It seems that, lately, Disney pricing is truly getting out of (gloved) hand and, subsequently, the fiscal reach of most American families... all while Disney is laughing all the way to Fidelity Fiduciary Bank.
However, I’m not going to examine this from socio-economic and political standpoint or analyze how American society in general has stagnated because of the current economy, because frankly this isn’t the forum for it and I also just fell asleep while writing this sentence, so it must be pretty boring.
What doesn’t bore me are things that affect my wallet, especially while on vacation. So in this article I’m going to conduct an assessment from the point of view of an irritated consumer who goes to Walt Disney World and witnesses the paper money fly from his wallet like animated butterflies in Fantasia. Now since this a genteel family website I will replace any of my angry expletives with the titles of obscure Disney films....
Part one of this two-parter will explore the cost of special event with the hard ticket seasonal parties, the ubiquitous add-on dessert parties, and other assorted upsells. Part two will follow-up with character meals where Disney's stars charge more for an appearance and spend less time with you than a candidate at a political fundraiser. (Now, I will grant you that Goofy would surpass what most American politicos are offering us these days.) Then there are those omnipresent Magic Bands that have bolstered the Disney coffers by making it exceptionally easy to spend all the money you care to spend and then some! But's that's all to come in part two.
Hard- (to Swallow) Ticket Events
There is a dirty new buzzword in WDW folks and it is called... upcharge. This word is derived from the original Latin phrase meaning — you are being charged up the Apple Dumpling Gang.
Now, if you haven’t been to Disney World since those halcyon days when buying a Blu-Ray player would actually cost you more money than a one-day, one-person, one-park admission ticket to the Magic Kingdom, then allow me to let you in on a little secret: Them days are over, buddy (and buddette.)
But Disney isn’t stopping at merely raising its prices on mundane things such as tickets, meals, souvenirs, and dining. Oh, no. They are now marketing a multitude of “experiences” above and beyond what you get for your $105.00 plus $6.83 in tax, a $111.83 1-Day Theme Park Magic Your Way Ticket to the Magic Kingdom.
(P.S. $111.83 dollars! American? Are you Flubber kidding me? I’m fairly certain this is false advertising as this is not really Magic My Way, because my way would be to pay far less than $111.83, perhaps by using some sort of coupon or possibly the type of indentured servitude as portrayed in Cinderella. I would give the interior of the castle a light dusting in exchange for a ticket discount; I mean it all seems fairly easy when accompanied by cute animated creatures and montage music.)
Disney has long offered access to holiday parties and special events that aren’t included in your standard park admission ticket, but these days not only are those prices rising but here come more upcharges and add-ons marching inexorably forward like the toy soldiers in the Disney Christmas Parade.
Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party may not be so scary, but its ticket prices sure are! Once upon a time, the ticket prices were tolerable, but not only have the prices risen, but thanks to the introduction of date-based pricing levels, when you go now makes a difference in the price you pay.
Of course, the cheapest time to go is in early September, because who doesn’t love to wear a multi-layered, elaborate costume when it’s 96 degrees out? In the shade. At night.
September is also smack-dab in what we Floridians call the rainy season, which consists of the entire calendar year except for three cold days in January and 18 sunny ones scattered throughout summer. Then there’s the joy of those September thunderstorms popping up exactly the moment when you are furthest from the park exit, on the very same day you forgot your bag of $15 ponchos in the hotel room.
Oftentimes, it rains for so many days in a row that some Orlando residents seriously consider constructing an ark and gathering up traditional Florida fauna such as two lizards, two mosquitoes, and two snowbirds.
Not to mention that fact that in September, technically the nearest holiday is actually Labor Day, not Halloween. Maybe the MNSSHP should reflect this and the kids should all wear worker costumes — the Pluto Proletariat.
Or just rename the September event to something more apropos: Mickey’s Go-to-Work-on-Labor-Day-to-Pay-for-Your-Trip Party. All the guests can dress up as cast members and perform those jobs while the cast enjoys the holiday off. Of course, Disney would likely try to extend the event by starting in August, which might interfere with all the Frozen Summer Fun.
Let’s take a closer look at Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party. Using a typical family of four on an average price ticket day (remember that the cost fluctuates based on the month and day you choose to attend.)
2 Adult Party Tickets = $68
2 Child Party Tickets = $63
Total with Tax = $279
Enter the new Disney up-charge model here to Robin Hood you of more of your money. The new hard-ticket upcharge within the hard-ticket upcharge Halloween Party is the Happy HalloWishes Dessert Party. That's $69 per adult and $39 per child.
What is included in this upcharge? You get a reserved location to watch Mickey’s “Boo-To-You” Halloween Parade, followed by dessert at the ubiquitous MK destination for all things up-charged, the Tomorrowland Terrace, which doubles as a viewing area for Happy HalloWishes Nighttime Spectacular.
So you’re paying for two things you can receive for the discounted price of free: a view of the parade and the HalloWishes fireworks show. Plus dessert. Granted there is a large selection, but really how much candy and sweets can you and your kids eat? I sincerely doubt its $69 and $39 dollars worth, respectively.
And if you personally allow your child to consume $39 worth of candy, chocolate, and assorted sweets at 9 or 10pm before going back to your hotel room to retire for the evening, well then I guess it really is worth the price because it’ll be just like getting a free ticket to Halloween Horror Nights!
So to sum up this little excursion: attending a MNSSHP with the Dessert package add-on will cost you a total of nearly $500.00 for a family of four. That’s $500 to spend five-plus hours in the Magic Kingdom (the party is from 7pm until Midnight, though you can enter the park as early as 3pm.) Five hours of entertainment, at the rate of roughly $100 an hour.
And the Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party is even more expensive. Here is the pricing for the cheapest party nights:
2 Adult Party Tickets = $74
2 Child Party Tickets = $69
Total with Tax = $304.60
Holy Shaggy Dog, that’s a lot of Disney Dollars!
It's Just Not a Party Without Dessert
Still don’t agree that the number of these “not-included-with-your-park ticket admission add-ons” are getting completely out of hand and multiplying like the little snowmen from Frozen Fever? Well, consider this comprehensive list of upsells that recently have been and/or are currently being offered by Disney.
(A quick note, I’m not going to include dinner packages in this list, such as Fantasmic!, because at least you’re getting dinner with your show, instead of just heartburn from the bill.)
Happy HalloWishes Dessert Party
Already well covered.
Tomorrowland Terrace Dessert Party
This is the original, but has recently morphed into the “newly enhanced” Wishes Fireworks Dessert Party.
IllumiNations Sparkling Dessert Party
Feel the Force Premium Package
Feel the Force Deluxe Premium Package
Our first add-on to an add-on… This has everything the Premium Package offers and adds on these benefits: allows guests to follow behind the Legends of the Force: Star Wars Celebrity Motorcade down Hollywood Boulevard, provides reserved seating for all of the celebrity talk shows, and offers priority access to Darth’s Mall. This also comes with a commemorative lanyard and credential.
The Merry & Bright Dessert Party
The Merry & Bright Dinner Reception
Frozen Summer Fun Premium Package
Villains Unleashed Party
Epcot after Hours Wind Down (2014)
Harambe Nights (2014)
Harambe Nights Premium Experience (2014)
Frozen Holiday Premium Package (2014)
Ferrytale Wishes: A Fireworks Dessert Cruise
This is the newest upsell.
Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique
Whew! That’s a lot of add-ons, up sells, and hard tickets. Have you noticed that nearly all of these rather expensive parties feature one common denominator? Yup. Dessert.
Why do you think that is? Because dessert is something cheap and easy to mass produce. This in turn, means a bigger bottom line and larger profit margin for Disney. And a bigger waistline for you if you attend enough of these things.
Also a lot of these take place at Disney's Hollywood Studios, because there are so few attractions there currently, that you will gladly pay money to have something to do.
Now, of course I realize there is an easy solution to this… Just don’t buy the tickets. Don’t go to the parties. But your kids are going to want to go; heck, I want to go. But it’s getting less and less affordable to do so. And the upsells are merely an obvious indicator of the much larger, more widespread problem at Walt Disney World. Just the tip of the Matterhorn, if you will.
The worst place to get hit is not the face, but the bank account. And that makes people angry, especially longtime loyal customers who feel like they have been swept aside as if by all the magically autonomous brooms in Fantasia.
Stay tuned for part two, which will cover the financial impact of Character Dining, Unique Dining Experiences, and Magic Bands.Tweet
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