From POP-UP surprises to POP-UP misunderstandings: Disney or the art of turning off the magic

Ah, pop-up surprises… Just the thought of them made you dream! On paper, the operation had everything going for it, just like the first two editions. Announced with much fanfare when the new Annual Passes were presented in 2023, these encounters promised unique moments with rare Disney characters. Well, that was the plan. Dear pigeon guest, welcome to the wonderful world of Annual Pass memberships, where we empty your pockets while cultivating a growing sense of disgust.

What are pop-up surprises?

This new feature, which was enthusiastically introduced when the new Annual Passes were presented in 2023, had everything to seduce. The idea was simple but seductive: to offer exclusive Pass holders magical moments with rare Disney characters, unforeseen and unforgettable encounters. The excitement was palpable at the idea of coming face to face with characters you don’t meet every day in the parks. But what happened to all those promises of magic and wonder?

The first triumphant editions of pop-up surprises at Disneyland Paris.

In the first two editions of the pop-up surprises, Disneyland Paris offered unique encounters with rare Disney characters, creating a real buzz among PA members.

The first edition, which ran from 1 September 2023 to 24 September 2023, featured the famous Tinkerbell. Visitors could also meet Oswald or Ortensia on alternate days. Annual Pass holders were able to book an exclusive meeting with them, accompanied by up to three other Annual Pass members. Many fans described the experience as magical.

The second edition, which took place from 12 January 2024 to 4 February 2024, offered an equally special encounter with the adorable kittens from ‘The Aristocats’: Toulouse, Marie and Berlioz. What’s more, the presence of Anna or Elsa was a real delight for most PA members. It was a rare opportunity to meet them. As a reminder, when Elsa and Anna were at the Princess Pavilion, waiting times could be as long as 7 hours! So their presence at the Pavilion was short-lived.

Pop-up surprises: from excitement to disappointment, the sad metamorphosis of the third edition

Ah, pop-up surprises! It sounded so good, didn’t it? We were expecting an avalanche of rare Disney characters, in line with previous editions. But alas! This third edition was like a wet firework display, full of broken promises and stifled laughter.

An announcement that should have tipped us off

The announcement of the pop-up was as shaky as the mine train after the rails broke down. First of all, there was no teasing. We were able to book directly via a link posted in an Instagram story on the disneylandpassdlp account. Initially, the end of the event was scheduled for the 11th. Then, as if by magic, the correction arrived: the end was pushed back to the 19th. We wonder if anyone there knows how to read a calendar! Inevitably, places for weekends and public holidays were snapped up. They quickly became unavailable. Then those for the rest of the week followed suit.

The May 1st fiasco: a late April Fool’s Day

Ah, the famous May 1st fiasco! You’d think it was April Fool’s Day, but it was a month late. Remember, we told you above that they had trouble reading a calendar… The poor pass holders who had booked for this date found themselves like the turkeys in the farce. Their reservation for May 1 was cancelled. Disney kindly offered them a ‘wide’ choice of back-up dates, between 20 and 21 May. But do they know that availability on a public holiday does not mean availability on an ordinary weekday? Another calendar problem. Decidedly!

The craziest thing is that after discovering that the characters featured were Max and Clarice, a large number of cancellations were made during the day. However, someone who had their booking cancelled for the May 1 pop-up is now blocked from booking the slots on the 20th and 21st, even though these dates don’t suit them, while places have opened up in many other slots due to cancellations. Two very different screenshots illustrate the situation.

Max and Clarica: the new faces of disappointment, at their own expense

Max and Clarice, the ‘stars’ of this edition of pop-up surprises at Disneyland Paris, have become, to their cost, the symbols of the mediocrity that now reigns in the park. Indeed, these characters are by no means strangers to regular visitors.

Max, in his classic outfit, has been promoted from his position as a ‘fixture’ at Small World to the star of a pop-up. What’s more, his omnipresence at Sequoia Lodge leads us to believe that he just needed to shine under the flashlights. Not the PhotoPass flashbulbs, mind you! The flashes from YOUR phones. You wouldn’t want to make photographers available to members as well. The irony is that Max has been replaced by Scrooge, a rare character in It’s a Small World. As Sébastien says on our Facebook page: ‘But Scrooge is rarer than Max. And everyone loves Scrooge where no one cares about Max… It’s worth the pop-up 🤣’ Is Scrooge the embodiment of Disney’s marketing strategy? You be the judge.

As for Clarice, proudly dressed in her Pride outfit, she seems to have forgotten that exclusivity was de rigueur for this kind of event. Her regular presence in the park, at the Vidéopolis photo booth in particular, and at the parties, was clearly not enough. But then, why bother with rarity when you can have plenty of déjà vu?

Fan discontent making itself felt

At ED92, we love reading your comments and our team enjoys reading your opinions while, according to the legend, eating popcorn. Since this pop-up, we can see that discontent is growing among Annual Pass holders. A number of comments in particular caught our attention. Here’s a selection:

Vincent, outraged: ‘It’s a real shame! If people are still going to accept this kind of decision from Disneyland Paris, then there’s really nothing more we can do for them! In any case, that’s it, I’m not renewing a €700 annual pass just to be taken for a ride’.

Grégory, analyst: ‘So much for that. If it’s deliberate… They should have abstained because it only crystallises the anger of the PAs, already burnt by the park’s recent (bad) decisions. If, by any chance, this is an unintended setback – unfinished decor for some reason beyond their control or whatever – it would have been better to postpone the pop-up and be transparent. People (me first) would have accepted it much better than this sham that is unworthy of the resort.’

Grégory, (the same), indignant: ‘This pop-up is a HONOUR. A real middle finger to APs. Rare characters? Not at all. A furry and a face character? Forget it. Announced in haste, it was obviously thought up in haste in the hope of drowning out the fish, but it’s a big dud. What about people like me, who have travelled a long way and booked a trip for this very purpose, when these characters can be seen almost at any time? What about interactions with a speaking character, which are almost inevitably more intense? It’s a real scandal! ‘

More …

Lily to DLP, full of hope: ‘Given the setting, maybe we’ll get a rotation in the characters… Let’s hope…’ So today we can tell you that Lily, no!

Bruno, clear-sighted: ‘If it turns out to be a ploy, we’ll just put up lame stuff so that the APs can complain… and that’ll give them a reason to delete the Popups’.

Cado Pro, lexicographer: ‘You’d already have to manage to get seats lol and on top of that, Disney has to look up the definition of “rare” in the dictionary…’.

A surprise that’s now just a misunderstanding

To sum up, this third edition of pop-up surprises was like an attraction going round in circles. We already had Mad Hatter’s Tea Cups, and we’ll soon have Rapunzel Tangled Spin… And in the meantime, we’ve got pop-up surprises! In short, there’s still a lot of fuss about nothing. Disneyland Paris, you’ve managed to turn an exciting and eagerly-awaited event into a monumental disappointment. A bit like the PA parties, incidentally. You really do have a gift for turning magic into misery and surprises into misunderstandings.

Born in 1992, the emblematic year marked by the opening of Disneyland Paris, it's fair to say that I fell into this passion from the cradle. Accompanied by my three wonderful children, I regularly take us on enchanted escapades, where we explore with wonder the nooks and crannies of the theme parks, in search of new encounters and magical moments. Apart from these moments of escapism, I devote my time to teaching, a vocation that enables me to pass on my passion for discovery and learning. But whenever the opportunity arises, I dive back into the magical world of the Disney parks, where every attraction is an adventure and every encounter a story to be shared with the whole family. Writing is also one of my great passions. Through my texts, I strive to capture the enchanting spirit of Disney, trying to add my personal touch of humor and sincerity, without ever being afraid to be direct and authentic. I hope you'll enjoy reading my work as much as I enjoy writing it, and that you'll let yourself be carried away by the magic of my adventures and my words.