Disneyland Raising Prices, an Unpopular Perspective

By Andy Herndon (@andyherndon)


Two weeks ago I did a quick post on the raising of Disneyland prices. You can see that original post here.

Since that time many people have become pretty upset with Disneyland.  Admittedly, Disneyland has been raising their prices again and again and again since the summer that Cars Land opened in 2012. Many families have sworn online to boycott Disneyland and start going to Knott’s Berry Farm (yeah right). In this most recent of price hikes, Disneyland also eliminated the sales of new SoCal Annual Passports. This pass gives Southern California residents (basically everyone from San Diego to Ventura) about 200 days a year to enjoy the Disneyland Resort.

I probably have a different perspective than many people on the Disneyland price hikes, and many  of you will not agree with me. In fact many of you will vehemently  disagree with me and that is okay. 🙂

Essentially, I’m not bothered by the increase in prices and it’s not because I’m rich, far from it.

Here’s why…

Disneyland is setting attendance records. This, in spite of the fact that Disneyland has consistently raised their prices over the last three years. The attendance records have resulted naturally in very busy parks. Wait times for attractions are through the roof. My wife and I use to pride ourselves in going to Disneyland during the off season or during weeks that were traditionally slow.  Our last two trips we planned during what was described by many crowd  tracking websites such as isitpacked.com as, slow weeks. Well, they were not slow. It was busy. There is no slow time at Disneyland anymore. It’s always packed.

Many of you would think this is not a problem for the Disneyland Resort, as the more people who are there, the more revenue they get. This is true to a certain extent, however much of the crowdedness has come from Annual Pass holders. Now I’m not bagging on AP holders here, I am one myself. But the bottom line for Disneyland is the more crowded the park  is, the less of a magical time guests will have. For Disneyland’s thousands of out of town guests, if they are not having a good time, they will take their money and go to any of  Southern California’s numerous theme parks or tourist attractions.

Disneyland has tried others strategies besides raising prices to combat overcrowding. In early last year, Disneyland instituted a policy that would not allow anyone under the age of 14 to be in the park without an adult. This was to offset a trend that was reported by many local news agencies where local parents would drop off or allow their children at Disneyland  after school, on the weekends and during the summer. Disneyland became a daycare of sorts for local kids who were able to afford the Annual Passport.

They have instituted a policy where multi day passholders must get their picture taken or present identification at the front gate to insure they are not using someone else’s pass or multiple people are not using the same pass over several days and weeks.

Disneyland also tightened up their policy toward guests with disabilities, to the anger of many in that community. Many guests were coming to Disneyland with fake or exaggerated disabilities in order to avoid the lines at many of the attractions. Others with legitimate disabilities were offering themselves as “tour guides” to families for a sizable fee. These families would be able to avoid the lines as they were with these “tour guide”.

Bottom line is, being in the park when it is crazy busy is not fun. Waiting 30 minutes for Pinocchio’s Daring Adventure (usually a walk on) is insane! If you want to know what I’m talking about, go to the park when there are no Passholder blackouts and see how far you get.This is also why Disneyland has discontinued sales of new Southern California AP’s in order to get a handle on things.

Many have said that these prices hikes are not in the spirit of Walt Disney. I realize that these price hikes over the past 3 years have priced many families out of enjoying Disneyland as often as they would like. But many of you who are Disneyland history nerds will remember the frustration Walt Disney himself had when a few extra thousand people showed up for the opening of Disneyland due to counterfeit tickets and an enterprising individual who had people pay him to use his ladder to climb the wall into Disneyland. It is in the spirit of Walt that Disneyland has to get the crowds under control, to ensure guests truly have a magical time in the resort. The park is not getting any bigger, so as prices continue to rise, the question is: how much is enjoying Disneyland worth to me?

About thedcast

Podcast, blog and YouTube channel with Dale Wentland and Andy Herndon. We talk all things movies in the Disney universe, including Star Wars (LucasFilm), Marvel & Pixar.

Posted on June 5, 2014, in Disneyland, The D-Cast and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. I don’t doubt for one second that raising prices might have the positive effect of leveling out attendance, but I think that has less to do with the company being interested in providing a magical experience than it is about squeezing a bit extra money from the people who are contributing to the attendance boom. I don’t have any metrics, so I can’t be considered an authority, but I think it’s safe to say that out-of-town guests, and especially those staying on property, are more profitable to the company than APers. On an individual basis, the average AP holder will spend much more money at the parks, but on the level of a single day, or the lifetime of a 3-day park hopper or something, the tourist is more likely to spend more money. It would then be in the company’s best interest to try to exchange visits by AP holders with that of out of town tourists. I’ve looked at the price hikes in the last few years, especially the disproportionate jump in AP rates, as an indicator that the company is trying to do just that.

    Not that it bothers me, it is simple supply and demand. I’d like to think that it is an attempt at improving the experience but, in my opinion, were that the goal, there would be drastically higher increases in prices (and a PR nightmare). But I don’t think Disney wants to actually adjust attendance down to a “comfortable level”, whatever that might be.

    Unfortunately in my case, the damage has been done. The parks are too crowded for my tastes, and too expensive for that crowding. Ironically, if they did jack the prices way up and it did dramatically lower attendance, I might value a visit more and pony up the dough. Then again, so might a lot of other people, and we’re right back where we were.

    Anyways, thanks for the read.

  2. I would agree to a certain extent. Disney has a responsibility to it’s share holders, and the tourists do spend way more money per vista than the locals. The last three years have shown people are willing to pay premium prices. The tale tell sign for me that the issue is also overcrowding is the suspension of SoCal pass sales though.

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