"Pesky Passholders" was swift and loud...
It sounds both odd and strange for Disney workers to
dislike annual passholders. It should be a compliment to
Disneyland Resort that people want to make return visits. This
attitude is appalling.
I was infuriated at the comments some of the cast members
made in your recent article. As a premium annual passholder, I
was deeply offended at their comments.
Do they realize I not only spent $199 for the pass ($299
last year), but I regularly drop $100 on dinner at Granvilles?
In a typical bimonthly visit spend well over 100 on merchandise?
Regularly eat at Blue Bayou, Avalon Cove, Soap Opera Bistro,
Hook's Point, Ralph Brennan's and PCH Grill?
I never see Fantasmic without plunking down $50 for
Gallery seating. I spend a heck of a lot of money on adult
beverages at the Lost and Cove Bars. Have enjoyed the Blast!
dinner package. Regularly defend the resort and talk it up to
co-workers, friends and family? Even occasionally stay at one of
the resort hotels (I am an out-of-state AP).
As far as complaining, I have never complained, unless it
was warranted, and I have sent many, many letters to Disneyland
Resort praising specific cast members, of whom there are many.
Talk about biting the hand that feeds you....
|Fellow premium passholder Naomi Weeks adds:
I just finished reading your article about APs and was not
at all surprised at the comments of the cast members. These are
probably the same cast members that act as if they are gracing
us with their presence. As someone who has attended Disneyland
at least four times a year since it opened, I can tell you that
the quality of young employees has dropped dramatically since
the 1950s and '60s. Many of them are too busy chatting with each
other to notice what's going on around them.
This is not to say we passholders are being unfairly
judged, but there is certainly a problem with some of the cast
members attitudes as well. A rude or surly attitude from either
side can trigger a bad response from the other side.
Personally, my husband and I always try to thank the cast
members and smile, even if the cast member doesn't. I know this
sounds sappy, but this is supposed to be "the happiest
place on earth." Perhaps, with a little effort from both
sides, it could be.
I unfortunately agree with a lot of cast members. So many
APs do walk around the park as if they are entitled to do what
they please. It's very disconcerting to have these people be
loud and rude to everyone, not just cast members.
I for one do get treated very well by cast members -- but
I don't flash my AP card all the time. When I do it's just part
of the transaction -- and sometimes even a "Welcome
back" or a comment on an upcoming event or park special
|John, aka "ParrotHead," speaks:
Regarding your recent item about annual passholders and
the disdain some cast members have for them... Boy, was that
disappointing to read!
I can't argue against the fact that APs often hold Disney
to a higher standard than most ordinary guests do. But I would
argue that this standard is no higher than that Disney should
hold ITSELF to, and the standard Disney held itself to in days
It should be remembered that APs are often The Walt Disney
Company's best customers. We visit the parks several times
throughout the year. For me (living about four hours away from
Walt Disney World), that means staying in a hotel for a couple
of nights -- almost always a Disney-owned resort. And, of
course, we generally buy Disney food and merchandise each trip.
But outside of the parks, APs continue to be good
customers. Many, like me, make a point of seeing every movie
Disney releases. We buy DVDs to add to our Disney collections.
We buy books from Hyperion. We buy clothes, collectibles, and
other merchandise on a regular basis. We help spread the Magic
by doing things like promoting the Company to our friends and
helping them plan vacations at Disney theme parks. Many of us
are stockholders as well.
So kudos to Disney for recognizing what valuable customers
APs are as a group. Cast members who don't see the value of APs
need to wise up to the fact that if it weren't for them, they
would probably be out of work (this is particularly true in
California). It sounds like management recognizes the importance
of APs to the company. Hopefully that wisdom will filter down to
the front-line cast members you quote in your article.
the problem is more acute at Disneyland (since
it boasts hundreds of thousands of more APs), Disney World has a
few pips of its own.
Neil Kelly shares:
After reading the article dealing with obnoxious
Disneyland annual passholders I wanted to share a story with you
about one of their Walt Disney World counterparts.
My wife and I live in New York and became WDW annual
passholders this year. We made a trip to WDW in late April and
on one particularly hot afternoon we decided to explore the
passholder's lounge at Epcot. Since this was our first visit to
the lounge, one of the cast Members gave us a brief tour. With
its comfy chairs, free refreshments and quiet atmosphere the
lounge was a wonderful place to relax and recharge our
Unfortunately our respite was short-lived. About five
minutes into our visit the calm of the lounge was broken by the
invasion of a group led by a loud, abrasive woman. Shouting
across the lounge to her friends, the woman declared that she
was going to make everyone her famous "mocha-coca-frappuccino."
She started to mix the free hot chocolate, coffee and Coca-Cola,
spilling ingredients everywhere and leaving the refreshment bar
a filthy mess. She then yelled for a cast member to bring her
ice. When no one responded (they had all wisely retreated to the
front desk), she began opening doors into restricted areas and
shouting for service. At this point my wife and I decided to
take our chances with the mad dogs and Englishmen out in the
This woman's behavior was atrocious and embarrassing.
Thankfully people like her represent a very small percentage of
the guests at WDW. I understand that a trip to WDW is not cheap
and that we expect a certain level of service for our money.
However, a park pass is not a free pass to abandon your civility
and accountability. Just because someone else cleans up after
you doesn't mean you have to leave a mess. Cast members are not
servants at our beck and call. They are people who do an
extraordinary job under often difficult conditions. I hope
people like my "friend" at the lounge will remember
that when they visit.
In closing, I just want to say that my wife and I have
made 10 trips to WDW since our honeymoon in 1994 (number 11 is
coming up in November). We have stayed on property each time and
every trip has been wonderful. We have never been disappointed
with any facet of our stay. That's why we keep coming back.
Thanks to everyone at WDW.
|Bob Andrews writes:
We are WDW fanatics from New York, and bought our first
APs in April. We always go for two weeks in February. This year,
we decided to go back in April for a week! We are planning for a
week in October, then our usual February trip, so APs made sense
I was shocked to read about cast members hating AP
holders! I assumed we would be treated specially due to the
APs... and we were (i.e., PH lounge at Epcot, access to any
park, and DTD anytime, etc.), but I never thought about local
I hope cast members will realize that us non-locals pay
BIG $$$ for our APs because we love Disney so much, and that not
all of us are jerks (I've sure seen them also!).
After reading your report, I will now be just a little
"paranoid" about letting cast members know we have
It's not that EVERY cast member hates
EVERY annual passholder. It's just a general opinion most cast
members have about some passholders who wave their pass around as
if it entitles them special treatment or is a permission slip for
being obnoxious. They're the small minority who give the rest of
us APs a bad name.
I can see how some might think they own the place. We have
witnessed such people. This year a woman at the Magic Kingdom
was telling her little ones to "just say excuse me"
coming out of Space Mountain. We were on the belt behind a solid
crowd. When I told her there was no room to get through, she
grinned and said she was "getting sick." It was
obvious she wasn't, and when I called her on it, she turned, got
in my face, and just lost it (obscenities, etc.) right in front
of everyone, including all the kids!
It was close to closing time, and she was just trying to
get in as many rides as she could -- even if that meant pushing
by people and lying! Can't believe she was teaching her kids
|A Disneyland employee
As a long-time cast member, your article on our
"APs" was right on target. Keep up the good work.
|Debbie Smith says:
I just felt that I had to write a response regarding cast
members not treating APs well. My husband and I just took our
first trip to Disney World last November and because of our
length of stay, it was less expensive to buy APs.
When we went to redeem the vouchers for the actual passes
at Epcot, the woman helping us couldn't have been nicer. The
first time we tried to enter the park and I put my pass in
incorrectly, the person at the gate also was very helpful and
Maybe they had a different opinion than they shared with
my husband and I, but that's okay. As long as they are treating
each and every guest courteously, what they think of us behind
our backs shouldn't matter.
I just wanted to let you know I had a very positive
experience with the cast members in Florida.
|Lisa Edwards writes:
I always enjoy reading your column, and was particularly
struck by your article today surrounding the negativity that
Disneyland cast members hold toward annual passholders. I was
genuinely shocked to read how lowly APs seem to be in cast
Our family has held annual passes for a number of years,
even though we live in the Seattle area, and generally only get
a chance to visit Southern California two or three times per
year. Doing the math, you'll see that we are not really saving
any money by holding annual passes versus buying single entry
However, the way we see it, we are sort of making an
investment into the parks; even if we do not recoup our annual
pass fee, we are guaranteeing the existence and maintenance of
the parks. I guess that's somewhat debatable, given the
condition of some areas and attractions, but at least we feel we
are "doing our part" to keep the parks open and
available to everyone. In any case, we see our annual pass
subscription payments as unlimited admission fees or membership
fees, similar to what you might pay at some sort of club.
As APs, we certainly do not expect any special treatment,
attention, or perks. I don't think cast members should treat any
guest better or worse than any other guest, regardless of how
they got in (discount, complimentary guest, AP, whatever). All
guests should be treated with respect and consideration, unless
they become unreasonable or violent in some way.
Conversely, APs should not be walking around Disneyland
with their noses up in the air expecting dignitary-type
treatment. At most, if they are frequent visitors and notice
problems with the park, they should go to City Hall like
everyone else. You're correct in noting that there are now
hundreds of thousands of APs (I think Al or someone
recently mentioned an estimate of 400,000 to 450,000), and
offering special areas or events for them is likely
unreasonably impossible. APs should be grateful to receive some
of the dining and merchandise discounts that they do receive,
and also to be able to go to Disneyland and experience the
special place that it is any time they'd like.
Anyway, I'd be curious to hear what other APs think -- do
many of them feel like they are "better" than the
average tourist or single-day ticketholder?
|And, Shon Christy writes:
Regarding the notes about APs and the way they are
treated. Being an annual passholder, and I hope a responsible
one, I make a plea to other passholders to please be responsible
as well. I can understand how some cast members would resent the
attitude of superiority exhibited by ANY guest who felt they had
privilege. I almost refuse to point out the fact to cast members
that I hold an AP, except when it comes to a discount.
To be honest, it really shouldn't matter if you hold an AP
or if you just bought a ticket at the gate. We are all in the
parks for the same reason: to be a part of the magic! Just
because you hold an AP and get a few perks does not mean that
you "own" the park and should be treated like Walt
himself. Now I'm not saying that if you hold an AP you shouldn't
use it, but please don't flash it around and use it like it was
a declaration from Walt himself.
Finally, I must say that I have never experienced any rude
behavior toward me from cast members because I hold an AP. That
is probably in large part due to the fact that I don't do as
mentioned above. I use my AP for merchandise and food discounts,
I take advantage of the little perks I can get, and occasionally
I ask if there is anything "extra" available to me. If
the answer is "no" then so be it. My experience at the
parks is none the worse. In fact, I think I get treated better
for being polite. Bottom line, don't be an jerk and you won't be
treated like one.
I agree absolutely.
I don't think cast members dislike
annual passholders on the whole, or think poorly of someone just
because they're an AP. I think they've all just heard too many
people complaining who say, "You know, I AM an AP!" As
if to say, "You know I pay your salary; you work for
me!" or "I'm more equal than everybody else!"
Years ago, I worked as a waiter where,
like at most restaurants, a small percentage of the clientele were
regulars who came in once or more a week. Most of them were
extra-nice, in part because they got to know the staff personally.
But some could also be more demanding because they knew their
cumulative business was more important to the restaurant than that
of a one-time visitor. Some APs are like that; but they forget
that there are 450,000 other people with the same credentials.
Send your comments to David here.
David Koenig is the senior editor of the 80-year-old business journal, The Merchant Magazine.
After receiving his degree in journalism from California State University, Fullerton (aka Cal State Disneyland), he began years of research for his first book, Mouse Tales: A Behind-the-Ears Look at Disneyland (1994), which he followed with Mouse Under Glass: Secrets of Disney Animation & Theme Parks (1997, revised 2001) and More Mouse Tales: A Closer Peek Backstage at Disneyland (1999); all titles published by Bonaventure Press.
He lives in Aliso Viejo, California, with his lovely wife, Laura, their wonderful son, Zachary, and their adorable daughter, Rebecca.
You can contact David here.
Click here to go to David's main page for a list of archived articles.
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