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    Wink Club 33 Membership and Benefits Changes for 2012

    Greetings All.

    My Club 33 Member-friend just called and said he was officially informed there are some major changes in the works for membership levels and benefits at Club 33. I can't recall all the details exactly (as I was in the car when he called and couldn't write them down) but here are the highlights as I recall them.

    New Club 33 Membership Level: Platinum. Platinum Members will receive access to a new VIP lounge at Disney's California Adventure, a handfull of Premium Annual Passes to give to whoever (I think he said 4 of them), special access to VIP events, and some other goodies.

    Now here's the rub for some existing Gold Members: Complimentary 365 day a year sign-in for Member and a Guest is reduced to Member only. No additional Guest. Also, big change in complimentary Park Hopper for Guests. Gold and Platinum Member's complimentary Guest passes are now limited to 50 annually. Examples: If Member has a table of 10 and Member attends dinner and arranges passes for those Guests...Member gets docked 9 passes out of his 50 allotment. If Member makes a Guest Reservation for 10 with passes and does not attend...then 10 get docked from Member's allotment.

    This cap on complimentary Park Hopper passes will likely put somewhat of a damper on some Members' willingness to make reservations for others, especially reservations with Park Hopper ticket requests attached to them. For moochers expect some Members to either ask if any in their party already have Annual Passes they can use the day of their dining reservation...or to flat out say something like "I'm happy to make you a reservation, but you're going to have to pay your own way into the parks."

    Existing Golds can upgrade to Platinum without paying the higher initiation fee, but must pay the new Platinum annual dues of...ready for it...$10,000! Gold Membership dues went up (despite lower benefits) to $3,600 annually.

    That's a big difference in dues between Gold and Platinum. Hope there are more benefits than I recall or was told.

    Sounds like a major downgrade for Golds. But again...I don't know all the details and perhaps some MP'er that is an actual Member will chime in with more (or more accurate details). I'm pretty sure my Member-friend won't be upgrading. And as an official "moocher" of reservations from him, I'm sure I won't be dining as much there if Park Hoppers aren't included. And I suspect he'll be saving most if not all of his 50 for use himself.

    Oh...and he said he thought they said that new Gold memberships won't even be offered when people clear that waitlist. That the only new Club 33 membership is now the Platinum membership. But existing Golds can continue with their Gold memberships. So I guess that's at least something existing Golds can feel somewhat happy about.

    Opus1guy

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  3. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by Opus1guy View Post
    This cap on complimentary Park Hopper passes will likely put somewhat of a damper on some Members' willingness to make reservations for others, especially reservations with Park Hopper ticket requests attached to them. For moochers expect some Members to either ask if any in their party already have Annual Passes they can use the day of their dining reservation...or to flat out say something like "I'm happy to make you a reservation, but you're going to have to pay your own way into the parks."
    If someone is there multiple days, it would be easier to just add a day to their park hopper and not cost the member one of their comps. But, from what I also heard is they will be allowed to buy parkhoppers at a discount. There is speculation as to if that is a 1-day park hopper for the price of one day one park ticket, or if that is the discount on a 1 park ticket.

    It will be interesting, as I suspect a few on the waiting list will move pretty quickly....
    Planning 3 trips at once...

  4. #3

    I am also a gold member and received a call from some PR person making these changes under the pretence that is somehow it is an improvement to the members. They claimed that the changes were being made to improve the exclusivity of the club. The changes as I understand them are 1, members will only be able to get 50 complimentary admissions to the park for guests they invite to the club, after that the guests will have to purchase tickets allbeit with a 20% discount. 2, Currently the member can invite a guest to park with them and their admission is complimentary even if they don't eat at the club. The new rule is that that privilege is no longer included, although the spouse can still get in. Finally to add insult to injury the annual fee is also increased. So in a nutshell we have to pay more for less. I'm sure Walt is turning in his grave. Oh, lastly they are relaxing the dress code and allowing "designer sandals" into the club.

    What is particularly disturbing is Disney seems to have no sense of loyalty to its customers who are very loyal. We joined the club at a significant expense with an understanding as to what the benifits were, only to have someone at Disney unilaterally and significantly change the terms on the contract. I'm reasonably confident that our initiation fee wouldn't be refunded if we decide to end our membership due to these changes. I just wonder how the person who made this decision would feel if he/she were so badly treated.

    I actually don't even believe I've invited 50 people to the club in a single year, only once or twice have I gotten a friend into the park with me without eating at the club, so these changes won't impact me very much. I just dislike the disingenuous way the club represented this to us as well as the onerous changes themselves. And as a minimum current members should have been grandfathered in with the current benifits and the changes should have been extended to new members who would be joining with full knowledge of the terms of the membership. Personally I'm hoping there is enough fallout from this decision that someone with a little common sense will step in and remedy these changes. I'll give it a little time but maybe there will soon be another membership available.


  5. #4

    My guess is that they looked at the average number of admissions when deciding what the cutoff would be, and the vast majority of members were below 50. So the number will only affect the heavy users. As to the complimentary admission, that is a bit trickier. I know one member who used it as an annual pass for one of her children, rotating which child because it meant that the kid could only go with the member and not with other friends who may have annual passes. If they are now giving a handful of APs to do with as they please, then that will negate the sign-in benefit if the member routinely brought the same person. It is an unfortunate loss for members who would bring lots of different friends without eating at the park, but again my best guess is that this was not supported by their research. It sounds like the profit centers are having a tiff and the members are losing.

    I hope Disney staggers the 50-member allocation by anniversary date and not by calendar year. Otherwise there may be a mad rush to get in the last free friends before year's end, which is already a crowded time. I went to a retirement party at the club that probably had around 30 people. If this rule had been in effect, I am sure the guest of honor would have wanted the party near the end of the member's cycle so that he would have a better idea of how many guests he could invite without restricting the member for the rest of the year.

    They have already relaxed the dress code for "designer sandals" as far I am aware. Last time I was with someone who was dining at the club, I spent all afternoon telling them that their shoes would not be allowed, only to be told later that I was wrong. To be fair, they were really cute sandals and matched the dress perfectly.


  6. #5

    I hadn't given this much thought but I just realized that i won't even be able to get my son into the park with me if there isn't a reservation available or we don't want to dine at the club that day. FYY I also noticed browsing the web that the Club is applying for a change in ownership. Don't know what that means, probably something bad. I used to be A "The cup is half full" kind of guy. I guess I'm getting cynical in my old age.


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    Quote Originally Posted by currence View Post
    If this rule had been in effect, I am sure the guest of honor would have wanted the party near the end of the member's cycle so that he would have a better idea of how many guests he could invite without restricting the member for the rest of the year.
    All memberships have the same date. It is based on a calendar year, not when you get the membership. Supposedly it takes effect Jan 1. But, there is a pretty large group grumbling from what I hear. Many members already have groups scheduled in for Jan and Feb, and this would affect those.

    To Club33, it is my thought that Disney Corporate is taking over.
    Planning 3 trips at once...

  8. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by Malcon10t View Post
    All memberships have the same date. It is based on a calendar year, not when you get the membership. Supposedly it takes effect Jan 1. But, there is a pretty large group grumbling from what I hear. Many members already have groups scheduled in for Jan and Feb, and this would affect those.

    To Club33, it is my thought that Disney Corporate is taking over.
    Wow - I see this going so badly wrong. "What do you mean you're booked solid over Christmas/New Years. I still have xx admissions left!"

  9. #8

    Well, hopefully this will clear out some of the old members and open up the waiting list again. That platinum membership sounds awfully nice to me, having never been in Club 33 in my life, and I would jump at it if only I could get the chance.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Iceman View Post
    Well, hopefully this will clear out some of the old members and open up the waiting list again. That platinum membership sounds awfully nice to me, having never been in Club 33 in my life, and I would jump at it if only I could get the chance.
    I hope it doesn't clear out the old members. Some of them have some major history with Walt himself, for example, his former secretary Lucille. There are many who were close with Walt who still have memberships. I would hate to see them leave, even if it meant my chance came up for membership.
    Planning 3 trips at once...

  11. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by currence View Post
    Wow - I see this going so badly wrong. "What do you mean you're booked solid over Christmas/New Years. I still have xx admissions left!"
    I could really see this happening too. I was speaking to someone that is a member a couple of months ago and she said that he son asked her to make a reservation for a company holiday get-together and when she tried, it was already booked for December (at least for the group size that he wanted). So if everyone is trying to use up their allocations at the end of the year, it will be even harder.

    OK, so from a moochers perspective, if I already have an annual pass and ask the member to make a reservation for us, it won't affect their allocation at all, correct? I don't know if I am comfortable asking for another reservation anyway, but I know for sure I won't if it will affect them more than just making a phone call. I am also not sure if they are Gold or Platinum members anyway.
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    Quote Originally Posted by dlfansx4 View Post
    OK, so from a moochers perspective, if I already have an annual pass and ask the member to make a reservation for us, it won't affect their allocation at all, correct? I don't know if I am comfortable asking for another reservation anyway, but I know for sure I won't if it will affect them more than just making a phone call. I am also not sure if they are Gold or Platinum members anyway.
    No, AP holders won't affect their counts.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Iceman View Post
    Well, hopefully this will clear out some of the old members and open up the waiting list again. That platinum membership sounds awfully nice to me, having never been in Club 33 in my life, and I would jump at it if only I could get the chance.
    It sounds kind of rude to wish people out of the club just so you can have a chance to get in. Everyone pretty much has to wait their turn.

    And while the platinum membership sounds nice, a $10,000 annual fee is pretty hefty for most people.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Iceman View Post
    Well, hopefully this will clear out some of the old members and open up the waiting list again. That platinum membership sounds awfully nice to me, having never been in Club 33 in my life, and I would jump at it if only I could get the chance.
    A reminder that the $10K is the annual membership fee, and the initiation fee wasn't announced (but the expectation is $10-15K.)
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    Quote Originally Posted by Club 33 View Post
    I am also a gold member and received a call from some PR person making these changes under the pretence that is somehow it is an improvement to the members. They claimed that the changes were being made to improve the exclusivity of the club.

    I just dislike the disingenuous way the club represented this to us as well as the onerous changes themselves. And as a minimum current members should have been grandfathered in with the current benifits and the changes should have been extended to new members who would be joining with full knowledge of the terms of the membership. Personally I'm hoping there is enough fallout from this decision that someone with a little common sense will step in and remedy these changes. I'll give it a little time but maybe there will soon be another membership available.
    Welcome to Disney! Those of us who are DVC members are used to the line that something is being changed (usually taking perks away) to "improve" the membership experience. Another favorite is "due to demand from members"--except they never quite explain who the members were who wanted the change in the first place.

    It's a PR spin, plain and simple--trying to hold up something bright and shiny hoping you won't notice the decrease in benefits.

    Not as big a deal by any means, but a few years ago DVC took away coffee mugs from the studio villas and there was such an uproar that they were restored. If I were a Club 33 member I would be trying to rally together a group to take Disney by storm and express just how unhappy I was with these changes.
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    I wonder if this would fall under breech of contract with the buyer?


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    Quote Originally Posted by foolishmortal View Post
    I wonder if this would fall under breech of contract with the buyer?
    No, it is renewable year by year.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Iceman View Post
    Well, hopefully this will clear out some of the old members and open up the waiting list again. .
    Quote Originally Posted by Malcon10t View Post
    I hope it doesn't clear out the old members. Some of them have some major history with Walt himself, for example, his former secretary Lucille. There are many who were close with Walt who still have memberships. I would hate to see them leave, even if it meant my chance came up for membership.
    I'm not the world's biggest Disney fan but I have to agree with Malcon10t here. My one brief meeting with a long time Club member was extremely memorable. It's easy for me to see they are a part of what makes the Club special, more so than its exclusivity. I'll never be a member but I'd hate to see them pushed in an effort to either generate cash or push traffic to a VIP lounge that they already know from market research just isn't that compelling.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Malcon10t View Post
    A reminder that the $10K is the annual membership fee, and the initiation fee wasn't announced (but the expectation is $10-15K.)
    Right. And I think the Initiation Fee could end up being closer to or more that $15,000. Heck, the 2011 Gold Initiation Fee is $12,550.

    So...Initiation Fee and first years' Dues combined...I think a new first-time Club 33 Platinum Member will have to get out their checkbook and write one for at least $25,000 for their first year. Maybe more.
    Opus1guy

  20. #19
    Quote Originally Posted by cstephens View Post
    It sounds kind of rude to wish people out of the club just so you can have a chance to get in. Everyone pretty much has to wait their turn. And while the platinum membership sounds nice, a $10,000 annual fee is pretty hefty for most people.
    I agree. Noble of you, Iceman. If you were currently a Club 33 member, you might not appreciate that comment. Albeit I take it your point really goes to the incredibly long waiting list to join. With the new policies in place, however, I'm sure the club will be adding lots of new memberships soon, and with the new membership pricing structure, my guess is it won't take all that long to join if you want to. Anecdotally from what I hear, nobody is interested in upgrading to Platinum, and the members are quite upset with the decimation of our benefits. They've added absolutely nothing by way of benefit, raised the dues, and hacked the dignity of Club 33 membership to pieces. Heck, I can't even valet park anymore unless I'm eating at the club.

  21. #20
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    Wow you can't valet park anymore? Um okay what a bummer, cancel your membership now!

    Really I am not sure why this move surprises anyone? Look how they have raised their prices just on tickets and AP's alone in the last few years. They are in the business to make money and sometimes they forget that it is actual people who make that money for them.

    50 guests a year is 4 a month plus 2 leftover to stick somewhere throughout the year. How many times do members actually eat there a year anyway? Disney is losing out on admissions if they leave it unlimited. I am sure their costs have gone up as well so this is a way to make sure the don't keep losing money. (In their eyes, not mine)

    This also might have something to do with the new members club they will be opening in DCA.

    Everything in life is going up cost wise, gas, food, gas, electricity and I am thinking Disney figures if people or companies can afford the price of admission, higher dues isn't going to kill anyone.
    Just my two cents.

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  22. #21
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    2 things come to mind... it shows more than ever that Admission and gate receipts are very important to how Disneyland tracks revenue. However, it's ironic that they give away so many tickets in local radio contests, online contests, etc (many more than I ever remember) and I wonder how that intersection works. I wrote before about a notion of exclusivity, or a "hard to get" ticket, making things more desirable and people willing to pay more money. In the long run - it could be that across all of their channels if you pay a ton more money you will get the perks.... but you have to pay the money.

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  23. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by houseofmouse View Post
    Wow you can't valet park anymore? Um okay what a bummer, cancel your membership now!
    This is actually a pretty big issue. If you ever go to a member event, you would notice that the majority of members are older. Many are over 80. For them to park in the Mickey and Friends parking, will be difficult for them. It may not sound like a big deal to us, but it is for many in the club.

    This also might have something to do with the new members club they will be opening in DCA.
    Yes, you will have to be a platinum member to access the new club.

    Everything in life is going up cost wise, gas, food, gas, electricity and I am thinking Disney figures if people or companies can afford the price of admission, higher dues isn't going to kill anyone.
    Yes, dues have gone up every year by $200 or so. This increase is about triple. It would be like our Premium APs going to $1500, and we get declining benefits. I think this will be an interesting year to see what happens with the club. This is not going over well.......
    Planning 3 trips at once...

  24. #23
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    I know walking for the elderly can be hard, I have a mom with bad bursitis in her hip. However, they still have to be able to walk into the park and either take the train, climb stairs or walk all the way to the Club. I guess I don't see the loss for the able bodied as a big decline.

    I imagine if it goes too bad quick, they will backtrack their statements in a hurry. Disney may be greedy but they are not stupid.

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  25. #24
    Quote Originally Posted by Club 33 View Post
    I am also a gold member and received a call from some PR person making these changes under the pretence that is somehow it is an improvement to the members. They claimed that the changes were being made to improve the exclusivity of the club. The changes as I understand them are 1, members will only be able to get 50 complimentary admissions to the park for guests they invite to the club, after that the guests will have to purchase tickets allbeit with a 20% discount. 2, Currently the member can invite a guest to park with them and their admission is complimentary even if they don't eat at the club. The new rule is that that privilege is no longer included, although the spouse can still get in. Finally to add insult to injury the annual fee is also increased. So in a nutshell we have to pay more for less. I'm sure Walt is turning in his grave. Oh, lastly they are relaxing the dress code and allowing "designer sandals" into the club.

    What is particularly disturbing is Disney seems to have no sense of loyalty to its customers who are very loyal. We joined the club at a significant expense with an understanding as to what the benifits were, only to have someone at Disney unilaterally and significantly change the terms on the contract. I'm reasonably confident that our initiation fee wouldn't be refunded if we decide to end our membership due to these changes. I just wonder how the person who made this decision would feel if he/she were so badly treated.

    I actually don't even believe I've invited 50 people to the club in a single year, only once or twice have I gotten a friend into the park with me without eating at the club, so these changes won't impact me very much. I just dislike the disingenuous way the club represented this to us as well as the onerous changes themselves. And as a minimum current members should have been grandfathered in with the current benifits and the changes should have been extended to new members who would be joining with full knowledge of the terms of the membership. Personally I'm hoping there is enough fallout from this decision that someone with a little common sense will step in and remedy these changes. I'll give it a little time but maybe there will soon be another membership available.
    Found out from another site that the ownership of Club 33 is being changed. They had to publicly notice the change due to the liquor license. I wonder why the change in ownership and what impact that had on our new contract.

    I wonder if current members can file a class action lawsuit against the club. The club is very protective of the membership list and that list would have to be made available to the plaintiff during the course of the lawsuit. I will certainly ask my attorney and see if that course of action would be productive.

  26. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Malcon10t View Post
    No, AP holders won't affect their counts.
    This makes me happy. We have APs and I wouldn't want our contact to be dinged a ticket on our behalf. In fact, if we didn't have APs our contact probably wouldn't be so liberal with the offer to make us reservations.
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