D23 is the official Disney Fan Club. It costs $100 to join as a Gold Member, or for free as a general member. Perks include 33% off a Disney+ subscription, D23 Expo ticket discounts, other special events, and more. Paid members also receive an annual gift, such as a pin set. (Updated August 27, 2019.)
Gold Members and Gold Family Members ($130 per year) receive all of these perks. By contrast, Free Members receive some, plus access to online articles, an e-newsletter, the ability to purchase merchandise, and the ability to purchase tickets to some events.
Additionally, Free Members receive the Disney+ subscription discount (more on that below), which could be huge for anyone wanting to watch Star Wars’ new The Mandalorian series or Star Wars: the Clone Wars. Marvel fans looking forward to The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, Loki, Hawkeye and WandaVision, She-Hulk, or Mrs. Marvel will likewise take note. That’s in addition to other movies and Disney Channel shows like High School Musical: The Musical: The Series or the Lizzie McGuire reboot…
Wondering what else D23 Membership offers? A few of the perks are discussed in turn below…
Disney “Twenty-Three” Quarterly Publication: Gold Membership includes a one-year subscription (four issues) to D23’s collectible magazine. When I say collectible, I really mean it. Twenty-Three is printed on nice and thick paper, and has a great glossy look. Slightly oversized, it is the perfect “Coffee Table” magazine.
If you’re a fan of all things Disney, and not just the theme parks, this is a pretty compelling justification to get the Gold Membership. In addition to the quality of the magazine itself, the D23 magazines frequently include little gifts with each issue that are also pretty nice (although way too many are patches).
Membership Card and Certificate: Your membership card, which you will need for events, and a certificate that could only appeal to children. Disney describes it as “suitable-for-framing.” I can’t imagine anyone on earth actually framing this thing.
Surprise Collectible Gift: This is something different every year. Once, it was a member watch. Another year there was a calendar. For 2019, it was a collectible pin set. This is something different every year, and it’s usually a thoughtful and interesting choice. Whether it’s something you’ll actually want is another story entirely, but the point is that Disney does put some effort into the Gold Member gift.
Exclusive Special Events and Merchandise: If you live in California or Florida, or make regular trips to either coast, this is a big draw. When D23 first debuted, many Walt Disney World regulars complain that “all of the events are in California.” That is no longer the case.
While many events are in California (including the D23 Expo), this is fair given that Disney’s corporate headquarters are in California, as are most divisions of Disney and Disneyland. Moreover, celebrities that attend these events are primarily located in Los Angeles, and convincing them to do a conference in Florida would probably be a tough sell.
In any case, D23 has responded to these complaints with various ‘on the road’ offerings located in major cities throughout the United States. In addition to that, there are now a handful of major events that take place in Florida at Walt Disney World, including the popular Destination D event. We’ve done this many times, and absolutely love it.
There is no way to purchase tickets to most events without being a paid member (most events sell out before being available for the Free Members), so if you want to attend any of them, you’re basically forced into buying the Gold Membership. Additionally, in years when the D23 Expo is held, members receive a discount to the Expo.
Disney+ Subscription Discount: From now through September 2, 2019, all D23 members (whether free or paid) can receive 33% off a 3-year Disney+ subscription, which amounts to a savings of at least $23 per year. We say at least because there’s little chance the introductory $6.99 per month price of Disney+ won’t increase dramatically in the next couple years. (This is Disney, after all!) Buying this 3-year Disney+ membership not only saves money off the current price, but locks-in that rate for the next three years.
This promotional offer for Disney+ is available to all D23 Free/General, Gold or Gold Family Members who have an active membership as of 11:59PM on September 1, 2019. It’s valid for US residents with US payment method only. This promotional offer of $46.99 per year, if accepted, entitles the bearer to a one-time discount of $69.00 off the regular price of a three-year subscription to Disney+ ($209.97). Subscription will automatically renew on an annual basis at the end of three years, at the annual subscription price unless cancelled.
To get advantage of this deal, you need to sign up for a D23 Membership, after which you’ll receive an email with instructions and an exclusive link to sign up for the “Disney+ Founders Circle.”
The greatest of these perks, for most, is the Twenty-Three magazine. Some argue that all of the information available from D23 is available for free, online. This is undoubtedly true, but for me, “information” isn’t the only reason to buy something. There is something to be said for the tangible feel of a magazine. Sitting outdoors with a cold beer on a summer day, I don’t want to be squinting as I try to view the poorly illuminated text on an iPad or similar device. But that’s just me. I am a fan of printed publications. Your mileage may vary on that one.
We also are huge fans of the D23 Expo, and have attended most of these, including the 2019 D23 Expo that just ended. This event isn’t for everyone (lines can be long and it’s always a bit chaotic the first morning), but as huge Disney history geeks, we love the panels–especially the ones on the Walt Disney Archives stage, which tend to be less popular.
If you’re unable to plan your trips around these events or take weekend jaunts when they’re offered, you might be disappointed with the event schedule. However, if you can attend even an event or two per year, Membership quickly becomes worth the while for you. If you cannot or will not attend any events, I do not see a lot of intrinsic value in the membership, and I wouldn’t recommend becoming a member, unless you’re interested in the magazine.
With that said, the question is whether the magazine is worth your money. Like I stated above, if you’re a fan of the whole company, most likely yes. If you’re a fan of just the theme parks, it’s questionable. When presented with the question of whether I should become a Free or Gold Member, I opted for Gold after looking at the prices of used magazines on eBay. Most were selling in the $10 range, meaning the magazines roughly paid for themselves.
Most magazines also include a collectible gift of some sort (I sold my Horizons patch that I received with one issue last year for $12 by itself!) that also have some value. So as long as you don’t mind dealing with eBay, the subscription is probably worth it as an upgrade from the free membership to Gold. From a pure value perspective, I would have a hard time justifying the cost of the subscription if I only wanted the magazine, but I am primarily a fan of the theme parks.
Ultimately, D23 membership benefits vary widely: a SoCal local AP holder may be able to attend 10 D23 events in one year and have membership be well worth the price whereas someone in Topeka, Kansas may never be able to attend an event, and may not care about the watch or magazine. That being said, while it’s really a personal decision, it’s neither a “terrible” or “great” club. Right now it’s just sort of mediocre. What Disney does with it in the next few years will determine its ultimate fate. On the plus side, D23 is actually run by passionate Disney fans (we’ve met them at a few D23 events, and they really seem to care about Disney and the Club), but it doesn’t seem like they’re the ones making the high level decisions concerning the direction of the club.
What do you think of D23? Is it worth the money, or have you let your subscription lapse? Have you attended any D23 events? Will you be signing up to take advantage of the Disney+ discount? Any questions? We love hearing from readers, so please share any other thoughts or questions you have in the comments below!