Published: August 4, 2010 at 2:37 PM
I was waiting for someone to jump on this one.
There are a number of issues here.
First, I agree with David Kirby, it IS a branding issue. One of the things that hurt both the Cadillac and Mercedes brand names, was when they started making less expensive models. And related to that, when your theme park is a the lower priced one in the market, you attract the "rift-raft". Now I don't want to sound like an "elitist snob", but places like Magic Mountain and Knott's Berry Farm attract gang bangers, young teens and other trouble-makers. Even when Disneyland used to offer "everyone gets in for the kids price", they attracted young punks who had no respect and would trash the place. A better strategy is what Legoland offers and that's kids free with a paid adult.
Second, while Disneyland (and other theme parks) ARE expensive, when compared to other ENTERTAINMENT offerings, they are not THAT expensive (or at least in the same ballpark). Compare Disneyland's ticket prices to the movies, to concerts, to sporting events and you will see that OVERALL Disney (and others) are still a good value. Everyone wants to compare Disney (and others) to offerings that are NOT in the same industry. You MUST compare Disney (and Universal and Sea World, etc) to their peers. You CAN"T compare the food prices at Disneyland to the food prices at McDonalds. You MUST compare their prices to the prices at the ballpark, at the movies, in Las Vegas, etc.
And before anyone starts making claims, I am NOT an employee of the Walt Disney Co. I am however, a MINOR stockholder in Disney (less than 100 shares) and I worked at Disneyland in the late 80s, early 90s, while I was in high school.