Wow, D23 really does seem to be positioning itself as the only-slightly-wealthy-man’s Club 33. Its Magic and Merriment at Walt Disney World event this December 12-13 is designed and priced for the higher-end tourist, and not packaged to be appealing to Annual Passholders.
When I booked this December’s trip for the fan meets, I knew D23 had something brewing. I’d hoped that it might be something of moderate price, that didn’t require a full weekend’s commitment of time and money. The event features two days of events, and is open only to D23 members, who’ve paid $74.99 for the privilege of spending more money (and, well, a magazine that I do hear is kinda nifty). The event itself is $195 per person, which includes (among other things) two one-park one-day tickets, two tickets to Disney Quest, admission to Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, a dinner, and a luncheon. That’s not that bad a deal if you don’t already hold an Annual Pass, given that a two day non-hopper park admission is $166.14.
But where’s the love for Annual Passholders, who don’t need the park entry? Well, they might want to do what many have when using the Dining Plan: Buy the one-day required Magic Your Way ticket and hold onto it for future use, such as using it as credit towards a future Annual Pass renewal (which I will give a try in December with that one-day pass I’m still holding from Free Dining 2007). But wait……the fine print lets you know that “Park tickets and Disney Quest tickets must be used by December 30, 2010,” so unless you’re renewing that pass soon, better nix the idea. And actually, I don’t know for sure that these tickets can be applied to future purchases as most Magic Your Way would be, so don’t go trying that on my advice please!
It certainly does sound like a festive, pampering event, and I’ll confess to a bit of envious temptation brewing around the corners here, daring me to spend my allowance on a bit of decadence. But I doubt I will, in large part because I may well be too busy partying with my friends at the fan meets that same weekend.
Is there really a shift in the wind from grassroots fan events towards high-end Disney-owned events like Magic and Merriment and the D23 Expo? I’m hearing mixed results from the D23 Expo. On the one hand, I’ve heard that the sessions were packed, that you could hardly get a seat. On the other hand, it’s also been rumored that Disney lost a lot of money on the Expo, and isn’t expecting to repeat it anytime soon. (I do believe I heard both these items on recent episodes of The Disney Dudes.)
Such a shift in the wind would certainly be what Disney seems to be aiming for. Disney’s use of blogs, podcasts, and social networking technologies has lagged behind the fans’ use, and no doubt their recent offerings such as the Moms Panel and the Disney Parks Blog leverage the critical mass of online fan community that fan sites have nurtured over the years.
And then, there’s the money thing. There are already class divisions in the Disney fan community, and awkward moments in conversations about money. I always find it somewhat odd when people respond to my staying at a Value Resort or off-site by explaining that they really “prefer” more luxurious lodging, as if my choice of hotel is solely motivated by enjoyment of less-posh surroundings, and a desire for longer lines at check-in. I don’t have a problem with the fact that some people have larger vacation budgets than I. (After all, I’m currently holding a Disneyland Paris Annual Passport, and will soon concurrently hold one for Walt Disney World as well, so I can hardly claim any sort of deprivation.) But let’s face it: Money matters in our vacation choices, and the level of one’s income (and obligations) affects one’s options. But the great thing about fan community grassroots events is that, once you get yourself on-site and into the park, the playing field is pretty much level, at least in terms of class and money issues. We can all watch the parade together.
Will I do some spreadsheet crunching to see if there’s any way I could justify this expense? Sure. Am I likely to go? Nope. So hey, if you’re not going to the Magic and Merriment showing of Osbourne Lights that Saturday night, come on over and look for me at the WDW Today Reunion meet at Port Orleans Riverside to see Yee Haw Bob. Or swing by after the Osbournes — I’m sure the party will run plenty late!