Monday marks one year since Disneyland last raised its ticket and annual pass prices. So, like the well-trained consumers we've all become, many of us are awaiting the next annual price increase announcement.
But when will it happen? Okay, it's inevitable that Disney will change its prices at some point. And it is hard to imagine that Disney would cut its prices significantly, even after a down year for attendance. So prices are likely going up. The question is... when?
Even though Disneyland raised its prices last January 6, that wasn't the last time that Disney made a big change to its tickets in 2019. In May, Disneyland introduced its new Disney Flex annual pass, which it clearly hopes will become the future of its annual pass program.
Under the Flex pass, fans are blocked out only for the two weeks around Christmas and New Year's, when all but the most expensive Signature Plus passes are blocked. But the Flex pass will get you into the parks automatically only on several dozen weekdays during the school year. On all other days, you must go online to reserve a day up to 30 days in advance to use your Flex pass. Reservations are not unlimited, but if you work the system effectively, you can get almost all the access of the Signature pass at about half the cost.
Disneyland raised its prices aggressively last January in anticipation of Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge luring thousands of additional visitors to the parks each day after it opened. Thanks in part to the big price increases on tickets (as well as the delay in opening the land's signature Rise of the Resistance attraction), those crowds pretty much stayed away, with overall attendance actually declining at Disneyland's theme parks last summer.
While Disney was hoping to "manage" its crowd levels with the price increases, I don't think anyone believes that Disney is happy with attendance declines. That provides some incentive for Disney to at least stand pat with its ticket and annual pass prices for now.
With variable pricing on daily tickets, Disney can adjust its pricing structure without across-the-board increases. And it can manage demand for annual passes by switching up benefits and blockout dates, as well. Just this week, Disneyland announced that the Alfresco Tasting Terrace at Disney California Adventure will become an annual passholder exclusive lounge, starting Monday.
Everyone I have spoken with who has switched to the Flex pass loves it, but Disney does not make it easy for passholders to switch from one type of pass to another during their year. You can upgrade, but you have to pay the full difference between the pass prices and not a pro-rated increase, based on how far into the year your annual pass is. And you cannot downgrade at all. So Disney needs a full calendar year for all of its annual passholders to have the clean opportunity to switch to the Flex pass at their renewal time.
Disney almost never gives its visitors advance warning of price increases, so it's up to analysts such as us to use our knowledge of Disney's track record to advise fans when they should rush to get their tickets in advance of a possible price increase. So my best guess is that the clock is now ticking for Disneyland's next price increase, with the odds of it happening getting more likely the closer we get to the Flex pass's first anniversary on May 21.
But if you do get caught out, third party authorized resellers often have a stock of tickets that they may sell at the "old" price after an official price increase. Our travel partner is one of those authorized resellers, so check our Disneyland tickets page for discounted tickets to Disneyland and Disney California Adventure, either now or especially right after Disneyland announces its next price hike.Tweet
I believe that if you are downgrading at renewal from a pass that includes parking, you can add it to your new pass. I will double check that.
Oh Bother! My pass expires on 1/6 and we are holding off on renewing for a variety of reasons. Last year, we renewed the day AFTER the painful price hike. It stung so badly to know the day prior the price was so much lower. We are going to the resort this Sunday to take advantage of our last visit on this pass, and would have renewed then if we were going to renew right away. It will really stink if they raise the pass again before we choose to renew down the road. Added salt to the wound is that we had assumed last year that Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge would have been fully open with this cycle. No such luck. I hope that if there is an increase this year it will not be as significant as the previous one a year ago. I hope they learned their lesson by seeing the lower attendance figures over 2019 - realizing that there is a breaking point. I'd say they are at it for at least a while yet to come. Fingers crossed.
Death, taxes, and annual Disney price increases are the only things you can count on these days.
Seriously, what I've never understood is why Disney makes these increases without any sort of advanced warning. With all but the most expensive tickets bound to a specific date(s), and non-expiring ticket no longer an option, you would think Disney would want to take advantage of a surge of purchases in advance of an announced price increase. Making the price increases effective immediately after they're announced (or within typically 24 hours of the announcement) doesn't really make much sense and fosters a bit of resentment from guests as Rob would attest.
I do think that increases this year will be minimal, if there are any, and that mostly Disney will make adjustments to AP benefits/restrictions this year. This will soften everyone up for a BIG increase that they'll foist on guests next year for WDW50. I guess it is possible that they continue to ratchet up the prices this year so that next year's increase doesn't look as large as they continue to lean on price controls to manage crowds.
I'm going to take what will probably be a losing bet and say that there will be no formal Disneyland price increase this year, at least for the first half of 2020. If it happens, I expect it to occur later in summer, likely just before Avengers Campus opens. Based on how this year has gone, I think Disney has found the upper limit on what guests are willing to pay to visit Disneyland, so if they raise prices again it's possible we could see a net decrease in attendance despite opening both the biggest E-ticket in the resort's history and a themed land based on the most popular film franchise of all time in the same year. That, in my opinion, would be a failure.
Instead, I expect price changes in 2020 will be more discreet, occurring through reorganization of the resort's ticket structure. For example, I wouldn't be surprised to see SoCal Select and/or Deluxe pass sales suspended, or even a full discontinuation of all passes besides Flex and Signature. For day tickets, I could see some value days being shifted to regular or regular to peak in lieu of actually changing the numerical amount on the ticket. Unlike Florida, where most visitors are willing to spend whatever it costs for a one-time vacation, Disneyland locals make up 3/4 of the resort's attendance and it's going to be hard to convince them to spend $150+ per person when that only gets them into half of the resort.
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If they allowed you to add parking to the FLEX, I would definitely switch over.