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Are Disney's higher ticket prices setting a bad precedent?

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Published: August 7, 2006 at 8:47 AM

Walt Disney World has raised its prices for yet a second time this year, pushing the price to over sixty dollars for a single day base ticket admission. Polls all over have indicated that people dont want to pay the price, but yet people still flock to that park in record numbers despite rising gas prices and cost of living increases. With two raises in price in a year will disney see a bottom of this barrel and end up paying the price with a sudden drop in attendance? Can the other parks afford to do the same thing? For example in Orlando you have two other parks, as well as Busch Gardens in Tampa. They have all raised prices this year, it seems only because disney has done it. Should they raise prices, or should they take the more business like approach and not only keep prices the same, but capitlize that disney keeps raising prices. Eventually gas will get so high that people wont be able to afford to go to the big parks.

Readers' Opinions

From Russell Meyer on August 7, 2006 at 3:12 PM
The problem with the price increases is that when one park push up the price, all of the others eventually follow suit. Pirce has had very little impact on the gate at any of the Florida parks, so if Disney wants to do some crowd control and/or get a bigger bang out of each ticket, they can go right ahead. Eventually we'll reach a point where Disney will start seeing an effect in attendance, but until guests start wising up and change their habits, these price increases will continue to happen.
From robert olson on August 7, 2006 at 3:42 PM
Exactly, Russell. Kindof like the price of gas. As long as people keep paying the high prices for it and don't curb their usage, it's only going to go up.

robert olson.

From Mark Hollamon on August 8, 2006 at 4:08 AM
The $67 price tag looks steep at first, but how many vacationers go to the gate and buy a one day ticket? My guess is none. A five day pass is $206 which breaks down to $41.20 per day. Add the parkhopper option and it's $49.20 per day.

I live in Orlando and can tell you first hand that vacationers to this point have absorbed the $3/gal gas jump quite well. The roads are always busy and the parks are always packed. I have seen the periods of the season that usually slow down get smaller and smaller.

Will there be a breaking point on the prices? Probably. I would be surprised if there is another change in prices for at least a year at Disney.

For my money, $41 per day is a fair price for an experience such as Disney. You can pay a lot more for a lot less elsewhere.

From Joe Lane on August 8, 2006 at 8:28 AM
I think Disney is going to do whatever it darn well pleases because of how big they are and how long they've been in the business. And people will pay. Oh yes, they will pay.

You're always going to have potential customers who have never been to Walt Disney World or Disneyland and they're going to pay the price to go because Disney has become such a big thing in our lives--almost without our realizing it. Often imitated, rarely duplicated, everybody and their brother has gone to Disney and said how magical a time they had, and that's going to influence people to think this is something they have to do at least once in their life.

Even at the WDW resort, where there are three other Disney theme parks to choose from, the average tourist will opt for Magic Kingdom because it is the flagship park. Epcot, The Studios, DAK, no matter what they do, they can't compare to MK in the mind of the uninitiated.

So, assuming that the other Florida resorts don't decide to play Disney's pricing game, their only other options are to a) NOT be like Disney and convince the public that NOT-Disney is as cool as, if not cooler, than Disney or b) do Disney better than Disney can do Disney. Right now, the only theme park resort that has done, is doing or can possibly do it is Universal Orlando. The combined forces of the marketing department and Universal Creative are pushing have been hard at work not simply trying to out-do Disney, but to offer a formidable alternative.

Regardless of what the theme parks do or don't do with their pricing, our nation stands on the precipice of a serious national emergency. The recent shut down of an Alaskan based oil field to repair corroded pipelines won't cause a shortage, but will raise prices, and there's no relief in sight. Americans will have to ask themselves at what point is too much too much? We pay the pump prices now because we have no choice--ours is a nation of convenience, and things are simply too far apart across the country to NOT have a personal vehicle. Eventually, it's going to be impractical to plan extensive vacations (heck, it's getting tough on the wallet just making an hour drive to Orlando). The parks and resorts will lose guests and money, and people will, in turn, lose their jobs, compounding the financial problem.

From Cristina Velez on August 8, 2006 at 8:59 AM
I am surprised that Disney has opt to raise their passport rates twice in one year. It is true that most people do buy Hoppers but imagine the total when you have to buy six passports. As a former Disney Store castmember I could tell you that no matter what when a person wants to go they will pay no matter what the price is. Myself included with that bunch because we going in December.
From matt mornan on August 9, 2006 at 12:34 PM
Just to add insult to injury.

http://movies.yahoo.com/mv/news/ap/20060809/115513968000.html

It basically says Disney is making a killing in all 4 branches.

From TH Creative on August 10, 2006 at 6:07 AM
Mr. Holloman nails it when he writes: "The $67 price tag looks steep at first, but how many vacationers go to the gate and buy a one day ticket? My guess is none."

According to Disney CEO Robert Iger the assessment is right on target (from today's Orlando Sentinel): "A relatively small percentage of people who go to Walt Disney World buy a single-day ticket," Walt Disney Co. President Robert Iger said in a conference call with investors Wednesday morning. "We're really trying to guide behavior into a more multiday-ticket approach, a multiday stay. . . . We're trying to extend length of stay. We're trying to attract more people to stay longer."

From James Adams on August 10, 2006 at 6:27 AM
We may not like the higher prices but it's just good business sense to raise prices during times of extreme popularity - it's cost versus demand ratio. The higher prices allows for much more flexibility -ability to build more rides and maintain better, ability to pay employees better, etc. In a society which we pack the movie theaters and pay at least $8 per person when we could get it on video several months later, most people are not going to care about the price. Those who do can be persuaded typically by seasonal incentives. Those who will staunchly resist Disney are frankly not who Disney wants in their parks. If they are tight at the window, then they won't pay $40 for a crappy little Disney doll either and that's where Disney really makes the money.
From Derek Potter on August 10, 2006 at 7:59 PM
Disney will continue to raise their price as long as people will pay it. A $60 plus ticket to a single Disney park will perhaps help sway people to go for a "better deal" with a few days stay. In reality there isn't that much better of a deal, but unless you pick it apart, it's not visible. It amazes me that people are so blinded by the "magic" that they are willing to shell out that kind of money for a single Disney park, which to me isn't a complete experience. I call IOA a complete experience...to get that experience at Disney you have to go to all four of their parks at the cost of a kidney.

I think that Disney raising prices affects the immediate marketplace in Florida. Generally Sea World, Universal, and Busch all raise their prices pretty much in accordance with Disney. Everywhere else isn't affected. Disney and Universal prices are about the same in California as well, but there are lower priced parks to choose from as well. Perhaps keeping prices down a little would help boost attendance more outside of Disney gates.

From Derek Potter on August 10, 2006 at 8:00 PM

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