This afternoon on Twitter, @TurkeyLegJeff posted a survey from Disney World that detailed a new pricing structure, where ticket prices would vary by day of the week and season of the year. Keep in mind that this is simply a survey looking for consumer response. It is not an official new change from Disney. (At least, not yet, anyway.)
Anyone else get this Disney survey? pic.twitter.com/bqtSYjX95E— Turkey Leg Jeff (@TurkeyLegJeff) May 26, 2015
Major pricing structure change coming soon? Seems a little hard to sum up in 15 seconds. pic.twitter.com/SW3k5jAYBi— Turkey Leg Jeff (@TurkeyLegJeff) May 26, 2015
The proposal would introduce "Gold," "Silver," and "Bronze" price levels for one-day, one-park tickets at the Walt Disney World Resort, which would in turn influence multi-day ticket prices. The TL;DR is that ticket prices would go up for people visiting on the busiest days.
Of course, to pull this off, Disney would have to start tying its admission tickets to specific days on the calendar. Currently, Disney World tickets can be bought without regard to the days that you will use them. Once you've used the first day on a multi-day ticket, you have 14 days to use them all, but Disney doesn't restrict which days within those 14 you can visit the parks.
Switching to such a system would add yet another variable in pricing a Disney World vacation. Not only would you need to consider differences in hotel prices and airfare (if applicable) for different potential vacation times, now you'd have to factor differences in ticket prices, as well.
The potential upside? There's the possibility that such as system could reduce overcrowding on the busiest days in the parks, as higher prices, theoretically, would reduce the demand for those days. The downside is that the demand would shift to less popular days, increasing the crowd sizes on days that now enjoy lighter crowds. And of course, the big downside is higher prices for most visitors.
What do you think?
Update: Disneyland is surveying the same concept:
@ThemePark I can confirm a Disneyland survey too on the same pricing matters— James Feeney (@CoasterStorm) May 27, 2015
.@DisneyParks survey for @Disneyland potential pricing charts. CC: @BehindThrills @ThemePark @Attractions pic.twitter.com/hkrnH7XBcA— James Feeney (@CoasterStorm) May 27, 2015
It's bad enough you have to reserve your fast passes a month ahead of time if you want to go on anything popular. This would only add another layer of complexity when they're still figuring out how to make fast pass + work right for people with large parties.
How about doing away with seasonal passed and surcharging APs during the busy season. Get a slow day due to weather and give a late day special with a food credit for the amount of the surcharge after 5PM to APs. Get the APs and the marginal revenue when it's slow while reducing APs during busy periods. The top 10 busiest days get the biggest surcharge.
I've said it before, but I've never visited Walt Disney World and while they won't stop me from visiting, all the changes in the past couple years have definitely lessened my interest. I've got a feeling this change would probably repel a lot of people who are on the fence about making a visit.
Besides evening out the crowds, this could help with staff planning. If WDW knows that a huge number of people have tickets for a given day they can schedule more cast members to work, have more food available, and maybe schedule an extra parade or show. On days that they suspect lighter traffic due to low advanced ticket sales, they can have fewer cast members scheduled to work. Right now Disney has no way of knowing how many people will show up on any given day and if they are understaffed it takes time to call more people in and get them suited up.
I know people have been upset about overcrowding for special events, this would give them an idea of how many people intend to show up for special events, although if they don't black out annual pass holders they will still be in the dark about that. Specific days at the park could "sell out" 2 weeks before a given day, which would let people know in advance not to go that day and try to buy a ticket, because they won't get in, instead of having tons of people waiting outside to try to get in. They can cut off new ticket sales for a day if they look at the current occupancy of the park and consider how many people have day specific ticket who have not entered the park yet if the numbers are getting too high. This would solve the problem of day guests needing their tickets refunded if they can't get in, or back into the park, because they traveled to get to the park and don't have an option to go another day. If people traveled a long way, they want to be in the park, they don't want a refund.
But 'Z' says we can change it anytime so the above rule does not really matter unless we invoke it depending on the month and year...
This is my biggest concern. It wont' be a concern though if/when they begin selling fastpasses. I'd easily pay $10 per FP on busy days - and we'd allocate more vacation time to Disney.
I'm one of the few people that really enjoy the typical 1-2pm shower while at Disney because it pushes a lot of the crowd out of the park and also cools down the afternoon temperature wise.
If, however, there is no such guarantee and you don't get anything more out of a gold day than you would a bronze day, I am 100% against this change. The parks are expensive enough as it is, so charging more without offering a better experience is not going to go over well. Especially if guests have to pay the upcharge when their visit is split over different price periods, I could see this driving people away to search for alternatives. Before Disney implements this, they really need to consider the fact that they have some serious competition now and without continued investment in the parks it is difficult to keep raising prices. Perhaps when there is something new to offer, Disney can look into this idea again, but based on what is currently offered I don't think either park at the Disneyland Resort would be worth $115.
Also, if Disney's primary goal is just to reduce crowds, there is a really simple solution (at least in California)...revamp the Annual Pass Program.
But for the vast majority of people, it does not work like that.
The way I see it, it's more of a way for Disney to increase revenues by charging more to people who don't even look at ticket prices. Let's face it, a large amount of people who go to Disney just don't care how much the tickets costs. Such customers will still go to WDW during busy time, regardless of how much it costs.
And then, people who cannot afford the price premium, and who cannot take their holidays at a different time, more than likely will have to spend their limited ressources elsewhere.For them, WDW will then become a theme park Shangri-La, a once-in-a-lifetime vacation.
Slowly but surely, WDW is getting more and more inaccessible for the average family, which goes against the values that Walt Disney himself preached when he opened up his first park a long time ago. He built a safe, entertaining and magical place to go for people of all ages, race, color and income.
It's sad to say this, but for the next generation, maybe when one would think of WDW, instead of having found memories who instantly put a smile on your face, the first thing that would come to mind instead is the thought of an inaccessible place, that only the wealthy can afford to visit, where greed as taken over the original spirit of dear Walt.....
How can you make money the Disney way?
Step 1: Systematically underinvest in new attractions while cutting back on old attractions.
Step 2: When fans complain of overcrowding, raise prices and tell customers it's for their own good.
Step 3: Rinse and repeat.
If they use that chart of prices for seasons, they should take the actual price as the average and I mean the silver tickets. Then for the golden ticket an increase of let's say $15 and the bronce ticket a reduction of $15. That will make the lighter days, crowded and lighten up the peak season a little. It's an incentive to visit the low seasons days because they are cheaper than the regular actual ticket. Is the only way to do it for now, and let the people make adjustment for the already planned vacations. After a year or a year and a half, if necessary, increase the prices again.
So, we all agree that this is just a survey and that we should not think that this is actually what Disney will implement. I thought it would be interesting to run the numbers as "proposed" on the survey to see how it might affect our family if something like this were implemented.
I used the WDW website to calculate the "Current" price for a single WDW admission (with Park Hopper) for one to ten (1 - 10 ) days. I then used the pricing info from the survey page to calculate the "new" price (with Park Hopper). My numbers do not include any sales taxes.
If we assume that a family has school kids and can only visit from, say late June to early August (Peak times for Gold pricing), it looks like those guests will see a significant increase in their admission costs.
A seven (7) day admission would rise from the current $399.00 to $676.50 - an increase of 70%; a ten (10) admission would rise from $429.00 to $751.50 - a 75% increase. And remember, all ticket expire in 14 days.
I have to admit that if our whole family were making the trip, we'd have to have several long discussions regarding our itinerary.
The solution to pre planning is simple. Offer the new price to people buying the tickets at the park the old fashioned (and imo better way), and the folks who buy online should pay full price with the opportunity to recieve a price adjustment or gift card voucher for the difference in price on the day of their visit at the chamber of commerce or city hall.
And about Disney being greedy. Disney's attendance keeps going up. And it's because people are for the most part willing to pay for it. People can complain and rightfully so that Disney hasn't added attractions as fast as their competitor. But Disney is still far ahed of Universal. Disney has been better for decades and Universal is now only matching Disney. A theme park is not a right, and Americans have far nicer standards of living than much of the world. If people feel bad because they don't get to go to a theme park then they need a different mindset. Disney has always been for profit and if you think they overcharge, don't go. Just remember that if you are reading this, you may not have as much as a some, but you still have more than most.
These price increases will certainly make Disneyland and Disney World even less affordable for families. Park attendance will most definitely be impacted almost immediately thus I believe Disney will gradually introduce the concept in test phases. If customers eat it up, there will be more of it. The survey shows the most extreme example. There's a lot of room to have varying degrees of the plan, but a 30% price increase is a non-starter. Even Disney's annual price increases of barely 3% shows how sensitive they are to price increases.
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