Launched in 2009, D23 is the first official Disney fan club and is sponsored by the Walt Disney Company. Membership in D23 is available at two different levels. Silver, which is the base level of membership costs 34.99 a year and the higher Gold level of membership squeezes 74.99 from members.
A quick glance at the prices would lead prospective members to think that Gold carries with it substantially more “benefits” versus silver considering it is more than twice the price of silver membership. What do you actually get for digging twice as deep into your pockets for the gold membership? Four issues of a D23 newsletter. All other “benefits” are enjoyed/tolerated by both levels of membership.
Another benefit of D23 is that it opens you up to exclusive opportunities to spend more money, such as their Destination D and D23 Expo events. Known to lay people as “snoozefests” and “wastes of money”, these nerdy gatherings are exclusive to D23 members and will set you back an additional $179+ to attend. Only at Disney do you pay money to join something just for the privilege of being able to pay for more things. Don’t worry though, passes to the parks are not included in the price. Neither is food, however the sleep is free and they let you drink beer which you’ll be dying for after 20 minutes of Steven Clark (head of D23) talking about himself and delivering horrible jokes that make you want to gouge your eyes out with mellon ballers.
The fun doesn’t stop there though, your hard earned money will also get you access to exclusive merchandise. Yup that’s right, you get to pay more money again, because as someone who is such a fan of Disney that you would even consider joining D23, you probably don’t have enough ill-fitting Disney tee shirts.
Paying money to declare oneself a Disney fan should include more than spam email and opportunities to spend money. There are a number of things one should expect to receive for paying money to be in this fan club including but not limited to priority parking, park ticket discounts, opportunities for resort room upgrades, access to extra magic hours, access to multiple fastpasses, a “D23 only” park entrance line, discounts on behind the scenes park tours, discount on lockers, a one-time reservation at club 33, priority seating on the magical express, D23 luggage tags, and the list goes on.
Adding one or more of these tangible benefits could even merit raising prices on the membership levels while simultaneously making dedicated Disney fans feel like loyalty perhaps works both ways. At the moment, D23 just seems like a superficial way for Disney to make money without giving any real value back to the consumer.