D23: A New Club Created Just for Disney (Fans)

d23On March 10th of this year, Disney announced the launch of a new community initiative called D23 (in honor of the year 1923, when a young Walt Disney left home to ultimately create Disney Studios). Bob Iger, president and CEO of the Disney company, claims that they’ve been researching fan-sites for years to discover a way to join in on the fun and give the true Disney fans what they really want, direct from the source.

Unfortunately, this initiative has not been well received, and many disappointed fans are complaining that Disney’s new program is more self-serving than it touts. Iger has gone out of his way to reassure the community that this program was created specifically for the fans, but the $75 price tag for yearly membership has justifiably skeptical fans thinking otherwise. This “D23 Charter Membership” includes a one-year subscription to D23 Magazine (only 4 issues are produced each year), a membership card and certificate (dubbed “suitable for framing,” frame not included), a “surprise” collectible gift (whatever they have in stock), “unique special-event opportunities” (weak discounts on events, and only worthwhile if you live nearby), and a bi-weekly email from D23 (as if you didn’t get enough spam in your mailbox already).

Not only are most of these perks close to worthless, but they really don’t reflect that Disney made a conscious effort to give the fans what they want based on their research of existing sites, as they claim they did. The magazine provides interviews and stories from the past, which might be worth a $10 subscription to some, but most of today’s Disney fan-sites provide up-to-the-minute news about all things Disney. This is especially true for sites based exclusively on Disney’s theme parks – a fanbase that Iger has egregiously overlooked, as most of these interviews and stories are based only on Disney media.

Most, arguably all, of these perks also gear pretty young in demographic. Those 20-something fans out there who visited Disney World as a kid, and have now developed a healthy obsession with the place, certainly won’t be interested in a framed membership certificate on their wall. This is another glaring oversight by D23 in that the vast majority of fan-sites out there are run by adults, many of whom have children of their own to vicariously bring to the parks, but rarely children old enough to be interested in a quarterly magazine featuring articles about Walt Disney Archivist, Dave Smith.

The first annual D23 expo is coming up this September in Anaheim, California, and is reportedly expected to feature an awards ceremony for Disney legends, special screenings, music, and fashion shows. It sounds like an excuse to build a large audience for events that would otherwise be unpopular, but I hope for the attendee’s sake that I’m wrong. If you’re a member looking to attend, your membership won’t get you into the expo for free – you’ll receive a discount but you still have to pay admission for each day you plan to attend. And here I thought there would be an opportunity for the membership fee to work itself off.

D23 also runs a website that’s open to the general public. It contains news and information related to the D23 program, but it’s mostly used as an advertisement for itself as well as with synergistic enterprises such as Disney’s “The Lion King” in Las Vegas.

Disney would make many fans happy by offering something more useful and rewarding, like early access to Disney news and press releases or what about access to music from Disney’s theme parks? Many critics have (sometimes aggressively) suggested a program that rewards fans for frequenting the parks and/or purchasing Disney merchandise (other than a credit card). Annual passholders do not receive much in the form of perks, even though they spend far more time and money invested in Disney than the average Joe. On the other hand, it is nice that D23 is open to all fans, but slapping such a steep annual price tag on the program merely adds insult to injury for most. My suggestion to you – if you need your Disney fan club to be official, then by all means give D23 a try (I’m sure some fans will join simply because it exists), but if you’re just an aimless fan in need of a home, try one of the many free unofficial fan-sites out there (my favorite is WDWMagic.com) or subscribe to a podcast about Disney World (WDW Today is presented by the most dedicated of fans).

Leave your D23 comments below. Have you experienced it? Are you considering it?
Would you rather sit on a nail than fork over the $75 to join?

Be Sociable, Share!

2 comments to D23: A New Club Created Just for Disney (Fans)

  • Mr. Creatine

    Sounds similar to something we used to belong to about 10-12 years ago. I think the name was the “Disney Club”. There were a few park discounts and maybe a magazine. Does anyone else remember this?

  • Mark S

    Ah! I’m so tempted to join but I know I’m going to regret it!