Variable ticket prices for peak days announced for Disney World and Disneyland


Completing a move that had been rumored for months both Disneyland and Walt Disney World will now charge different prices for one-day tickets based on how many visitors they expect to visit the park that day. It’s called Demand-Based pricing and it means popular days like weekends and holidays will cost more while less popular days will be more affordable.

Disney will provide a calendar at least 8 months in advance that will list each day as either value, regular, or peak. Since it is only for one-day tickets, the hope is that if you see your single-day visit is planned for a peak day, you might decide instead to visit on a nearby value days.

At Walt Disney World, the existing prices become value prices ($105 for the Magic Kingdom and $97 for others), while Regular tickets are $110 for the MK and $102 fo the others, Peak tickers cost $124 at the MK and $114 at the other three parks.

At Disneyland, the value prices are actually a bit of a discount from existing prices ($95). Regular pricing is a little more than what it is today ($105) and Peak pricing will be more expensive ($119).


Existing single day tickets you already purchased will be honored until it expires.

It’s true that the busy times are even busier, even the ‘slow season’ is seeing high demand for hotel rooms, dining, and theme parks. I don’t know what percentage of visitors were buying single-day tickets, but Disney clearly thinks it will have an impact.

Disney’s statements on the need for demand-based pricing likes to lean on how busy the parks get on peak days. What that fails to include, is that Disney is really at fault for not planning to have enough capacity to handle the demand. Disney has failed to build enough attractions, shows, entertainment and even hotels to handle all the demand. Now they have to scramble with a potentially bad PR move like tiered pricing.

Disney is really succeeding in spite of itself and are lucky that the lack of capacity hasn’t come back to bite them earlier. To be fair, there is a bit more capacity planned at Walt Disney World (Star Wars land, Avatar-land), but it’s no where near what Disney should have been added for the last decade. They really should possibly even consider a South America resort or a mid-America park (Texas? St. Louis?) something along the lines they had planned for Disney’s America outside of Washington, DC. Or heck, what about that third gate in Anaheim?

(There’s a longer post about the failure of of Disney’s location based entertainment initiative here too.)

All that said, I think Disney chose the least offensive way to implement demand-based pricing. Some of the scenarios that were tested via surveys and focus groups where significantly more oppressive and complex.

The websites for Disneyland and Walt Disney World will update tonight and new pricing goes into effect tomorrow. Prices are expected to rise for multi-day tickets, but not for annual passes.

This is a developing story. More tomorrow when we see the full scope of the changes.

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10 thoughts on “Variable ticket prices for peak days announced for Disney World and Disneyland

  1. mnmears

    And, how will the guest experience be enhanced on higher-priced days?

    Will the parks be less crowded? Will the hours be extended? Will fewer rides be down for refurbishment?

    Will there be more cast members on duty to reduce guest service times at restaurants and shops?

    Again, I feel sorry for the children and families making that once-in-a-lifetime or once every 3- to 5-year visit.

    It may be time to retire the annual passes altogether, but Disney won’t kill this cash cow. It will simply keep raising the prices in the way you cook a lobster.

    1. J Price

      I don’t disagree, but keep in mind this demand pricing only affects single day tickets. I’m actually kinda shocked anybody buys single day tickets. With a single day costing $111, while 10 days cost $388, and WDW being big enough that you can’t actually see everything in 10 days, I would think most people would buy multiday passes.

  2. Brian G.

    You’re ignoring that demand is a function of price. Demand at $0 would be much higher, for instance, but it would clearly be unreasonable to expect enough capacity to meet that level. What about $20? Do they require enough capacity to meet demand at that price? The point is, Disney’s “lack of capacity” is only an issue at certain price points and below, and picking one price and saying Disney has failed by not meeting demand at that level is purely arbitrary, even if you pick the current (soon former) level.

    Should capacity increase? Probably, but that calculus is much more complex than perhaps you care to admit. Reducing demand (or really, in this case, better distributing it) through higher prices is always going to be easier in the short run. The challenge is determining when adding capacity is preferable overall. For one, it requires a huge upfront investment, which means there needs to be sufficient reason to believe growth trends will continue. Second, there needs to be sufficient area infrastructure. They are already adding more hotels, but at some point (likely soon) they’re going to reach an upper limit on what their current transportation systems can handle. And there’s probably much more I’m leaving out.

    I, for one, am quite pleased with a move toward demand-based pricing. There will always be winners and losers for such a change depending on how inflexible certain people are toward scheduling preferences, but overall it will more efficiently use what capacity exists by better spreading out crowds.

    1. John Frost Post author

      I’m not ignoring that demand and price are tied, but so is supply and it’s much closer relationship. I’d just like to see more balance. I think that Disney as a corporation over-projected the affect of adding DHS and DAK to overall attendance. They expected overall WDW attendance to grow quickly, but there were a couple small recessions and the 9/11 effect that caused both parks to lag in growth a bit. Now Burbank is learning the wrong lesson from that time period. They’re afraid that building a 3rd gate in Anaheim would just cannibalize from DCA, but really that depends on what and where the 3rd park is. If conceived and built right, it will make Disneyland as much of a multi-day destination was Walt Disney World is and take some of the pressure of WDW to be home for all 5+ day Disney vacations in the states. I don’t think WDW is ready fora 5th gate yet, but a boutique park, maybe and a whole bunch of new capacity at MK is needed.

  3. Ross

    This is a great observation about Disney not expanding their parks fast enough to meet demand. I used to argue that the price of a single day ticket was still a great value compared to a high profile sports event or a Broadway show – it is getting harder and harder to make that argument.

  4. Andrea

    I think there are going to be a lot of angry customers demanding their $125 (per person) back after standing shoulder to shoulder in a crowd for two hours, trying and failing to move in a packed park, and finally giving up and leaving. Hopefully Disney has found a way to deal with this because the PR the will result from this short-term thinking will have far-reaching consequences.

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