How much is too much for a theme park ticket?
I just booked my trip to Orlando for next month's IAAPA Expo. While covering the Expo consumes most of my time in central Florida, I have enjoyed taking an evening to visit Walt Disney World's holiday party in many past years. As you might have read, Disney has replaced its long-running Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party this year with the new Disney Very Merriest After Hours event, so that's something new to consider.
Yes, it's still a night in the Magic Kingdom with holiday decor. But I just could not bring myself to book at the $180 price for the available evening while I will be in Orlando. (Some nights cost up to $265.) That's just too much for me, given what the event offers now.
So how much would I be willing to pay for an evening in the world's most popular theme park with limited capacity and next to no lines for major attractions, Disney's holiday parade and fireworks, and freebies including ice cream, popcorn, seasonal treats, and select bottled beverages?
To be honest, not that much. I have been on every attraction at the Magic Kingdom more times than I can count and am pretty good at managing my day whenever I visit, so paying nearly $50 over the price of a one-day ticket for short waits on those rides does not compel me. Nor does a line-up of unlimited sweets. I'm just too old now for that many carbs (LOL).
The holiday parade and fireworks tempt me, though. If Disney had leaned more in that direction when crafting a successor to Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party, I might have been more willing to consider it. An after-hours, hard-ticket event with special entertainment, characters, and pop-up attractions - even with the regular attractions closed for the evening - interests me more than an event promising short waits for the park's regular attractions. Throw in a buffet meal with savory dishes instead of an endless stream of sweets, and I'm sold.
But that's for an event at the Magic Kingdom or any other park I've visited countless times. If we are talking about an event at a park I visit less frequently, a Disney Very Merriest After Hours-type event becomes much more compelling. If I were in Tokyo and looking at $180 for a limited-capacity, short-wait-times evening at Tokyo DisneySea? Oh, heck yes, I am booking that - without hesitation.
So the question, "how much is too much for a theme park ticket?" defies an easy answer. It really does depend upon the person and the circumstances. Paying $180 for Walt Disney World's new holiday After Hours event was too much for me - as a long-time WDW visitor - but I easily can envision some theme park events I would be willing to pay $180 to experience.
To me, the formula relies on the uniqueness of the experience. And that's how unique the experience is to me. I am sure that Disney will find enough fans eager to pay for what Disney Very Merriest After Hours has to offer this year. The resort sold out its Halloween-themed Disney After Hours Boo Bash, after all. For many fans, these events are unique and compelling enough to justify their price. So, in the aggregate, Walt Disney World probably is not charging too much for its Halloween and holiday After Hours events, even though they are too much for me, as an individual with his own preferences.
Parks cannot afford to overprice the market. If Disney (or any other theme park company) were too charge too much for a ticket or an event, in the aggregate, then you would see discounting or price reductions - or the event or even the park not returning for another season. But people complaining about prices online is not by itself a sign that the tickets cost too much for the market. That's just a sign that they cost too much for what the people complaining would be willing to pay.
Just something to keep in mind next time you see a debate rage over whatever Disney and other companies are charging to visit their parks.
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