Disney Price Increases… The Reality

Disney money

Disney Price Increases 2016

By Nigel G. Worrall

Over the last couple of weeks there’s been a lot of whinging and moaning by the popular press at some of the changes going on at Disney.

As a refresher for those that were not aware, Disney recently instituted a variable pricing scheme in which admission to the Magic Kingdom in Orlando now costs $124 per day for adults and $118 for children ages 3 to 9 on peak visitation days, including all weekends, holiday periods and the entire time kids are off of school in the summer. The popular “Park Hopper” option, which allows guests to visit more than one park in a day, tacks on another $40 to $50 per ticket.

In addition to this, Disney now has an add on sale called “Disney Early Morning Magic” that costs an extra $69 per adult (ages 10 and up) and $59 per child. What this buys on select Tuesdays and Saturdays starting April 26 is breakfast at the Pinocchio Village Haus inside the Magic Kingdom, as well as the privilege of hopping on a choice of three Fantasyland rides, The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, and Peter Pan’s Flight, starting at 7:45 a.m. The theme park then opens to regular ticket holders starting at 9 a.m., so Early Morning Magic buyers can get an hour and 15 minutes of rides in before the masses arrive.

So, for a regular family of four (two adults, two kids), regular one-day admission on a peak day costs a total of $484 just for the Magic Kingdom, or $644 for tickets with the Park Hopper option. Add on the Early Morning Magic option ($256 for two adults and two kids), and the grand total comes to $900.

For some, that’s too much to bear.

There is a big “however” in all of this though and it basically boils down to the “have’s” and the “have nots.”

One wise bird once told me that the reason he flew from place to place privately was the fact that he hated flying commercially. He stated he hated the experience of flying commercially as it usually involved checking in two to three hours early, going through ridiculous amounts of security and then, worst of all, having to deal with idiots at both the airline and those using it. He also added commercial aviation was too cheap and that’s why the airlines regularly lost money. Things have turned around a little since he spoke those words a few years ago, but his main point was that he’d love to fly commercially but he wasn’t going to subject himself to all the nonsense that it involves. He told me that he’d happily pay a lot more than current fares to fly commercially because then there would be fewer people using the service. Higher flight prices would equal more folks driving from destination to destination, therefore leaving the airports and flights less crowded. In all, even though he’d be paying more than today’s commercial prices, he’d still be paying significantly less than flying privately and his experience would be far more enjoyable.

So it goes with Disney’s new pricing structure.

It’s called pay for the experience you want or make the choice to suffer whatever the Mouse delivers at standard fare.

Although we love to look back to a time when Walt was alive, today it really is all about one massive corporation satisfying their shareholders and making sure the bottom line is extremely profitable.

Walt once said “I am interested in entertaining people, in bringing pleasure, particularly laughter, to others, rather than being concerned with ‘expressing’ myself with obscure creative impressions.” That was then. This is now.

The reality is that the Walt Disney Company today is completely focused on the bottom line. That’s why it invests in new ventures all over the world in the quest to expand the brand and to earn more and more money. If it can entertain people, bring pleasure and laughter then great. If not, then so be it as long as the bottom line looks good.

Frankly, the executives at Disney don’t care how long in line you wait or how many rides you get to do in a day at Magic Kingdom. To be honest, they’d rather you just turned up, handed your money over and disappeared. Running a special late night event at $149 (another new idea – “Disney After Hours”) doesn’t really appeal to them other than being a way to boost the bottom line. In fact, the only surprise is that they haven’t opened the theme park 24 hours a day 365 days a year and charged significantly for doing so before now. There would be a market for it.

Imagine, a day at Magic Kingdom and you actually can get to ride everything and not have to stand in line all the time.

Interestingly, Disney already offers that type of service. It’s not well known but for $400 to $600 per hour, depending on season, a Private Premium VIP Tour ensures that you do get to do everything, including by-passing the regular family who have stood in line for an hour to ride “Small World.” Quite ironic really.

And, so it goes with the latest additions to the Disney offerings. It’s simply not meant for everyone. It is meant to be exclusive. If you want to pay $35 (“Preferred Parking”) to park your car 20 feet closer to Magic Kingdom, (yes, another new idea,) then good for you. Have at it. Glad you can afford it.

The fact is, Disney has done such a good job with its marketing that it can now afford to do such things. It needs to make money. Lots of it and without any apology for those it leaves behind like the regular families that Walt initially built his kingdom for. Naturally, many people won’t pay because they think Early Morning Magic represents a particularly good value. Most likely, they will pay because the regular Disney theme park experience is painfully, frustratingly crowded, and the opportunity to experience the Magic Kingdom with minimal crowds, even just for three rides, even for a mere 75 minutes, is well worth the additional price.

The bottom line, for each and every family, is now to really consider the experience they want. To think about what they can afford and the consequences of not adding on the new special packages. Disney has put a lot of time and effort into trying to reach families before, during and after their visit and you can be sure they’ll be trying to raid each families pockets for as much as possible. It’s business.

Walt once said “I don’t want the public to see the world they live in while they’re in the Park. I want them to feel they’re in another world.”

Sadly, we’ve moved far away from that simple ideal.




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