Disney World fights back against annual passholder lawsuit
Disney will help employees obtain whatever medical care they seek. Image via AP.

Disney dispute
The lawsuit calls Disney’s reservation system a predatory business.

To fight back against a pair of Disney World pass holders suing over the reservation system, Disney argued the company had the right to change the terms for annual passes.

“Changing the terms of their annual passes’ park access due to a pandemic, after expressly reserving the right to do so, is not plausible bad faith, injustice or an unfair business practice,” Disney said in a motion to dismiss the lawsuit filed last month.

Palm Beach County resident Erica Kelly and Orange County resident Marilyn Paone sued Disney in October after they said they couldn’t find open reservations when they wanted to go to the parks even though they had passes without blackout dates.

Re-opening during the pandemic, Disney first began requiring all visitors to make an advance online reservation to visit the theme parks in addition to having a pass or buying a ticket. The rules also made it more difficult for pass holders to park hop.

Disney has acknowledged how important the reservation system is in controlling who goes to the parks to help plan its park operations.

The reservation system is still in place despite constant complaints, although Disney lifted some of the rules last month for its pass holders who are among Disney’s most loyal fans. After 2 p.m., pass holders can visit spontaneously without booking a reservation with the exception of the Magic Kingdom on weekends.

As Disney seeks to dismiss the lawsuit, the company argued it had worked with pass holders during the pandemic when the rules changed, and online reservations were required.

“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,” Disney said in court documents, noting the two women chose to continue on with their passes.

The lawsuit calls Disney’s reservation system a predatory business and said it lowered the value of their passes if they weren’t able to get access to the parks.

“Disney abused a global pandemic to take advantage of its Platinum pass holders and unilaterally changed its Platinum passes, even after the threat of the pandemic subsided,” the lawsuit said. “Disney altered the Platinum Pass terms so dramatically they do not even resemble the original agreement bargained for by Plaintiffs.”

Kelly and Paone originally filed their lawsuit anonymously because they said they were concerned for their safety from online comments criticizing their case and for other reasons.

A judge didn’t buy their argument and ordered them in December to reveal their identities or warned the lawsuit was in jeopardy.

The two women later filed an amended lawsuit with their identities revealed.

“We look forward to prosecuting this case and vindicating our clients,” their attorney William Federman said when reached for comment by Florida Politics.

Representatives for Walt Disney World did not immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday.

Gabrielle Russon

Gabrielle Russon is an award-winning journalist based in Orlando. She covered the business of theme parks for the Orlando Sentinel. Her previous newspaper stops include the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, Toledo Blade, Kalamazoo Gazette and Elkhart Truth as well as an internship covering the nation’s capital for the Chicago Tribune. For fun, she runs marathons. She gets her training from chasing a toddler around. Contact her at [email protected] or on Twitter @GabrielleRusson .


  • Bernie

    February 2, 2023 at 8:08 pm

    These customers are right and Disney is so busy meddling in politics they have forgotten the importance of customer service. Not only have they denied park access to pass holders, but they have also done so to customers who stay on property and spend upwards of $800 per night and then can’t get into the theme park without reservations. They also discontinued room service or in room dining without informing guests when they make reservations or check into the resort hotel but prices did not decrease corresponding to diminished services

  • Htk

    February 2, 2023 at 8:11 pm

    I find the rebuttal from Disney complete bullshit. I was one of the passholders that Disney offered to “refund remaining months pro rated” or offered an extra 3 months into my pass. Reason is simple: many out of state passhomsers, especially the ones buying the top tier passes only had a window of time to visit the parks every year that was relegated to 10-14 days around the holidays. Being that Disney offered to refund me the remaining months after they closed the parks on a pass that I couldn’t use until December which I was already several months into without having spent even a day in the park means I’m handing the company free money for absolutely nothing. The three months they gave me didn’t help me at all since when I went to book for the holidays, I couldn’t even get a reservation with my season pass and had to BUY REGULAR PRICED TICKETS!

    • Scott

      February 3, 2023 at 1:00 pm

      Wow, if you are telling the truth then that is huge. If the plantiffs can show that season pass holders were put behind regular priced ticket purchases, then that would be potentially a much stronger case for those two gals.


    February 2, 2023 at 8:19 pm

    OK Disney how much did you pay the family of the kid who got eaten by the gator a few years back?
    America liked your brand back then and felt you did the right thing at the time.
    America dont give a crap what you do to these pass holders. Just go away already.
    Now after you have whizzed America off with all your over the top queer @$$ $hit America is sick and tired of Disney.
    Get out of America. Just go those weiners in Europe and Japan will be just fine with your trifiling @$$ woke $#It. Maybe build Canada and Mexico D. World.

    • Do it

      February 2, 2023 at 8:34 pm

      “Just go away already”

      Yeah and watch Florida go broke in a matter of months I’m up for it lol

      • Denise Thress

        February 4, 2023 at 6:18 am

        Disney is over the top bringing crowds and crime to FL. It was great in the beginning. I was an annual pass-holder for several years but got turned off by the crowds and quit going about 10 years ago. Florida would not go broke without it! Maybe we could return to some peace and quality of life.

    • Peggy

      February 2, 2023 at 11:16 pm

      “America is sick and tired of Disney.”

      Which is why they’re so packed all the time that no amount of price increases and reservation systems can keep people away.

    • Tony

      February 3, 2023 at 11:50 am

      Wow. You were able to pack a lot of racism and homophobia in one short post.

Comments are closed.


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