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Opinion

Is it still fun to be a fan?

As you probably know by now, 2018 has opened in the world of Disneyland Paris with the long await packages announcement for Disney FanDaze’s Inaugural party. One of the flagship events of the new year and highly anticipated by the community, it has been dubbed as the “biggest ever fan-event” for all those who love everything DLP.

Fans have been on tenterhooks ever since the announcement of this exclusive event last summer, with most emphasising the importance of realistic pricing with enough advance notice for those hoping to attend to plan accordingly. Sadly, with packages starting at over €400 and going up to well over €1,000, Disney FanDaze feels less like an event designed and targeted for the Disneyland Paris super fans but for the super rich.

At its most basic level, dubbed the “Classic Package”, guests will receive the bare minimum they require for the Inaugural Party. The package of a hotel room, park ticket, ticket and lanyard to the event itself and PhotoPass+ starts from €412.50 in the cheapest of Disney hotels, Santa Fe. All of this for a single night’s stay in the resort for the price that would typically get you for several. That’s not even considering the fact this is a per person price. When you include travel, food, the obligatory handling fee of €19 and all the other extras a party of 2 or 3 would easily spend upwards of €1,000 for a single night of the most basic of FanDaze experiences.

The prices don’t make for any happier reading as you look at the ‘themed’ packages, designed to cater for each guest’s specific needs but in reality has left fans wondering what their interests are worth. For prices that easily double and nearly treble that of the basic price (again, for a single night in the cheapest Disney hotel), fans are being asked to put their money where their heart is for the opportunity to experience what has been advertised and hyped for months without any warning of their exclusivity. For a private meet with the two elusive “special VIP” characters for example will set you back just shy of €850, while history lovers must fork out the same amount for a 2 hour tour with an unidentified Imagineer.

At the top end of these packages lies the ‘Ultimate FANtasia’ package, that is apparently “perfect for ultimate fans”. At a hefty €1095.50 per person however, I don’t see how this package can even be remotely justified for the price they are asking. Not only that, advertising it as the “ultimate” fan package will only reignite elitist fires that have spread across the community of old. Disneyland Paris are either out of touch with their own fans or, even worse, they judge ‘ultimate fans’ by the size of their wallets than their love for the resort.

These prices are simply unacceptable and will do nothing but alienate a community already feeling the consequences of elitism and failed pricing. It is important to remember too that these prices are all the lowest of their category, meaning if you want to stay somewhere other than Santa Fe like Sequoia Lodge, Newport Bay or – heaven forbid – the Disneyland Hotel, the price will certainly rocket to terrifying figures.

Disneyland Paris fans come in all varieties and types. Young and old, single and couples, families and friends. You cannot neatly bundle the DLP community into a particular category for a ‘one size fits all’ pricing. Fans come from all over the world with most quite literally having to travel by trains, planes and automobiles to reach their favourite resort. In many occasions (especially for myself who must travel from Ireland to the French capital) this can easily double the cost of a Disney trip for a realistic travel time. Even when these added fees and such aren’t taken into account, these prices have left fans with no feeling of value for money. There is simply no way these prices can be justified.

And with a booking open date of 15th January, the timing couldn’t possibly be worse. Having just come out of the Christmas period, January is a month notorious for debt, bills and people not having as much exposable income in their pockets than they do for the rest of the year. This is one of the reasons ‘January Sales’ are so popular and the month is often seen as the most depressing of the year. By opening this booking this month – for packages which are very limited too I might add – this only further emphasises their exclusivity for the super rich, exempt of the bills and post Christmas headache the rest of us endures and free to pick over all these packages before the rest of us can even get to our piggy banks.

Disney FanDaze has been long been advertised as being the ultimate Disneyland Paris fan event, a place for all of the DLP community to come and celebrate the place we love, have unique experiences and unforgettable memories. With these prices, the resort is going against these very fans and have priced out the vast majority of their core target.

I wish I didn’t have to say this, but with these prices Disneyland Paris are sending a strong message to their fanbase; an insult. While it is true that the resort is a ‘luxury’ as goods and services go and that there is absolutely no entitlement to the consumer, they don’t owe us a thing, the expectation that we will fork out obscene sums of money for any event in the resort is completely wrong and out of line. This is an exploitation of the fanbase and their loyalty to the Disneyland Paris brand, a ransom to who the resort means the most to that they now must pay entire wage-packets or money well outside their possibility to express their passion.

FanDaze’s tagline claims that it is “fun to be a fan”. At the price wall we have however, Disneyland Paris is making it clear it’s only fun to be rich.