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...And the other shoe drops. Disney World raises ticket prices

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Published: June 1, 2012 at 2:22 PM

Prices go up Sunday, June 3.

One-day tickets go from $85 to $89, topping Universal Orlando's recent price increase by $1. A 10-day base ticket goes from $291 to $318. The park-hopper and 'water parks & more' add-ons go from $55 each to $57 each for base tickets of two days or more. (Park-hopper remains $35 extra for a one-day ticket... but why would you buy that?)

Rainbow over Spaceship Earth
Apparently, there is a pot of gold at the end of that rainbow. But not for you.

For those of you who like to buy in advance to lock in your ticket price, the no-expiration option rises from $225 for a 10-day ticket to $275.

The premiere annual pass goes from $649 to $699, while the "regular" annual pass increases from $519 to $574. The 11 percent increase on annual passes is much smaller than the 30 percent increase levied on Disneyland annual passholders last month.

However, Disney World will now match Disneyland's policy of no long offering child's prices for annual passes. That means a big increase for kids' APs - from $478 to $574 for the regular AP, and $598 to $699 for the premium. That's a 20 percent increase for the annual pass for a child, age 3-9.

Here's the full list new admission prices at the Walt Disney World Resort.

Readers' Opinions

From Dominick D on June 1, 2012 at 6:23 PM
Both WDW and UO's increases are ridiculous. Thankfully AAA remains relatively low.
From Amy Smith on June 1, 2012 at 9:38 PM
Raise of hands if you think Universal will up theirs $1 to match sometime in late August?
From O T on June 2, 2012 at 12:18 AM
I kind of understand the price rais at Dl with the new cars land, it´s got a eticket and everything. But what is WDW adding? A long overdue expencien of Fantasy land with a medeocer darkride and a dombo ride and some restaurants and shops?
Not worth the money.
From Dominick D on June 2, 2012 at 6:28 AM
*Raises hand*
From Orrin Carstarphen on June 2, 2012 at 11:52 AM
At this point it really seems as if WDW will not let UO have a higher ticket price than them. Maybe some sense of elitism on Disney's part,if UO has a higher gate price maybe they believe customers will assume they have a better product.
From Tony Duda on June 2, 2012 at 12:13 PM
I just checked WDW web site and a 1-day magic your way ticket is $90.53/adult (10 and over)and $84.14/child (3 to 9). This is even higher than the story says. Or maybe that includes tax.
From James Rao on June 2, 2012 at 3:22 PM
I know this article is mainly about Disney's ridiculous price hike, but I am more shocked that Universal has raised THEIR prices to match Disney's. I always considered Universal to be such an excellent bargain. A great add on to my tri-annual Disney vacation. Not any more.

Sad thing is, for $370 I can get five season passes (my whole family) to a great theme park like Silver Dollar City, which is less than the amount I would spend for one day's admissions at Disney/Universal ($450).

Sure, Disney and Universal offer some state of the art attractions, but in truth, the down home, family atmosphere at Silver Dollar City puts the top dogs to shame.

No wonder I go to SDC ten times a year and Disney/Universal one week every three years. Jeez.

From TH Creative on June 2, 2012 at 5:14 PM
How much does it cost for a lift ticket at a high end ski resort in Colorado, Wyoming or Utah? (Aspen $87.00)

How much does it cost to see an NBA playoff game? (Stub Hub - Lower Bowl from $195)

How much does it cost to see a play on Broadway? (Stub Hub - 'How To Succeed in Business...' $120.00)

How much does it cost to take in show in Vegas? (Stub Hub - Cirque does Elvis $201.00)

Springsteen at Fenway (Stub Hub - $125.00)

"That's show business! No business, no show!" - Joe Strummer

From James Rao on June 2, 2012 at 6:45 PM
Sadly, TH, you just highlighted a list of things I don't get to do very often any more.

It looks like another Netflix night at the Rao house. *Sigh*.

From Robert Niles on June 2, 2012 at 7:00 PM
Tony, prices above are before tax, so, yes, it's even worse.
From Tom Rigg on June 2, 2012 at 8:43 PM
I understand the mentality that strikes people when these price hikes come: Americans like deals and price hikes are the antithesis of deals. However, I struggle when people start pointing fingers (not that anyone has on here, just in general) as if suddenly Disney or Universal (or any park for that matter) have suddenly become a charity or some sort of moral entity that is somehow corrupted by the almighty dollar.

There is no such thing as price gouging for entertainment. The fact is its all commodity and if someone doesn't like the price they won't pay it. Price hikes are just as much a part of Disney's landscape as they are anyone else who offers a product. Disney has been pouring a ton of money into the Magic Kingdom over the past few years. Yes there is the FL expansion, but there has also been non stop rehabilitation of main street and Frontierland facades, a Space Mountain and Big Thunder overhaul, a new nighttime show, a fairly unexpected (I'm guessing) redo of the Tiki Room, and a pretty lengthy refurb for Spectromagic (I assume). I honestly think Disney had more room to justify the raise in ticket price than Universal who is more responding to demand rather than an accelerated amount of park development.

From James Rao on June 3, 2012 at 3:55 AM
Even during the recent flurry of theme park expansion and in spite of John Carter (which I thought was a pretty good move), Disney was making $1B profit per quarter. It is not like the company is hemorrhaging cash to grow these experiences. They can afford to go a year or two without a price hike and still make lots and lots (and lots) of money.

And, have Disney and Universal seen the latest job, unemployment, and housing data? Or have they noticed that the stock market is falling faster than the ride vehicles in the Tower of Terror? Will they be known as the companies that fiddled while the country burned?

I think these price hikes are premature. It is still a time of cost cutting and discounts, despite the fact that recent attendance numbers seem to indicate that foolish Americans are once again taking 401k loans and going in debt to finance their dream vacations (will we never learn?).

From Alfonso Giordano on June 3, 2012 at 6:13 AM
If people stopped coming they would lower the prices very quickly, but people still are coming. Disney doesn't look at general unemployment or stock market, they look at their own budget and needs. Disney is responding to the competition as well.
From James Rao on June 3, 2012 at 6:43 AM
Sounds like a fancy way of saying, "they're greedy." Why wait until people stop coming to make adjustments? Shouldn't these companies be more forward thinking? Not everything has to be "charge as much as we possibly can until we see a drop in sales."
From Jill Harrington on June 3, 2012 at 8:05 AM
I was sadly not at all surprised to see these increases pop up on their blog on Friday, after I was just bragging up how they'd not raise prices 'on the fly' like DLR did (I guess two days notice was nice). But like others have mentioned, I'll compare it to a recent experience I had. My family and I are huge NJ Devils fans (they are a hockey team for those non-sports folks - and they are in the final for the Stanley Cup), regularly supporting them by visiting 'The Rock' (their home rink) throughout the season. I got the early pre-sale e-mail to purchase tickets for the Stanley Cup finals - for those 'special past supporters'. To purchase tickets for the seats that we usually sit ($85 per seat during the season) would be $1,100 per seat. $1,100 PER SEAT!!!! I can't even calculate that markup... Needless to say we're watching the games from home...

At least for my $600 at Disney World, I get 10-15+ quality days with my family in great theme parks. For $1,100 X 3, I have gotten to watch my team lose in overtime last night...

From Mark Hollamon on June 3, 2012 at 8:24 AM
Very good feedback on this subject. I am supporting Disney's decision to raise prices and it hits me in the pocketbook just like everybody else.

Yes, they make $ by the boatload and yes, I think some of their prices are way high (my biggest concern is with the increases in food prices at WDW over the past 5 years) but this is a publicly traded company that needs to take care of shareholders too. In the past few years all eyes have been on FJ at IOA and all that time WDW has been investing a bunch in rehabs, new experiences, and a revitalization of DTD.

I am betting WDW is going to do just fine attendance wise this year and for years to come. I know as long as we can afford our passes we will have them. It's the best entertainment in Central Florida if not the entire US.

From Dominick D on June 3, 2012 at 10:58 AM
Jill makes a good point.
From Anthony Murphy on June 3, 2012 at 11:58 AM
Eh, its not surprising. It happens every year!

In other news, Six Flags has not raised their prices......

From Tom Rigg on June 4, 2012 at 2:56 AM
It's not the Disney company's responsibility to play custodian of the American stock market or employment numbers. And the idea that Disney is greedy is the same as implying that they should feel ashamed of earning any money beyond what the public sees as appropriate. If the public doesn't like it, they can stop supporting it. Just because Disney wants to make more money doesn't make them greedy, it makes them a business.

Yes the company makes profits, but those profits are also paid out to shareholder. So it's not like they have some big vault like Uncle McScrooge and go swimming in their money. They still have a great deal of funding required to create their current developments in the parks, while still upholding shareholder expectations.

From James Rao on June 4, 2012 at 3:22 AM
With $1B in profit already rolling in per quarter, further increases are totally unnecessary if your goals are simply to keep shareholders happy and grow your business and infrastructure.

But I do agree, the rich get richer, which is fine - when you are "the rich".

Sadly, my Orlando trips have gone from every two years to three years, and now... we're looking at once every four or five years. The cost of an Orlando trip is simply prohibitive for the average working Joe who doesn't want to mortgage his future for a theme park visit. And that expense is something good old Walt, who said, "Disneyland is a work of love. We didn't go into Disneyland just with the idea of making money" never intended.

There really is no defense for these price points. The current costs for a Disney/Universal vacation are a rip off, no matter what picture you are trying to paint.

From Rob Pastor on June 4, 2012 at 6:13 AM
In a free economic market the prime factor is supply vs. demand. Market prices will generally adjust in the long term. This pricing structure will hold as long as the demand is there, which is evident by the large crowds Disney & Universal have recently been experiencing. At this point, the economy is a lot healthier than the political doomsayers try to portray it.
From Don Neal on June 4, 2012 at 6:49 AM
I agree that the economy is not as bad as the news makes it out to be however, Disney and parks like it are making money on people who have been able to sustain their income and jobs over the last 5-10 years and were probably in a good place to begin with. Disney making money should not be an indicator of a recovering economy. I thankfully can afford a visit this year but I know 100 other families that can't. Disney is a once in a lifetime visit for most families. For those that can afford multiple trips, we are very blessed and fortunate. However, if Disney isn't careful they are going to push people out long term like many sports venues and concert venues have.

However, the laws of supply and demand should fix it as others have pointed out. I started a rough budget for June 2013 and the trip is already 15% higher than the one we took in 2011 with the kids due to rising fuel costs and increasing ticket and food costs. That's a substantial increase in just two years. It has me seriously considering if we should not consider another trip instead of Disney again. I could do a lot with that big of a budget.

From James Rao on June 4, 2012 at 7:26 AM
Great post, Don, as I encountered the same dilemma when planning my vacation this year, too. We originally wanted to hit Disneyland in late September, but after calculating the cost (which included a day at Universal Hollywood as well), we decided our money was better spent on three other trips: Dollywood (complete), Busch Gardens Williamsburg (upcoming), and, of course, season passes to Silver Dollar City (ongoing, 4 - 5 two-day trips).

Manged to setup several vacations for less than the cost of one week in southern California. #travesty

From Anon Mouse on June 4, 2012 at 8:02 AM
Hey, I just came back from a 5 day vacation to Las Vegas. I paid $400 in tickets for 3 shows for 3 people. The biggest cost is the Cirque show that costs $250 for 3, which was a discounted price (cheaper by $20 at the ticket discounter). The remainder are for cheaper shows. The way I see it, Disneyland will always be a high cost diversion. I will likely visit during the Spring with their locals promotion. Disney charges what the public perceives to be its premium experience. I can't disagree. However, I do think it restricts the frequency of how often I visit. Maybe Disney doesn't want me to visit a lot. They really prefer lots of people to pay high priced vacations. Let's increase the daily average expense for people and see if it works.
From David Brown on June 4, 2012 at 8:49 AM
Here in north Wales there's a place called Portmeirion. It used to have an interesting pricing mechanism in that the more people who entered the site, the higher the price went. They used price as a means of controlling the crowds. If you turned up early morning it could be a steal to get in, but turn up on a holiday Saturday in the afternoon and, whilst you could still get in, you would pay through the nose for the privilege. It was a case of 'how much do I want to see this place...?'

It seems to me that Disney and Universal are not only making money whilst the sun shines but also creating some form of crowd control mechanism here through pricing. If they made it cheap they'd be totally swamped by visitors. Every day would be like Christmas with massive crowds, to the overall detriment of the experience for many people. Even after these price hikes the parks will be teeming with visitors, but if it deters a few from making more regular visits maybe that's part of the agenda? If people stop going I'd bet any money that prices would start to fall, but whilst demand keeps on growing.....

From Rob Pastor on June 4, 2012 at 9:34 AM
David: Good points. It looks like Disney is courting the big tourist dollars and trying to limit the number of local passholders that don't spend nearly as much. Your point of customer experience is important. When the parks get too crowded and the lines too long, customer satisfaction sinks. Disney wants the big spending tourists to be comfortable with crowd size. If the parks are overly crowded with local passholders, the Disney experience will be diminished. While demand is strong the expensive pricing policy will continue. If the economy enters another recession in the future and tourist demand goes down, you'll probably see Disney changing course and having special prices and promotions to convince the locals to buy season passes again. But right now, Disney is probably hoping that a large number of season pass holders do not renew. New Fantasyland & Carsland will bring the crowds for 2012, 2013 & 2014.
From 70.131.122.165 on June 5, 2012 at 9:07 PM
U2 360 tour opening night in Chicago..... $250 per ticket (not jacked up pricing on Stub Hub) directly from the Ticket Master / U2 website.

Granted, it was one of the best concerts I had ever seen and the visuals were astounding....

I think if either Universal or Disney hits the $100 mark for a single park ticket, it will be the demise of theme parks in Orlando. A couple dollars a year is expected, but some of the pricing increases are....wow.

From Tracy Bates on June 6, 2012 at 10:25 AM
I wish they kept the pricing like Busch Gardens / Seaworld does. There, the price of your annual pass is what it was when you joined, so if you renew it every year, it stays at the price you started at. I'm paying 2003 prices on those and I never will cancel them and one of those parks is always on my list when I go to Florida.

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