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Thoughts on the Recent Ticket Price Increase

Friday, June 07, 2013

Walt Disney World has the right to raise their ticket prices.  In fact, it’s expected by its fans and guests that ticket prices should be raised on occasion.  They have a quality product that’s high in demand.  The numbers at the turnstiles (or newly sophisticated ones) don’t lie.  The attendance meter has been spinning at a high rate.  It’s no secret that theme park vacations are growing in popularity, especially with theme park resorts investing billions of dollars into new attractions.  Unfortunately, there comes a time when theme park companies need to recoup some of their investments and that time is now. 

Annual Passes

Our family loves annual passes.  We always try to purchase them because we typically travel to Orlando 2 or 3 times a year.  The flexibility and freedom of an annual pass is great.  You can walk in and out of the theme parks with no remorse like you would by burning a day on your multi-day theme park ticket.  If you have a dinner reservation at Hollywood Studios you can walk in the park to enjoy your meal and walk out after you are done without worry of wasting a day on your ticket media.  Unfortunately, for travelers like us purchasing an annual pass is slowly becoming a second or third option.  Justifying the expense for an annual pass for 2 or 3 trips in a year is becoming very difficult.  The annual pass program tends to favor the local resident far more than a bi-annual or tri-annual traveler. 

One of the biggest increases during this last price hike was on annual passes.  The purchase of a new annual pass seems to well outweigh the increase in an annual pass renewal.  If you’re looking for a premier annual pass that allows you to enter Disney World theme parks and the Disneyland theme parks then you’ll be paying over a $100 more. 

DVC Annual Passes

I’d like to personally take this opportunity to thank the Disney Vacation Club for a few reasons.  For one they’ve discounted annual passes for members by $100, and secondly they allowed members to purchase a premium annual pass for $399 per person last year.  I know we complain about the ticket prices, but if you’re a DVC member you’ve reaped the benefits over the years with the purchase of an annual pass.  Unfortunately, even the DVC price is proving to be too expensive.  When this round of annual passes expire the renewal price will be tough to swallow.  If you are a DVC member will you renew your AP? 

The Real Problem with Price Increases

I’ve said this for years.  Price increases are normal, but why do they have to be so large?  The increased percentages are somewhat staggering.  The percentage of increases are different across the various ticket media Disney offers to its guests, but we’re looking at anywhere from 3 to 10 percent.  Considering how expensive tickets are already these percentages are rather large.   The problem with these big percentages is the speed at which ticket prices will be out of reach for the middle-income family.  It will be sooner rather than later.  We can expect at least one ticket price increase per year, but when they are 4, 5, 7, or even 10 percent the translation to price is staggering.  I know there are cost of living considerations, but when do we reach a breaking point?  Considering the size of these increases we will reach it in the not too distant future. 

Conclusion

We are all aware guests don’t typically buy a 1 day, 1 park theme park ticket.  For the first time in a long while Disney has a different 1 day ticket price for the Magic Kingdom versus the other 3 theme parks.  The Magic Kingdom price is now $95 and the other 3 parks are $90.  We’re not exactly sure why, but it may have to do with the new Fantasyland expansion price tag.  It will be curious to see if the prices ever match-up again. 

Disney is always tinkering with ticket prices.  Every dollar they raise ticket prices is a big plus to their bottom line.  But, we also have to consider their investments into the theme parks.  I know many of us would like to see more money invested into the parks, but if you look at the new attractions and refurbishments over the past decade it’s hard to criticize a ticket price increase.  But Disney, please do us a favor and decrease the percentages at which you raise your ticket prices or else soon going to a theme park will be like going to a professional sporting event. 

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About this column

Aaron DelPrince looks at the various activities you and your family can experience at Walt Disney World


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