from time to time… for us to FIGHT just to get a reservation is for the birds… We both have been on the fence about canceling, we both LOVE Disney and really don’t want to, however this is giving me more thoughts of canceling

    • I’m right there with you on feeling shafted. You still have a few days to decide. For me, I’m keeping my pass because I want to have it whether or not I feel valued by WDW executives. It’s for me, not them. Thanks for reading!

  11. I agree that Passholders spend a lot of money. But I think it is accurate that non-AP guests spend more when you factor in their length of stay and on site expenditures when you do a direct comparison. . Obviously every situation is different, but I made up some numbers:

    Example A: AP – 2 people – visit 2 days per week, about 100 visits per year – spend average one night per month on site
    AP cost = $1100 x 2 = $2200
    1 night per month @ $300 = $3600 per year
    Expenses per day = $100 x 100 = $10,000 per year
    Total = $15,800 per year / 2 = $7900 per person / 100 visits = relative value of $79 per visit per person (if you increase the daily expense to $150, it brings the daily value to $104 per person per visit)

    Example B: non AP family of 4 – 1 week on site with 6 nights and 7 day tickets – using dining plan cost for food estimate
    Ticket cost: $550 x 4 = $2200
    Hotel cost: 6 nights @ $300 = $1800
    Food: $265 per day x 6 days = $1590
    Souvenirs: $100 per day x 7 days = $700
    Misc incidentals: $30 per day x 7 days = $210
    Total = $6500 / 4 people = $1625 per person / 7 days = $232 per person per day

    And yes, there are so many variables that can’t be captured here – but the biggest difference is really the cost per day to enter the park. I think he may have been able to deliver the message differently but he was speaking to shareholders and addressing earnings. I don’t think he ever said (or even implied) that APs aren’t valued – but the fact that their per day value is somewhat less to the bottom line is probably quite accurate.

    • I’m with you. It was an accurate statement. I had seen it shared on social media as “chapek says APs aren’t valuable” so I wanted to provide a little context since I had been listening to the call. As soon as he said it I was like “oh that’s not going to make for a positive sound bite” but I get what he meant. Thanks for reading!

  12. I agree with you! I am an AP and I have not felt slighted in any way through this. These are unprecedented situations and I think they are being handled pretty well – and hopefully adjustments are being made as needed.

    As for the comments, I heard a CEO offering an explanation for why revenue was down – a certain guest demographic tends to spend less than a different guest demographic over a defined time period. No more, no less.

  13. Chapek. You have constantly raised prices on passes and food/alcohol to levels. We still continue to go year after year for decades now even finally moving closer to go more often. Maybe if a beer wasn’t $10, and the mediocre Food and Wine booth offerings weren’t $10 for a rotten two bites people could spend more.

  14. I an out-of-state passholder, so we give Disney the best of both worlds — paying for an AP plus staying on Disney property for a week or two at a time at least once a year.

    I can understand what Bob Chapek was saying, and I don’t think he intended to offend anyone CEOs in general have to be so careful about how they word things.

    Understandably, Disney can only do so much under the current circumstances, but I agree that they should strive to provide some more incentives for their passholders — especially at this time. Whenever I call, I am told that they appreciate my being an AP-holder. Now is the perfect time to show that appreciation for guests who love Disney so much.

    That being said, I was very pleased with how we were treated. When the pandemic hit and we needed to cancel our March trip, we immediately rebooked for September. Unfortunately, even with the added five months, our passes were to expire before our rebooked trip began. Since we’re not local, we aren’t able to go to the parks on relatively short notice; we need to plan everything well in advance. Disney graciously extended our passes all the way to the final date of our rebooked trip, and they did so back in March — well before they knew how long they would actually be closed. I was very happy that they were willing to do this for us.

    • Wow that’s awesome that they did that! I need to call again about our platinum plus passes. We each paid $100 extra for water park access and the water parks remain closed… ‍♀️ Thanks for reading! Enjoy your trip!

  15. First let’s clarify a few things. As a platinum Florida resident I spend on average of around 200 a day. Trying to compare a family of four who may have to fly here to a family of two who live 45 mins from the park is not only wrong but moronic. Just because we live close doesn’t mean we don’t book the stays to take advantage of when we had early access and fast passes. Plus let’s also figure in most families out of state may come down on e or twice a year. We passholders used to come every weekend. Not difficult to do the math. One vacation at let’s say 4k verse 500 to 1000 every weekend. A lot of us passholders have spent quite a deal of money.

    • I agree. I’m sure they know the math on it and have us reduced to an average number in terms of spending. I hope they consider doing more to entice passholders and locals to spend in the parks, since that’s the direction the business is headed for now. Thanks for reading!

  16. As a DVC owner I can feel the Annual Passholders pain. Their is nothing like being hoodwinked into spending so much money on what is basically a timeshare (look at how little Disney Theming is missing from so many of the DVC properties vs Value Resorts) and then being treated like a second class citizen after they Disney got their money.

    • Honestly this is one thing that keeps me off of DVC. Once they have your cash, they don’t feel the need to offer the same level of customer service. As cash guests in the resorts we get amazing service. It’s worth a little extra to me. Thanks for reading!

  17. Do the maths. Isn’t it true ? I think it should have been qualified however. It’s not a slight on APs generically.

    APs from Florida simply do not spend the kind of money that out of state visitors who may also be APs do. Florida APs don’t need the rooms, beverage food etc. Quite simply, local business alone won’t cut it. It’s called Disney ‘World’ for a reason.

    • Hi Ian thanks for reading! Yes, it’s definitely true that they make more money off of out of state guests. I’m sure they have all guests reduced to a dollar amount and think in those terms. I also think they need to lean into the passholder thing and try to figure out ways to get us passholders to spend more money. Offering a 20% food discount would mean passholders eat in the parks… offering a special tour for passholders would make money, too. So imo THEY need to change the way they think about passholders bc that’s where the business is coming from at this time!

  18. I think its horrible. We come all the time. And buy alot of merchandise and even ship it home. Up until this year we even purchased the dining plan. We all do our best through this mess. But, they also seem to have forgotten they promised to add the months on to our passes for the time Disney was closed for. Now, they are just adding a month. And the people at Disney never know whats going on, because they are going on their word. Not happy with this.

    • Hi Jayne thanks for reading! We got 5 total months added to our passes. 4 for the closure and one extra to make up for the changes in our passes. Check your expiration dates, all 5 months should be reflected now!

      Disclaimer: idk about monthly payment plan passes, the above is true for paid in full passes

What do you think?

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.