I am also not a fan of the never expiring tickets because we almost always stay on-site with some kind of a promotion. Most of those promotions require purchasing a certain minimum number of days pass. Thus the non-expiring days just sit there till we decide not to stay on-site.
Another reason to consider the park hopper addition is if you're buying a dining plan that has sit down dining. The last time I did that I made plans to more or less eat in a different country in Epcot each night - which meant returning to Epcot daily even if that was the only reason and the park hopper was essential for that.
Now that I have had my rant for the week. I do think that people who have never been to Disney World/Disneyland do need to do as much research as they can before coming. One of our trips, we sat and talked with a family from Canada who were under the impression that buying a one day base ticket allowed you to visit each of the four parks. They were shocked at how much it cost their family of five and were trying to squeeze in all of Orlando into five days. These people were also under the impression that every ride was just in the Magic Kingdom and were asking where Expedition Everest, Soarin and the Hulk coaster were on the MK map. We hated telling them that they were at the wrong park for these.
People are sadly under the impression that if you are going to a theme park for a day or two that there is no need to plan. These are the people who are complaining in line about the crowds, heat, and the prices of the place. I treat a theme park centered vacation like I would if I were to travel to another country. I make sure to map out the "must sees" and "must do's". I plan and make dining reservations. I map out time frames and alternate ways to get to where we need to be. I also make sure I have the correct prices and see if we can afford tickets, special events, souvenirs, etc.
I have a 10-day park hopper with the no expire option, which I use to drop in for a day or two whenever I'm in town. (Full disclosure: my mother is a WDW CM, so I sometimes get into the parks for free when visiting her and she signs me in.) I think the 10-day no expire is a great option for a frequent visitor to the area who wants a quick Disney "fix" on each trip, as opposed to someone who takes a week-long (or more) annual visit to the resort. Those folks should skip the no expire and buy as they go, IMHO.
I have the say the most relaxing trip I had was one where I stayed onsite and the room key = Key to the kingdom. Where the park hopper was included in my entire trip and for the duration of my stay. If we woke up and wanting to go to Blizzard Beach, we could do that if later that day we wanted to eat dinner at the Diner at Hollywood Studios & see Fantasmic, we could do that. It offered a lot of freedom to experience the entire Disney World.
What about stopping by one of those time share booth in Denny’s? Any cheap tickets there?
Also, I wouldn't recommend a four day trip for "rookies." It's impossible to see and do everything you want in four days, unless you completely run yourself ragged. Give yourself enough time to explore at a leisurely pace; that's why they call it a vacation.
Personally, I think the new prices will force people to put a little more thought into their ticketing decisions as to hopping or other add-ons, and QS dining might become considerably more popular.
Can I have your autograph?
Disney's prices are pricing me out of considering Disney exclusive vacations. With Universal's Harry Potter attraction, I have to visit the best new thing. There's no way to fit Disney's 4 parks into my trip especially since Disneyland and DCA are much better than the Magic Kingdom and Studios. I will visit Epcot and Animal Kingdom.
The sweet spot for Disney tickets are between $200 and $300. I will reduce my cost to around $160 for 2 parks, thus saving the other $100+ for Universal and other attractions.
Unless Disney has better incentives like a gradual decrease in prices for 2 or 3 day trips with park hopping, then my behavior will be as I described.
First, there's a percentage of the population that, due to the economy, simply can't afford theme park vacations any longer. But they're out of the market already. Among the rest of the public, a few dollars' increase won't make or break the vacation, especially when compared to the much more volatile prices of gas, airfares or hotel rooms.
Sure, people will keep looking for discounts. And few bucks more at the front gate might lead some people to spend a few bucks less inside the park.
Ultimately, bad decision making on what ticket to buy, where to stay, when to go and what to do in the park costs uninformed visitors far more than Disney's price increase will. That's why it's important to continue doing research in advance of your vacation by coming online to site like Theme Park Insider.
If you were spending this kind of money on anything else, you'd do research in advance of your purchase. Vacations should be no different. (Plus, trip planning for a vacation can be half the fun anyway!)
Also, in answer to Lucas' question, yep, "no expire" means that the tickets never expire. I've used 15-year-old tickets to get into Disney (and Universal) theme parks. Granted, if you try to use an old paper ticket these days, they'll make you switch to one of the new cards, but you'll still get your days.
In high school I remember a teacher explaining you can't have a sale without first selling the item at the original price. Does Disney set their prices at WDW to encourage the multi-day vacation so you are "saving" money per day.
Of course, I believe, if you go to Disney, you need a multi-day vacation anyway to experience everything.
I'm interested in learning where the break point is now with families doing the research to find the best pricing/season to attend versus just saying "screw it, we gotta pay whatever they say". Wish I could stand at the turnstile and do a survey to find out what guests paid to see how many actually use a vacation package, "timeshare" tickets, gate tickets, etc etc.
Full price is whatever you agree to pay. It might seem like a good idea to breakdown a multi-day ticket and rationalize the per day cost, but you actually paid more for your trip than a day tripper.
"Of course, I believe, if you go to Disney, you need a multi-day vacation anyway to experience everything."
It is a bit presumptious to think that anyone should have to experience everything. It is not necessary or required. Whenever I go on vacation, it is best to visit the highlights and use the other times to relax or take a more leisurely approach. Everyone should tailor their vacation to their own preference instead of Disney's.