Disney Raises Ticket Prices; Many Rides Static

Written by Kevin Yee. Posted in Kevin Yee

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Published on February 25, 2014 at 3:02 am with 86 Comments

Like clockwork, Disney has raised the price of admission to its WDW parks: it’s now $94 per park, except the Magic Kingdom, which now costs $99/adult. The $100 mark will be breached the next time Disney raises ticket prices (most likely right after summer season 2014), so we’re looking at the LAST set of sub-$100 prices.

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The announcement of the price hikes came on Saturday night, a mere handful of hours before the hikes went into effect on Sunday morning. I found it particularly clever that they released the news when they did, because there was a press event happening at Universal Orlando the same night. Disney must have figured (rightly) that they couldn’t lose. Either the price hike would be buried by the news cycle (in which case they “win” because no one accuses them of greed) or Disney *would* be the talk of the town due to the price hike if there was enough outrage (in which case Disney would “win” anyway, because now the Universal event is being ignored in favor of Disney, which makes Disney look relevant and Universal irrelevant).

Disney has every right to raise the prices. Indeed, it makes good business sense (and Disney is, primarily, a business with quarterly earnings to consider above all else). We know this to be true because, simply, the parks have never been busier, despite the annual (or biannual) price hikes. People keep coming and they keep paying, so it would make little sense as a business if Disney did not try to see what the market will bear.

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Of course, not every business decision ought to be spreadsheet-driven. What I find particularly glaring is that the official statements about price hikes always invoke the “premium brand” and reflect the value of a Disney vacation.

To illustrate how such a statement is almost FUNNY, I thought I’d do a little experiment with you, the readers. Scan through this list below and see if you can figure out what I’m doing:

Magic Kingdom

  • Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor – Glamorous (Fergie)
  • Stitch’s Great Escape – My Boo (Usher)
  • PeopleMover – I Gotta Feelin’ (Black Eyed Peas)
  • Carousel of Progress – Can’t Help Falling in Love (UB40)
  • Astro-Orbiter – Bump ‘n Grind (R. Kelly)
  • Space Mountain – Love the Way You Lie (Eminem)
  • Buzz Lightyear – First Night (Monica)
  • Tomorrowland Speedway – Smooth (Santana)
  • Dumbo – Stronger (Kelly Clarkson)
  • Barnstormer – Stronger (Kelly Clarkson)
  • Mad Tea Party – End of the Road (Boyz II Men)
  • Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh – If You Had My Love (Jennifer Lopez)
  • Under the Sea – Diamonds (Rihanna)
  • Princess Fairytale Hall – Roar (Katy Perry)
  • Prince Charming Royal Carrousel – Maggie May (Rod Stewart)
  • Mickey’s Philharmagic – Baby Boy (Beyonce)
  • Peter Pan’s Flight - Maggie May (Rod Stewart)
  • It’s a Small World - Maggie May (Rod Stewart)
  • Haunted Mansion – Born This Way (Lady Gaga)
  • Hall of Presidents – Boom Boom Pow (Black Eyed Peas)
  • Country Bear Jamboree - Maggie May (Rod Stewart)
  • Enchanted Tiki Room - Maggie May (Rod Stewart)
  • Magic Carpets of Aladdin – All for You (Janet)
  • Jungle Cruise - Maggie May (Rod Stewart)
  • Swiss Family Treehouse - Maggie May (Rod Stewart)
  • Pirates of the Caribbean – One More Night (Maroon 5)
  • Big Thunder – Lady (Kenny Rogers)
  • Splash Mountain – End of the Road (Boyz II Men)
  • WDW Railroad - Maggie May (Rod Stewart)

Epcot

  • Spaceship Earth – Low (Flo Rida)
  • Ellen’s Energy Adventure – Macarena (Los Del Rio)
  • Mission Space – Crazy in Love (Beyonce)
  • Test Track – Diamonds (Rihanna)
  • Seas with Nemo – Say it Right (Nelly Furtado)
  • Living with the Land – Jack & Diane (John Cougar)
  • Circle of Life – Creep (TLC)
  • Soarin – Candy Shop (50 Cent)
  • Journey into Imagination – Foolish (Ashanti)
  • Captain EO – Take My Breath Away (Berlin)
  • Gran Fiesta Tour – Don’t Matter (Akon)
  • Maelstrom – Dirty Diana (Michael Jackson)
  • Reflections of China – Get Busy (Sean Paul)
  • American Adventure – Umbrella (Rihanna)
  • Impressions de France - Jack & Diane (John Cougar)
  • O Canada – Beautiful Girls (Sean Kingston)

I would do the other two parks, but I think the point is made. Did you figure out the pattern and what’s going on? The song listed was the #1 song in the week when that attraction was last updated significantly (or simply when it first opened, if it hasn’t updated in a significant fashion. Also note: I didn’t include queue updates).

To me, anyway, this makes the staleness of WDW more visible (or more accurately, the staleness of PARTS of the resort). If you tried to use the songs above to DJ a wedding reception, you’d look hopelessly nostalgic. And yet, this is what passes for the best and newest the theme park world has to offer (or so they imply with the prices). Something to think about!

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Ultimate Orlando Clicks

The moat as you know it will reportedly be changing soon at Magic Kingdom (new bridges and access), so we take a look around. Plus, we tour the revised Casey’s Corner dining room and examine the new King Triton statue outside the DVC in Fantasyland. We also notice the new thatched roof on Seven Dwarfs Mine Train.

Direct link: http://youtu.be/Ae8AdHT5C7Q

Re-Launching Ultimate Orlando

I’ve maintained a “side blog” since 2006 and have finally decided to unify all my social networking around this one site and brand. That means I will soon stop posting about my Disney updates to my regular Facebook account, and will only use the “Ultimate Orlando” venues/accounts going forward. Also of note: I had to change the YouTube channel, so if you subscribe to the current one be sure you switch your subscription to the new one. If you follow me on any of these services, please update your bookmarks:

 

About Kevin Yee

Kevin Yee is an author and blogger writing about travel, tourism, and theme parks in Central Florida. He spent more than a decade working at Disneyland and cultivating a never-ending fascination with that park’s rich traditions and history. Now relocated to Orlando, Kevin enjoys the Disney offerings on both sides of the country. Kevin is the author of numerous independent Disney books, including the popular Walt Disney World Earbook series and Walt Disney World Hidden History. Readers are invited to connect with him online and face to face at the following locations: UltimateOrlando.com – Kevin’s personal blog for daily WDW updates Public Facebook page – or friend his personal Facebook account, Twitter feed (user UltOrlando), Google+ account (user cafeorleans), Email at [email protected], Weekly Walt Disney World, a Facebook group of regulars who visit Disney World each weekend. Visitors from out of town are encouraged to come and say hello when in Orlando! Join the FB group to learn when/where the next meet is. Kevin’s books on Amazon

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86 Comments

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  1. Back in 2006 – when my kids were just a couple of years old – I read an article on a fansite that talked about rising WDW ticket prices. Living in California but knowing we would someday vacation in Florida, I purchased 10-day no-expiration tickets for the whole family. Park-hopper, water park option – the whole enchilada.

    Those cost me $375 each for the adult passes and $335 each for the kids passes (through Undercover Tourist).
    Adding the latest price increase, the same thing today would cost over $750 per ticket with the no-expiration option (assuming Disney continues to provide that add-on in the park).

    Since purchasing those tickets, we have used two days, and the kids got their child tickets upgraded to adult tickets for free (thanks, Disney). I figure by the time we use all of the days, one-day prices will be kissing $130 (hard to imagine that now).

    Kind of makes you wonder if it’s not worth it to buy those 10-day tickets at today’s prices and add the No Expiration option.
    My 10-day top of the line ticket price doubled in 8 years. That’s some mighty inflated mouse ears.
    Anyone thinking of doing this should know that if WDW adds a 4th gate, the tickets would not be good for that park. Plus who knows what FastPass+ will look like 5 years from now. Maybe my tickets will be good for admission but no FP perks.

    Anyone remember back when Universal sold non-expiring admissions? I bought a few 3-day multi-park tickets back in 2005 for a whopping $125 each. Those were the days…

    • Glad to know I’m not the only person doing this. Bought the passes years ago and have been using them every few years for a WDW visit. Saved lots of $$$.

      • Smart, ChrisNJ & Brian! Your investment (if you were certainly going to go to WDW) outperformed many other types of investments. You both bet on Disney dramatically increasing park prices and you won. Nice! (For you! :) )

    • He he…
      I didn’t even notice my big, glaring error in my original post.

      Anyone catch it?

      “Anyone thinking of doing this should know that if WDW adds a 4th gate, the tickets would not be good for that park.”

      I meant to say 5th gate. When I mentally counted four gates, I unintentionally omitted Animal Kingdom. Maybe the upcoming Avatar-land will make me remember it’s a real park. Yeah, right…..I still can’t remember the name of any character from that movie.

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  3. Atleast now Disney will have enough money to fix the broken Yeti in AK…

    • Or, more likely, increase the bonuses of the highest paid executives. The broken Yeti is their WDW mascot–a big middle finger to Walt himself and the suckers like me who will still go to WDW. (Though my WDW visits have gone from annual to VERY infrequent.)

      • ^ ^ OK, I calmed down. Maybe the Everest mtn. really can’t support a giant wildly moving Yeti. But it would be nice if it were disassembled and reconstructed elsewhere. Or ship it to Disneyland and have it fight ASIMO.

      • @jcruise86 I read an imagineer replied to a question from a fan when they Yeti would be fixed that “it was meant to be this way”. In other words, they created something potentially very cool that costed millions of dollars and they leave it like a mannequin with a strobe light on it. Like the replacement of the people mover at DL and the tree at AK Disney created something and it didn’t work and they left it. Removing the Yeti would cost to much so it will never happen and stay there as a reminder that the execution of imaginering’s ideas are exceedingly failing if they try to do something else then the same thing they have done over and over again (like mermaid).
        Sure it’s disappointing but when it comes to Disney you should lower your expectations. They are not what they used to be.

  4. Am I the only one who finds it weird that the Magic Kingdom is more money then the other parks.

    • Doesn’t the MK have twice the attractions of the WDW studios or the AK?
      If people with kids (like my in-laws last week) just visit one WDW park,
      it’ll probably be the MK. (My in-laws went to Universal for one day too, and
      spent the rest of their Florida vacation at a beach.)

      With MyMagic+’s 3 attraction limit
      and with about 9 FPs I’d like at the MK,
      we’ll probably visit the MK the days we fly in and out
      so we can get 3 MK FPs on 3 different days.
      In the past I’d've probably wanted to spend more time at EPCOT.

    • I don’t find it weird at all. I am surprised they haven’t charged more for the MK in the past. I have never stayed at DHS for a whole day. It’s improving on it’s “half day park” reputation, though.

  5. Getting rid of the moat?!?! If this is true I think I am done with Disney. I know the park division was built off the philosophy of never being completed, but wrecking the aesthetic for an asphalt walkway is the ending point for me. Aiaiaiai!

  6. Does anyone know what percentage of the parks visitors purchase single day, single park tickets? Just curious.

    • I think 0%. Maybe a small percentage for MK but the rest of the parks would be without visitors if they weren’t part of a resort. NO one in his right mind would pay +100 dollars (after tax) for the Disney Hollywood Studios or Animal Kingdom.

      • I had friends who just did. They go once a year for one day and this year decided to hit the studios. They enjoyed it with their little kid who got to meet her favorite Toy Story Characters. I can’t say I would ever go for a day and pay that, but I understand why some people might. Although the number is probably pretty close to 0%.

  7. So you’re basically saying…..that the Tea Cups haven’t been updated since 1993?!?!?

    That of course is just one of the things you’re saying, but WOW!!! That is indeed truly sad.

    • And no loops in the Haunted Mansion ballroom scene!

  8. Any other Disney shareholders who look at price increases and think, “Oh, no! Now I have to pay myself more money!”

    What did (Emma Thompson’s version of) P.L. Travers call Disneyland (to Tom Hanks’ Walt) as she was portrayed in “Saving Mr. Banks”?

    And see the old Mad magazine parody of Walt written and drawn while he was still alive.

    From what I read on Micechat, folks aren’t as upset about the rising prices as they are about the stagnating product. I trust that Universal’s recent bravery will pay off and Disney will get back in the game.

  9. Here’s what I’m seeing:

    Pretty much everybody wants to whine about Disney. Certainly almost every comment here is whining about something.

    “It’s too expensive.” Guess what? If it were cheap, it would be packed to capacity every day of the year. You can’t have it both ways. If you want an enjoyable experience without 120-minute waits for every ride, you have to limit admission somehow. Disney does that through pricing.

    “They don’t update the rides constantly.” Again, guess what? When they touch one of the rides, everybody screams in horror because they’re messing with a “classic.” Just like with crowd levels and pricing, you can’t have it both ways. Why should the Magic Kingdom update everything every year? Just because YOU’VE become bored with “it’s a small world” doesn’t mean the family who has never seen it before won’t love it.

    Our family pays an average of $17 per person per day to visit WDW — annual passes. We pay an average of about $110 per night for a two-bedroom DVC villa (that’s our yearly assessments broken down into a per-night cost, because the cost of the DVC membership paid for itself several years ago).

    And our family enjoys every minute of our trips. True, we don’t spend all day every day in a theme park, but we always do the stuff we love and we always have a great time.

    So Disney has raised the prices again. Big deal. They’re a for-profit corporation. They’re entitled to earn a profit. I’m happy to have a shorter wait for Pirates and the ability to get a reservation at Le Cellier. Everyone who is complaining can stay home — I won’t mind, and Disney certainly won’t care.

    • Great idea, overprice it, don’t maintain it and they won’t come. There’s a film in that

    • Most folks, even big Disney fans wouldn’t spend 45 days a year at WDW?!?
      That’s how you get to $17 a day? That isn’t your average anyone.
      Even DVC has an additional cash outlay which is the opportunity cost of not investing $40,000 with compound interest over 25 years. There are also yearly taxes and fees with DVC. So, your $100 per night has some other costs which need to be considered as well.

    • Disney raised single day ticket prices $4/day? So what! That’s nothin’! If you don’t like it, don’t go. It’s still affordable, skiing costs some $$$ per day, blah blah blah.

      Of course, when you take a step back and look at the bigger picture, that $4/day price increase is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg. Consider:

      1 day ticket: $75/adult in 2008; $94 or $99/adult in 2014 – a 25%/32% increase
      AP: $469/adult in 2008; $634/adult in 2014 – a 35% increase
      Parking: $11/day in 2008; $15/day in 2014 – a 36% increase
      Rack rate for a Deluxe resort room, standard view, regular season: $275/night in 2008 | $394/night in 2014 – a 43% increase

      Food:
      At Cosmic Ray’s, in 2008 a Bacon Double Cheeseburger w/fries cost $7.39. Today, a 1/3lb Angus Bacon Cheeseburger w/fries is $10.19. – a 38% increase [Presuming 1/4lb patties, you're also getting less burger for your money today.] A refillable mug was $12 in 2008, today the length-of-stay refillable mug is $18, a 50% increase.

      Following the inflation rate calculations at http://www.davemanuel.com/inflation-calculator.php, $75 in 2008 would be worth $81.43 in 2013. Or, more simply, $1 in 2008 would be worth $1.09 in 2013.

      Average US household income in 2008 was $52,029/yr. In 2012 (the latest available), it was $51,371, a 1% DECREASE.

      Obviously, there’s no reason to “whine” about prices at WDW, is there? $4/day more for park admission is “no big deal”, right? *rolls eyes* We’re DVC owners, and even without needing to spend money on a hotel room, per se, it’s still no wonder that going to WDW has become more and more expensive for our family (of 6). We’re almost to the point where we aren’t going to be able to go once a year anymore because it’s going to take longer to save up the money to cover just food and park admission (AP’s or otherwise).

  10. I think that your list has a number of errors in it. You list MAggie May afford a number of attractions which I assume means opening day. But these attractions have all received major upgrades over time. I worked in fantasyland and tomorrow land in the 80s and remember the opening day setup up of the rides. For example, Small World received the fountains in the late 80, the clock tower just a few years ago and recently went through a major rehab. The carrousel (It’s Cinderella’s too as it was for many years) removed horses to create chariot for those disabled within the past 10ish years. The music track is completely redone. Peter Pan has a whole new ride system, and new animation from the days I worked there. Bear Band and Tiki room have had new shows come, and go, and return to their original based on customer request. Thunder just recently went through a major rehab, including new trains. The steam trains used to have live narration, now it’s pre-recorded with new stations in Birthdayland, a new station in Splash Mountain and a major redo of the town sq station.

    So while you complain about a price increase, don’t say the rides have been upgraded when they are.

    Regarding the price increase, have you tried skiing recently? It’s easily $75 just to get on the mountain. Or a movie. It’s $20 to watch it one in 3-D. When you look at other entertainment options, Disney is a good value. I was there in October and did all 4 parks in one day for $125ish, which I thought was very reasonable.

    • ^ ^ You did all 4 parks in one day? That’s a lot of non-walking transportation for one day & reminds me of a Woody Allen quote: “I took a speed reading class and was able to read ‘War & Peace’ in 20 minutes. It’s about Russia.”

    • I’m certainly open to the idea that I’ve missed a few major upgrades. But I’m not sure I agree that the items on your list qualify as “substantially updating” the attraction.

      Pan gets a new ride system… but it’s essentially the same experience.

      A new station for the WDWRR is closer to what I mean, but a truly new/upgraded experience would be something like adding the Primeval World – something with SHOW that is new and different, not just enhanced.

      • Yeah Kevin,
        I think you missed a few things that were just as noticeable as the ones Blowfish pointed out.
        The doors on many trashcans throughout fantasyland now have better hinges.
        The dustpans used by the cleaning crews throughout DS and AK have been upgraded. Will you miss when they upgrade the dustpans in MK too?
        The water in Small world has been upgraded with a bluer dye.
        Haunted Mansion new light system makes the ride 5% darker now.
        The wigs on several Pirates in Pirates of Caribbean have been upgraded to horse hair.
        Water in Maelstrom was recently upgraded with sprayers that make the mist 10% more fine when guests near the oil rig.
        Don’t mean to jump you but Blowfish and I are just pointing out all the AMAZING upgrades that current WDW leadership has approved in the last 6 years which you and all the other guests seemed to have ignored.
        How could you miss these?
        Where is the love and applause for these upgrades?
        These upgrades must be the reason park prices and everything else at WDW keep rising.