As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to become less oppressive to travelers, the new normal is becoming clearer to see at the Disney theme parks. One major aspect of the theme-park experience has been Disney’s free FastPass system, which enabled guests to use their park ticket to reserve a spot in line for some of the most popular attractions. Well, there’s a new version of this system at Disneyland Paris, and there’s a twist: you have to pay for it…per attraction.
Yes, it’s true. At Disneyland Paris, you can now reserve Disney Premier Access for a specific set of attractions, for anywhere between 8 to 15 Euros per attraction. (For all of us ugly Americans, that’s the equivalent of $9.45 to $17.71.) There’s a similar ticketing system at Shanghai Disneyland, but nothing has been announced yet for either the Disneyland or Walt Disney World theme-parks. Disneyland fans may well be familiar with MaxPass, a system update that was implemented a few years ago, allowing guests to pay a flat fee per day to request FastPasses directly from their mobile devices. So on one hand, it’s not entirely out of left field for Disney to charge its guests, but a) that flat fee was usually $10, and b) it was not a per-attraction cost.
Disney’s executives have threatened – er, promised – that a few of the changes implemented at the theme parks due to the pandemic would likely be here to stay. Considering that Disney is a business, it’s not altogether shocking to see them try to make more money. And we can technically comfort ourselves with the knowledge that, as of this writing, no such plans have been officially announced for Disneyland or Walt Disney World.
This is a Terrible Idea
But you would have to be extremely hopeful or naive to think it’s not a test or experiment for future use. If the system flops at these parks, it’s easy to imagine Disney tossing it aside and trying something new, but if it works…well, who knows. Many theme-park competitors have paid skip-the-line tickets offered, but they’re typically per-day costs. This feels particularly galling because if you choose to take advantage of the eight Disneyland Paris attractions where the option is available, you’re dropping the equivalent of $75 to $120 a day, just to skip a handful and a half of lines.
This feels like Disney continuing to do its own frog-boiling experiment. You know the one: where a frog is placed into a pot of water, and doesn’t realize the previously room-temperature water is now boiling until it’s too late. Disney used to let you skip the line for free. Then you could pay a few dollars a day. And now it might cost a good deal more per attraction. How much are you willing to pay? How long are you willing to stay in the pot of water before it gets too hot?
Here’s hoping the experiment fails. Otherwise, it’s another step in making Disney theme parks the realm of the super-rich.
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