In a significant development, the Walt Disney Co. has reached a preliminary agreement to pay $9.5 million to settle a class-action lawsuit concerning its popular Magic Key pass program at Disneyland. The lawsuit, initially filed in 2021 by Jenale Nielsen, a Dream Key pass holder, alleged that Disney had falsely advertised the pass as having no blackout dates.
Nielsen's grievance stemmed from her purchase of a $1,399 annual pass in September 2021, shortly after Disney revamped its annual pass program with the introduction of the Magic Key. To her disappointment, she discovered that she was unable to reserve a ticket for a substantial portion of November, despite single- and multi-day tickets being readily available. Further investigation revealed additional unforeseen restrictions, according to the lawsuit.
The preliminary agreement, announced in July without specific details, is set to benefit a staggering 103,435 Dream Key pass holders. These individuals will automatically be included in the disbursement from the $9.5 million fund, unless they specifically request to be excluded from the settlement.
The final payout to each class member will be determined after various deductions, including attorneys' fees for both parties, a service award for Nielsen, and an estimated $147,547 designated for administrative costs associated with the settlement. At present, the preliminary agreement anticipates an average disbursement of approximately $67.41 per class member. There is also the possibility of a second round of payments, contingent on the amount remaining after the initial distribution and fees have been settled.
Disney officials expressed satisfaction with the resolution in a statement provided via email in July, stating, "We are satisfied that this matter has been resolved." However, representatives for Nielsen have not yet responded to requests for comments on the recent development.
This agreement is a significant step in resolving the concerns of Dream Key pass holders who believed that the pass program's initial marketing misled them. It underscores the importance of transparent and accurate communication between companies and their patrons, particularly in the realm of subscription-based services.
As the agreement moves towards finalization, it marks a pivotal moment for Disney and its Magic Key pass program, highlighting the company's commitment to customer satisfaction and its willingness to rectify any discrepancies that may arise in their offerings. The outcome of this lawsuit is likely to resonate within the larger theme park industry, serving as a cautionary tale for businesses to uphold the promises made to their loyal patrons.