Disney Price Hike Starts 3rd June

Filed under: Orlando Theme Parks,Walt Disney World |

With little or no warning Walt Disney World announced yesterday that it was increasing theme park ticket prices. It comes a little more than a week after Universal Orlando raised its theme-park ticket prices.

A one-day, single-park ticket to one of Disney World’s four theme parks will, from tomorrow, cost $89, an increase of 4.7 percent from the previous $85. The same ticket to a Universal Orlando theme park costs $88.

For the second year in a row, Disney targeted the biggest increases for its multi-day passes, as the base price of a four-day ticket rose 5.3 percent, from $243 to $256. A five-day pass jumped 6.8 percent, from $251 to $268. And the price of a seven-day pass leapt 7.9 percent, from $267 to $288.

Four, five- and seven-day tickets are Disney World’s most-purchased ticket options but the biggest increases were for annual and seasonal pass holders for Florida residents which have climbed a massive 11.1 percent to $299.

Disney also raised the price of adding to its multi-day tickets a “Park Hopper” option— which allows visitors to enter more than one theme park on the same day, from $55 to $57, an increase of 3.6 percent.

Disney World’s most-expensive ticket option, a premium annual pass, which does not have any block-out dates and includes admission to the giant resort’s water parks, now costs $699, an increase of 7.7 percent.

I have to say that while I understand from a business and marketing point of view that you put prices up if you expect fewer customers, these rises are nothing but baffling to me. This is nowhere near an increase just to cover inflation and it sort of implies that guests should be getting more for their money. OK, Disney World has lots going on right now but while the lauded Fantasyland expansion is underway, none of these attractions are scheduled to open until late 2012 so where exactly in the Disney Parks is the guest getting a better experience today as the price increases?I don’t see it.

If you then stop to consider that recent studies have shown you won’t get to do everything there is to do in a particular park, then you’ll start to weigh up exactly how much each ride or attraction is actually costing you. It seems to me that you’ll be lucky to do eight to ten rides in a day and that means you’ll be paying the region of $10.00 for on average a three minute ride.

Instead of giving consumers more reasons to visit Walt Disney World, Disney hopes this increase in price will be what the Parks and Resorts division needs to show an increasing profit margin. Honestly, it just seems to be the same old story with Disney lately and it seems they believe consumers will continue to visit the parks and resorts just on its brand reputation alone. While I would agree this has some merit I think Disney is underestimating the challenge of a certain Harry Potter and what is going on at Universal.  While Disney believes that the Fantasyland Expansion is an appropriate response, it’s really not quite on the same level.

To me Disney is saying that they think guests will happily pay anyway but I think that these price increases do more harm than good in the current economic climate. In the real world,  guests who are already struggling to make ends meet may well shy away from a vacation at Walt Disney World when it costs so much more. When you factor in the costs of accommodation and traveling not to mention food and beverage costs then making that trip to Walt Disney World is not looking like such a great value.

Of course, one way in which guests can save some money is by staying in a vacation home and having more days by the  pool. Instead of visiting a theme park everyday, guests may choose to do a park every other day and enjoy some quality family time soaking up the sun and enjoying the home environment. Further, they may also choose to save money buy utilizing the full sized kitchen and buying groceries from a local supermarket like they would at home.

Just the other day we talked about the new Art of Animation hotel opening on Disney property and how it wasn’t such a great deal… well with the cost of theme park tickets going up, it seems that guests may now choose to stay in vacation homes and visit some of the other local attractions where they can have just as much fun but spend less money.

It’s all come along way from the day that Disneyland opened in 1955 in California with a $1 ticket price hasn’t it? No doubt Disney has their reasons but this just smacks of profiteering rather than actually showing some real care for their customers. Michael Eisner once said after the events of 9/11 “We’re not worried because we can trust our customers.” It was a bold and correct statement…. but, there comes a time when you can push them too much. Let’s hope the folks at Disney pay attention.

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