Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Did I Get Ripped Off?

Dear Disney,

I’m a pretty big fan.  I’m a DVC member.  The only credit card I use consistently is my Disney Visa.  I own every Disney movie I can get my hands on, including most of the crappy direct-to-video sequels and a bootlegged copy of Song of the South.  I study Disney history, pore over Disney guides, help others plan their Disney trips, and talk, dream, and think about Disney nearly non-stop.  I even write a blog dedicated to all things Disney three times a week.  So if D23 isn’t for me, who in the heck is it for?


When Disney announced D23 back in early 2009, I was thrilled.  I signed up the very first day, and was extremely excited to be a “Charter Member”.  When the time came up for my renewal, I hemmed and hawed a little while, and then finally decided to renew it.  But last week as I filled out a D23 survey, I paused to reflect over my purchase, and I found myself wondering:  Did I get ripped off?

For those who may be unaware, D23 is the official Disney fan club.  For $34.99 you can get a Silver Membership, which includes, in Disney’s words:

  • Membership Card and Certificate: Your membership card and personalized, suitable-for-framing member certificate feature many of Disney's most beloved characters drawn by Disney Master Artist David Pacheco.
  • Our 2010 member gift, Disney Undiscovered: A 23-Month Calendar of Disney’s Unrealized Masterpieces from the Walt Disney Archives Collection. This vibrant piece offers rare and never-before-seen images from Disney parks, animation, and live-action films.
  • Special Member Events: The opportunity to attend numerous D23 Member events throughout the year
  • Exclusive Merchandise: D23 offers its members access to exclusive, limited-edition merchandise and collectibles.
  • Subscription to bi-weekly D23 FanFare e-newsletter with breaking news and special offers. (You may opt out of receiving FanFare after your first e-newsletter arrives.)
  • Special promotional offers and discounts throughout the year.

While a $74.99 Gold Membership will provide all of that, plus:

  • Disney twenty-three Quarterly Publication: A one-year subscription (four issues) to D23's exquisite collectible magazine, filled with stunning photography, dazzling illustrations and the ultimate Disney insider perspective. It's your all-access pass to discovering the magic of Disney's past, present and future!

Maybe I just have “sucker” tattooed to my forehead, but I thought this was going to be really cool.  I was picturing a D23 lounge in the Disney theme parks similar to Club 33 in Disneyland, maybe some sort of rewards program that would include a sizeable discount on merchandise or theme park tickets, and some real behind-the-scenes information that I couldn’t get anywhere else.  Um, I was wrong.  I didn’t get any of that.  Instead, I get the four magazines, which actually do often come with a pretty cool gift, the yearly gift (which was also pretty neat), and then lots of opportunities to spend more money.  My husband considers these drawbacks, not benefits.  He still has nightmares about the shopping spree I went on when I discovered 

The magazines are beautiful.  I just don’t find them particularly informative.  A lot of times I feel like I’m looking at a high-priced promo for an upcoming Disney film, instead of getting a cool peek into Disney’s history.

My biggest gripe though, is that the entire focus seems very West-Coast oriented to me.  The bulk of the events are in California, with only a few token ones in Walt Disney World.  I get that California is where a lot of the history occurred, but how about a little love for the fans of Walt Disney World?  When last I checked, the average annual attendance of the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World is 116% that of Disneyland Park, and the four parks at WDW combine for an average annual attendance of 47.146 million people, compared to only 20.287 million for the two parks at Disneyland Resort.  Now, call me kooky, but doesn’t it make sense to hold the events where the people actually are

So I guess what I’m saying is that while I don’t actually regret my previous purchases, I don’t know that I’ll be renewing my membership next year.  Unless the yearly gift is really cool, of course. 

Are you a D23 Member?  Are you glad or remorseful?  Let me know at


  1. I'm in agreement with you. Although I'm a DAY ONE Charter Member and renewed this year as well. I'm a sucker for all things Disney. I'll admit it. But I agree on the events. Why so DL oriented? What about WDW? And even when there is a WDW's mayhem!! Did you try to get tickets to Magic And Merriment last year? I did. And it sold out within SECONDS. Luckily my sister was able to snag them, but that is ridiculous. I feel like Charter Members should get first dibs on events since we signed up when D23 was born. And I'm especially biased because I am a DAY ONE charter member...I feel like I should be even more special. But I guess once Disney Co gets my money they couldn't care less what happens. I complained and everything they didn't really care. They should at least send me a Thank You card after cashing my check. And Expo every two years? That annoys me too.

  2. Since you asked it as a question, my answer is no, you didn't get ripped off. The magazine to me is pretty interesting and beautiful to look at. I keep it on my coffee table at home, and when "Time," "Entertainment Weekly" and "People" are in the trash, it remains. I look through it regularly and find it very nicely done even though I have issues with the layout.

    With the magazine, I get lovely gifts. I can look at the website, which does not have necessary "private" areas for D23 members but is still interesting. So, OK, that is not really a BENEFIT per se but is nice.

    Your biggest point seems to be that there is no member lounge and that you are paying for events. Uh, the same thing happens to Annual Passholders and I'm not sure I hear you complaining about that. There's no Annual Passholders lounge, and when you go to WDW or DL you have to pay to get into special "parties." So Disney seems to be following the trend here.

    I like D23. I don't love it, but I certainly LIKE it enough to maintain and renew my membership. If you follow their events, then you know that the ones that tend NOT to sell out are the ones in, guess where? Florida! So, unless members SUPPORT events there, I don't see them having more. I'd love to see D23 do more events around the country, but is that practical?

    Your issue is one of DL vs WDW, and that's an eternal struggle for Disney. DL is a very different place than WDW, attracting a very different audience. It has bigger attendance because more people visit it from around the country and around the world. DL is more of a locals audience, and since those people come back over and over (sometimes weekly) there is more of a base to draw from.

    But regardless, I'm not one who would GO to the events. I get the magazine, and I pretty much look at D23 as an annual magazine subscription. When I add in the gifts I get with each issue (except the last one) I figure it's WELL WORTH the $75 a year, which is less than the cost of PARKING at DL for a year. And I don't see parking as a really exciting perk. If I'm willing to pay $80 for parking at an ugly parking structure, isn't it worth $75 to get a magazine I enjoy very much and five or six gifts throughout the year?

    It seems like a no-brainer to me that if you really are a Disney fan you would want to be part of D23. You can go to the bookstore and buy the magazine, or you can get it delivered with secure packaging directly to you along with a gift. When I see that box sitting on my doorstep four times a year, I get really excited. The TV goes off for a few hours, I step away from the computer for a few hours, and I have a nice Disney experience on my easy chair reading and learning and (silly as it sounds) dreaming.

    Personally I have no qualms with D23. The way I look at it, it's only getting better!!