Disney has been involved in a number of lawsuits over the years, and another one is seeing some big developments now.
Disney has recently had to deal with a Park Pass lawsuit from Magic Key passholders, a Park Pass lawsuit initiated by Annual Passholders, and an investor lawsuit stemming from Disney’s handling of the Parental Rights in Education Bill in Florida (what critics call “Don’t Say Gay”). Right now, we’re taking a closer look at the Annual Pass Park Pass lawsuit as that has seen some major developments.
Before we get to the update, let’s go over a brief overview of what’s going on. Basically, back in 2022, some Disney World Annual Passholders filed a lawsuit against Walt Disney Parks and Resorts related to Park Passes and how they interact with the Annual Pass.
In the lawsuit, the Plaintiffs claimed a few things, namely:
- By keeping the Park Pass system in place, Disney has breached its contract with Passholders
- The Park Pass system effectively blocks out the highest tier of Annual Passholders on some days (when Park Passes sell out), even though those Annual Passes had been advertised as having “unlimited access”
- Disney has been unfairly favoring guests with single or multi-day tickets over Annual Passholders so they can “make a larger profit”
- And Disney has “altered the Platinum Pass and Platinum Plus Pass terms so dramatically that they do not even resemble the original agreement bargained for by Plaintiffs”
Back in December of 2022, we shared a bit of an update about the Passholder lawsuit and how the Plaintiffs had been directed to file an amended complaint with their full names (they originally just used some initials). The plaintiffs later did file a motion for leave to amend their complaint. But some BIG things have happened since then.
Following that December update, the plaintiffs did file an amended complaint, but they were then directed to file a new one as that one still had certain deficiencies that needed to be addressed. Soon after, a second amended complaint was filed (on January 3rd, 2023). That’s the complaint the case is now operating under.
And that’s the complaint that Disney is now trying to have dismissed. On January 13th, 2023, not long after that second amended complaint was filed, Disney filed a motion to dismiss the complaint.
Here’s a basic breakdown of their arguments.
First, Disney notes that the plaintiffs had Annual Passes that are subject to certain express terms and conditions. Disney alleges that it reserved the right to change those terms and conditions and Passholder’s park access.
Specifically, they point to some terms and conditions that said “[p]arks, attractions or entertainment may … change or be discontinued without notice and without liability” and terms and conditions were “subject to change.”
Disney then notes that due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it changed some of those terms and conditions to require Park Passes for all guests (including Passholders) and limit Park Hopping to 2PM. Disney then updated Annual Pass terms to reflect the Park Pass system.
Disney claims that it took steps to accommodate Passholders during this time, including by offering them the ability to “opt out of their passes until August 11, 2020,” and even a bit further when the “grace period” kicked in.
Disney points out that the plaintiffs did NOT choose to opt-out, but instead kept their passes and renewed those passes “under the reservation system and new terms and conditions” in 2021 and 2022.
Disney then addresses the plaintiff’s claims. According to Disney, the plaintiffs claim they had an “implied contract” that their passes would have “no blockout dates” and “unrestricted Park Hopping.” Disney then states that the plaintiffs’ claim is that the Park Pass system and Park Hopping restrictions violate that implied contract, among other things. Plaintiffs also brought up times when single-day or multi-day tickets/Park Passes were available while Park Passes for the same day were not available for Annual Passholders.
Disney then argues that the plaintiffs fail to state a claim because there were no such “implied contracts.” Instead, Disney alleges that they had the express contract, which restricts them from bringing that implied contract claim.
In Disney’s motion, they argue that the express contract precludes any implied contract claim.
They also say that even if there was an implied promise of “no blockout dates,” the facts the plaintiffs allege don’t constitute “blockout dates.” Instead, the issue is more related to dates on which Passholders weren’t technically blocked out but still couldn’t enter the parks because all Park Passes for Passholders had filled up for the day. Disney argues that this is different.
As Disney puts it, the plaintiffs “allege only that ‘Disney appears to be limiting the number of reservations available to Platinum Pass holders on any given day’…Allocating reservations per day is different from blocking out or ‘closing off’ particular ‘pre-designated dates’ altogether.”
When it comes to Park Hopping, Disney claims that the plaintiffs argue that Park Hopping used to be allowed before 2PM. But Disney claims that this doesn’t show they promised never to change that Park Hopping access.
They then go on to break down why plaintiff’s other claims shouldn’t survive. In conclusion, Disney argues that the entire complaint should be dismissed.
What will happen next? We’ll have to wait and see. We expect the Plaintiffs will file a response to the Motion to Dismiss, and the motion could eventually be set for a hearing, at which point the court will make a determination as to whether the case can move forward. We’ll keep an eye out for more updates.
In terms of other updates, a case management order has been signed for this case. Essentially, what this does is set things in motion for the remainder of the case — setting deadlines for things like discovery, the joinder of parties, etc.
Importantly, the case management order establishes that all motions are due by June 27th, 2024, the final pre-trial conference will be on July 18th, 2024, and the trial start date is set for the term that starts on August 5th, 2024. That doesn’t mean August 5th, 2024 will be the actual trial date, but means that the trial should be scheduled within the term that starts on that date, assuming the case gets that far.
The parties also selected a mediator, which will help them meet other requirements regarding mediation prior to trial. The case was referred to mediation on December 19th, 2022.
Again, we’ll be on the lookout for the latest updates on this lawsuit and let you know what we see. For more details about other lawsuits Disney has been involved in, including multi-million dollar lawsuits it has LOST, click here.
Click here to learn about the Southwest Airlines lawsuit that has been filed after there were massive cancelations
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What do you think about the claims in this lawsuit? Tell us in the comments.
The post The Latest CHANGES in the Park Pass Lawsuit Filed by Annual Passholders Against Disney first appeared on the disney food blog.