Are Disney tickets too expensive?
Are Disney tickets too expensive? With the price for a one-day, one-park ticket topping $100 on most days at both the Walt Disney World and Disneyland resorts, many fans might answer "yes."
But other consumers know that Disney's hardly alone in charging $100 and up for a day's entertainment. In fact, many popular tourist and entertainment destinations charge that much — and more — for far less than a full day of enjoyment.
In my Orange County Register column this week, I look at some of Disney's competitors and what they are charging these days to suggest that maybe Disney's triple-digit tickets aren't such a bad deal after all. And I remind readers that most visitors to Disney's theme parks aren't paying that sticker-shock, $100-plus-per-day rate, anyway. At the Walt Disney World Resort, most visitors are getting into the parks on multi-day tickets that can drive the price per day of visiting Disney under $50.
And here at Disneyland in California, many if not most visitors have annual passes, with which a day at the parks can cost less than going to the movies, if you visit often enough.
Compare that with a day skiing at a major resort, a round of golf on a top-quality course, seeing a Broadway show or top-name concert, or going to a pro sports game. The cost of any of those could top the price of even the most expensive one-day Disneyland or Disney World ticket. Yes, we're Theme Park Insider and we're biased in favor of theme park entertainment here, but I think that just about any reasonable consumer would agree that a Disney theme park can deliver just as much, if not more, entertainment as any of those other diversions.
Of course, none of this answers the question "is it too much?" Heck, it's possible, maybe even likely, that all high-quality out-of-home destination entertainment in this country is grossly overpriced at this point. But that raises much broader economic issues.
Fortunately, theme parks — and not just Disney's — do offer those multi-day tickets, annual and seasonal passes, and other discounts that make visiting the parks affordable for many families than might not be able to drop more than $100 per person, per day for some fun time out of the house. So when you compare time at the parks with other ways to entertain the family, you might find that going to Disney (or Universal or some other park) is a pretty good deal, after all.
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On an individual basis, it's not that much, but for a family, it hurts a lot. Disney's APs are worse for it will cost $2000 for a family of 4 if you want to have a pass with unblocked weekends. For a vacation, a several days pass will cost a family at least $1000. So the alternatives are looking much better and affordable.
Just because those other things are expensive, it really doesn't justify Disney's prices. That's a fallacy of relative privation. Disney is expensive because shareholders demand profit. Call it what it is and pay the money or don't. It's a luxury. Your argument that "Those other people charge a lot too" is weak and privileged, and typical of an Orange County mindset.
In related news, Disneyland is ending their discounted ticket program on Friday, September 16.
Your analogies aren't really valid.
Comparatively speaking they are not overpriced. The comparisons you've drawn are apt. In Australia, a day pass to Warner Brothers Movie World (a good park, but notably inferior to Disney) is $80 (average wage is comparable to the US).
You also should factor in the cost of "front of line access". I'm pretty sure Disney is still the only major theme park operator that does not upcharge or require an on property hotel stay for that perk.
Great article Robert, and totally agree.
"Heck, it's possible, maybe even likely, that all high-quality out-of-home destination entertainment in this country is grossly overpriced at this point."
We visit Florida every year and no longer visit Disney as we consider if to be overpriced. This coupled with the lack of new attractions makes it a no-brainer to find other things to do.
The fact is they only charge $100 per day in the off season, it's now $152 during holidays and peak season.
This is a great discussion topic. Although I very much agree with this comment from Mike Rhodes -- "people now expect constant change and 'improvement'" -- it's important to point out that in Disney's Florida parks, at least, major attraction openings over the past decade have been few and far between. So much so that in its 2017 guidebook to Florida's major theme parks, one major travel publisher is questioning the cost of admission vs. the value of visiting Disney Hollywood Studios.
Spending $100 per person for 4 people isn’t cheap. Adding it up for a 7 day vacation is really not cheap. Buying multi-day passes, cuts the cost a bit (per day), but adding the park hopping and water parks, again makes a vacation a bit expensive.
Very few of the comparable attractions require that a person stand in line for 4 or 5 hours during that visit. Take that time off the visit, plus eating and you are paying $100+ for about 5 hours of entertainment.
"Very few of the comparable attractions require that a person stand in line for 4 or 5 hours during that visit. "
Nowadays more and more attractions are encouraging the purchase of memberships, season passes, and mult-day tickets in order to boost attendance. Single day prices are inflated in order to make the multi-day options seem more attractive. Museums, zoos, theme parks, ski resorts are all doing it.
I believe the mindset I hear about from guests visiting here in Florida is captured in the Express Pass. from Universal. People want to pay to wait less and be around less people.
The tickets ate way too expensive if once you get in the park it's so crowded you can't move.
Sure it's expensive, but, for multi-day tickets, the value is still there. Plus, who says you have to stay in Disney's deluxe or moderate resorts? You can stay in value resorts, you can do counter service instead of table service, you can bring food into the park, etc. And no one is forced to buy souvenirs (in my opinion, the best souvenirs are the pictures you take). Much of the extra costs are optional.
YES YES YES YES YES!
I agree with Still a fan, you expect it to be expensive that is why you save for the trip. My families last trip was in 2013 our biggest expense, after air fare, was WDW tickets. We purchased a 5-day pass and it cost approximately $1335,including park hopper, we rented a 3-bedroom condo and it only ran $1175 for the 10 days that we were in Orlando. I just checked the Disney web site and the same 5 day pass is now $1636. Unless my math is really out that's 22.5% increase in 3 years, seems a bit steep.
I would say Disney/Universal/et al are just taking advantage of the "charge it" mindset and jacking things up to what the market will bear. Look at NFL & NBA tickets which are both grossly overpriced as well, and you can see theme parks are not way off from those activities. People have no problem financing their vacations anymore with credit cards, and that has jacked up prices as well since it's reducing the upfront cost by spreading it out. If you had to pay the gate in cash or not go, a lot of people would not go and they would reduce admissions. Credit is to blame I think for higher admissions.
This is one of those questions that doesn't have a right answer. Is Disney expensive? Absolutely. Is it too expensive? That depends. Someone who visits at least once a year is going to have a much different opinion than someone who visits at most once every few years. Personally, I would say that Disney is not out of line and compares favorably to some other resort destinations (such as ski resorts), particularly when you look at the most popular ticket options (2/3 day tickets in California, 4/5 day tickets in Florida) instead of the one-day ticket price. Yes, it will cost a family a lot more than a day at a regional theme park, but Disney parks are meant to be something different and therefore the higher price is justified.
It's funny someone mentioned standing in 5 hours of queues as a reason it's not good value. The queues are a direct reflection of the tickets affordability (not value). The more expensive the tickets are, the shorter the queues.
It's just another example of corporate greed out of control. Try to watch ESPN these days. It is impossible because over 50% of program airtime are fingerprints Iger are all over these franchises
It's so expensive that probably only 19.3 million people instead of 20.5 million people will enter the Magic Kingdom this year. It's so expensive that 3300 people a day are staying away.
I just recently moved from Colorado, so I am very familiar with the Ski resorts and their cost/functions. While it can be busy during a weekend or holiday, you can easily hit the slops at most of the major resorts with little to no lines during the weekdays (something that is usually not true for a a Disney park). Also all the major ski resorts offer 'local' season passes at significant discount rates, day passes to locals for a significant discount and even free tickets for events like scout days. So you can do a ski day or trip at a significant discount or even free at times.
Are Disney tickets too expensive? Yes. Of course, they are.
My question is when will the price increases stop? The AP increases over just the past few years were astronomical. Then came the very high priced special events like the Jungle Cruise Brunch for $300 plus per person, the Blue Bayou Halloween dinner for $150 per person, on top of park admission on top of Mickey's Halloween Party tickets. And the Frozen Hyperion pre-party at $49 per person for popcorn, 1 beer or 1 glass of wine, or the pre-dinner at $95+/- per person. For me, my husband and friends, we are still able to keep up with the increased prices for AP'sand a couple of special events. We enjoyed the Food and Wine Festival at DCA, but one of the events with Kurt Russell was close to $200 per person. I'd be curious to know who took over the park events last fall. They seem to have elitist leanings. As I've posted previously, I think it takes a lot of nerve to repeatedly increasing the AP and ticket prices for Disneyland when it's under so much construction, rides are increasingly breaking down (HM and Indy the most), and ...there are no.. new..rides.
As an avid skier who skis 40+ days per year I will say that lift lines, even during holiday periods, are far shorter than amusement ride lines on comparable days.
If something is expensive or not is (for me) related to the value I get and if I think it's worth it. It is different for every person. I have amazing memories of awesome concerts of great performers and I treasure them forever.
The prices were the breaking point for me. It was the last straw. $20 to park? That may be secondary though because Disney wants me plan months ahead of time. Anything I want to do has to be planed. It lacks spontaneity. It's just not fun anymore.
I think the real issue is, Disney has allowed the parks to be stale and have similar offerings across multiple parks/resorts (even two new Star Wars Lands will be largely the same in the US). For the price, it's worth it for first-timers, but the repeat visitor levels seem to be dropping off due to rampant price inflation and stagnation of the offerings. Add to that, a stronger competition in Florida and California (Potter on both coasts, SFMM and SFOG are getting interactive dark rides next year, etc)... Disney just seems old hat.
It's way too expensive in general. Why? Disney wants more money like with any typical company wants. But is it a good thing ? No. Why not drop the prices a bit and then maybe Disney can see a rise in profits with low ticket prices.
I last went to Disneyworld In 2010, visited Orlando last in August 2016 and had already decided the Disney cost compared to what had changed (i.e new rides) over the last 6yrs was not worth it.
Over priced, under developed and over capacity.
The biggest problem with your comparisons? They're all things that are routinely done WITHOUT CHILDREN. A couple can go do those things and break only half the bank. Add two kids and everything on the list becomes a ridiculous price.
I've gone to games, shows, concerts and skiing all with my children.
IMO the best music festival in the country, Riot Fest pre-sells 3 day tickets for as low as $99. For that you get a full array of top tier musical performances in a once in a lifetime concert experience.
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