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Will jilted Disneyland annual passholders flock to rival theme parks? - OCR/SCNG

Darkbeer1

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
>>The sudden death of Disneyland’s annual pass program could create a huge opportunity for Universal Studios Hollywood, Knott’s Berry Farm and Six Flags Magic Mountain to swoop in and woo jilted Disney diehards looking for a new theme park to call home.

Disneyland shocked fans and the theme park industry when it abruptly killed its annual pass program in January and announced a new membership program will be unveiled at a later date. The Anaheim theme park’s rivals didn’t follow the industry leader’s lead.

Expect Universal, Knott’s and Magic Mountain to make impassioned pitches to Disneyland passholders when California theme parks reopen — especially if Disneyland’s new membership program proves too restrictive or expensive.

Disneyland and other California theme parks are unlikely to return to full operation until spring or summer under COVID-19 health and safety reopening guidelines issued by the state.

Disneyland will soon find out just how loyal their faithful passholders remain after a brutal breakup following a four-decade courtship. Disneyland passholders stung by the abandonment could opt to “swipe left” on the Mouse House and try another theme park romance while the Happiest Place on Earth takes some time to think about what it has done to its million-strong fan base.

“Disneyland is in the DNA of people here in Southern California and well beyond,” Disneyland resort president Ken Potrock said in January during an interview with reporters. “It’s incredibly important that we recognize this group as our biggest fans, our most important fans and a group that we want to make sure we are putting our arms around and really showing them love.”

Disneyland has offered few details about what the new membership program will look like or when it will be rolled out — leaving passholders with more questions than answers. That creates an opening for Universal, Knott’s and Magic Mountain to reintroduce themselves to Disneyland passholders who may not have come calling much lately.

“When we return and things reopen it’s going to be like the Roaring ‘20s. The dam is going to break,” said Dennis Speigel, an industry expert with International Theme Park Services. “Everybody is going to be at capacity — Disney, Universal, SeaWorld, Magic Mountain and Knott’s Berry Farm. They’re all going to be at capacity because we certainly know there are enough people to fill them up.”

Disneyland’s rivals will be touting new rides when California theme parks reopen — with the Bear-y Tales dark ride coming to Knott’s, Secret Life of Pets: Off the Leash attraction debuting at Universal and West Coast Racers roller coaster at Magic Mountain. Disney has said Avengers Campus will open in 2021 — but hasn’t said whether the new Marvel themed land will debut with the return of Disney California Adventure.

Martin Lewison, a theme park expert at Farmingdale State College in New York, said the end of Disneyland’s passholder program could create an opportunity for Universal, Knott’s and Magic Mountain.

“It’s certainly possible that nearby competitors will pick up business since those funds have been freed up in consumers’ pocketbooks,” Lewison said via email. “But unfortunately there are only losers and no winners during COVID.”

Theme parks have increasingly turned to season pass and membership models that provide a steady stream of returning customers and reliable revenue. Season passes represented 58% of regional theme park attendance in 2019, according to Goldman Sachs.

Cedar Fair, the parent company of Knott’s Berry Farm, has a season pass base of 1.8 million passholders, according to the latest company quarterly report. Passholders represented 61% of total attendance at Cedar Fair parks in 2020 — up from 52% in 2019.

“The efforts we’ve taken over the past year to maintain our relationship with our passholders has been exceptional,” Cedar Fair CEO Richard Zimmerman said on a call with analysts.

Less than 1% of Cedar Fair passholders have asked for refunds during the pandemic, Zimmerman said on the call.

Universal Studios Hollywood threw shade at Disneyland for killing its passholder program, lobbing eye-rolling insults via Twitter.

“Hey Pass Members. Yeah, you,” Universal Studios Hollywood tweeted. “We just want to let you know that we (love) you.”

Universal went on to thank passholders for sticking with the Hollywood theme park during the coronavirus closure.<<

 
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Tamandua

Well-Known Member
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Yeah. That's probably what we'll do. Go for the cheaper options and then reevaluate Disney when covid restrictions are dropped.
 

180º

Well-Known Member
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Sailor310

Well-Known Member
I might take advantage of the free tickets for veterans in November to Knotts. Universal is too hot, too far away, and just not my cup of tea. Once every 10 years is enough. I was even a little burned out on Disneyland before all this. I had to tour guide for sister and friends in Feb. It was a $199 day so I got the cheapest pass, figuring I'd go a couple more times that year to get my money's worth.
If the math works out the same again, I'll probably get a pass. If passes get to be too much, I might just buy 2 or 3 single day tickets throughout the year and call it a day.
 

Stevek

Well-Known Member
Some but if history has shown us anything, not much will stop APs from returning. How many times did Disney raise AP prices, how many times did the AP population complain, how times did they actually not renew. Yeah, there's some out there like me that moved on but there's always new people ready to get APs. What I do believe will hurt them will be if they get rid of the monthly payment plan.

Personally, I would not flock to another park. We tried Knotts and while I love the park, it's not Disneyland which is exactly why so many have paid a premium to buy tickets/APs.
 

Jiggsawpuzzle35

Well-Known Member
I’ll be getting a Sea World AP after a 2 year absence. My 5 year old still qualifies for the free pre school pass and the older kid will just get one of those $93 fun pass. I’ll be purchasing the Silver pass which is extremely affordable .
 

SSG

Well-Known Member
On my annual Disneyland trip 3 years back, we decided to spend a day at Uni. It had been at least 10 years (probably more) since I had been there, and the main selling point to go was we had never seen PotterLand. So we got there and used early entry passes, rode FJ twice, explored Hogsmeade, got a Butterbeer. Took about an hour. Then we took the tram tour which was fun, although the Fast & Furious attraction was super lame. We then set out to explore, but the temperature had swelled to over 100 degrees, there wasn't a bit of shade to be found, and there was nothing that looked interesting enough to wait for in that heat.

Then the Mrs. says 'you want to go back to Disneyland?' We were done with Uni in about 3 hours. I can't imagine when I'll want to go back.

So I kind of doubt Uni or Knotts will take much of a bite from Disneyland.
 
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As a disabled vet on a limited income and physical limitations was already slowing me down from the time when I had a premium annual pass for everything in southern California. I will probably limit myself to only going on the veterans days which many provide. Until the we are all back to the new normal and the parks settle down. I expect this summer to be crazy busy if allowed to fully open. They all know this and at least some (cough disney cough) will take full advantage! Others have already shown they are taking the high road!
 
On my annual Disneyland trip 3 years back, we decided to spend a day at Uni. It had been at least 10 years (probably more) since I had been there, and the main selling point to go was we had never seen PotterLand. So we got there and used early entry passes, rode FJ twice, explored Hogsmeade, got a Butterbeer. Took about an hour. Then we took the tram tour which was fun, although the Fast & Furious attraction was super lame. We then set out to explore, but the temperature had swelled to over 100 degrees, there wasn't a bit of shade to be found, and there was nothing that looked interesting enough to wait for in that heat.

Then the Mrs. says 'you want to go back to Disneyland?' We were done with Uni in about 3 hours. I can't imagine when I'll want to go back.

So I kind of doubt Uni or Knotts will take much of a bite from Disneyland.

Are you sure you were in Universal Studios? The park has plenty of shade and days over 100-degrees are not as common as you imply.

Knott's has been increasing attendance in recent years and in part from former Disneyland Annual Passholders who are leaving because of the increasing cost of a Disney AP. Knott's has also significantly improved its food and beverage offerings, added some great attractions, and expanded the number of events they hold.
 

denyuntilcaught

Well-Known Member
My guess is no, not in droves or in any significant population. The rival parks are great on their own, but have not built nearly the same level of brand affinity as Disneyland has, especially with the populations with the most buying power.
 

DLEXP

New Member
People bought the AP for Disney specifically because it’s Disney. It’s an experience that the others don’t have. Now I’m sure there are some “theme park junkies” who are happy in whatever park they land in (I’m one of em) but I’d say the majority of the folks bought the pass for the Disney Experience.

Also judging by the amount of people willing to pay to park, walk around a partially opened DCA with no rides and wait up to an hour just for the opportunity to spend money in a shop and also buy food at full theme park prices I would say Disney has a lock on its audience that won’t loosen any time soon.
 

Professortango1

Well-Known Member
Disney hasn't been the affordable option for years, even if they tricked people into thinking it was affordable with payment plans. People love Disney because the quality and those who want that quality cannot find it consistently at any neighboring park. I know Disney fans who refuse to visit Universal because they believe that Disney is the best and why bother paying for something inferior. I don't feel this way, but I know many former AP holders who did/do. Disney will lose some guests, that's to be certain. The college kids who went 3-5 days a week and the folks struggling to make ends meet and can't manage their finances will likely visit Disney far less often. But I do believe Disney will make more money overall. Day ticket guests still buy merch and food AND they paid $100+ to be there for the day. Plus parking.
 

SSG

Well-Known Member
Are you sure you were in Universal Studios? The park has plenty of shade and days over 100-degrees are not as common as you imply.

Knott's has been increasing attendance in recent years and in part from former Disneyland Annual Passholders who are leaving because of the increasing cost of a Disney AP. Knott's has also significantly improved its food and beverage offerings, added some great attractions, and expanded the number of events they hold.
Oh. Yes. I'm not sure where I was. I guess I actually had a good time at Uni, and my thought that I didn't was wrong. Thanks for straightening me out.
 

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