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  1. #1

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    How did Disneyland make money in the 80's vs today?

    1) One day admission was $12 in 1982 and raised periodically to $25.50 in 1990.
    2) In the 80s, on weekdays, especially all spring and fall, Disneyland was basically empty.

    Even adjusting for inflation, compared with today's crowds and ticket prices, how did Disneyland make a profit back then?

    (This post is not about complaining about prices or crowds, I'm just curious how profit compares now to then)

  2. #2

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    Re: How did Disneyland make money in the 80's vs today?

    No annual passes, closed a couple days each week, mostly it was just the 80's and stuff was cheaper overall I guess.

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    Re: How did Disneyland make money in the 80's vs today?

    It was in the 80's when Disney realized it made more off what was paid for in the parks than paying to get into the parks. That hasn't changed. One reason the stores are all similar is because they wanted the most popular stuff always and easily available.

    Also in the 80's a focus became lodging and they started building hotels in WDW and got into buying hotels in Anaheim. Lots of money comes from renting those beds. Basically a giant supplement to the revenue stream.
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    Re: How did Disneyland make money in the 80's vs today?

    Quote Originally Posted by almandot View Post
    No annual passes, closed a couple days each week, mostly it was just the 80's and stuff was cheaper overall I guess.
    I thought annual passes were introduced in the early 80's?




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    Re: How did Disneyland make money in the 80's vs today?

    Quote Originally Posted by frollofan View Post
    I thought annual passes were introduced in the early 80's?
    Late 80s or early 90s I think. You might be thinking of when they got rid of the ticket books.

    In any case I would think Disney started making money off the parks when they stopped having to pay their loan to Bank of America back in the early 60s.

  6. #6

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    Re: How did Disneyland make money in the 80's vs today?

    Quote Originally Posted by DisneyIPresume View Post
    Late 80s or early 90s I think. You might be thinking of when they got rid of the ticket books.

    In any case I would think Disney started making money off the parks when they stopped having to pay their loan to Bank of America back in the early 60s.

    Light research looks like the first AP was '84. Hopefully this is an allowable link: Vintage Disneyland Tickets: The Greatest Value of them All - 1st Annual Pass - 1984
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  7. #7

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    Re: How did Disneyland make money in the 80's vs today?

    After I posted I realized they did have Annual Passes but I was thinking more of Southern California discounts.. wasn't it the later 80's when they started with the discounts that allowed locals to flood the place often yet before they started the price boosts.

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    Re: How did Disneyland make money in the 80's vs today?

    Quote Originally Posted by almandot View Post
    After I posted I realized they did have Annual Passes but I was thinking more of Southern California discounts.. wasn't it the later 80's when they started with the discounts that allowed locals to flood the place often yet before they started the price boosts.

    I started attending WAY too frequently on APs about '86, honestly I don't know what promotions they were offering but I was given an AP by my parents and told they got 'a really good deal' on it through their business (large, union, had a MWR equivalent office on premises). I was a regular teen denizen of the park for a few years until about '90-'92 (away for various reasons) and got my first AP on my return to the state during the "40 days for $40" promotion they ran leading up to Indy. For at least a few years before that point I'd been going HEAVILY during the off season on the twofer and half price deals they'd run - go one day, come back a bit later, repeat. For a few years after most of my NorCal friends would come down to celebrate the end of "off season" by going for the cheap deals right around Easter. Those deals did not stop their annual runs until the big AP push started.

    That's my personal experience, at least.
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    Re: How did Disneyland make money in the 80's vs today?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mojave View Post
    1) One day admission was $12 in 1982 and raised periodically to $25.50 in 1990.
    2) In the 80s, on weekdays, especially all spring and fall, Disneyland was basically empty.

    Even adjusting for inflation, compared with today's crowds and ticket prices, how did Disneyland make a profit back then?

    (This post is not about complaining about prices or crowds, I'm just curious how profit compares now to then)
    If you look in the Wikipedia article for Disneyland under the Tickets section, you'll see how quickly they raised the ticket prices during the 1980s. Almost every year, they raised the ticket price by $2 or 3, and basically doubled the price during those nine or ten years.

    According to interviews I've heard with people like Marty Sklar and Jack Lindquist, they were constantly running promotions or thinking of new ideas to try to get people to visit.

    But in terms of how they made money before the mid-1980s, people have told me (and I have read in many places) that going back to the 1950s, Disneyland was a special place to visit, in that people saved up their money and didn't visit except as a special occasion. Compare that to someplace like Knott's Berry Farm, which didn't charge admission until around 1970--you could walk in for free and then just pay for the rides/attractions you wanted to go on.

    As an aside, during the 1950s and 60s, people probably didn't visit Disneyland for more than one day at a time, either. I'd say it's because they have so many Annual Passholders that people feel entitled to go to the park as often as they like.

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    Re: How did Disneyland make money in the 80's vs today?

    Quote Originally Posted by SpacemanSpiff View Post
    If you look in the Wikipedia article for Disneyland under the Tickets section, you'll see how quickly they raised the ticket prices during the 1980s. Almost every year, they raised the ticket price by $2 or 3, and basically doubled the price during those nine or ten years.

    According to interviews I've heard with people like Marty Sklar and Jack Lindquist, they were constantly running promotions or thinking of new ideas to try to get people to visit.

    But in terms of how they made money before the mid-1980s, people have told me (and I have read in many places) that going back to the 1950s, Disneyland was a special place to visit, in that people saved up their money and didn't visit except as a special occasion. Compare that to someplace like Knott's Berry Farm, which didn't charge admission until around 1970--you could walk in for free and then just pay for the rides/attractions you wanted to go on.

    As an aside, during the 1950s and 60s, people probably didn't visit Disneyland for more than one day at a time, either. I'd say it's because they have so many Annual Passholders that people feel entitled to go to the park as often as they like.
    Part of that reason for people not visiting as often in the 50s and 60s probably deals with a smaller population with less disposable income.

    But as for how they made money, besides entrance fees, they did charge for rides, unlike today when an entrance ticket includes the price of all rides. Combine this with lower prices/incomes of the era, and you most likely have a park that made near as much money as they do now (of course I have no stats to back this up, just base knowledge).

  11. #11

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    Re: How did Disneyland make money in the 80's vs today?

    I think that the restaurant and merchandise sales per guest were higher in the past and a lot of costs were lower. But keeping the parks packed continuously with AP's and selling more ODV goods makes up for that and they still get most of the higher spending guests anyway. In the past without DTD I think you felt much more captured in the park and were less likely to eat outside. AP'are also less likely to eat expensive meals, so Disney has reduced the number of sit down restaurants in the park in response. This probably means they aren't making as much from restaurants per guest and they once did.

    I also think more infrequent visitors buy significantly more souvenirs. Purely from memory it certainly seemed to me that I remember lot more guests with tons of bags of merchandise back then. Also, the expansion of WDW and lack of advertising DL in the Eastern US and TDR have had an impact on long distance vacationers. I'm pretty sure that there were more guests on vacation including more international tourists willing to spend more because they didn't know when, if ever, they would be back. Anyway, I'm sure they're now making much more money, but I think they were making a lot of money back then as well.
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  12. #12

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    Re: How did Disneyland make money in the 80's vs today?

    Quote Originally Posted by Nirya View Post
    Part of that reason for people not visiting as often in the 50s and 60s probably deals with a smaller population with less disposable income.

    But as for how they made money, besides entrance fees, they did charge for rides, unlike today when an entrance ticket includes the price of all rides. Combine this with lower prices/incomes of the era, and you most likely have a park that made near as much money as they do now (of course I have no stats to back this up, just base knowledge).
    Not to mention it was not nearly as easy to get around the country back then, flying was still pretty pricey and the average family likely could not justify or afford to fly to go to a theme park. In 1965 only 20% of the american population had ever flown.

    Even since the 80's airfares have fallen significantly allowing more and more people to travel and travel further.

    (In 1960 the average airfare from Cleveland to Baltimore was 75 one way, that is around 575 dollars today, you can easily find airfares on this route for under 200-300 round trip now.)

  13. #13

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    Re: How did Disneyland make money in the 80's vs today?

    Executives didn't demand multimillion dollar bonus and tons of perks, I suppose.

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    Re: How did Disneyland make money in the 80's vs today?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mojave View Post
    1) One day admission was $12 in 1982 and raised periodically to $25.50 in 1990.
    2) In the 80s, on weekdays, especially all spring and fall, Disneyland was basically empty.

    Even adjusting for inflation, compared with today's crowds and ticket prices, how did Disneyland make a profit back then?

    (This post is not about complaining about prices or crowds, I'm just curious how profit compares now to then)
    You have to start by looking at how much people made back then... the fact that some all sorts of taxes and regulations that cost a company money were either lower or didn't exist... the insurance for the park was lower... can't just look at the price of the admission and figure much out from that.

  15. #15

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    Re: How did Disneyland make money in the 80's vs today?

    I'm not sure that they did make much money. If ever there was truly a dark time in Disney's history, I think the 80's could count as perhaps the darkest...

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