It seems like every year Disney is hiking up the price for admission to the Happiest Place on Earth. Gone are the days when you purchased a ticket for a day in the park. Now there’s a list of options to choose from when deciding exactly how to vacation in Orlando or Anaheim – passes that enforce blackout days, passes for one or all of the parks, passes that extend to the waterparks and other on-property experiences, and the list goes on.
Each cost increase also increases the groaning from park-goers as it means more corners will have to be cut and sacrifices will have to be made just to keep up with their habit. The most recent change to ticket pricing, however, includes more than just a price hike.
Disney is considering a dynamic pricing system in which the price of your pass will be based on the time of year you decide to visit. This means that prices will be at their highest on higher-demand days such as holidays, weekends, summertime, school vacation days, etc., while prices will be at their lowest on weekdays.
Is this new change in pricing a form of price gouging, though, where Disney uses desired vacation times to jack the price? Or is this simply a way to attract more people during slower periods as well as giving lower-income families an opportunity to vacation without eradicating their children’s college fund?
While Disney is certainly not immune to making decisions based predominantly on profit, the reason for this new price increase could point towards the latter. After all, the other factor in Disney’s decision is something that has been plaguing theme parks (and especially Disney) for years: crowd control.
You see, after Disney executives read the hate mail in which vocal park-goers express their disapproval of a price hike, one thing becomes quite noticeable: park attendance experiences little to no drop-off. In fact, despite price increases, attendance actually grows per year. Most people simply shrug their shoulders and purchase their next season pass.
While Disney, like any responsible company, has no aversion to sustained and increased profits, they also realize a serious problem. Every year sees maximum capacity in parks that were originally constructed in the ‘60s and ‘70s, and the vast majority of negative reviews on sites like Yelp and TripAdvisor describe dissatisfaction with the hordes of people who flock to the parks every year.
Since limited space (especially in Disneyland, California) prevents Disney from physically expanding the parks, their only solution is to increase the price high enough that some people will become deterred from purchasing a ticket during busier times when attendance is at a maximum and will instead opt for times that are cheaper….and far less crowded.
“We have to look at ways to spread out our attendance throughout the year so we can accommodate demand and avoid bursting at the seams,” says Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Chairman Bob Chapek.
Robert Niles, founder of ThemeParkInsider.com, chimes in: “Forgive me for not holding my breath waiting for a fan revolt against Disney’s latest price increase. Yes, fans are complaining. Some might end up switching their pass levels. Others might have to make cuts elsewhere to support their Disneyland habit. A few might even stop going to the park. But in the end, Disneyland attendance won’t suffer from these increases, as it has not suffered from increases in years past.”