Disney agrees to $9.5-million preliminary settlement in Magic Key lawsuit

Visitors walk toward Sleeping Beauty's Castle at Disneyland.
A preliminary $9.5-million settlement has been reached in a class-action lawsuit over the Disneyland Magic Key program. More than 100,000 people would receive payouts.
(Jae C. Hong / Associated Press)
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Walt Disney Co. has tentatively agreed to pay $9.5 million to settle a class-action lawsuit over the Magic Key pass program at Disneyland.

The lawsuit — filed in 2021 by Dream Key pass holder Jenale Nielsen — alleged Disney had advertised that that particular pass, its most expensive offer, would not have any blackout dates.

Upon buying the $1,399 annual pass in September 2021, a month after Disney remodeled its annual pass program under the Magic Key moniker, Nielsen found she was not able to reserve a ticket for much of November, despite single- and multi-day tickets still being available for the time period. She soon discovered additional restrictions, according to the lawsuit.


An agreement to settle the suit was initially announced, without specifics, in July. The preliminary agreement unveiled Friday covers 103,435 Dream Key pass holders, all of whom will be automatically enrolled to receive a disbursement from the $9.5-million fund unless they request to be excluded.

Disney was accused of deceiving people who bought top-tier passes thinking they would get unlimited access only to find they were blocked in favor of daily visitors.

July 25, 2023

The total amount to be disbursed will be determined after several deductions, including attorneys’ fees for both parties, a service award for Nielsen and an estimated $147,547 in administrative costs for the settlement administrator.

The preliminary agreement estimates each class member will receive about $67.41, though there could be a second round of payments depending on how much remains after initial distribution and fees.

“We are satisfied that this matter has been resolved,” Disney officials said in an email statement to The Times in July. Attorneys for Nielsen did not immediately reply to a request for comment Friday.

The settlement is due to be finalized in federal court on Oct. 7.

Times staff writer Keri Blakinger contributed to this report.