Our PAPs renew on 7/17. I did the renewal online, not expecting to go back to the resort until 7/18, but "needed" to go today on an unanticipated Vinylmation quest.
Our new passes hadn't arrived yet, so knowing that they de-activate your old pass as soon as the new one is issued, I stopped by Guest Services. Even though our Premium Annual Passes are paid through July 17, I was told that the only way we could enter the park today (nine days before they expire) was to use our once-a-year courtesy pass. As I understand it, this is a pass that allows you once each year to use your pass benefits if you've forgotten your pass.
In the years we've had a pass, we've never had to use this, but I was opposed to using a benefit that I might one day need, when I (a) had my pass physically in hand, (b) have paid through 7/17, (c) had my renewal receipt with me, and (d) am not supposed to have any blackout days on my pass.
Disney offers special pass designs when you renew online that you can't get if you renew in the park. I assume they offer this benefit to encourage passholders to renew online, which indicates to me that it's somehow easier for Disney if I handle my renewal that way. And I'm happy to do anything that makes things easier for Disney!
The CM at Guest Services seemed to think we were being unreasonable about not wanting to be penalized as though we'd forgotten our passes. He said we have to give Disneyland time to process and mail our passes. But when I did the renewal, Disney said I should allow 10 days for processing and mailing. That says to me that if the Guest Services CM is right, I should expect to have as many as 10 blackout days on my "no blackout day" pass, unless I decide to forgo the special designs and renew in the park, thus adding to their AP Processing Center lines.
I ended up going to the gate to see what would happen. Our passes were rejected. I pointed out the renewal date and showed the CM my renewal receipt to explain why the unexpired pass was rejected. He eventually did an override, but he was very reluctant to do so. The second time we entered the park, we encountered another reluctant CM, even though we had handstamps. (Ironically, the guest in front of us was using a paper ticket that was also rejected. The CM asked if the guest had gotten the ticket that day, the guest said yes, and they let her in. No handstamp. Go figure.)
There has to be a more effective way to handle this "black hole" that occurs between online renewal of an unexpired pass and the arrival of a new pass. I'm wondering why they don't do something like leave the old pass active (prior to the expiration date, of course); mail the new pass, then have you sign in to your AP account and activate the new pass, thus deactivating the old one. (It wouldn't resolve this issue for people who renew by mail.) Or maybe the override at the gate should just be easier when it's obvious the pass hasn't expired yet.
I doubt this comes up often, but I just can't comprehend why a guest would be penalized for renewing early and efficiently. It seems like there has to be an easier -- and more guest friendly -- way to handle this issue.