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3 Things to Like (and Hate) with Disney’s Tiered Ticket Price Proposal

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A recent Disney Parks survey outlined a new idea that Disney World was considering for its theme park ticket prices. The new system assigned a color – bronze, silver, or gold – and a price to each day of the year, based on how crowded the park was likely to be that day. Here are sample prices for the Magic Kingdom for one adult, for one day, without park hopping:

  • Bronze for below-average crowd days, at $105 per day
  • Silver for average crowd days, at $115 per day
  • Gold for above-average crowd days, at $125 per day

Like the current pricing structure, the proposal indicated that Disney would charge more for one-day admission to the Magic Kingdom than for Epcot, Animal Kingdom, or Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

In addition, the proposal specified discounts of 5% per extra day for multi-day tickets: a 2-day ticket costs 5% less than two separate 1-day tickets; a 3-day ticket costs 10% less than 3 separate 1-day tickets, and so on, up to a 45% discount for a 10-day ticket versus 10 separate 1-day tickets. Ticket prices for children ages 3-9 are 10% less than for adults, and park-hopping was also available.

After presenting the price calendar and table, Disney asked whether you would have:

  • Visited on the same dates with the same ticket
  • Changed the dates you visited or the number of days you bought
  • Bought an annual pass

There are a few things to hate about the proposal; I’ll get to those shortly. But having thought about the proposal for a while, here are 3 things I like about it:

1. It’s more fair on days when a park closes for capacity constraints The Magic Kingdom reaches its peak capacity on a handful of days each year. When this happens, arriving guests are prohibited from entering the park until enough people leave the park, usually a few hours later.

A capacity closure represents less “supply” (the amount of people who can fit in the park) than “demand” (the number of people who want to get into the park).On these days, Disney isn’t making as much money as it could: There are people outside the Magic Kingdom who would probably pay $20 more in order to get into the park, for example.

There’s nothing wrong with Disney increasing its prices when demand exceeds supply. For one thing, Disney has an obligation to their stockholders to, if not make a profit, at least not leave money on the table.This also allows people who really want to get into the park, a way to do so.

Right now, admission to the Magic Kingdom is on a first-come, first-served basis. There are many admirable things about that scheme, such as rewarding people who are willing to get up early and hustle. However, families traveling from other time zones, or with many small children, are at a distinct disadvantage, and there’s not much they can do about it right now.

In similar situations, Americans have, with notable exceptions, generally agreed that you fix this kind of imbalance between supply and demand by increasing prices until they’re equal.  (It’s worth mentioning that you can’t adjust the supply of the Magic Kingdom as easily as you can adjust the price of admission. An increase in the park’s capacity – building new rides or lands – represents a large and ongoing capital expense plus maintenance. It would be like buying an SUV for the one night a year you have to carry Christmas presents and drunk Aunt Lillian home from Grandma’s house.)

2. It’s more fair to people who visit on slower days On certain attractions, such as Space Mountain, Disney is able to adjust the ride capacity by adding or subtracting ride vehicles from the tracks, and by changing the time between each ride vehicle’s launch.

On a slow day at Space Mountain, for example, each track might run 7 space capsules, sent out 36 seconds apart, so the ride can handle around 1,200 people per hour. On a busy day, there might be 14 capsules on the track, each sent out 21 seconds apart, so more people can ride.

Here’s the thing: While each ride contributes the same amount to maintenance costs, running more cars on the track makes the track and cars wear out faster. That increases the number of times Disney has to perform maintenance on the track and cars, and more maintenance means more money.

Right now, Disney charges the same price for admission every day of the year, so Disney is spreading its total annual maintenance cost evenly on each day of the year.  And that means that the people who visit during slower times of the year, are paying some of the higher maintenance costs incurred by people who visit when it’s busy. But that’s not fair to the people who visit when it’s less crowded. It’s perfectly reasonable to say that the people who cause the higher maintenance costs should pay for them.

3. It will probably help distribute crowds more evenly throughout the year If you’ve got older kids in school, you probably can’t take them out for a week to visit Disney World. For many families, that means the only time you can go is during holidays, when the park is packed.

However, a good chunk of people in the park during holidays don’t have kids, so their schedules aren’t tied to school calendars. At least some of those school-free people could presumably be convinced to visit the park at another time of year, by offering them lower ticket prices when school is in session. That would help spread out the holiday crowds, and leave more room for families with school-age children.

That said, there are many things to dislike about this pricing proposal:

1. It complicates an already complicated ticket-buying process You, dear reader, know that I love a good spreadsheet. I co-author an 860-page book about how to visit a theme park, so you know I’m not afraid of some details. So when I say something’s too complicated, sweet niblets!, it’s too complicated.

Consider, for a moment, the guest visiting for a week around Thanksgiving who wants to visit Blizzard Beach. What would you call their ticket? The name “Two Bronze, Four Silver, One Gold Adult Water Park Fun and More Hopper” doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue. And at some point, Bill Maher’s rule about long Starbucks orders becomes applicable to Disney ticket names. Heaven help the poor Disney castmembers who would have to explain the price breakdown to you. Even if you understood it all the first time it was explained, how long would that phone call take?

2. It’s a huge increase in ticket prices I know these are probably sample prices, but even if they’re a rough idea of what Disney wants to do, this ticket pricing scheme is a naked cash grab.Here’s a chart comparing the cost of today’s 1- to 10-day adult base tickets, with the bronze, silver, and gold admission prices:


Yeah, you’re reading that right: the proposed scheme is a 10 to 90% increase in admission costs for most tickets. If your first thought after reading that is not “You’ve got to be &^%#-ing kidding me,” congratulations – you’re a better person than I.

I did a comparison between our fabulous Disney World Crowd Calendar and Disney’s assignment of Bronze, Silver, and Gold based on crowd levels. Here’s a quick summary:


There are 140 days Disney has labeled as Bronze, 136 as Silver, and 89 as Gold. The average crowd level for all of WDW on a Bronze day was 3.9; at the Magic Kingdom it was 4.4, and so on.In general, Disney considers a day “Bronze” if the crowd levels is 4 or lower; it thinks a day is “Silver” if the crowd level is less than 7 to 7.5; and anything above that is “Gold.” However, there are a bunch of exceptions where Disney rates a day much higher than actual crowds. This is one way for Disney to raise prices – by saying a day is more crowded that it really is.

For example, there are 21 days in the past year that Disney has labeled “Gold” where the crowd level was 6 or below for the resort or the Magic Kingdom (July 5, 6, 11, 12, 13, 19, 20, 26, and 27, 2014 are examples). And there are 39 days that Disney has labeled “Silver” where the crowd level was 4 or lower for the entire resort or the Magic Kingdom (Examples: November 1, 7, 8, 15, 16, 22, 30, 2014).

3. It doesn’t take in to account special events or the current state of the Hollywood Studios Disney’s Hollywood Studios isn’t worth $100 in admission. There – I said it. There are too many closed, cut-back, or outdated attractions to even pretend it’s in the same class as the other Disney or Universal parks.

If you’re going to adjust your price structure, Disney, then it’s time to put the Studios on par with a water park and charge sixty bucks for it. Remember, I’m perfectly willing to say the Magic Kingdom is worth more over Christmas. Fair is fair.

While we’re at it, those price increases don’t take in to consideration any of the special events, like Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party, Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, and Night of Joy. Together, those special events mean the Magic Kingdom closes early (7 pm) 46 days this year, or almost one day a week.

But I don’t see anything in this proposal that charges less for shorter days.  Why does only 10 hours in the Magic Kingdom cost as much as 16? Yes, the park is open longer on other days during weeks with special events, but that doesn’t mean anything to families who only visit for one day. If we’re willing to complicate the pricing structure, where’s the discount for those people?

Thanks for PhotoDave219 and @TurkeyLegJeff for helping with this article.

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Len Testa

Len Testa is the co-author of the Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World, and has contributed to the Disneyland and Las Vegas Unofficial Guides. Most of his time is spent trying to keep up with the team. Len's email address is len@touringplans.com. You can also follow him on Twitter: @lentesta.

150 thoughts on “3 Things to Like (and Hate) with Disney’s Tiered Ticket Price Proposal

  • It is interesting that there is no platinum days for the likes of July 4th, NYE etc. it seems silly that these days that lead to capacity closures would not be used to make extra $ and are treated the same as other gold days.
    Maybe they should go the way of making these days hard ticket “parties” that way people don’t have to worry about being shut out as well

  • It is an interesting concept to price the park admission based upon expected demand (attendance). One alternative strategy would be to provide a fee based extra Magic Hours for the Magic Kingdom rather than increasing prices overall. This would hopefully not reduce current demand on peak days, but people may be willing to pay an extra $20 to $40 for a fee based extra magic hours. These hours could have a cap on the number of tickets sold (20-40k). People may be willing to pay a premium if they know that fewer people would be in the park during this premium priced time. At the same time, those who only want to pay the standard prices would not be priced out of the park. Any kmthoughts?

    • That is something I would be interested in – maybe something like the Halloween and Christmas events in which the numbers are limited and the park closes early.

      I think that may be a way to provide less crowded periods for those willing to pay additional for them, instead of raising ticket prices to unrealistic levels.

    • Was this not what they used to do with e-ticket nights?

  • The ticket price that bumped the per day price above $100 already caused us to cancel our previously planned 2015 trip (we used to go every 2 years). We are going to MNSSHP this year but then driving over to Universal to spend the rest of our fall break there. I’ve already stopped planning Disney trips for the near future due to the previously mentioned price hike, with a thought that we would only return in about 5 years (and maybe not even then, but if they add Star Wars land we’ll probably go). I even looked into DVC to see if it would lower ticket prices substantially, but I think we can spend that money on other vacations and get more/longer vacations that are just as fun for less.

    If they raise them by as much as this chart shows, our days at Disney are done. We can only travel during times they have labeled as gold and I won’t pay those prices. period.

    Makes me sad because I really love the way you get away from the real world at Disney, but I think they are getting further away from Walt’s idea of enabling families to have fun together already (and even further if they do this)…unless he meant only really wealthy families. Plus, I can get away from the real world in a National Park as well and their hotel prices are the same or less than most of Disney’s and a National Park Annual Pass for a family is only $100.

    They should have included an option on the survey of “would not have taken my trip at all”. would be interesting to see how many would have said that. I speak with my wallet on this. If enough people did that, the crazy rising prices for less value would end.

  • Hi Len,

    Really interesting article. A big concern of mine, as someone who frequently visits ‘off-peak'(or bronze) is that they will justify not running certain rides or shows because you are paying less. I know they do some essential maintenance during the less-busy times, but I think it would be such a shame if that became the norm for the Bronze days. Do you think that is a risk?

  • As a family of four that has been saving for 2 years to go to Disney in 2016, I’m heartbroken to say it’s just not worth it. My husband and I spent our honeymoon in Disney and always wanted to take our children there. We were planning on going every 3 years starting when our youngest was 6. Now I will replan it for a once in a lifetime trip sometime in the future. Thanks, Disney, for becoming so expensive you discourage repeat visitors. Walt must be proud.

  • Disney can do this because we all pay it. Boycott Disney!

  • Simply put, I won’t go back to WDW for at least five years if that level of price increase happens. There are four other major theme parks in the same general area, not counting water parks; and there are plenty of other areas of the country I’d like to visit, too.

  • Why not make this simple? Reduce the one-day price for weekdays (M-F) to $95 and make the price for weekend days $150. That will offer a bit of crowd control on the weekends and help with planning for park resource allocation better than at present. I’m starting to wonder if execs in the Cruise Line side of the business are trying to get more say on the park practices.

    • Yes – Disney sent out different surveys with different price points.

  • If Disney management thinks this is a good idea, they need to turn in their business degrees and get a refund!
    The FEW days the parks reach capacity is a non issue. If you need to go at a peak time, get up early and make the sacrifice to get in! People sacrifice time and sleep to capture that elusive ADR, or Fastpass+ selection, why not get up to ensure you get in the park?
    Raising 10 day ticket prices by 58% for bronze status is insane. If management wants to enrage 99% of park guests, this would be a great way to accomplish that goal. I don’t have a business degree, but even I know this would be short sighted and suicidal to the Disney Company.
    Prices in 1985 were $18 for a 1 day ticket! I think the Disney company needs to get back to its roots and find a balence between profit,and providing an economical vacation for families!

  • I wonder what an Annual Pass ends up costing under this possible pricing model? I’m thinking it would get awful close to $900 or more.

    • That is a good point. I notice that they ask if the customer would be driven to AP membership, but does not indicate any price increase in the AP. Personally, I would assume the same price for AP.

      How crazy would it be for an out-of-state family to have multiple annual passes (one per family member) for their once-a-year trip to WDW?

      • Personally – if the price for a 7 day hopper was more expensive than the AP – I’d get an AP and figure out a way to make an additional trip(s). I can’t believe that they are trying to get people to do that though!

      • And I think you still get free parking with the AP too so that can save a decent chunk of change over a seven day or more period.

      • Free parking, discounts on food and merchandise, free MagicBands, exclusive merchandise a few times a year. You also get a discount on resorts.

  • What, no pay as I go option to revive the good, old E-Ticket days?!

    That’ll be $20 to ride Expedition Everest.

    It should be $25, but you fans just won’t seem to let it go about the whole Disco Yeti thing…

    But seriously, though, I can’t imagine how anyone at Disney thought this was a good idea unless someone in their research dept just needed a lesson in negative feedback. It’s definitely a reminder that behind all of the magic that we love, they’re still a huge corporation and in every huge corporation, there are at least a few guys dedicated to running spreadsheets on things like the benefits of outsourcing turkey leg production or what would happen if we just randomly charged every fourth person through the gates DOUBLE.

    What’s weird is that as of recent, they’ve actually been very fortunate in that for years Disney has been able to gradually increase prices without really seeing any decrease in attendance. I’ve always wondered what it will be like when they finally realize that threshold and have to face “you’re just too expensive” head on, but I wouldn’t think they’d be in any rush to fast track themselves to that crossroads.

  • EVERY single person just needs to check the last box that they would not have attend Disney World at those prices, and that’s that.

  • Interesting topic. Prices for tickets and food and parking have already been climbing steadily, and they’ve done away with their 10-day no expiration park-hopping tickets. $18/day for parking by off-campus guests is outrageous!

    We have already been moving away from the “7-days at Disney” trips and whittling them down to 4 days — using the extra days for SeaWorld and Universal. (Guess what? Those are REALLY fun parks!)

    Other than the pricing, Disney seems to have pretty much ignored the parks for the better part of the past decade. Universal has been significantly upgrading their parks annually with must-see attractions while Disney keeps pretending that Captain EO is a relevant attraction.

    Therefore there are fewer reasons to return to Disney until they make significant upgrades to their attractions. So, after making 5 trips over the past 3 years, we’ll be making a final trip later this year (before my wife’s annual pass expires, and yes I know it comes with free parking), and we’ll likely wait at least 3 years or more to give them time to build some significant new infrastructure in all of the parks.

  • If they went in this direction, it would be the end of our regular trips to Disney. The only way we can make it economically worthwhile, even right now, is with the 10-day tickets during the slowest times of the year. It’s the only way the cost per day becomes reasonable. The chart you have drastically increases the cost of multi-day tickets even at the bronze level. Disney seems determined to eliminate every possible way of getting anything at a reasonable price.

  • As mean as it might sound, I’m actually in favor of this system. Look, lets face it, the parks are to crowded on peak days, right now June 3, 2015 MK is a 9. If I want to visit today, I should pay more, and then expect less guests in the park.

    • don’t get your hopes up
      Disney will only raise the prices enough so that the parks will ONLY be slightly less than capacity. So you will be paying a lot more and still be waiting in hour long lines.

      • I agree. So many visitors are locked into dates by school and work schedules, they will just pay more and still come. People will just be paying significantly more to be crowded into the parks during peak times.

  • Where did you get the proposed prices from? These seem like very high increases and don’t match what was originally posted on WDW Magic. The ones on WDW Magic had a 10 Day Gold base ticket at $405 (+$50-$64 for Park Hoppers), not $732.19. $732.19 is more expensive than an Annual Pass and not much cheaper than a Premium Annual Pass. Are you sure your numbers are accurate here, Len?

    • Ah, I see that the picture in the article shows a slightly different yet much more expensive scheme than what was on WDW Magic and I see you’ve also included taxes. That explains it.

      • Yeah, I think they’re testing different scenarios in the surveys. This one was kind of crazy. Thanks for reading!

  • Hmmm, I wonder how this would affect International visitors? We are from the UK and can buy 14 and 21 day passes, so I presume they would apply the same bronze, silver and gold banding. That would also mean knowing what days you were going to go to Disney out of the 14 or 21 days which some people don’t.
    If this is introduced I can see a drop in international visitors.

  • The sample price chart attached to this article is dramatically different than one that was published on WDW Magic. In that one, the $10 per day increase after 4 days was still in place.

    I think it is premature to jump to the conclusion that the tiered pricing if implemented would result in huge price increases for a ticket of the same length. It looks like they are providing different prices to different people, maybe to evaluate and separate opinions about tiered pricing from opinions about higher prices in general.

  • Well, this truly might be a tipping point for me. Maybe I’ll go to Actual Mexico instead of the pavilion.

  • This might do it for me and my family as far as Disney World for a vacation destination. It’s already expensive, but one of the “justifications” was that the longer you stayed, the cheaper the daily admissions became. If this actually goes through, we will find another way to spend our vacation dollars.

  • And another thing. The wife has been pulled by the Wizarding World’s siren call (imperio curse?) for years now. I have always reasoned that an extra day at the mouse is much less than a day up the road at Universal. If the cost break for additional days goes down, not only will I stop doing the half days on arrival and departure, I will take a day off and go up the road for some butterbeer.

  • This would definitely throw a wrench into the free dining calculus. I.e. I am planning a trip for early December (bronze/silver). Do I push my trip back a week to get into free dining? No, that would put me in Solid Gold territory.

  • I love Disney and I come with my whole family and we are DVC members. However, I will sell my dvc membership and say goodbye to Orlando if the ticket prices are increased anywhere near this amount. I was already thinking that it was too expensive anyway, so this would make up my mind for sure.

    Plenty of others nice places to go for vacation. Beach, cruise, etc.

  • Dear Disney, I love you, but … We are going to Walt Disney World again this October, staying on property for 9 nights and getting 6 day hopper passes. This will be our 3rd trip to Disney World in 5 years, plus 2 trips to Disneland/DCA in the past 6 years. We’re fans. We partially justify the trips to Orlando knowing that the incremental cost for 6 day passes vrs 3 day is minimal. $89. But we also don’t want want to travel all the way across the country for just a few nights stay – it just isn’t worth it. It’s really expensive to travel to Orlando, stay on property, buy tickets, buy food, buy souvenirs. We love going, but I have to admit, we’ve been on the fence about the cost.

    So NOW you’re talking about possibly eliminating one justification – keeping ticket prices reasonable for multiple day attendance. The new incremental ticket price between 3-day vs 6-day hoppers would be $200+. You’re basically saying “we want you to come, but only for two or three days”.

    Well I am sorry, but that would push me off that fence. I can’t do it. I’ll still go to Disneyland and DCA every other year, get 3-day hoppers, stay at the Candy Cane, and have a great time. Sure, I’ll miss Animal Kingdom, but I’ll adjust. Instead, we’ll re-purpose that $7000+ we used to spend at Disney World every couple of years toward luxury vacations to Italy, Hawaii or Mexico.

    If your sole purpose is to reduce attendance, then go for it. I’m in favor of smaller crowds. But don’t expect it to result in more revenue – at least from me. Disney execs, have you really thought this through?

    • ….Italy, Hawaii or Mexico.
      Sounds like fun. I guess I have to start thinking about non-disney vacations… Maine, Hutchinson Island, South Beach, Vegas, San Fransisco. Hey, maybe Disney is doing me a favor making we go somewhere else

  • Funny thing is, the same people complain about ticket price increases AND crowd levels. You can’t complain about both, as the price increases lower crowd levels.

    This would possibly be a way of giving DVC members lower ticket prices, which until now were unavailable (DVC only gives annual pass discounts). I could see DVC members being charged bronze prices year round, where the unwashed masses get charged based on the time of year.

    • Have we really seen lower crowds with the price increases in the past few years, though. We spent considerably more on our tickets in 2015 than in 2012 (like $60 a ticket I believe), and it was more crowded.

      I think Disney is still searching for the optimal price where they’ll make the most profits. They’ll keep raising prices until it affects attendance and then find the sweet spot in between. The prices in the table are higher than that (I believe), but another 10-20% on multi-day tickets is probably still okay with most guests.

      • From a business perspective, that means the ticket prices haven’t risen fast enough. A 22% increase in park revenue last year is nice for shareholders though. My guess is a lot of that is new DVC purchases and increases in merchandice sales due to the magicbands.

  • I know this is currently theoretical since it’s not in place, but if Disney would spread out the costs per day, it would make a huge change for us. I have a family of four, and right now there is an incentive to go more days. That means we’re paying for meals, parking, etc. each day. If Disney did anything close to this structure, I’d be more likely go fewer days since the costs for more are just too exorbitant.

  • Thank you, Len, for this information. I am very concerned about what I am reading. My extended family are big fans of Disney. We used to go 2-3 times a year but have already felt priced out of Disney so took a break. We are finally going back this Christmas after a three year break and have been so excited to go back to our laughing place! We are staying 9 nights. Looking at this chart, I realized that for the ten of us, we would be paying over $3,000 more. I’m not sure how we could ever justify spending that much more on top of what we are already paying. We wanted to go to Universal this trip but it was too good of a deal to stay at Disney with the multi-day ticket. We definitely would have split our time between the two destinations if this model was already in place. We will make that our plan next time if this pricing is implemented. In the end, Disney will get less of our money because our hotel stays will be shorter and we will buy less food and souvenirs. I imagine that we will spend the same time at MK, but less time at the other parks. They just do not seem worth that price. Maybe in the end it’s a win for us because I hear Universal is amazing and we have been such loyal Disney fans that we have never been!

  • We usually stay at Disney, and Disney only, for at least a week, and buy 8-10 day park hoppers.
    We recently bought a DVC contract because we are starting to go every year and wanted to enjoy those deluxe resorts.

    If this pricing structure is implemented, and AP’s go up as well, these are the new scenarios for my family:

    1. 4-5 day passes in lieu 8-10 day. Spend the rest of the vacation at Universal and other attractions in the Orlando area.
    2. Go every 2-3 years, bank points, stay in 2 bedroom villas and still purchase 8-10 day passes.
    3. Sell the DVC contract, go every 2 years, purchase 4-5 day passes, and see other attractions in Orlando.

    My life will go on, my family will accept it, and still continue to enjoy time together. How we spend time together will change.
    Disney will just get less of our presence in the parks, less and smaller park tickets purchased by us, less days of food and wine purchased, less days of souvenirs purchased, and less Disney advocating by our family.

  • I am sickened by the price increase this represents on a per day basis. This makes it so that we would not buy those 2 extra days on arrival and departure, because why spend so much for half a day at the parks? This means that we’ll be arriving later in the day (because why bother to arrive earlier when we can’t go to the parks?) and leaving earlier on the day of departure (ditto). When we’re there for a week, adding on 2 more days right now is a no brainer. But if it’s another $60-$70 per person, there’s just no way.

    What will they do if you buy a ‘bronze 5 day parkhopper’ but you show up at the park on a silver day? Charge you extra on the spot, charging to your Magicband? Or will it be like hotel rates, where the ‘season’ the first day you check in is the ‘rate’ you’ll pay for the whole stay?

    If Disney is seriously thinking of implementing this, then I’ll seriously consider buying some tickets now, before it all goes to H-E-Double-Hockey-Sticks.

  • With the continuing conversion of hotel rooms (Poly and Wilderness) into DVC rooms, I wonder if they are trying to push regular WDW vacationers to DVC. Maybe they will start to give ticket discounts to DVC owners if the prices do increase at such a high rate. Just a thought.

  • I find it interesting that this is pretty similar to how Universal’s Express Passes work. If you buy them, the cost varies based on the day with more popular days costing more. At least at Universal you can opt out of the added cost by not purchasing it or get it just by staying onsite. People can still afford to go to Universal and buy up if they want the benefit of shorter lines whereas Disney’s plan would make even a short visit unaffordable for many. AND Universal’s hotels get cheaper per night the longer you stay. Disney would be eliminating the benefit of longer stays with this ticket pricing. As a Disney AP, I really hope this never comes to fruition!

  • This plan would definitely discourage families from stretching their WDW vacation to a full 7 days, or more, which seemed to be the intent of the current structure. We have always stayed at a value resort and taken advantage of free dining, when possible. The park tickets were the big ticket item, so staying longer and getting a better value out of them made sense. This also left us plenty of time for sleeping in, swimming and maybe shopping. This proposed plan would require cramming as much a possible into fewer days. Not fun.

  • “But I don’t see anything in this proposal that charges less for shorter days. Why does only 10 hours in the Magic Kingdom cost as much as 16?”

    Len, you just gave Disney another idea! Change the modifiers in your sentence, and you have “…charges MORE for LONGER days. Why does only 10 hours in the Magic Kingdom cost LESS THAN 16?”

    That’s it; there’s the answer for even more money. Charge more for days you are open longer!

  • “A capacity closure represents less “supply” (the amount of people who can fit in the park) than “demand” (the number of people who want to get into the park). On these days, Disney isn’t making as much money as it could: There are people outside the Magic Kingdom who would probably pay $20 more in order to get into the park, for example.”

    This is assuming anybody foolhardy enough go on a capacity closure day would forgo that “experience” if it cost $20 more. Cost is probably well down the list of priorities for anybody willing to face a capacity crowd.

    My family of 4 took a trip to WDW last year, during what would be bronze pricing. The same 5-day, single-park tickets would have cost $500 more under this scheme. We definitely would have cut our days in that case. I imagine we would have gone with a 3 day park hopper, and dropped the Halloween party, too. We would have had an even more stressful vacation, and I doubt we’d even be considering a return trip: the plan was to have that be our once-in-a-lifetime Disney World trip.

    We bought our tickets from a discount wholesaler (Undercover Tourist); I wonder how those businesses would be affected if Disney implements this “brilliant” plan.

    I guess I should stop giving the kids the countdown to the next WDW vacation. If these prices come to pass, it ain’t worth it.

  • So, when I was planning on going for a 5 day trip with my family of 5 we will now have to pay an additional $112 per person! That’s an additional $560. That is absolutely insane. Increasing the cost of the tickets when you add on more days is stupid. People will say forget it we can do it in 3 or 4 days. That is 2 days less of people spending money on food, refreshments, souvenirs, and hotel stays. They really need to rethink it. Currently the difference between 4 and 5 days at the park is only $11 per person – $55 is doable but at $67 per person! $335 isn’t justifiable anymore. Now they just lost $300 something dollars (hotel room) plus $25 per person in food, and who knows how much in souvenirs. They need to rethink the rate increases as you add on days.

  • ” Prices for tickets purchased at the gate are going to be raised substantially. (And for anyone who says “I’ll just go to Universal, then”, I guarantee when Disney raises their prices, Universal will follow suit. ”

    Sure they will but…. They have cool new rides, new themed lands and things to do. Disney has one park that’s basically closed (see Studios), one that’s getting ONE reworked attraction anytime soon (and inventing a country certainly didn’t add to the theming of Epcot), one that actually tried to pass off a bathroom as an “enhancement” (AKA Magic Kingdom) and one that in 2016 is suppose to get a new attraction.

    So at least for the price increase I can see an investment in guest experience not in “Magic Bands”

    And IMHO Magic Bands are behind a lot of this. Disney promised Wall Street a HUGE ROI and there’s NO way it’s happening just because you can now tap your band vs swipe your card… are you really spending 2x as much. I am not (And considering on my last visit at one point the bands wouldn’t let ANYONE, ANYWHERE park I think that’s a problem LOL!) So to “recover” the investment they will charge more for the same or less (Studios again! LOL!)

  • This new pricing structure would also completely eliminate the half day park goer on a longer vacation. Add a ticket for either arrival or day for $10 – sure, makes total sense. Plan on a rest day at your resort, but want to dine at MK and enjoy some fireworks for an extra $10..sure! To jump $67 from a 4 day ticket to a 5 day? I would never do it for a half day. Times 4 people.

    • I would skip arrival day and that rest day and head to Universal instead…all of a sudden it would not be comparatively that much more expensive. So Disney lose my ticket sale, my food sales, and now my souvenir budget will be split.

  • Right now, an AP is about 2x a 6 day non-hopper pass ($650 for 2x 6 day vs $654 +tax). So we go every few years and get an AP and plan our trips in a 12 month period and with the free parking, discounts, hopping and TIW (we like table service and drinks!) we come out ahead. With this plan, an annual pass would be about $945-1125 + tax. WOW – I like to travel and it is a big world out there, I don’t think I could justify $1K for an AP – the $654 now is painful. I just did a week in DC and spent a fraction of what a trip to DC cost. Hotel for 2 was $1155; total transportation in DC was $50 each (We used the Metro); Entertainment was $40 each – most stuff was free. I know food is less then Disney, didn’t keep that close of track but less temptation to “snack” and I know I shopped a whole lot less. So $1335 for 2 people for room, on-site transportation and entertainment. Two 6-day silver tickets are $1100 alone, without hotel / transportation.

    • sorry – typo – fraction of what a trip to “Disney” cost…

  • When I get interesting surveys, I keep notes about what was on there to see what comes true. The most recent interesting survey I got was in 2013, and here’s what Disney was proposing at that time:
    Discounts if you buy for parties of 5 or more and big discounts for 10 or more.
    Selling half-day tickets for families with children 5 and under.
    Birthday/unbirthday packages for preschoolers
    By-the-hour tickets, where you only pay for the number of hours you spend in the park (so if you think that pricing variations by day is confusing…!!)
    Disney Vacation Savings plan
    Plus four other types of vacation plan deals for the preschool parent set that didn’t come true

    Out of all of those options, the only thing that came about was the Disney Vacation Savings plan, and that hasn’t even been marketed all that much.

    These surveys do generate buzz. They get noticed in the media. People rush to buy tickets or book vacations “just in case” prices go up. Most of the ideas end up on the scrap heap, though.

    (The other half of the survey I got was on a bunch of marketing campaigns, including one that became the whole DisneySide thing.)

  • One last thing….there are quite a few comments about shortening trips and trying to fit more into fewer days. We would likely try to do the same thing, but one of the reasons we can and do enjoy Disney is because of the leisurely way we are able to tour the parks with 6 day park hopper tickets.

    The parks can be crazy crowded over Spring Break, but it’s bearable because we leave mid-day or hop to another park. We don’t feel pressured to get a bunch of stuff done because we can spread it out over a few days. If we had to reduce our park days to 3 (which it looks like we would) it wouldn’t be fun anymore. We wouldn’t be able to tour as leisurely and would instead try to squeeze everything in to fewer days. I already foresee all of us tired, cranky and hungry (because we don’t want to stop to eat). It’s not a pretty picture and certainly not how I want to spend my vacation or my money.

  • I think Disney forgot to do a survey to see if everyone’s salary ‘magically’ increased 88% per year.

  • The only way I have been able to dissuade my husband from straying off World is by showing him how much more we would pay compared to the long-stay WDW ticket discounts. This scheme would ensure that we’d be taking our money to Universal for a couple days during the next trip.

  • Every time Disney raises prices, the alarms go off and people scream “No more! Disney has priced itself out of the market, I’m going to Universal.” This is, of course, part of why Disney does increase prices. There’s no other way to control overcrowding than by pricing some out. The ultimate irony is that Disney then announces record attendance numbers (and revenues) so in a sense this policy fails 😉

    And yes, the tiered structure is complicated but back in the day when Disney had different tickets for different rides (A, B, C, D and E!) people faced similar complexity in their buying decisions. Now we look back at those days with nostalgia! “Tiered” pricing for the rides also helped control flow for the more popular ones…

  • Len, I think you may be off on your maintenance costs point. How would the per-person maintenance cost be higher on a gold day? If I come on a bronze day and get to ride more rides because of shorter lines, then wouldn’t the maintenance costs that I am responsible for be higher than if I came on a gold day? The total maintenance costs are certainly much higher on gold days, but they are also getting a lot more revenue from the extra tickets sold. I.e., Disney is not currently “spreading its total annual maintenance cost evenly on each day of the year” because it gets more revenue to handle those costs on busier days.

    At any rate, good article, and I didn’t know that about ramping up or scaling back ride capacity. Obviously I wouldn’t be happy with a ticket increase, but I also wouldn’t be happy with more even distribution of the crowds, since I’m already a bronze-only-type guy.

    Also, is it possible they sent out 2 surveys? I saw a post on another site where the proposed multi-day ticket costs were much closer to the current costs, and I can’t imagine even Disney would consider hiking prices on all days so significantly at the same time they’d introduce the tiers.

    I also note that if the multi-day tickets are based on the cost of the other parks instead of MK, which is what I would expect, then your multi-day ticket costs will decrease a bit, though not significantly (I get $568.18 instead of $615.04 for 10-day bronze).

    • You know, Hizouse, I thought about that maintenance thing a lot for an individual ride, but not over the course of an entire day. That’s a good point. Let me think about it a bit more.

      It’s possible they sent out multiple surveys with different price points. It’s what I would do if I was trying to optimize revenue.

      • Len,

        I got a survey from Disney last Thursday about price changes. It looked nothing like what this blog is about. It was pretty lengthy, but not as detailed as that chart, etc. It asked me about if I were willing to pay more for admission if it guaranteed – their word – that crowds would be lower. It went on to ask how I’d spend my money if park admission was higher, including where I’d stay, eat and buy extras. It also asked how lowering costs during off-peak times (I’m guessing more than they already do with hotels, etc.) would effect my length of stay. And finally, it was geared to the fact that I stayed in January (an off-peak time) and how satisfied I was with whole experience as it was. No specific price points, but several questions asking pretty much the same things in different ways.

  • I am saddened about how the “average” family will have to decide between a Disney vacation and a new car/hot water heater/education. (A Disney trip has become a childhood right over the past 40 years to go at least once – that’s becoming a pipe dream.)
    I always thought it was a triumph that Disney thwarted off hostile takeovers in the past – although the resulting behavior seems to be the same as what we feared.
    For our part, we’re DVC which will result in fewer park days and more resort time. We already take at least 2 days off during a week’s visit; this might make it more.

    • Hey John, it’s Dave from Beloit. Good to see you posting!! Hope everybody is doing well.

  • Much too confusing to try to figure out, and even more disturbing that the major increase is included/hidden in the MYM package.
    Maybe I will just think about that tomorrow, a la Scarlett.

  • For those asking about Annual Passes. Currently the AP is priced at just slightly 50% higher than the 10 day park hopper. If that stayed true using the above chart, the price of an unrestricted Annual Pass would be almost $1100. Just over a 50% increase from where it’s currently at.

  • I really hope they do not implement this system. I’m only able to go every other year as it is, because I like to make sure I have enough saved to stay at one of the fancier (and closer to the parks) resorts. This pricing system would make it impossible for me to continue that trend. I was hoping to go for a longer time for my next trip (at least a full 7 days!) but that’s insanely unaffordable with these prices. If this goes through it will just break my heart because I’ll have to stop going.

  • Right now we only do Disney stays because of the pricing. Basically, visiting a park for the second time is less fun because hey, I was just there a couple days ago. It makes sense it is cheaper, Disney still gets my hotel and food/souvenir money, etc. With this change making the extra days that much more expensive, I might as well pay just a little difference and go have a brand new experience at Universal (which we’ve never actually done because we always stay the entire trip at Disney). Since Universal has valuable incentives to staying on-site, we’ll also be leaving our Disney hotel. I guess if Disney wants people to leave their bubble, this is one great way to do it. I would have to run specific numbers, but I’m guessing we’d split with Universal instead of stay at Disney the whole trip if they do this.

    • Good point about the “bubble” Michelle. One of the reasons why Magical Express makes sense for Disney is that you don’t have a car to leave property once you’re there. So maybe the car rental folks in Orlando would like to see this pricing structure implemented!

  • Thanks Len. This article complements something I heard on a recent WDW Today podcast. One of the commentators offered an interesting theory: A WDW vacation is now like a cruise that remains on land. You already prearrange your attractions/dining (MMP, Dining Plan), there are advantages to staying “on the boat” (on-site hotels), and now gold/silver/bronze pricing is being considered, much like pricing for cruises ebbs and flows depending on seasonality.

    Families deciding to attend WDW in the future will likely have to look at the cost of the vacation like a cruise (one overall price per person) instead of hotel + tickets + dining + etc.

    • Thanks Josh! Yeah, I loved that analogy on the show – it was Scopa’s, right?

      • Sam Gennaway’s analogy

  • We are big Disney fans and have made several trips to both Walt Disney World and Disneyland. While I can’t imagine us saying we will never go again, I am sure this change would cause us to take fewer trips and stay fewer days per trip. The multi-day deals are far from “deals”. Re-think this idea Disney!!!

  • Soon it will be cheaper for me to fly to Disneyland than go to WDW which is the parks I grew up on and love closer to. I wish people would actually quit paying the high prices so that the bottom would fall out. I dream of taking my grandchildren in 30 years. At this rate it seems more likely I could afford to take them to ,Hawaii.

  • Thanks for chart. Ticket prices for my family of 4 would increase by about $800 over our week-long, Spring Break vacation. If this pricing goes into place, and my husband still insists on going, I’ll probably reduce our park days and add in some non-Disney attractions to fill time more affordably.

    Last year, my package price was right around $4k. That was hotel, park hopper tickets & dining plan. We had another $5-600 once we got to Orlando, plus a couple hundred for the drive. All said and done it was right around $5,000. I can create another nice family vacation for $5,000.

  • How will this change the Annual Pass pricing? Will it be based on Gold prices, or will there be a surcharge for going on those days? Seems like I would be better served to buy an AP than to travel during peak season on a multi-day ticket.

    My hope is that this is just a really silly pipe dream from the finance department that will never come to fruition.

    • This was pretty much my thought on seeing this. Some accountant noticed that they price resorts and food differently based on time of year, and is pushing for time-of-year ticket pricing. Some executive rolled his eyes and said ‘fine, we’ll do a survey so we can see how bad an idea this is’ and designed a survey with the goal of getting a negative response.

  • This makes me furious! Planning a trip to Disney is becoming too difficult. Want to be spontaneous? Too bad. We go every other year, but it’s become too stressful and from the time you book to when you go all these changes occur and it just gives me a headache! An expensive headache! My daughter loves Disney, but I’m with these other folks maybe it’s time to explore other “worlds”!

  • MLB ballparks have been doing this now for years. If I want to go see the Cubs/Cards game at Wrigley on a beautiful Friday afternoon in July, I’m going to pay in excess of $100 per ticket. That same seat against the Rockies on a Tuesday night in April when it could still (in theory) be snowing will be much less. The difference is I have other ways of procuring each ticket. My wife’s cousin may have an extra set, I could check StubHub, I could opt for a rooftop instead of going into the stadium. I also don’t have to buy tickets to 4 games in a row to get special discounting. Disney is getting to the point where there are NO other options to get into their parks AND the multi-day discount is potentially going away.

    We’ve gone every year for the past 5 years, but like a previous poster said – next year it might be time to explore the real world.

    Hello Sheboygan!

    • “Hello Sheboygan!” That’s awesome. Where’s the retweet button on this thing?

      • So disappointed that Disney would consider this! We are from Australia and have been to Disneyland 3 times, and are currently planning our 2nd trip to WDW. If this ridiculously high price increase was to occur I’d definitely cancel these plans and go elsewhere! (I’m sure most international visitors would feel the same way). What a disgrace to Walt’s memory – it can be summed up in three words:

    • You’re WAY overpaying for Cubs tickets. You can buy them off of desperate season ticket holders on Stubhub for $10-$20 depending on the game. Now if they start winning, then they’ll cost $100.

  • Remember when you bought DVC points and you got FREE park tickets until the year 2000! Remember when you bought no-expiration tickets and used them over a couple of trips….Ah- those were the days when disney vacations made sense! Now, I leave in a week for a short trip and we will use DVC points to stay on property but are only going to Sea World for $60 per person because of a convention discount. I think a lot of our DVC vacations will move to Vero Beach or Hilton Head!

  • This would impact our trips significantly. We typically visit every year for a week during low season (fall or early December), buying 7 or 8-day park hoppers, and staying in Disney hotels. Sometimes we spend a day off Disney property at Universal or the beach. If these changes were implemented, we would probably only buy 3 or 4 day tickets, and would spend the other 3 or 4 days at Universal or the beach. We likely would opt against Disney hotels, since their added value (free theme park parking, extra magic hours, earlier fastpass+ reservations) is lost on non-Disney days. As opposed to eating almost all of our meals in Disney parks or hotels, we would probably only eat half of them in Disney, since we’d only be on-property half of our trip.

    There’s so much to do in and around Orlando, but, because the cost of a longer park ticket was negligible, we mostly stayed put in Disney. Universal is great now and only getting better, while Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom are both only half-day parks for us. When families like us choose shorter park tickets, Disney will still get the same amount of money from us for tickets (a 4-day silver is $50 more than a 7-day current ticket), but will get far less of our vacation dollars overall.

  • Great article Len! My parents and I are planning a trip this September and I have to say we already feel like Disney is pricing us out with the current ticket prices. If these ticket prices were to be implemented I don’t know if we would be going back; I’m a college student and am on a very limited budget so I know I personally wouldn’t be able to afford this increase if it were to happen.

    This whole thing strikes me as very nakedly greedy though, think Scrooge McDuck with dollar signs in place of his eyes. I already feel like Disney is catering more and more to 1%ers and leaving the average guest out in the dust. If this was implemented, I wonder what their new marketing advertisements would be “Come to Disney, where you can not only plan every second of every day- no spontaneity here, but you CAN take out a loan just to afford your vacation!” Doesn’t that sound like fun.

  • So Disney sent out a survey asking people if raising prices is a good thing?

    I don’t see how one person says yes.

    Also Disney’s other properties are making a ton of money. So instead of out pricing everyone maybe, they should look there for more money.

    • Although I don’t want to pay more, I would have to say that dramatically raising prices makes sense. Every time I have gone to WDW, I have enjoyed it less because of the overcrowding. It’s simple supply and demand. The demand is too high.

      The easiest solution is to charge more. From the comments here, it sounds like it would have the desired affect. Most people say they would cut back or not go. So those willing to pay the extra would, theoretically, enjoy an improved experience due to less crowded conditions.

      Are they looking at raising the prices too high? That I do not know. That’s a question for economists. In the end, it’s what the market will bear.

  • I have a theory on this [Ahem. Ahem. Ahem…]

    This is just a smokescreen for future ticket price rises. Along the lines of “See, it’s only 15%. It could have been 90%. Aren’t we nice guys? Have a Magical Day!”

    That is the theory that I have and which is mine, and what it is too.

      • Actually, I think similarly but different. I think we will see the surge pricing exactly as it is in the chart, but it will only apply to 1 and 2 day tickets.

        People accustomed to taking advantage of savings with more days will heave a sigh of relief, and point out to the people who are buying one or two day tickets that this kind of surge pricing is very common at movie theaters (matinee tickets), regular amusement parks and water parks (pre-season and post-season discount tickets), etc. and it’s not fair to expect Disney to be any different.

        Disney gets surge pricing in place for short term visitors, and they also get to look responsive to customer feedback.

  • This kind of proposed price increase will discourage any large families visiting WDW. We already have to shell out more for lodging (either two rooms or a family suite) to stay onsite, but this proposed dramatic increase in ticket prices would be over the top.

    For our family of six (four kids), the price for 10 day tickets in a bronze timeframe would go from $2,332 to $3,690. That $1300 dollar increase will tip the scales significantly for our family towards not visiting.

    I understand the concept of supply and demand – and if Disney can get that kind of money for tickets and still fill up the parks, then they owe a duty to their shareholders to explore the possibility. But, filling up all of those on-site hotel rooms with this dramatic of a price increase may be problematic.

  • Whoa! This has so totally fried my Cranial Stuffing! I’m in SCSO (Sever Cranial Stuffing Overload) with this proposed pricing!

    Sounds more like Disney wants to scare people off – ….they got me scared! Really scared what they might do to the price of an annual pass!

    All the other changes they made with My Magic Plus makes my day feel more more like a day at the office filled with pre-schedule appointments rather than on the fly fun. Not to mention all the preplanning I have to do, only to get to the park and some how winding up changing just about all my fast passes every time!

    I can’t even imagine someone buying their tickets before they enter and then finding out that all the fast passes were already distributed up to 60 days in advance for their “I have to ride this or else I’ll die” attraction!

    Sounds like Disney would rather their share holders lose money!

  • This just bums me out. Disney’s finance team is laughing at all of us as we hand over our credit cards over and over again. They haven’t reached the price point that will discourage visits and hit their bottom line so they’ll just keep trying until they do.

  • Increasing prices this dramatically is flawed from the start. The point of wanting people to have extended stays is that that meant they will be spending more money while visiting. Eating there, buying merch, etc etc. They already were tacking on Christmas and Halloween events as ‘separate’ ticket prices…so if that remains the same will they still charge 90% more for those daily tickets? When you consider that the ticket prices are $1500-$2200 Canadian for a family of four for 8 days and you now want to increase that to $4000-$4500, you can see that is just foolish. You will drown out your regulars…to make room for 2-3 day attenders..who i guarantee won’t make you as much money as the long term attendee. This whole thing will literally isolate off international and far away visitors from Orlando…who can’t afford to fly (which constantly increases in prices), pay increased hotel prices, food costs and astronomical park ticket increases. Going 2-3 days is not worth it then. They should give their heads a shake.

  • There’s much not to like about this proposal. However, I do think one positive thing it does is acknowledge that guests are often getting less during those “bronze” times. Park hours are often shorter, attractions are often closed for maintenance, etc. If you’re getting less, you should pay less.

    • Notice the “bronze” price is pretty much the current price. You’ll pay more for a fully-functioning park.

      • The bronze price is only the current price for a one-day ticket. Anything more than 6 days and you are looking at a 50% increase in ticket price – for the exact same product (lesser hours and closures).

        The relative difference in pricing between the tiers makes sense (about 10% to jump from tier to tier), but the overall increase (actually increasing more for longer stays) seems to go against current pricing models where longer stays are encouraged.

      • Maybe they don’t want longer stays. If you can get new people coming to the parks every 3 days you’re bound to make more off of them than somebody who has already been there for 9 days and blown through all their money.

      • Perhaps. But people who stay longer have more time for expensive, slow, restaurants. And when I go for a long stay, I don’t do as many attractions per day as I do during a short trip.

      • Yes, I get that. I was assuming that ticket prices were going up anyway and that this might be a way to hold the line for those guests who are getting less. Still, there are many other problems with the proposal.

  • Under these proposed prices, I wouldn’t be buying longer multi day passes and would be trying to fit more into fewer days. On out last trip to Disney world, we bought 7 day passes when 5 could have sufficed. However, we were in the parks, spending money and having a great time all 7 days. Under the proposed price structure, the savings are simply not worth buying longer passes. If this is actually the way Disney is going to price their tickets, we would spend longer days in the parks as the reduced savings no longer makes a longer pass make sense. We would also look at spending more time at Universal, Sea World or other parks (which we didn’t do on our last trip as the passes were more expensive) as the savings to spend extra days at Disney simply aren’t worth it. Why Disney would want to encourage their guests to check out other parks is beyond me!

    • This, exactly. Right now they have things priced in such a way that discourages me from visiting another park. I would love to go to Universal, but a couple of days there is a couple hundred dollars each while a couple of days extra at Disney is $21 each. If they make these types of changes, I’ll schedule a few days at each park (Disney, Universal, Legoland, Sea World), and while Disney may make more on my park tickets, they’ll lose my hotel, food, and souvenir money that they’re currently getting. I’ve always considered their pricing genius, as it kind of locked me into their parks. Changing this would be shortsighted.

  • Unless I win a trip, I think I’m pretty much done with Disney. Last trip was way too expensive. I’m surprised they haven’t started offering a senior-citizen discount to entice more retired people to come during the below-average-crowd days.

  • In the UK we can buy 14 day or 21 day tickets – how is that going to work with a tiered system? Many UK guests visit for three weeks. It is going to be a nightmare working out when to visit which park! Can I buy my tickets now for next year – could they still be used if I have already bought them? Usually Disney honours any tickets already bought before a new regime of tickets is introduced. Have to sign off now – on my way to buy my tickets right now!!!

  • 50 to 90% increase in ticket cost is outrageous! We have gone once or twice a year since my daughter was 2yrs old, she is now getting ready to turn 17. We do NOT have a trip planned this year due to increasing costs by Disney and the fact that our last trip, everywhere we turned were walls up for construction (every park, downtown Disney, and even at every resort we visited). It made things crowded, unpleasant to look at and too many things I paid to see unavailable. Disney is increasing their prices so much that the “Average” family can NO longer afford to go. Our next trip down will be to visit Universal & such, which saddens us all tremendously!

  • My prediction is that the gold/silver/bronze status won’t ever make it to public view when purchasing tickets. That doesn’t mean it isn’t going to be implemented–just that it will be an invisible thing to the guest. Here’s my prediction, if they decide to go forward with the results of this survey:

    1. Prices for tickets purchased at the gate are going to be raised substantially. (And for anyone who says “I’ll just go to Universal, then”, I guarantee when Disney raises their prices, Universal will follow suit. The only theme park bargain in town will be Sea World, where they’re still practically giving tickets away.)

    2. Disney will market “you can save up to XX% by staying on property and booking the MYW ticket package” — which will be a savings based on purchasing a flat-rate ticket at the gate. The only time you will see the gate price for tickets increase will be during holiday weeks. If you show up on July 4 and want to get in, you will pay a premium.

    3. The MYW ticket package, because it is linked to the room reservation and, as such, has fixed dates for use, will have the Bronze/Silver/Gold pricing done on the back end, but it won’t say that outright to the consumer. They will only see that for their week-long vacation at one time of year they are paying more for the package than they would other times of year. Right now, the consumer doesn’t balk at different prices through the year because room prices do fluctuate. They won’t see how much is room prices fluctuating and how much it is their ticket prices fluctuating. (Savvy individuals will be able to tell by pricing out a room-only and then pricing with tickets, of course, but the average consumer won’t bother to do that.)

    The end result, Disney makes more money and makes shareholders (like myself) happy, but aside from the typical “I can’t believe how expensive a Disney vacation is” complaint (which I remember hearing back in the early 1980s when they moved from ticket books), people will still continue to go in their fairly usual patterns. With rooms at more than 80% occupancy year-round, and with attendance numbers way up, even if 5% of the people cut back from going multiple times a year to once a year or from once a year to once every 2-3 years, hotels will still be in the safe zone for capacity and the park will still feel crowded for most of the year.

    Len: I do agree with the challenges with the Studios. There was a spirited dinner conversation at our place the other night that Disney Springs *is* the fifth gate, but going back to an a la carte system for paying for attractions. My justification on it is that, when completed, Disney Springs will have more attractions than the Studios currently has.

    • You’ve mentioned several times that shareholders will be happy because more money will be made. However, this seems like a very short-sighted argument.

      Part of how much a company is worth is its long-term ability to stay reliably profitable; if Disney screws over guests to the point that people stop coming back after a couple of years, then, yes, short-term profits are met, but long-term profits actually decrease. This is why it’s so important for companies to consider value to the consumer and the consumer’s perception of received value; not just how much more it can make in the next year or two.

      I am in Disney’s “targeted demographic” as defined by income, and I’d planned a Disney vacation this year. I was considering making it a yearly tradition, as family lives close by and it makes sense to all meet up at Disney for a week. However, if prices go up significantly, I can tell you that Disney will still get my money this year (short term increase in profits), but will certainly not get my money in future years (long-term reliability). I can’t imagine that I would be the only one who would feel this way.

  • I thought I read on another site, but can’t remember which, that the tiers wouldn’t be so complicated if you bought a package because you’d be charged the highest price for all days. So if you had a seven day ticket and your trip was mostly silver with one gold, you’d pay for 7 gold. Certainly doesn’t make me want to buy a package anymore.

  • I don’t really care what they do with one day ticket prices. I mean, really, even if they bump it $20, that’s $80 for a family of four. So you pack a lunch instead of eating at Casey’s and you save back about $50 of that. Say “no” to one souvenir per kid and you saved the rest of it. No biggie. But Disney is almost not actually making any more money off you because you spent the same as you would’ve before… just on tickets instead of food and toys.

    However, changing the prices on the longer tickets would make me not go back. We usually get a six day ticket for an eight day trip in September. If that goes up by $150 per person, that’s an extra $750 for my family just to book our trip. NOt counting the fact that room prices will also go up and we are a family of five, limiting our choices. There’s no way to make up that $750 by cutting corners in other ways. We don’t spend $750 in eight days so even if we spent NOTHING, we still come out spending more just on tickets.

    Now if Disney were putting as much into the parks as Universal, maybe I’d get it. But let’s be completely honest here. The Mine Train is a cute ride but it’s not worth my vacation price going up by $750. And all these other “major upgrades” they are doing aren’t really so major. Magic Kingdom is in a decent place, I think. The rest of the parks need some major attention. I guess when Animal Kingdom is done with it’s upgrade, it’ll be good. But Epcot and Hollywood studios need a lot of work, updates, upgrades, and just plain attention before I even think about handing over an extra $750 to visit.

    • I hadn’t considered it, but you make a good point about making up the difference. We already drive to Orlando and stay at value resorts so there really is no way to shave the add’l ticket money off the trip.

  • One way to read the proposal: Disney is giving up on trying to capture every *day* of your vacation, and instead is trying to maximize its revenue for the days you *do* give it. The current MYW pricing structure is meant to make it next-to-free to stick around after you’ve spent 3-4 days on Disney parks within a single vacation. That worked for a while, but the Boy Wizard has managed to nail down a day (and now, somtimes two) from many Orlando vacations. So, now that they are going to lose that day or two anyway, its time for a new approach.

    And, this approach isn’t all that new. The old PH/PHP/UPH tickets did not discount longer stays nearly as much as MYW does.

    • So the pricing strategy is “Since you won’t give us all of your money, you’ll give us more of your money.” It makes me long for the simpler time in America when that sort of approach was accompanied by Brooklyn accents and baseball bats.

      • HA! It’s so true! Considering Disney is making money hand over fist, I can’t even fathom the justification for this type of price increase other than the please the 1% and drown out the poor from ever affording WD anymore. That’s a sad sad thing to think about.

      • Interestingly, I did write that comment from a midtown Manhattan hotel before heading to Bobby Van’s for a stiff drink, so….

  • We’re Bronze because we like smaller crowds. If this increased the crowds in Sept-Nov, I’d be less inclined to go. This would also push me to consider AP’s. Unless, of course, the cost of AP’s went up to match the 10-day rate. (Any of them!) If that happens, our visits would shrink. Without the decrease in the price for more days, we would spend fewer days in the parks. Universal would start getting my money.

  • Oh, and Len, it would be more like adding a room on to Grandma’s house for the one night a year you have to store Christmas presents and drunk Aunt Lillian. The other 364 days of the year, you can use the room to show “Sounds Dangerous.”

  • What I’m trying to understand is how would this all work if you’re buying tickets through AAA? Am I going to have to give exact dates for the tickets I want? And what if you buy bronze tickets and then have to change your vacation to a silver or gold time? It all just seems nuts. Looks like an AP might be the best bet for anyone who visits yearly. This whole new pricing structure is just too confusing. :/ I’d honestly rather see them just raise prices another $10 across the board than have to go through the insanity of figuring it all out.

  • So, if my family were to visit WDW under the new plan, our ticket price is almost double. That’s just the tickets. We haven’t even gotten in to hotel increases. My daughter has been asking for the last several years if we could go to Universal as a side trip. I always say no b/c that’s an awful expensive side trip. I’m thinking if Disney does this, we may just head to Universal, period — as the whole trip. Then, be done with destination theme parks for a while after that. She’ll be graduating high school soon, and we’re pretty well done with the Disney years, any way. I may go with some friends for a weekend every other year or so, but doubling the cost for a week-long trip effectively cuts my family out of the game on yearly or even biennial trips.

    For the amount we currently spend on a trip to Disney, we could head any number of other places. I’d take this as a sign it’s (past) time to expand our horizons. Not necessarily a bad thing, so that can go in the “plus” column, IMHO.

    • Exactly what I’m thinking. We’ve been meaning to take a cruise, go out west, see Niagra Falls, explore DC… but we always come back to Disney instead. If they did this, I think it would be exactly the motivation we need to see the REAL world!

      • Hey, I’m starting research on a Washington DC book and touringplans addition next week! Let me know if you’ve got any favorite places, Rachelle! Thanks for reading our blog, too.

      • Excellent–glad you are entering the DC touring books world! I lived in DC for several years and was always the appointed “tour guide” since I had worked stints and had connections in several of the major tourist draws. There are definitely LOTS of “tricks” to get the best out of your DC trip that you only realize after living in DC! Looking forward to your tips!

      • Very happy to hear about a DC touring book! How about only for the major National Parks? Grand Canyon, etc. We are going to Yellowstone/Grand Teton in 2016 and really wish I had an Unofficial Guide. Some of the reservations at places like El Tovar and Old Faithful Inn are as hard to get as an A&E FPP 🙂

      • Totally agree with you, Rachelle. After reading this, I’m thinking “hmmm…. maybe it’s time to indulge my husband and do something other than Disney every year.” Now I just need to find some easy, interesting-to-toddlers, non-Disney destinations…

  • Disney’s surveys often include “what if” questions. It wasn’t that long ago guests were asked about the addition of casinos on cruises and gambling at WDW/DL. Obviously, guest response burst those trial balloons. So if you don’t like tiered pricing for tickets (even though we already pay it for on-site accommodations), do as I did and write directly to Disney.
    Aside from the negatives Len noted I would add my unwillingness to pay top tier admission should major attractions be closed for refurbishment.

    • How do I contact Disney to complain?

      • They read this blog regularly. Feel free to post here, Jennifer. Thanks for reading!

  • So if the tickets are tiered based on the day and the park (MK vs non-MK), does this mean Disney would not charge you until the end of your trip? How would they know which park I am visiting on any given day and know to charge me more for MK? Would they just charge you the minimum and then put a surcharge on there everyday you go to MK? I understand the idea of paying more for MK when it is a single day ticket, but I always assumed Disney waived the extra charge when a MYW ticket was purchased because they know they’ll make more by you going to parks for multiple days. Multiple days means more food, merchandise, and higher likelihood you are staying on property. This brings me to my next thought…would Disney create offers that discount these ticket packages if you stayed onsite. So, the large increases we project now would be minimized greatly if you stayed in a Disney resort and perhaps the discount is greater for the deluxe resorts than the value. Again, folks who stay at deluxe or DVC resorts are more likely to eat a TS meal at a resort than someone staying in a value resort. Just a few thoughts. Thank you for bringing up the good and the bad and for putting into words what I have been thinking since this survey came out.

    • Hey Brandon! Yes, I think you’d have to specify your dates in advance, and Disney would just give you a total for all days. The special price for the MK is just for a 1-day ticket, same as it is today. Thanks for the comments – good stuff.

  • So what affect will this have on AP holders if anything at all? Should we expect a steep increase in AP prices? Will there be different types of APs? Gold, Silver and Bronze?

    • I don’t think they can raise APs as much in WDW, since there aren’t that many. But look at Disneyland APs, which went up a lot, and they didn’t lose that many people (because of the monthly payment plan).

    • I was wondering the same thing. If they went tiered pricing, it wouldn’t surprise me if they offered tiered APs with dates blacked out at different levels. I certainly hope not.

      • They already do offer “APs” for Florida residents at a lower cost with dates blocked out (Seasonal Pass and Weekday Select Pass). Also, Florida resident tickets have blockout dates automatically: From the web site, the following blockout dates for the Florida Resident 3-Day Ticket and 4-Day Ticket apply: March 28 — April 10, 2015; June 6 — August 13, 2015, December 17, 2015 — December 31, 2015, January 1, 2016, March 19, 2016 — April 1, 2016, June 6, 2016 — August 11, 2016.

        I have no idea if they’d think about offering that to people outside of Florida, but it is an interesting thought.

  • I’m sorry Len, but you sound like a shill for Disney with your reasons to like tiered pricing. Disney is meant to be egalitarian, with people treated relatively equal. Every step Disney makes away from this diminishes the experience.
    #1: Capacity. Charging higher prices during the times when families take vacation prices Disney out of the reach of many families. Even during Bronze times, the weekends are Silver meaning a typical price increase of 30%. It takes Disney from an annual or every few years vacation to a bucket list item.
    2: Maintenance. I’m sure somewhere at Disney someone takes annual maintenance costs and divides them with the number of guests. I’m equally sure that number is factored into ticket cost. By your logic, french fries at McDonalds should cost more during quiet times than at lunch because they have to keep the fryer on all day, but it works slightly harder at lunch.
    3: Distribution of crowds. It probably will. But, how will people react when they find that because they want to spend 6 days in the parks in July there will be a $250 surcharge per person. My guess is that if Disney implements this, they will waive it for on site guests, at least in the beginning.

    • Nope. Disney is not meant to be egalitarian. Disney is meant to return value to shareholders.

      In essence, this penalizes the long-ticket guest (that’s where the 90% increase comes in.) I’d love to know how the survey results changed between the 3-day guest and the 8-day guest.

      Also, I bet for a good portion of the people who took the survey, they thought, “oh, this doesn’t sound bad” and had NO FREAKING IDEA what they spent for their ticket because it just got all rolled in to a “Magic, Your Way, Dining, Fun Park and More and More and More” package. That’s where Disney is really going… “just give us a bunch of money and don’t worry about what you’re actually paying for everything.”

      Personally, I wish they would *double* the base ticket price and leave the regular discount structures in place. That way (theoretically) people would only go half as often, and the parks would be half as crowded. At least that’s what the economists would have you believe, right?

      • There are times during Food & Wine when I’ve said I’d pay twice as much to have half as many people there, Patrick. And good point about not knowing the cost of individual components. Case in point: the dining plan.

      • Yes! This! I would pay TRIPLE!! Tell me what I have to pay to get some elbow room, and I will pay it. Before my daughter was in school we’d visit in September. Glorious September! That is the experience I want, and if I can only afford to do it every few years, I’d still prefer it to battling crowds (and I consider crowds a 5 or more). Sadly this new tiered plan looks like it will succeed in increasing September attendance, while probably only decreasing the busy times to about a 7-8. Boooooo.

    • Thanks for the input, Phil.

      I think there’s a little bit of truth to your “Disney is meant to be egalitarian” statement. In the early days of Disneyland, Walt both kept a lid on prices for many years, and said he’d prefer 30,000 people in the park versus 60,000, because it’s a better experience for the 30,000.

  • I’m going to need to dust off my slide rule in order to buy tickets.

    Disney keeps getting pretty close to making vacationing too complicated (and I’ve been ok with them every step of the way until now). I can get to Universal cheaper and with less stress-inducing headaches.

    • They might also be trying to squeeze out the third-party ticket sellers. The margins on those tickets are pretty low, and I’d think this would increase their customer service costs by making them explain more to potential customers.

  • I don’t really agree with #1. If the park reaches capacity, that means that Disney can’t realistically provide service to their customers. More people means longer lines, more frustration and less attractions that the customer can enjoy. I think most customers would enjoy 10 hours of low crowds then 16 hours of wall to wall people. I could only get behind the increase in price if Disney stated that they were going to lower park capacity. Then Disney is purposefully lowering supply to enhance customer experience. That way if you are taking your family of 4 for 1 day..the $500 plus you are shelling out would at least have some guarantee that your experience would be somewhat enjoyable. It would make sense that they pay more on days that they would be turning more customers away.
    I have to think that the price is going to be prohibitive. Looking at these price increase for the multi-day passes, the cost for 5 day tickets at WDW for my family of four (with my two Disney “adult” kids of 10,12), the cost is over $2100 just for tickets, an increase of 45%?? I think our yearly Disney vacations might be a thing of the past. I won’t stop going but I won’t go as nearly as often. After a while, all of these tremendous price increases feels like Disney is taking advantage of loyal customers.I realize Disney is a business and I expect prices to go up but it’s starting to get ridiculous.

    • Thanks Kim! Yes, that’s really an increase of 45%. It’s kind of breathtaking, ain’t it?

  • This will probably prevent us from going,we are 12 year guests, getting ready to go on our 13th trip this summer, unless we would be able to go at another time of year, we won’t be able to afford to go back, shame on Disney!

    • Thanks Jennifer! I have some marketing material from Disney that indicates they’re really targeting households in the top 10-20% of income earning in the US. There are enough people to do that … for a while.

      • It makes me sad to see Disney take this approach.

        My WAG is this all started with Disney recognizing they had an issue with attraction capacity. Instead of dealing with this by spending money in the obvious way (increasing attraction capacity by installing more net attractions), they dealt with it by spending money on an expensive ride-rationing system (FP+) and (probably) going to a pricing system that aims for the upper quintile at the expense of the rest.

        If this happens, I guess a 4th advantage will be resolving the dilemma our family has had over the last year or so. We’ve gone back and forth over whether we still get our money’s worth out of a WDW vacation. We’ve gone some, but not as much as we could have; our last 2 vacations we considered WDW and chose to go elsewhere. If this tiered pricing happens, they will have made WDW so complicated to plan and expensive to execute that we’ll be out. There’s a big beautiful world out there, and this will be the last card Disney dealt us to encourage us to see it.

        Very sad–it didn’t have to be this way. I hope they reconsider.

  • I would be shocked if “Jersey Week” stays as a bronze. Airline prices are up significantly and Disney blacks out its free dining plan that week. Should tell you something there.

    As far as the tiered structure as a whole, it’s not that much different versus a DVC member whose daily point value changes depending on the day of the week and season they are falling into or paying premiums in certain restaurants on property based on time of year. It will be confusing at first but once you go through it once or twice it won’t be so bad.

    • Thanks Marc. I’d bet Jersey Week would go up, too. Good point about the comparison with DVC prices.


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