Whiners get the worst deals on theme park vacations
Perhaps the only thing more predictable than Disney's annual theme park ticket price increases
is the complaining that follows them. (If you haven't seen it yet, check out the non sequiturs that animate this Los Angeles Times editorial
on the topic).
This is the way Disney theme park fans would prefer to get soaked on their vacation.
But getting emotional about purchases -- whether you feel positive or negative about them -- provides the surest path to making a bad decision about your money. Ticket pricing is business. Theme park companies don't get emotional about it, and if you're a smart consumer, neither should you. Consumers who get the best value for their money are the ones who approach decisions about which parks to visit -- and which tickets to buy -- with as much cold calculation as the parks bring to pricing those tickets.
So Disney raised the price of a one-day ticket to the Magic Kingdom by $6, Disneyland and California Adventure by $5, and Epcot, Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios by $1. Parking went up a buck, too. Don't whine about that. Just do the math, and decide if Disney continues to be a good value for you and your budget, or not.
This is why I urge fans to look across the industry, at a wide variety of parks. Don't assume that just because Disney is the market leader in annual attendance that it offers the best theme park experience for your family. Does your family love Epcot? Have you considered Busch Gardens Williamsburg as an alternative? Do you enjoy live shows in the parks? How about Dollywood, instead? Thrill ride fans? Disney's never been the best value for you -- now's a great time to look around at other parks.
Even if you decide that you do value the Disney experience above all the others, you still can find value by adjusting to the latest price increases. At Theme Park Insider, we've long suggested that the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, California provides better value for the money than Walt Disney World for many visitors. If you're a frequent Disney World visitor and not priced Disneyland recently, you should. Even if you decide to remain with Orlando, that area's wide variety of hotel accommodations provides an opportunity for you to save the price difference in Disney tickets by selecting a different place to stay.
The worst choice you can make, though, is to dump Disney in a huff, then spend your money instead on a poorly researched vacation that you and your family end up not enjoying. You're not "saving" money if you don't enjoy what you bought.
No matter where you decide to spend your money, you should choose a vacation based on a hard look at its costs and the value you get from that spending. Disney's just changed the numbers on us. It shouldn't change the way we approach making decisions about vacations.
Disney doesn't care what you say in comment forums. It does care whether you spend your money in its theme parks. If enough people decide that Disney's price increases have gone too far that the company starts to earn less money, that'll do more to get Disney to change course than all the comments on the Internet, together. But, I suspect that millions of theme park fans around the world will continue to decide that Disney delivers a premium vacation experience that's worth its premium prices, and that we'll see yet another price increase from Disney sometime around summer in 2014, too.
Thank you! So many people get upset and it is what it is...business. I have a saying, "Disney is best at parting you from your money and making you happy you did." Is that for everybody? No, of course not. It is for my family. We have a fantastic time, every time. Okay, maybe not every time but that has NOTHING to do with Disney. It usually has to do with who is being a butthead when we are on vacation. Long lines, high temperatures always brings out the worst in SOMEONE. Having said that, we feel that we countered the high price increases for a few years by becoming DVC members. Disney warned us when we bought (great selling line by the way) that they raise their room prices an average of 11% every year. And you know what? They have. We have paid for our room for 45 years and it was the best thing we ever did. So bring on the increases. The room rates won't change for us.
Personally I'm not too concerned about the increases. What I'm still disappointed with is the more frequent than ever bad customer service, the disconnect with their call center and the actual parks especially for the Disney Dining from two of my own reservations, and the Premiere ticket incident.
Simply supply and demand. Surprise tickets are not more costly given the demand that Disney must supply.
Disney spends enormous amounts of money and staff time to entice you to make an emotional connection with its parks. While I think it's appropriate -- and fun! -- to let yourself get caught up in the emotion while you're visiting the parks (that's part of getting value for your day), when you get home and start thinking about your next visit, it's time to get analytical again. How much is that emotion worth feeling again? Is it worth the extra cost over another park? Should you try that other park first?
What bugs me more than the ticket increases (inevitable - like death and taxes) is that as a visitor to WDW from the UK, so attending once a year if lucky, seeing the scale of cutbacks. The quality of the 'show' is so much poorer now than it was on my first visit in 1989.
Well said. We have decided to spend our entertainment dollars at Universal, which also had a price increase. However they have committed over a billion dollars in upgrades to their parks, while Disney is lagging WAY behind (I'm 58 and not a big fan of the Magic Kingdom any longer)
It's all about value and, in my opinion, charging more for MK makes sense. It's the best park at WDW so there should be a premium over the other three. As far as cost in general, did I have fun on my vacation? did I ever leave saying man what a waste of money, never doing this again? Not once. The sheerness of manpower and maintenance needed to run the parks as well as they do is something I try to keep in mind if I get a little knee-jerky about ticket prices. If you think about how much it costs to go to a movie these days (including concessions) and what you get out of it in return...park fees seem a lot more reasonable. So when it comes down to it...I'll sacrifice elsewhere, if necessary, to keep coming back year after year because it's that worth-it to me.
We live in greater Los Angeles, and for our family, with two children in elementary school, the cost of a trip to Disneyland (over $100 per person for 1-day parkhoppers) just isn't a good value compared to other options in the area.
I Love Disneyland, and Walt Disney wanted this to be a place for families to enjoy together, but now thats not too much of a reality anymore, anyone with any more than 2 kids just can't afford to go there anymore,what a shame, especially if you are coming from any distance, and with the cost of gas, airfair, and hotels,parking, admission prices,food, or any type souviners people just can't afford it anymore, what a shame, Walt would be heartbroken.
I don't understand the premise that "Whiners get the worst deals". How is that? How is whining getting you the worst deals? I think dumping Disney might actually be a good thing because Disney is not merely a vacation... Disney is a lifestyle choice and Disney's prices reflect the yearning for the perfect vacation with Mickey Mouse.
I whine about how expensive Disney is LOL, and I still have a great time while I'm there. I also get a "good" deal, all things considered.
I have to agree, I'll pay the extra because I want to go to Disneyland specifically and I want the Disney experience. As a Disneyland local who doesn't have an annual pass, we only go twice a year, and when we do go, we go for the full day (open to close) and make the most out of our time to get the best value for how much we pay.
I've had Disney annual passes for years. After they expire I will not be going for a while. I'm giving my money to Universal. Universal feels fresh and new....Disney not so much.
Good job Robert! I'm glad somebody (you) said this. I'm big a big Disney fan, and we go a lot, but I've been to some of the other parks, and you're right, there is a lot more to see and do than just Disney. SeaWorld in Orlando is a great park in itself and priced considerably lower than a single day at Disney. Also, Busch Gardens in Tampa has a great park with some real thrill rides.
This was a modest price increase, compared to last year's price JUMP. Last year, I got a 6-day park hopper for Disneyland Resort for $220 (before the price jump). This year? $290 for a 5 day park hopper. That's quite a difference, for one less day in the parks.
I've been a WDW annual passholder for 4 years now, though I just moved to the Midwest so I did not renew.
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