May 12, 2005 — Disney's fastest roller coasters hurtle riders at speeds faster than 60 mph, but that's nothing compared to the speed that money can be sucked out of parents' pockets when their little tykes see all the neat attractions, shiny souvenirs and cotton candy at any amusement park.
Disney (the parent company of ABC News) is celebrating its 50th anniversary in the theme park business at a critical time. It's been 3 ½ years since the Sept. 11 terror attacks, and only now is attendance at amusement parks nationwide returning to 2001 figures. Perhaps that's why when the House of Mouse kicked off its 18-month "Happiest Celebration on Earth" festivities last week, executives were just as eager to talk about new value services for weeklong vacationers as they were to show off new rides.
"Now, the more you play, the less per day you pay," said Walt Disney World President Al Weiss while introducing the new "Magic Your Way" customized pricing, the most radical price change since the advent pay-one-price admissions two decades ago.
Under the plan, a weeklong Disney World pass averages out to $28 a day for adults, $23 for kids under 9, less than 50 percent off single-day prices. And one- to 10-day options are now available, making full-day park admissions for children as low as $16.70 — less than the cost of a parent and child attending a movie in many cities.