Views on the News from the WDW Update - Ticket Price Increasesby Jonathan Heigl, contributing writer
I'm excited to share the news that I will be writing about my opinions on some of the larger news items shared in the weekly Walt Disney World Update. I will not write about everything, and it may not even be every week. It will be just on what I feel are the bigger, more important news items that may happen. With that being said, let's get right into it.
This week's discussion topic: Ticket Price Increase
In the Walt Disney World Resort Update published February 24, 2015, Marie wrote about the ticket price increase that happened for the Disney parks. There are many facets to this price increase, so let's discuss them.
First, one-day Magic Kingdom base tickets have now surpassed the $100 mark for the first time in history. Before this change, a lot of talk and speculation existed that questioned whether or not passing the $100 mark for a one-day ticket would negatively impact attendance and ultimately, the bottom line. It is my opinion that there will not be a negative impact at all. The parks feel like they have never been more crowded, and that is a trend that continues year after year.
Looking at attendance records since 2008, park attendance has steadily climbed, from an estimated 118 million in 2008 to 132.5 million in 2013. Disney has also been raising ticket prices annually, and sometimes even twice a year. Back in 2006, they raised ticket prices twice. The first time was in January 2006 (up by $3.25 to $63) and the second time was in August 2006 (up an additional $4 to $67), so by August 2006, it was $7.25 more expensive than it was in 2005. There were also some times where the increase happened within 12 months, but the calendar year was different. For instance, in June 2013, Magic Kingdom ticket prices were raised $6 from what they were previously (up to $95). In February of 2014, just 8 months later, they were raised another $4 (up to $99). During these times, attendance has not only held pace, but surpassed the previous year.
For me, I don't feel like the jump to $105 will put a dent in the attendance numbers. The new offerings at Magic Kingdom will keep people coming, and most visitors to Walt Disney World buy something other than one-day tickets anyway.
Second, the one-day ticket prices at the other three theme parks were raised by $3, up to $97. With the upcoming additions to Disney's Animal Kingdom (‘AVATAR-land’), Disney's Hollywood Studios (the rumored Star Wars and PIXAR Place expansions) and Epcot (the rumored Soarin' third theater addition as well as new film and also the closing of Maelstrom in favor of a Frozen themed attraction), it is reasonable to speculate that the one-day ticket to these parks will soon be joining the $100+ price party. While the ticket prices for all of the parks have risen, in my opinion, quite dramatically in the past 10 years, I don't foresee theme park attendance dropping because with these increased ticket prices come some pretty spectacular new and re-themed attractions, which keep people coming back.
A smaller (based on scale) discussion is the increase in the resident and annual passes. I understand the concern for any price hikes, but let's face it, you are still getting a great deal on these passes, in my opinion.
To me, the biggest news out of these changes has often gone overlooked: there is no longer an option to purchase a non-expiring ticket. Previously, you could purchase an add-on to your base ticket that would prevent any unused days from expiring. In essence, you could have purchased a multi-day no expiration ticket prior to the ticket price change and it would be good forever as long as there was at least one day left on the ticket.
With the regular ticket price hikes this was an option that, while requiring an upfront investment, could have saved money in the long run. However, this optional add-on is no longer available, and it's a significant loss.
Part of the reaction from hardcore Disney fans is the due to Walt Disney's intent when Disneyland opened; he wanted it to be a place where families could afford to be together and have fun together. He wanted it to be accessible to people of all classes and fortune.
People feel the company loses a bit more of Walt's vision and original mission every year, especially when ticket prices are raised. While this may or may not be true, the bottom line is that there is no other place in the world where you get to experience the fun, magic, wonder, and amazement found at Disney Parks. While some people may question the state of the legendary Disney guest service—whether the quality of it has dwindled or not—I still don't think anywhere else comes close.
Certainly ticket prices and the cost of vacation packages rise every year, requiring visitors to postpone visits so the can save more money to pay for their trips. However, once a family is there priceless, lifetime memories are made.
What are your thoughts on the ticket price change? What aspect of it do you think is the most noteworthy part? Will the price changes (and removal of the no-expiration option) impact or change your planning at all? Let's discuss.