The Psychology of the DLR Annual Pass Holder

HydroGuy

A Pirate's Life For Me
Joined
Jun 5, 2005
I have nothing against AP holders! And I am stepping out on a limb here because I have never had an AP to DLR. But I know enough people who have APs and read enough here and other places that I think I can do a credible job of generalizing some AP trends for DLR newbies and even WDW vets who may or may not be AP holders at WDW.

A key word here is that I am generalizing. That means not all AP holders fit the description or psychology I discuss here. But enough do that I think this information is worth posting. :)

There have been an increasing number of questions lately about how the growth of APs has affected DLR attendance. For WDW vets it should be clearly understood that what you know about WDW AP holders mostly does not apply at DLR.

First let me start with a quote from a recent online article from a respected source, Al Lutz:

http://miceage.micechat.com/allutz/al072809a.htm

It's those swarms of Annual Passholders that give TDA pause when it comes to crazy stunts like bringing back Captain EO. Just this summer the total number of Disneyland Annual Passholders has now solidly risen above the 800,000 mark, and it's still rising by thousands every month. You can bet that price increases are on the way this fall, but it's those huge numbers and the problems they increasingly cause for crowd control, parking and any number of operational issues that have forced TDA to take a step back. In response, a new TDA executive committee was just formed that has been tasked with taking a hard look at the Annual Passholder program to try and quantify exactly what kind of impacts it now has on the compact Resort area.

We've detailed for you in previous updates the irony of having summer weekends in July and August that are less crowded than weekends in February and November due to simply blocking out hundreds of thousands of Annual Passholders. And we've also told you how difficult it is to get a parking space at Disneyland on a Sunday when all of the Annual Passholders push the passenger per vehicle ratio down to nearly one person per can, instead of the casual tourists who have an average of over three people per car.

Anyone who has been caught in the ridiculous crowd control and overwhelmed facilities whenever something new opens in Anaheim or during the final days leading towards an extended blockout period knows that there are obviously more Annual Passholders than the 54 year old park was designed to accommodate. But with the nightmare crowd control this past June for the opening days of Nightastic, and the overwhelming new World of Color show just seven months away, TDA has decided it can't keep on growing the Annual Pass program as it has for the past decade.

Price increases are obviously a focus from this new committee, but they'll also be looking at phasing in blockout periods more gradually to prevent giant spikes in attendance on certain dates, as well as other pricing and demographic options that could cut down on the sheer volume of people that could descend on the Resort at any one time. The whole point of the Billion dollar DCA expansion is to increase the attractiveness of the Resort to multi-day tourists who spend far more money than local Annual Passholders. But an overcrowded park full of locals killing a few hours of leisure time at steerage rates certainly makes those tourists think twice of ever returning to Disneyland, and TDA knows they've reached the breaking point and something must be done. We'll keep you posted on the outcome of that new committee, if the price increases on the way don't tell the story enough.
At the present time DLR has four levels of AP. Two levels are exclusively for Southern California residents.

Hence many of the AP holders at DLR are from Southern California. With a population of 20 million, DLR has lots to work with. Most living in SoCal are within distance of a day trip to DLR and that is a key difference from WDW. WDW visitors in general tend to come from out of the Orlando area and stay for awhile when they are at WDW. If they have an AP they may take only one or a few longer trips each year.

As many DLR AP holders are within driving distance, they tend to take more day trips. And further, since they can get to DLR easily it is much easier for them to invest disproportionate amounts of time for anything new. They can and do "pop in" for a short visit in the evening after work, for example. They may ride a couple rides and then just leave. Some go to DLR every single weekend to hang with friends.

For example, when the Finding Nemo Sub ride opened in June 2007 and the POTC ride refurb with Jack Sparrow opened in June 2006, one could find four hour lines for these rides at first. Why? Because AP holders who live close by can stop in to ride only that ride. They can just bring a book and wait it out. They are not spending thousands of dollars on a long vacation where waiting for four hours is a waste of time. They can and do just stop in after work at 7PM and wait. For those of us on a once-a-year visit we cannot compete with that kind of patience and have to work around it.

Another thing about DLR AP holders that people are noticing more and more are the effect of blockout dates. As the APs become lower in price they have more dates blocked out. And for high season dates (like late June to late August) the lower level APs are entirely blocked out.

What happens then is that many AP holders tend to "squeeze in" one last visit before the blockout period and then rush back to DLR when the blockout lifts. This can cause lumpy attendance like it did this past June where a refurbed Fantasmic and new fireworks show opened. Before the blockout the attendance was abnormally large because so many AP holders wanted to squeeze in and see the new offerings. Huge crowds? Who cares? These AP holders were only there to see one thing for the most part.

After the blockout went into effect the attendance went way down. In recent weeks there have been a lot more questions posted here than normal about AP holders for next month (August) and next summer of 2010 with people trying to figure out what the blockouts actually are and how to work around them.

I hope that gives a better idea to folks a bit mystified by the whole thing. And for any AP holders out there, please feel free to comment and even disagree! :) My dear nieces have APs and as I said right up front, I am not complaining here about APs or AP holders. I am merely trying to clarify this for people who just do not know. :goodvibes

FWIW, to see a blockout schedule click here:

http://www.mouseplanet.com/misc.php?pg=blackout

ETA: Here is a direct link to my post #147 in this thread which has links to other threads from August 2009 which discuss the crowd levels by people who were visiting DLR in August.

www.disboards.com/showpost.php?p=33401005&postcount=147
 

LavenderPeach

<font color=darkorchid>Didn't understand how you c
Joined
Aug 28, 2008
Another thing about DLR AP holders that people are noticing more and more are the effect of blockout dates. As the APs become lower in price they have more dates blocked out. And for high season dates (like late June to late August) they are entirely blocked out.
You might want to make a correction about this. Deluxe APs are not blocked out during the summer. They are only blocked out on Saturdays and 4th of July (this year it was also July 5 since it was the weekend - not sure how many days are usually blocked out for the 4th). And of course Premium APs aren't blocked out at all. Maybe you meant to say SoCal APs.
 

Sleepless Knight

Jedi Knight Seeking His Jedi Princess
Joined
May 15, 2008
As a former deluxe AP holder, there is some truth to this. During the year that I had a deluxe AP, I tried to avoid visiting the park during blockout dates and even bypassed a possible trip because the dates in question would have left me blocked out. It is something that people need to be aware of.

Of course my one year with a deluxe convinced that I had made one mistake when I bought my AP. I corrected that mistake with a premium pass the next time. :rotfl:

I think Disneyland will do something about this issue, and it will be interesting to see what comes from it. I suspect that many people will probably be unhappy about it.
 
  • prettyprincessbelle

    <font color=green>I'm just excited for the BBQ! Yu
    Joined
    Nov 28, 2007
    I think Disneyland will do something about this issue, and it will be interesting to see what comes from it. I suspect that many people will probably be unhappy about it.
    The only thing I can think of is raising the prices. But, I know for most that may not be a huge problem, especially with the monthly payment system. I guess I'm considered a local even though I live 1.5 hours away, but I do make 5+ trips a year that no matter how much the APs and tickets go up in price, I still end up getting more than my moneys worth.

    And what HG said about the locals popping in after work is so true and I've noticed the crowd increase during weekdays after 5:00pm. But I know if I lived close enough, I'd be doing it too.
     

    HydroGuy

    A Pirate's Life For Me
    Joined
    Jun 5, 2005
    You might want to make a correction about this. Deluxe APs are not blocked out during the summer. They are only blocked out on Saturdays and 4th of July (this year it was also July 5 since it was the weekend - not sure how many days are usually blocked out for the 4th). And of course Premium APs aren't blocked out at all. Maybe you meant to say SoCal APs.
    I will clarify and edit the OP. In context I meant the lower level AP's. :)
     

    TheZue

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Feb 27, 2005
    You know, they should be tracking how much people spend in the parks based on their AP discounts. I'm not sure if they scan them when they get a discount at the restaurants etc, but they should. They could also scan tickets on the way out. They could get a whole wack of information about the patterns on this stuff then figure out how to fix it. But I suspect that you are bang on.
     

    dlander

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Feb 22, 2005
    That is an interesting analysis. I was surprised though, since I find that we avoid new attractions based on the fact that we can go once the hoopla has died down. We don't feel the need to spend a lot of time in line (and in fact won't ever wait in a line that is more than 30 minutes):goodvibes

    I appreciate your comments about not having a negative feeling about passholders. I find the ultra negative feelings about AP holders to be mystifying. I wish someone would explain to me the disdain that so many feel towards AP's. I have even heard CM's say how much they hate us. They say we only ever complain. I think I am the most positive about Disneyland and have turned many people's opinion around about it.

    Anywho, just my two cents.:goodvibes Can't wait to be at the happiest place in just a few days:cool1:
     
  • Sleepless Knight

    Jedi Knight Seeking His Jedi Princess
    Joined
    May 15, 2008
    I definitely think we'll see a price increase, and it wouldn't surprise me if they really drop the hammer on the lower level APs. As a Premium AP holder, I hope they don't hammer me too hard, but then again they're going to do what they think is best for the overall health of the park. I hope they find a happy medium that continues to reward AP holders(DLR AP holders enjoy better benefits than WDW AP holders) and helps the parks attract the vacationing guests as well.
     

    fairycat

    <marquee><font color=deeppink>Modern Disney Prince
    Joined
    Jan 4, 2007
    The thing about money is that in some areas AP's way out spend tourists. I have heard Disney mention this many times. The reason that the gallery became a priority to get back is that AP holders spend a lot of money on collectables. I can guarantee if there is a special LE release in the park, that day will be packed with AP's racing to pick one up. This has been a nice perk to Disney. DLR has more LE specials from what I have heard because they know AP's will come to the parks just to buy, were as that is not the norm at WDW.

    Not all AP spend money like tourists do in the park but some who are not "local" sometimes do spend the same. I think it's something that is hard to find a balance with. I have had my pass for 8 years now and expect to keep getting one, I would hate to see the price go up much higher then it already has, but with it still being a reasonable value I will stay a AP.
     

    LavenderPeach

    <font color=darkorchid>Didn't understand how you c
    Joined
    Aug 28, 2008
    I will clarify and edit the OP. In context I meant the lower level AP's. :)
    I figured that's what you meant but people new to the whole "psychology" of the AP might have been confused. :goodvibes

    That is an interesting analysis. I was surprised though, since I find that we avoid new attractions based on the fact that we can go once the hoopla has died down. We don't feel the need to spend a lot of time in line (and in fact won't ever wait in a line that is more than 30 minutes):goodvibes

    I appreciate your comments about not having a negative feeling about passholders. I find the ultra negative feelings about AP holders to be mystifying. I wish someone would explain to me the disdain that so many feel towards AP's. I have even heard CM's say how much they hate us. They say we only ever complain. I think I am the most positive about Disneyland and have turned many people's opinion around about it.

    Anywho, just my two cents.:goodvibes Can't wait to be at the happiest place in just a few days:cool1:
    We don't wait very long for anything either because we figure we can always come back some other time or wait until the crowds die down to see new attractions. But I do know some AP holders (one in particular) who has to see everything on the opening day and I know he will also drive over with the sole purpose of riding only 1 or 2 rides. Which actually mystifies me because it's not like he lives in anaheim, he lives an hour away and by the time you park and get through the gates it's another 15-30 minutes. I admit we often do just go for a few hours at a time but I have to stay long enough for it to seem worth the time, effort and money to drive over. We also usually eat there (can't resist!) so we're locals who are doing our part to help the DLR economy! :rotfl:
     

    Sleepless Knight

    Jedi Knight Seeking His Jedi Princess
    Joined
    May 15, 2008
    I could be wrong, and I hope I'm not, but I don't think Disney is too concerned about the premium AP holders being the root cause of insanely high crowds. For instance, a premium AP doesn't have to make sure that they visit the first day of a new attraction debuting because they have no blockout days.

    And if they know that premium APs spend on collectibles and they like that, I don't see them trying to reduce those numbers. It's more likely that they'll move some of the low level blockout days earlier so as to not impact new debuts (Fantasmic this year).
     
  • TheZue

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Feb 27, 2005
    The thing about money is that in some areas AP's way out spend tourists. I have heard Disney mention this many times. The reason that the gallery became a priority to get back is that AP holders spend a lot of money on collectables. I can guarantee if there is a special LE release in the park, that day will be packed with AP's racing to pick one up. This has been a nice perk to Disney. DLR has more LE specials from what I have heard because they know AP's will come to the parks just to buy, were as that is not the norm at WDW.

    Not all AP spend money like tourists do in the park but some who are not "local" sometimes do spend the same. I think it's something that is hard to find a balance with. I have had my pass for 8 years now and expect to keep getting one, I would hate to see the price go up much higher then it already has, but with it still being a reasonable value I will stay a AP.

    Oh I agree that some of them probably do way out spend tourists. But I doubt somebody who bought a $139 annual pass and put it on monthly payments would. It really would be interesting to see which levels spent what if they tracked it.
     

    fairycat

    <marquee><font color=deeppink>Modern Disney Prince
    Joined
    Jan 4, 2007
    Oh I agree that some of them probably do way out spend tourists. But I doubt somebody who bought a $139 annual pass and put it on monthly payments would. It really would be interesting to see which levels spent what if they tracked it.
    Actually the irony is some of them put their passes on payments so they can spend more on collectibles. I have seen some do that.

    But I do think that low level AP's do represent an interesting part of the AP psychology, because they do rush in for the first and last days before blackouts, but in some ways their blackout dates keep them out of the parks alot until they seem to upgrade.

    Humm....
     

    3Minnies1Mickey

    <font color=magenta>Just wanted to add, this is no
    Joined
    Apr 8, 2009
    I think Nightastic dates (right before SoCal was blocked to right after they were not blocked) were very poorly planned and created the craziness in June. Come August there will be another surge to see the new dragon (maybe?) before they take the whole show down for two months. The payment plan was good in theory, but they should have limited it to DAP and PAP. The problem with tracking spending is that only PAP gets discounts on merchandise so there is no way to know how much the other APs spend on that stuff.
     

    fairycat

    <marquee><font color=deeppink>Modern Disney Prince
    Joined
    Jan 4, 2007
    I think Nightastic dates (right before SoCal was blocked to right after they were not blocked) were very poorly planned and created the craziness in June. Come August there will be another surge to see the new dragon (maybe?) before they take the whole show down for two months. The payment plan was good in theory, but they should have limited it to DAP and PAP. The problem with tracking spending is that only PAP gets discounts on merchandise so there is no way to know how much the other APs spend on that stuff.
    I agree about only doing payments on the bigger passes.

    I also want to say that all the passes offer some food discounts, but the majority of the discounts are for the DAP and PAP. Merchandise discounts are only for PAP.
     

    pixiewings71

    <marquee><font color=deeppink>Sweet!!! Totally!!!!
    Joined
    Jun 8, 2007
    You know, they should be tracking how much people spend in the parks based on their AP discounts. I'm not sure if they scan them when they get a discount at the restaurants etc, but they should. They could also scan tickets on the way out. They could get a whole wack of information about the patterns on this stuff then figure out how to fix it. But I suspect that you are bang on.
    They do scan APs when they give you your discount. That's how they know you are eligible so yes, they can track your spending based on your AP. This is a good idea, I think they should do this!

    I definitely think we'll see a price increase, and it wouldn't surprise me if they really drop the hammer on the lower level APs. As a Premium AP holder, I hope they don't hammer me too hard, but then again they're going to do what they think is best for the overall health of the park. I hope they find a happy medium that continues to reward AP holders(DLR AP holders enjoy better benefits than WDW AP holders) and helps the parks attract the vacationing guests as well.
    I hope they don't drop the hammer on us Knight, because as much as we pay for our PAP we shouldn't have to pay that price. Considering we paid the most for our passes (x 4) I really think they should give those of us who make the monthly trips, spend the money, stay in hotels because we aren't local, a break. :)

    I think this is a good sum up of everything. I also hope they figure this out and don't raise prices too much for we PAP holders. We had Deluxe APs last year but this year they wouldn't work for us because of black out dates. next year we might be able to downgrade but we will see.....
     

    PinkBudgie

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jul 3, 2008
    There was a similar discussion about how locals pack the park in another thread.

    I will put my ideas here too. Now, which way to the Disneyland Office of Good Ideas (DOGI)? :rotfl: I need to see if they are hiring. ;)

    Here is my idea: Give the discount APs to those who live outside of Socal. We have APs but when we visit we are tourists and spend like tourists. We don't need more blockout dates because it is hard for us to visit often anyway. Our APs should be cheaper. The APs pull us down for extra trips. I also believe more deals like the 5 for 3tickets should continue if they want the tourists to come.

    The Socal APs could stagger the blockout dates. For example, for the same price you choose blockout plan A or plan B. The cost is the same, the number of blockout days is the same, but the blockout dates are different. People could choose which they like better and it would keep them from all storming the park at once just to see a new show.

    Or, have Socal APs that are blocked out of certain attractions in the park on certain days. They could set up some type of FP type machine to issue tickets for WOC, for example. You put in your ticket to get your WOC ticket. On certain days Socal APs could be blocked out from getting tickets like maybe the first week it opens. Also, you would want to go get your tickets in the morning to be sure they don't run out. That would bring Socal APs in to the park in the morning to get tickets for the evening. They would stay and spend money all day. If they chose to pop over at 5pm, they may not get tickets. Of course, all APs would be available to Southern Californians, but the cheapest APs would have these restrictions.
     

    bumbershoot

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Mar 5, 2007
    I think the whole focus on AP holders is bizarre. I really don't understand it. Not when Lutz talks about it, not when random posters talk about it, not even when you, dear OP, talk about it.

    There's just no such thing as a typical AP holder. Read some local trip reports on micechat and see how different each local AP holder is from each other. The mods there go about once a week, always eat lunch, only ride a couple rides it seems, and that's it. Others buy lots of stuff.

    We are both tourists and AP holders. Sometimes we buy stuff, sometimes we don't. When we don't, it's b/c we're spending so much just getting to and staying somewhere near the park that the funds aren't there!

    You know, they should be tracking how much people spend in the parks based on their AP discounts. I'm not sure if they scan them when they get a discount at the restaurants etc, but they should. They could also scan tickets on the way out. They could get a whole wack of information about the patterns on this stuff then figure out how to fix it. But I suspect that you are bang on.
    Problem! Inaccuracy. My pass almost never scans other than getting me in. have had a weird "magnetic field" problem since college (I once did security and "killed" each metal detector I held), and it kills passes. So probably a quarter of the time my pass scans for the food discounts, then the other quarter I'm buying things at non-AP-discount places, and the other half they just find a 10% discount button to push...so some of those times they hit the AP button, and the other times are a mix of CM discount and DVC discount. Now the DVC thing would be accurate if hubby were using his card for the discount, but I'm only an Associate member and don't have a proper DVC card, so it's just them finding the closest discount button to push. I know I'm not alone. So the numbers would have a degree of utter inaccuracy.

    Oh, and I'm sure they already do track it. :)


    The reason that the gallery became a priority to get back is that AP holders spend a lot of money on collectables.
    "They" sure were vocal about the gallery!


    Oh I agree that some of them probably do way out spend tourists. But I doubt somebody who bought a $139 annual pass and put it on monthly payments would. It really would be interesting to see which levels spent what if they tracked it.
    As many on micechat have mentioned, with the monthly payment being available, a ton of so cal residents have bumped themselves up and out of the So Cal passes. So residents aren't even necessarily getting the cheapest and "smallest" passes now...

    I think Nightastic dates (right before SoCal was blocked to right after they were not blocked) were very poorly planned and created the craziness in June.
    I agree.

    And therefore, it's not about "those" AP buyers at all, but the stupidity of those scheduling things. All they had to do was get Nightastic going just a little bit before the rolling blockout dates started and it would have been better. But they put this HUGE marketing push about its awesomeness, get people all excited about it...what did they EXPECT???? It's not the AP buyers at fault for wanting to see something being touted as incredible...
     

    lcasa

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Feb 20, 2009
    Finding this thread fascinating - I've had an AP for 20 years now and it's become so different just in the last 2 or 3 years. Before that Sundays were nice, quiet days - no one wanted to be there on a blackout date. Now it's the opposite. There were also only 3 levels of AP - and before that, just 2. When I first bought mine it was a 'season pass' - good for all but every Sat and summer. Prior to that there was just the 365 day pass, which was very expensive ( proportionally even more than now given inflation). Bet there weren't many of those sold.

    The monthly payment plan has definitely increased the number of APs - and then add in the free birthday promotion, which lets you apply the $69 free pass towards an AP. Add "staycations" to that due to the economy, and it's no wonder why the 800K mark has been hit. But it is making the park too crowded to be enjoyed on any all-pass day. If they raise my DP prices I'm not sure what my choice will be - I buy 6 every year, plus a couple of So Cal for my parents. Maybe they should introduce a better loyalty program! Or let us earn points based on purchases - since as has been mentioned they can track at least the DP/PP food purchases. I'd probably eat in the park more if I was getting credit for my next pass.

    Hopefully the changes to DCA will help. If they kept DCA open the same hours as DL the massive influx of people to DL when DCA closes would stop at least!
    But given all that, yes, I waited 5 hours for the subs on openning day. And it was worth it ( a return of a beloved attraction does differ from a new one)

    I just spent a fortune on a 10 day trip for 5 to WDW - so I'm spending my share!
     

    Rhonna

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Mar 27, 2003
    When some of you say the local SoCal AP holders are buying more merchandise, can you compare that with the cost a tourist spends at the disneyland resorts and restaurants? That would have to be some pretty hefty price tags on the merchandise to compete with what we've spent on a 6 day vacation at DL. (From out of state).

    When we were there two years ago, one day DCA was way out of proportion with guests, (a weekday) I never could figure out why. It was later September and the kids were in school, most of our trip was reasonable crowds. We waited over 2 hours for ToT - I couldn't believe it - and that they were only running one elevator upstairs where we got shuttled to. We started chatting with the nice lady behind us. She was a local AP holder, a housewife and had only come to ride ToT before she had to pick up her son from school. The wait didn't bother her at all. Even when she commented it would probably make her late to get her son.

    Our frustration level with the wait, however, was totally different from her relaxed attitude.
    Must be nice to be a local.

    Anyhow, the lack of resort/package discounts in the fall - or at least how they wait so long to release them just caused us to change from a DL trip in Nov to a WDW trip. Got a great discount on the AKL!
     


    Connect

    Disney News and Updates

    Get Daily Email Updates


    Top