A proposed class action alleges Walt Disney Parks and Resorts U.S. has falsely advertised that its top-tier Dream Key theme park passes are not subject to “blockout” dates.
The plaintiff alleges in the 16-page lawsuit that despite paying $1,399 for a Dream Key pass, which supposedly offers reservation-based admission subject to capacity limits on any day to either Anaheim’s Disneyland or California Adventure Park, she was “blocked out” of visiting either park on more than a dozen days in November 2021. After further investigation, however, the plaintiff found on Disney’s website that there were still tickets and/or reservations available for every single day in November, the lawsuit says.
“In other words, Disney was happy to sell Ms. Nielsen and other consumers single day passes for either park (or for both parks) for any day in November 2021,” the suit reads. “The problem was not that Disney had reached its capacity and therefore could not provide reservations to its Dream Key pass holders, the problem was that Disney had decided to block out reservations so that they were only available to new purchases and were not available to Dream Key pass holders.”
Overall, the lawsuit alleges Walt Disney Parks and Resorts appears to be limiting the number of reservations available to Dream Key holders on any given day as a means to maximize the number of single-day and other passes Disney can sell. By advertising that Dream Key passes would not be subject to blockout dates, Disney “understood and expected” that customers would believe the park would not artificially limit its capacity and/or the number of Dream Key pass holders who could visit on any given day.
“This practice directly contradicts Disney’s advertised promise that the Dream Key would not be subject to blockout dates,” the complaint claims.
One pass to rule them all?
According to the filing, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts introduced its Disneyland Resort Magic Key program in August 2021, offering customers different types of “keys” that would entitle them to make reservations to enter the Disneyland (Anaheim) and/or California Adventure theme parks for no additional charge for one year from when their key was first used. Disney offered the Enchant Key, Believe Key and top-tier Dream Key, which the case says the plaintiff was immediately interested in because it was supposedly not subject to blockout dates as the other passes were and would therefore provide the most opportunities to visit the parks.
Per the case, the Dream Key pass, retailing for $1,399, was advertised as offering:
Reservation-based admission to one or both theme parks every day of the year;
The ability to book park reservations up to 90 days in advance and hold up to six park reservations at a time on a rolling basis during any 90-day window;
Up to 15-percent off select dining;
Up to 20-percent off select in-store merchandise; and
Most importantly, the suit stresses, the Dream Key pass was touted as having no blockout dates.
Plaintiff was blocked out for more than half of November, lawsuit claims
Shortly after purchasing her Dream Key pass, the plaintiff came to learn that Disney had already blocked out many days, including all weekend days, in November, the complaint says. When the customer tried to obtain an admission ticket around October 19 for sometime the following month, the Disney reservation website stated that 17 out of the 30 days in November were unavailable to Dream Key pass holders, according to the lawsuit.
The plaintiff, a longtime Disney customer, thought it was unlikely that every ticket and/or reservation for Disneyland and California Adventure had been booked for more than half of November and soon discovered on Disney’s website that single-day passes to both parks were still somehow available, the complaint says.
That portion of the website revealed that, in fact, as of October 19, 2021, neither park had sold all of its tickets and/or reservations for any single day in November 2021.”
The lawsuit calls the plaintiff’s attempts to book Dream Key reservations for November “completely at odds” with how Disney advertised the pass to consumers.
The plaintiff concedes that although Disney stated at the time of purchase that “reservations are subject to availability and are not guaranteed for any specific dates or park,” the company did not relay to consumers that it planned to artificially limit the number of available reservations by only allowing a certain number of Dream Key holders in on a particular day, the lawsuit claims. “No blockout dates,” the suit argues, is understood by reasonable consumers as meaning they could use their Dream Key to reserve a park ticket as long as the park was not at capacity.
The complaint says the plaintiff understood that she may not be able to get the reservation she preferred on certain days for certain reasons, including when a park is legitimately at capacity or due to public health orders. What the plaintiff was unaware of, the case contends, is that the Dream Key was, “essentially, a ‘second class’ ticket with limited availability” because Disney had blocked off an unknown majority of reservations for single-day and other full-price ticket purchases.
Ultimately, Dream Key customers have lost out as a result of Disney’s “unlawful behavior,” the lawsuit claims. Consumers would not have bought Dream Key passes, much less paid as much as they did for them, had they known their right to make park reservations was much more limited than Disney let on, the complaint says.
Who does the lawsuit look to cover?
The suit looks to represent all consumers who purchased a Dream Key pass from Disney within the last four years and up to the time a class is certified by the court.
The proposed class action detailed on this page was initially filed in Orange County Superior Court on November 9, 2021 before being removed to California federal court on December 15.
I have a Dream Key pass and some of my days were blocked out. What can I do now?
When a class action is first filed, all a consumer can really do is sit tight and stay informed. Overall, there’s nothing you need to do to join or be considered “included” in a class action. It’s only if and when a lawsuit settles that people who are covered by the case, called “class members,” would need to act, which typically means filing a claim form online or by mail.
If a settlement were to be reached in this case, for instance, customers covered by the lawsuit would most likely receive a notice, by mail and/or email, with instructions on how to proceed next, how much compensation could be involved, and details regarding their legal rights and options, among other information.
Importantly, class action lawsuits tend to take some time to work their way through the legal process, usually toward a settlement, dismissal or arbitration outside of court. Consumers who have bought Dream Key passes from Walt Disney Parks and Resorts should sign up for ClassAction.org’s free weekly newsletter for the latest news and information.