Disney recently announced a slew of price increases at Disney World and Disneyland. Park tickets saw the biggest bump across the board, going up between $2-$11, depending on the ticket type, park, and day.
Of course, Disney fans went into a frenzy. Our favorite already expensive vacation spot just got more expensive! We have a right to be angry! I immediately opened Google Docs and started to furiously pound away at my keyboard — word after word about how I’ll never be back! My anger subsided and my vow to never return turned into, “I’ll be going on a far less frequent basis!”
I gave myself a day to really digest it. After much thought, I’m okay with it (ducks). No, seriously, I’m okay with the price increase, and I’ll tell you why:
Supply and Demand
Disney is a business — and a darn good one. I’m currently looking for an apartment in Brooklyn. It’s unfair how expensive some of these apartments are. I’d have to pay almost $2,300 to live in an apartment the size of a room at the All Star Sports Resort. But if I don’t rent it, there’s a hundred other people who will.
Disney has been consistently crowded lately; and when the new lands open, it’ll be even more crowded. I may have only gotten a “C” in Economics, but I understand the principle of supply and demand. If you didn’t think Disney was going to raise prices, you’re crazy.
It’s Been Way too Crowded
We go every year for Christmas. We know what to expect. It’s the most popular time to travel to Walt Disney World, which means high crowds, long wait times, and peak pricing. After our normal chaotic trip during Christmas, my sister and I decided to book a quick trip in January. We always heard that January was typically a “slow time” at Disney, so we were surprised to see high crowds and wait times that rivaled Christmastime.
There’s no more “down time” at Disney. Gone are the days of going on Touring Plans and scouting out the least-popular travel dates, then being able to walk on almost every ride.
The parks are crowded almost everyday, and are becoming less and less enjoyable as a result.
Unless you’re able to secure a FastPass+, you’ll be waiting at least 1.5-2 hours to ride the more-popular attractions. Getting restaurant reservations are becoming more and more difficult, and grabbing a good spot for parades or fireworks means lining up at least one hour in advance — just for someone to come and cut in front of you, anyway.
The fact is, Disney will always draw a crowd. Price increases won’t keep everyone away, and it certainly won’t keep my family from going. It may lead to us going less frequently, however. Rather than going every year, we may take a break or start going every other year.
I do believe the goal (other than making money) is to manipulate the crowds and even-out attendance throughout the year, rather than having constant crowds and guests waiting hours to ride one attraction. I think Disney will use the proposed tiered pricing to lower demand during times like Christmas, July 4th, school breaks, and other holidays to a point where they’re still making money hand-over-fist, while providing guests with a much more enjoyable in-park experience.
Disney’s Goal is to Convert First Timers
Everyone knows someone who’s saving for Disney. Maybe they’re still waiting to meet their goal, or they’re holding out until Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge opens, or for the 50th anniversary. Whatever the reason, there will finally come a time when they save enough to go to Disney World — only to wait two hours to ride Space Mountain, and three hours for Avatar Flight of Passage.
Suddenly, they wonder why they spent all those years saving their hard-earned money to wait in line. They’ll refuse to ever return!
Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge is set to bring in record-setting crowds. Disney fans are not the only ones salivating at the idea of Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge (and Hollywood Studios no longer being under construction); The new land will bring in a whole slew of new guests eager to get the Star Wars experience. This is Disney’s opportunity to convert non-Disney fans into lifelong, faithful customers.
It’ll Soon Be Worth the Price of Admission
If Pandora is any indication, Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge is going to be breathtakingly good. It’s easy to get wrapped up in the discussion of how “prices keep going up and Disney is still under construction!” The fact is, in a year or two (and again in 2021), Disney parks are going to look very, very different. Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge and Toy Story Land will be added to Hollywood Studios; Animal Kingdom will continue to grow; The Tron Coaster will come to Magic Kingdom; and Epcot will add a few new attractions and restaurants.
Disney will also streamline transportation throughout the resort area. Some Value and Moderate resorts will see added value with the new Skyliner gondola system. Disney is also adding separate lanes for buses on roads throughout Walt Disney World to avoid traffic buildups. The hope is that this will lead to a far more efficient transportation system at Disney, allowing guests to spend more time in the parks, and less time in traffic.
During our short two-day trip, my sister and I spent a solid chunk of time outside the parks. Albeit, the Pro Bowl was going on and we spent a lot of time at the practice, but we also made sure to stop by Disney Springs.
Disney Springs has come a long way since transitioning from Downtown Disney. Between the bars, restaurants, shopping, and entertainment, you can easily spend an entire day or night there. Rather than go drink around the World Showcase, guests can easily set up a bar crawl around Disney Springs, or spend the evening going to lounges at the monorail resorts.
You Can Stay Off-site
Disney has become much more inclusive of the offsite resorts. While not technically “offsite”, Disney’s Swan and Dolphin offers Deluxe-level accommodations and amenities at a Moderate resort price point. Guests of the Swan and Dolphin enjoy close proximity to Epcot and Hollywood Studios, as well as many of the same perks as onsite guests, like Disney transportation, Extra Magic Hours, and more.
Many offsite resorts in the Disney Springs area are now eligible for Extra Magic Hours, and are able to book FastPass+ selections up to 60 days out. Guests can save some money by staying at the Best Western, for example, and still receive some of the same perks as those staying at an onsite resort.
It’s as Expensive as You Make It
If you told me a few years ago that my family would stay not just once, but multiple times at a Deluxe resort, I’d probably assume we won the lottery. Staying at a Deluxe resort was once a bucket list item for us. Once we stayed, though, we were hooked.
Can we have just as enjoyable a vacation at a Moderate? Absolutely. And we have — we stayed at Coronado Springs last Easter and had a blast; but for us, we much prefer the convenience of being right by Epcot and within walking distance of Hollywood Studios.
Some people will only dine at signature restaurants; others believe in loading up a cooler with snacks and bottles of water to save money. Some people go for the Park Hopper; others do one park per day. How you travel and spend your money is your business. Disney will always be expensive, but it’s also as expensive as you make it. There are plenty of money-saving tips out there.
Disney is a Luxury Vacation
I may take some slack here, but at the end of the day, Disney is a luxury vacation. Because it’s a family destination, many people feel that Disney should be priced as such. For most, Disney is a place you spend years saving for — just as some spend years saving for a trip to Europe, or a vacation in Hawaii.
The Longer-Stay Tickets Aren’t as Affected
Four, five, and six-day tickets were the most affected, seeing as much as an 8.6% increase. 7-10 day park tickets went up between 1-1.2%. This was the most off-putting aspect of the ticket increase. We did a 5-day trip back in October with our cousins. It was their first trip, and while we were annual passholders, they were not. Had we put the trip off another year, their trip would have gone up by at least $75-$100.
Now, you can argue that $75-$100 is a drop in the bucket compared to an already lofty $6-$7k trip, but it adds up! That $75-$100 could be two quick service dinners or a nice table service!
Obviously there’s a reason for everything Disney does. Just as Disney makes the cost per day go down with the more days you add, they are now pushing guests who’d normally go for five or six days to prolong their trip.
Truth be told, given the price increase, as well as other factors, my family won’t be able to go to Disney quite as much as we’d like — and maybe that’s a good thing. It’s time to explore new places and see new things. Rather than go every year or multiple times a year, we may find ourselves going every other year or every few years — taking one 10-day trip to get it out of our system and fully explore the parks. A lot of people will look to do the same, which I think is exactly what Disney was planning for all along.