Are Disney theme park tickets still a great entertainment value?
OK, it's been a nearly a week since Disney announced its latest theme park ticket price increase
. How are you feeling about it? Angry at the latest increase? Relieved that it wasn't higher? Numb by all the price changes? Or are you just so happy with what you get from a Disney visit that the price increase doesn't bother you one bit?
Disney has been raising its ticket prices faster than inflation for more than a decade, but the parks still keep bringing in more people, year after year. I explain how Disney's been able to pull off that bit of financial magic, in my Orange County Register column this week. Go read it if you want that detail, but I want to hear from you on this page.
Let's put the question to a vote:
In the comments, I'd love to hear what you think about Disney's ticket value versus other theme and amusement park companies. Have you been buying more or fewer tickets or annual passes to other parks, in response to what's happening at Disney? What do you think about the value that other parks provide versus the Mouse?
Read Robert's column:
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There are few bigger Disney fans than myself, yet many other themed entertainment companies are offering a better value. Not least of which Tokyo Disney Resort. Better themeparks, better service, better attractions and better upkeep. All for about 40% less than the American Disney parks.
Most likely a very unpopular move, but I had really expected the monthly payment option to be eliminated. Without an actual increase in price, it would have thinned the heard. I don't think that's the plan. The plan is still to fill the parks as full as possible with as high a ticket price as possible. I think we will only see higher prices, more packed parks. The general public will continue to come and have a jolly good time. Those of us who inhabit places like TPR will continue to wish for better things.
No, they are not. Frankly, the price increases have absolutely no impact on it. This is because airline tickets fluxuate greatly, and we can either wait for the air travel prices to drop or drive to offset the ticket increases. What has decreased the value immensely is the inabilility to accomplish as much in a day at a Disney park as you used to could. It used to be if you got to the park an hour before opening, it gave you about two to three hours of almost no wait attractions, then the park would start to get crowded. Now the public is onto this, and there is a sea of people before opening. You have 45 minutes of no wait before things heat up. Second, and I have said this way too much, the new FP+ is a much worse system than what they had before. You can't do as much, and attractions with traditionally light wait times have long waits all year long. You can go to Universal and spend what is the equivalent of a Disney moderate resort and have unlimited front of the line access to all but a very few attractions. I really wish this were not the case. I do love Universal, and really all theme parks, but Disney is where I want to go. A perfect Orlando trip would be six days in Disney followed by three at Universal. Unless there are major changes, this just will not happen. The sad thing is I think they could undo much of these problems, but I am afraid they have invested too much into the current system and may be unwilling to consider that it does not benefit the guests, I do love the arm bands for room keys, tickets, and wallets. Also, going to the pool with them is wonderful; no wallet or keys needed.
I used to be a Season Pass holder (Florida Resident) and then some years ago, I don't call exaxctly when, but Disney started turning its back on Florida Residents and go after the more affluent customer. The prices from tickets, to room discounts, to special ticket prices slowly went away or reduced in savings. Eventually I stopped buying the Annual Pass, but stayed at the Disney Resorts. Then about 2 years ago, I started to find out I got better pricing at the Waldorf-Astoria (Bonnet Creek) than at the Disney Resorts, so I stayed there. Just last year, I bought Premiere Annual Pass To Universal Studios which gives ALOT MORE discounts built in as well as room prices. Universal was behind Disney but they have substantially caught up to Disney in many ways, not on the amount of parks but the rides, hotels, entertainment. I would say the in another 1-2 years, Disney and Universal will be EQUALS.
Maybe now a lot of these people who spend ALL their money on a Disney vacation will realize there's a big country out there, and most of it can be seen for less than what it costs to see the same exact things year after year. Take the kids to New York, to Chicago, to Key West, to San Francisco! Get them a little learnin' in Williamsburg or Boston or Washington DC! Get them out into REAL nature - not the manufactured kind - in Yosemite or Yellowstone or Niagara Falls or Hawaii! Take them on a cruise to see some Caribbean islands or Mexico or Alaska!
At Disneyland in California, I get the price hike, as minimum wage is going up (and will reach $15 within two years). Value, however can be measured in the number of attractions, shows, or parades that are worth repeating. I let go of my annual pass to Disneyland three years ago because, well, there wasn't anything WORTH doing there for the price being paid.
My opinion is mostly based on the Disneyland Resort, but I would say the current prices are right on the border between remaining a good value and becoming inferior to alternatives. Disney parks are expensive, but they offer an experience of such a high quality that I feel the expense is justified. Increasing the price without increasing the offerings, however (either by improving quality or offering new attractions), would cause enough of a decrease in value that I would likely begin to change my visit habits. While busy, the current crowd levels do not significantly affect my enjoyment of the Disney parks and therefore don't diminish the value, it is more the lack of interesting new offerings despite continuous price increases that cause my enjoyment per dollar to decrease slowly.
If they invest in their products and parks i have no problem paying increases. It's when, like the past decade, they have invested absolutely nothing of major note to their parks at Disney and still increase prices i am angry about.
Disney tickets are not worth the price anymore. The parks are crowded meaning you get to do very few attractions and spend most of the time on a queue. Major attractions are closed down for months for refurbishment. Don't see why it takes so long to repaint repair stuff. With ticket prices so high you get to sample very little of the premium experience. My last Disney experience just did not live up to expectations.
The best value for locals is the SoCal 2 or 3 park pass offered in the Spring or the SoCal Annual Pass with monthly payments. Universal and Knott's have comparably cheaper Annual Passes that are better bargains. It's a good idea to go to the parks to get it out of your system. Disney has so much more to offer compared to 10 years ago. Hard to enjoy it all without multi day passes.
I can't disagree with what Disney is doing. They've got a premium product that is in great demand, and their Magic Kingdom-style parks are the best in the world. As long as people keep packing the parks to capacity, they're smart to keep increasing the prices.
I admit I got so spoiled with the almost non-existent crowds at Hong Kong Disneyland. Whatever the price, it was worth it to basically have the park to myself. I haven't been to a U.S Disney park since I've been back, but I don't expect to be an AP holder any time in the near future.
Honestly, I would rather pay more if crowds were smaller. I can't blame Disney for raising prices, it's a business. If people are willing to pay then why not? Disney will continue to raise prices until it affects attendance.
As an Orlando resident, I broke down and bought a Silver Disney pass this year which has the monthly payment option after a $112 downpayment. 6 weeks into it and I have already visited the parks at least 6 times so it's works out for me even if I only go in for a few hours in the evening. I got it mainly because I wanted to visit Epcot multiple times this year with all the festivals and my hospitality pass only gives me one visit per year free unless I time it right in which case I get two visits.
Metallica Tickets - Highest Level Back of Arena - $91.78
Family of 4 at an all inclusive resort with kids club, $3000 for a week. Add in some fun day trips here and there and still way better value than Disney. but they haven't really been good value for a long time. It's more about the feeling you get when you are there which in my opinion is second to none. You can make memories anywhere but WDW for me is the place where we make the most memorable ones.
I would not go see Amy Schumer if YOU paid ME $109.00.
It's like asking a smoker do you think cigarettes are too expensive? Of course they are! Of course you moan every time they put the price up. But you are addicted so you still carry on buying, regardless. Disney and Universal theme parks are no different. Wanting to attend them is a drug. Attending them is a drug. The instant sense of karma you get as you clear the bag control and turn-styles is a drug. Yearning to return is a drug. So you moan at paying an extra dollar each time you visit each park at the parking lot from last year, your UK 14 day pass has gone up about 15%, the crowds are increasing even out of season so you are doing less but you are still getting your fix.....so, ultimately, is it still all worth it? Why do I return every year?
Perhaps the real question would be is big time entertainment a good value? Whether it's Disney, major concerts or ski resorts, price increases have greatly outstripped inflation.
Rubicon: "I would not go see Amy Schumer if YOU paid ME $109.00."
Many of the comments have touched on a point that I tried to make and feel like I failed to make. Sure it is expensive, but I don't care that it is expensive. I love Disney them parks, or used to. I would save up and pay the price. Yes, it costs a lot to go to concerts, sporting events, resorts, etc., but if I enjoy it, then I will save to do it. The problem is my family no longer has the same amount of enjoyment at a Disney park compared to Universal, and now that my kids are high school age, they really can't miss school, so going to a Disney park now has more trouble than enjoyment due to their changes. Our decision is why would we go there and stand in line all day long when we could go across town and avoid all the lines entirely? I would gladly pay more to experience the Disney park of 15 years ago. The level of customer service was unbelievable. I recall a time a person in our group had a bad expression on their face, because they were frustrated with having to leave to make a dinner reservation. A cast member was on them in a second. The exchange went like this: "Sir, is there a problem? No, not at all. We are having a great time. Well, I could tell you looked a little frustrated. That was certainly not your fault, we are having fun." The cast member then handed every person in our group two unlimited fast passes to use any time we wanted. Those kind of things happened all the time back then. They have not happened, at least to us, on any recent visit. Now it is all lines, crowds, and closed off fences. I really wish they would find their way back.
While we're paying more, we're getting less. I understand that the park is still refusing to run attractions at full capacity. Yet Guests continue to pour in accepting this. This adds up to longer lines, fewer attractions ridden per day, and basic gridlock. The current lack of river attractions puts more people on the walkways and--again--thins the number of attractions one might visit. Meanwhile, the custodians are having a hard time keeping up with the now standard huge crowds, Guests are feeling more temperamental, and the whole thing becomes a logistical fight.
Walt Disney World cast members provide an exceptional level of quality guest service and a a large part of the reason that the cost of a visit to a Walt Disney World theme park is "as great a value as ever."
In the UK the comparison would be Merlin's top theme parks- Alton Towers, Thorpe Park etc - are about £50/$60 at the gate. The alarming drop in value of sterling against the dollar 1.60 to 1.20 means the price of a day ticket at Disney and Universal in Florida is now about 80% more expensive. But worth every additional penny/cent in my eyes. For that 80% you get the weather, far better dining options, longer park hours, superior rides/shows/attractions, superb guest relations, spotlessly clean and the one thing we all crave - complete immersion.
Magic Kingdom peak day ticket-$124
Not a very good value In comparison to other theme parks in the area and around the world. There are even better values at other Disney theme parks As has been pointed out here By others. I am an annual passholder so this mostly affects the members of the groups I travel with. Most of the time it's difficult to justify the expense of Disney versus universal. Luckily my annual pass for both Disney parks in the United States will take me past the opening of avatar land. Fewer trips from then on.
I think it is a little unfair just going after Disney for increasing their prices. Great America raised their prices along with Universal.
Most online Disney fans say that the problem to overcrowding at Disneyland is the monthly payment option. But it's interesting that Disney kept it, and also they didn't raise AP prices that much. I would have thought, especially with the continuing crowds, Disney would try to raise prices incrementally the next two years until Star Wars Land opens.
We live about 40 minutes away from Disney World and Universal Studios and have annual passes to both. For us, the value is good because we make frequent trips. The Premier Annual Pass at Universal is a great deal (compared to our Disney passes) because it includes preferred parking as well as the Universal Express Pass after 4 pm every day of the year. Yes, the passes are expensive, but we enjoy ourselves, even if we just want to have a change of scenery, grab a bite to eat and maybe watch a live music show or parade or just take a walk through the parks.
Let's hope that "slice" of the public increases and makes it more pleasant for the rest of us in the parks.
The difficulty in comparing Efteling to Disney in the US is that they are 2 completely different market places. Whilst they do compete in a theoretical manner, this is minimal in reality. For US patrons to visit Efteling involves an overseas flight, foreign languages and currency, foreign culture and cuisine, many things that turn some people off travel (makes me interested though). This reduces the value for money for some people. The reverse is true for Europeans visiting the US.
Having just paid $169 for a one day park hopper (2/17 - possibly the worst weather day of the century) I say unequivocally that it was worth it.
Disneyland Anaheim provides the only decent value among American Disney parks.
We still feel that Disney offers excellent value, despite the crowds. We started going to both resorts yearly since 2007, and while the crowd situation has worsened, the parks have added high-quality new lands, rides, shows and parades.
Hello grant crawford
Efteling really great themepark. Live in Ireland and spent five days there with my family great memories.
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