Walt Disney World raises its admission price

As of this Sunday Walt Disney World will be raising the price of its theme park admission. The basic adult ticket is climbing 6 percent to a record $71 and other ticket levels are rising as well. Since you can purchase tickets online with a non-expiring option, right now is the time to buy tickets if you’re planning a Disney World vacation in the next few years.

There are two main reasons Disney raises ticket prices. First is perceived value. Perversely, Disney believes that just raising the price of daily admission makes a Disney vacation a more treasured experience. If they don’t keep their prices ahead of similar entertainment (other theme parks like SeaWorld and Universal, but also concert and sports tickets, movie tickets, etc), then they’re afraid the public will see Disney as less of a value and stop coming.

—–"We strongly believe that Walt Disney World represents a great entertainment value. Our guests agree," spokesman Rick Sylvain said. "In our guests surveys, nine out of 10 rate their theme park experience from good to excellent."—–

Can’t you just hear Disney executives, "Guests are happy with our product. Let’s charge them more and see if they still like it." What ever happened to the idea of just providing more product to sell.

The second reason is capacity. These last few years, and especially last year, the theme parks, while never at "close the gates" capacity, were busier than ever on average. Yet, Disney hasn’t increased the capacity of the parks by adding new attractions, shows, or parades. If the supply side is unchanged, then something on the demand side must change. Usually that’s the price. The other option would be to sell dated tickets to prevent overcrowding. I don’t see that idea going over very well with the locals.

At some point this game will end. Disney will raise ticket prices above the general perceived value of a day’s entertainment. Fewer people will buy tickets. Hopefully Disney will realize this early on before they price themselves out of the market. For now, remember that if you buy a 9-12 day ticket with the non-expiring option you’re still saving quite a bit over the price of tickets as long as 10 years ago.

Of course the other option is… they invest some of those profits you mentioned and actually increase capacity (new attractions, a fifth gate, etc…). Sure they won’t be able to raise prices as often, but they’ll get more bodies through the gates and into beds and will make it up in volume, as they say. (Via Orlando Sentinel)

10 thoughts on “Walt Disney World raises its admission price”

  1. Disney World Increases Ticket Prices

    Disney World Increases Ticket Prices As of this Sunday Walt Disney World will be raising the price of its theme park admission. The basic adult ticket is climbing 6 percent to a record $71 and other ticket levels are rising…

  2. There’s no place on earth like WDW. That’s why everyone wants to go there. It’s simple supply & demand. All the price increase says is that folks at WDW are doing something right.

  3. #1 I agree with Dylan

    #2 Your post has no facts (except that prices are going up) and instead tries to play off the idea that the Disney Execs are sitting somewhere laughing with evil at the plight of their Guests

    #3 There are a multitude of people within the Parks division who are dedicated to understanding the relationship between the Cost, Pricing, Experience, and Demand at the parks; so the idea that this was some willy-nilly decision is simply ridiculous

    #4 Capacity is not simply a maximum. As any Guest that has been at WDW on a busy summer day (but not “shut the gates” busy) will tell you, the Guest experience starts to decline at a level much lower than the full capacity of the parks. So even if they aren’t closing the parks, demand could be at a level that is higher than WDW would like it to be based on the Guest experience

    #5 Capacity isn’t everything. Just because they haven’t built a new park at WDW in the past 9 years it certainly shouldn’t be interpreted to mean that investments aren’t being made there. Heck, they spent money to take down the EPCOT wand, right? :)

  4. John,

    This pushes me even closer to purchasing and becoming an Annual Passholder. Not for the room discounts, since we are DVC members, but for the relatively cheaper park admission. In the next 365 clanedar days, I should get to spend about 15 days in the parks.

    Ina truly un-altruistic moment, I like the idea of the park admission becoming more expensive. Mainly to keep the parks a little less crowded. But then I realize that it is not a very nice thought.

    Great post. Thanks for putting out intelligent posts that foster intelligent discussion.

  5. Z, Capacity isn’t everything, but it is a significant portion. I’m trying to think of any new spending that has increased capacity rather than just replaced a previous attraction that had been removed. At Epcot we have Soarin’. At MK none (Flying Carpets perhaps). At Disney-MGM Studios we have LMA (although it could be argued that it replaces a portion of the backlot tour) and Narnia (although that hardly counts). At DAK is the biggest improvement with EE and, as you point out, the whole park 10 years ago. Other than that, everything replaces something that has closed. There is a lot to be said for filling in the dead space created when attractions are closed. That’s a good thing. But it doesn’t significantly increase capacity or value for the dollar.

    As for #3, I don’t question the professional ability of the people Disney has tasked with monitoring those things. I just question Disney’s decision to sometimes put show behind efficiency and cost.

    This whole matter ties into the hotel/DVC issue. As Disney ropes more people into staying on property (a good thing ™) they have a growing captive audience. This number is going to get larger and I’m concerned there won’t be enough capacity to keep them entertained based on the price they’re paying.

    I don’t think this is an either or proposition. If they’re going to raise the prices then we should get something new for it. New Parades, Shows, Attractions, etc. I know that some of that stuff is on the way. Making DAK a whole day park (some night time entertainment, a couple new attractions, etc) will go a long way to that for the next few years. But there has to be even more. I just want to hold Disney accountable for providing a value to its guests.

  6. John —
    Excellent point with DVC. From the Corporate level its logical that its desirable to drive Guests to this particular offering. Everything I’ve heard Jay Rasulo say over the past year has been targeted towards taking the magic beyond the parks, and I think that they’ve been successful with that so far (DVC, Cruise Line, Adventures by Disney). By driving Guests to DVC they’re building a solid foundation of Guests that could easily provide demand for any other Regional-type ventures that might be in the works.

    However, from a purely WDW perspective I think their strategy has been to improve the existing experiences rather than expand into new ones. From a higher level this makes sense too; with big things potentially happening in California the creative side (WDI) is targeting most of its resources there. In the past it seems like they have simply staffed up to meet the additional demand, but they might be taking a different approach this time to limit the staffing volatility.

    So, I think WDW is handling this in two ways: (1) Make existing attractions with high capacity more desirable to Guests (2) Expand the capacity of already desireable attractions

    Take Epcot for example. Recently they’ve done quite a bit with the park towards these goals:
    — Sea Cabs re-theming and re-introduction
    — El Rio Del Tiempo (sp?) re-theming
    — New Turtle Talk placement with higher capacity
    — Spaceship Earth improvements

    Heck, even the Year of a Million Dreams has helped them infuse the parks with a ton of Cast Members dedicated almost entirely to Guest Service (the core business).

    I guess the real question becomes: is it enough to improve existing experiences over the next few years while creative resources are thin, or do they need to have completely new experiences introduced to keep things current?

  7. John,

    I cannot agree with you more. I don’t have a problem with the rising gate prices if I feel that price has a good return on it. It all goes back to the old ECON 101 principal Cost benefit analysis. Does the cost make the benefits worth while.

    There are resorts, such as Aspen, who take great pride in their exorbitant lift ticket prices because they want to be the “most expensive” and by default be the best

  8. Disney can be very affordable, it just requires planning and the willingness to visit in the off-season. And yet, rather than building more capacity, Disney just raises prices (sometimes while cutting services (as in the case of the Dining Plan). The DDP is a more expensive price raise (especially when you factor in high menu prices and fewer options) than the ticket cost. But that didn’t even make the news.

  9. I guess none of you have been to WDW lately!
    The parks are dirty!Customer service is as bad as HOME DEPOT!I take that back HOME DEPOT will give you a refund if your not happy.

  10. Tacker is exactly right – Disney services have been sliding downwards over the past 25 years I’ve been visiting the Parks. And the price increase has nothing to do with crowd control or “elitism” – the Aspen analogy came closest though – the Disney execs are creating an exclusive market – msot people know that Aspen is expensive, exclusive and basically unobtainable – so most of the world has never been there! This will eventually be the case for Disney properties – most people will never get there because of the prices – but Disney will survive and prosper with its minority elite clientele – Walt would be ashamed….

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