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Disneyland fights multiday pass abuse by photographing holders

Disneyland has been struggling to stop ticket brokers from 'renting' multiday passes by the day. Parkgoers say the new crackdown caused long delays to get in.

January 09, 2013|By Hugo Martín, Los Angeles Times
  • Disneyland officials say the new practice of photographing multiday pass holders did not cause significant delays at the entrance. Above, the theme park in February.
Disneyland officials say the new practice of photographing multiday pass… (Lawrence K. Ho, Los Angeles…)

Workers at Disneyland and Disney California Adventure Park took photos of visitors entering the parks Tuesday as part of a new crackdown on abuse of multiday passes.

The photographing of guests — including children — delayed visitors' getting into the park by about 45 minutes, parkgoers said.

"They delayed literally thousands of people in line to do this process," said Bob Shoberg, a San Jose resident who visited Disneyland with his wife, daughters, in-laws and grandchildren.

Disneyland officials denied that guests suffered significant delays and said only multiday pass holders were photographed.

Disney has been struggling to stop several ticket brokers in Anaheim from buying multiday park passes and then "leasing" or "renting" them to visitors for individual days.

The scenario works like this: A ticket broker buys a three-day "park hopper" pass for $205 and rents the ticket to three guests for $99 a day. The broker makes a profit of $92, and the guests, who would otherwise pay $125 for a one-day "park hopper" ticket, save $26 each.

Disneyland prohibits visitors from sharing multiday passes, but the practice does not violate local laws.

To help stop the practice, Disneyland workers a few months ago began adding the names of parkgoers to the passes and requiring that they show identification at the front gate.

On Tuesday, Disneyland took the latest step of photographing visitors who are using a multiday pass for the first time, park spokeswoman Suzi Brown said.

When the pass is used a second time, Disneyland workers at the park turnstiles will see a photo of the guest pop up on a computer screen, she said. If the person at the turnstile is not the person shown on the screen, Brown said the guest won't be allowed to use the ticket.

Disneyland officials declined to say what percentage of visitors use multiday passes, but Brown said only a "very small percentage of guests" were photographed, and that did not cause a significant delay.

"So that our guests are not taken advantage of, we strongly advise that they only purchase tickets at Disneyland Resort, at our hotels or through an authorized seller to ensure that tickets are valid," Brown added.

Brown said the parks realized the problem was growing when park workers noticed ticket brokers waving signs hawking discounted passes on the streets around the park.

One business, Bestticketshere.com, says on its website that it rents multiday passes for Disneyland and Universal Studios. The website said the business guarantees its tickets will be accepted or customers will get a full refund.

In response to an email request for comment on Disneyland's new crackdown, the company wrote: "Is the ultimate goal to shut these companies down so everyone has to pay full price?"

Most theme parks take photographs of people who buy annual passes and affix them to the pass.

Universal Studios Hollywood uses fingerprints and cross-checks the names printed on the annual passes to ensure that the tickets are not shared, park officials said. At Raging Waters in San Dimas, annual pass buyers are photographed and their photo is affixed to the pass.

hugo.martin@latimes.com

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