Pros and Cons of Being a D23 Gold Member

Updated 2018

Is D23 Gold Membership worth it?  Yes!

And it’s becoming more and more worth it all the time.  If you don’t know what D23 is, D23 is a membership club for Disney fans.  They have a website, exclusive merchandise (sold through the Disney Store online), articles, videos, and lots of great info.  They also sponsor events like the D23 Expo, but smaller events too like movies at the Walt Disney Studios.   There aren’t a lot of downsides to becoming a gold member except that it does cost money.  Sort of like buying a Barnes and Noble membership card, it’s only worth it if you use it.  At $79.99 for Gold Membership and $104.99 for Gold Family Membership (as of 11/2018), it might seem a bit steep, but if you want to attend D23 premium events you need this card and there are other great benefits as well.  In the long run, my experience is that membership DOES have its privileges! But let’s start out with the cons:

The D23 Fan Club hits 10 years this year. There is sure to be many awesome events.

It costs money. General membership in D23 is free and with that membership you have access to the website, member articles, some member discounts, and a very limited number of general membership events.  So going from free to $79.99 (or $104.99 for a family membership) might seem to be a big leap.

Events are often location specific. While D23 has done a great job of expanding its events to include locations across the country, the number and “coolness” of the events don’t come close to the stuff they put on in Los Angeles and Orlando.  And to be honest, so far Los Angeles and Anaheim get the bulk of cool events.  It makes sense since the archives, WDI, the studios, AND the original Disney theme park are all in this one area, but it certainly adds value to your membership if you live close by or are willing to travel.

Two cons, but so many pros:

Gold Membership privileges. Being a Gold Member of D23 means added benefits like getting into D23 Expo an hour early.  If you think that’s nothing, you haven’t tried to get some of the limited edition stuff they have for sale.  Or get an early Stage or Shop Pass.  Or…well you get the picture.  But on top of that Gold Members have discounts at places General Members do not.  Places like the Disney Store, Ghirardelli’s, UVA Bar, Ralph Brennan’s Jazz Kitchen, and the Walt Disney Family Museum are just a few.  You also get a special annual membership gift each year you renew.  If you’re joining in 2019, you’re in for a special treat as D23 is celebrating their 10 year anniversary!  A complete set of pins highlighting their journey is being given to every Gold Member.  I can’t wait for the UP pin!

Disney twenty-three quarterly publication. Calling it a magazine doesn’t do it justice.  This over-sized treasure of Disney lore covers everything from movies to theme parks to Disney history.  The pictures in it are stunning and the coverage and insider info gives you such depth into your favorite Disney subjects from the professionals that make it happen.  At one time, you could purchase this magazine at your local book store, but it now comes exclusively to your mailbox to D23 members.  The newsstand price was $15 per issue which would cover $60 of your $79.99 right there.

Pics from some of the different events we’ve been to through D23

Gold Member events. This really is the best part of membership.  While the discounts, free gifts, and perks are nice, and while I love the magazine, I do it for the access to the Gold Member events.  I’ve done quite a few and they not only do a great job at the events, but they always add something to make you feel extra special.  I loved the Camp Itch pin and flipbook we got from The Parent Trap eventTouring the Walt Disney Studio was made even better when Dave Smith, archivist extraordinaire happened to be there.  And the WDI pin events are just phenomenal.  At one they had the lead Imagineers on the New Fantasyland project on hand to sign autographs and talk to them.  There are so many great opportunities and while they do cost more money (always a problem), they are worth it if you can go.

Overall, the benefits are worth every penny.  We even upgraded to family membership where you can invite up to three people with you to an event instead of just one (that’s the $104.99 level).  I still regret not having bought it in the first year and becoming a “charter member.”  I was skeptical about the cost myself, but now my friend John (who bought it right away) gets to go into the “Charter Member Lounge” at D23 Expo while I have to wait outside.  I’m glad Disney has done this and if you’re considering joining I hope this helps you to decide.

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29 thoughts on “Pros and Cons of Being a D23 Gold Member

  1. We live in England and bought D23 Gold membership for our daughter who is a HUGE Disney fan. We’re disappointed that there seem to be no benefits for D23 gold members in Europe, even though we have Disneyland Paris and Disney Stores throughout. What’s your opinion on this? I’m really surprised that the Disney company are happy for us to buy the membership but not prepared to offer any real advantage to our massive Disney fan.

    1. I would definitely have to agree that D23 membership heavily favors those who not only live in the States, but live closest to Orlando and Anaheim. The magazine, however, is just beautiful and definitely worth the investment. If you’re a huge fan there are lots of ideas, concepts, and just all around great stuff you can’t get anywhere else. But if you’re thinking about joining D23 for local benefits, you won’t find many. And that’s understandable since every single event is staffed by the D23 team and as far as I know they are based out of Burbank. Because everything is under the “Disney” banner, people often assume that it is all done by “the company.” But because there are so many different divisions within the company and they are located worldwide, not every division is staffed by the same group. If you plan on visiting the States for D23 Expo 2017, you’ll find being a Gold Member has HUGE benefits and you can buy exclusive items in the parks as well. Hopefully your daughter absolutely loves being member.

    1. Hi, Eartha! I’m not sure why you weren’t able to. You simply purchase membership through the Disney Store site (disneystore.com) and you’re done. I hope you were able to figure it out. Online purchase I believe is the only way to become a gold member.

  2. Does the gold membership get you into the expo for free or you still have to buy expo tickets? And if you have the family membership do your 3 guests get into events for free with you?

    1. Nothing gets you into the Expo for free unfortunately. Gold membership allows you to line up in a different line than people who don’t have gold membership. That’s totally important if you want to get some of the really high value items at the Expo because Gold members get in before non-members or regular members. But the line up for entry begins the afternoon before the Expo begins and people line up a day in advance to insure getting exactly what they want. That being said, there is plenty of great stuff on the floor even if you don’t get the super exclusive stuff. Please read our D23 Expo page for even more!

  3. What kind of discounts at the places you mentioned are there? We already have a signature pass; are the D23 discounts better? Also, what is an average cost of the special events?

    1. Well, signature pass holders don’t get discounts off property and there are quite a few. Otherwise it’s 15% at many of the food places and sometimes more at store locations. It varies a lot. As for the special events, they range from free to quite expensive depending on the event so it’s hard to say. If you’re curious about a specific event, you can look it up on our site and I’ll list what we paid if there was a cost. Hope that helps!

  4. I realize this is an older post, but my hubby and I have been debating whether or not it would be worth it to join D23. We are huge Disney fans and own DVC and this seems like it might be the next logical step. Thanks for the great article outlining the benefits of membership.

    1. Thanks! It is an older post, but I update it regularly. I’m surprised you haven’t joined if you’re DVC members! Do you live close to either US park? Or would you revolve a vacation around a D23 event? If so, totally worth it. Personally, I would be a member even if I didn’t go to an event because I love the magazine so much.

  5. Having a Gold membership, do you get the special pins at special Disney events, like Mickey’s not so scary event?

    1. Gold membership gives you the opportunity to purchase any D23 only pins including ones at special events. This year you also get the awesome 10th anniversary pin set!

  6. For D23 Expo, do the early access perks for gold members only go to the card holder or are they able to bring a guest when lining up early?

    1. That’s a great question! I believe if you bought the tickets, your guest can come with you (like if you have a family membership you can buy up to four tickets). If a friend simply wants to line up with you, then no. I would contact guest relations just to make sure, but I believe tickets you order in advance are labeled as Gold Member so it would allow you access in line.

  7. What’s the difference between the gold and gold family memberships? In the website the same perks show for both unless I’m misreading something.

    Also, does anyone knows if it’s available in Canada? The page where you sign up says no, but the FAQs page on the same site contradict this. I was just wondering cause I have enough Disney Rewards points to use it on a Gold Membership, and would be cool to get the magazines and pins.

    1. I wish I could confirm for you about the Canadian membership. This year especially, the membership gift is awesome! I would call customer service and ask them. (855) 323-5973 is their number (in the United States).

      As for Gold and Gold Family – it’s a matter of number of people who you can buy tickets for. Gold Family I believe is up to 4 tickets while Gold Member is just for yourself and often 1 guest. Hope that helps!

  8. Craig – great info…my big issue is with living in the midwest — would it really be worth it, the most I could travel to the coast is 1, maybe 2 times per year?

    1. I think it really depends on if you want to build your travel around the D23 events. Currently, other than Adventures By Disney, you can’t get a tour of the studios or attend any of the studio events without a Gold Level membership so if that’s important to you, then definitely it’s worth it. Also, you do get entrance into D23 Expo earlier than the general public (although even so you STILL have to sleep overnight on a cold floor if you want the good merchandise) so if you’re going to the Expo it’s also worth it. And I do LOVE the magazine and they are collector’s items and you do get the special membership gift. For me, it would be worth it. I only attend about 1 or 2 events a year (so hard to get tickets), but I love them when I do (for the most part). And the gift and magazine are worth it for me.

      1. In short, no. There used to be some merchandise available online at DisneyStore.com before it became shopDisney.com, but now it redirects you to the D23 site – and there is no merchandise available. Event exclusive merchandise and gifts (of which there are plenty) are exclusive to those events so you have to attend to purchase. You might wonder about the extra merchandise they don’t sell. Typically, I’ve never been to an event where they didn’t sell out. They do have D23 exclusive merchandise like pins at the Disney theme parks (although haven’t seen any in a while), but not often.

  9. I am looking into the D23 membership and noticed that new members this year get or can get the 10th anniversary pin set… is that something that comes to you automatically as a member or is that something you have to buy and hope you get it before it runs out?

    1. It comes automatically when you purchase your membership and each year you get a membership gift of some sort (this one is awesome). Your membership gift comes on renewal.

  10. We are coming from overseas to Los Angeles in Jan 2020. Would being a Gold family member in any way help our chances of visiting the Disney Studio tour? I’d assume the tour is dependent on set times in the year, not based on members gold cards. Thanks for your time. Pete.

    1. Hey, Pete! It is based on set times of the year and so far there isn’t a schedule released for 2020 studio tours. Sorry there isn’t more info available yet. The only other ways I know of to see the Studios is through Adventures by Disney or through the old Disney Movie Rewards program. But they are updating that program and haven’t released what prizes are available for redemption yet. All the best to you in your visit! If you need any Disney tips for January, just let me know. Hopefully, you’ll be traveling before the Christmas decorations are taken down. That’s still my favorite.

  11. Has the cost of your membership increased over the years or does purchasing now lock in today’s price?

    Today’s (10/2019) price is $99.99 for individuals and $129.99 for a family.

    1. Hi, Allie!

      The cost of membership has increased over the years and actually split into Gold and Family Gold membership. At first it was just Gold. Surprisingly, it hasn’t gone up much over time. If I remember correctly, it started at $75 and has only increased once to the current $99. Hope that helps.

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