The Positive Side of Disneyland Price Increases

Mr. DAPs & Alice in Wonderland at DisneylandThe Disney community has been buzzing the last 24 hours since the Disneyland Resort again raised prices. This happens pretty much every year in recent memory and really should have come as no surprise. Over the past 24 hours I have been talking to people both that have a range of opinions on the matter. After all these conversations, I thought I should share mine.

Normally on DAPs Magic News we generally do avoid opinion pieces but this seems like an appropriate time to set that rule aside. I hope you will keep an open mind as you read this and then share your thoughts below.

Quality or Quantity?

I have been an annual passholder for nearly two decades now. Through those years I have seen a lot happen and experienced many magical moments. One of my favorite memories is the “good old days” of walking around Disneyland on a Sunday night when the park was quiet and nearly empty. There was something special about those nights, extra magical if you will. Wait times were never a consideration when choosing to go on an attraction. In fact, the only things you really had to wait for was Fantasmic! or perhaps the fireworks. Cast Members always had a few extra minutes to invest in guests without feeling rushed to get the next person through the line. The line for coffee was never long before the 96 mile drive home.

As the years have gone by, Disneyland has become increasingly popular. The Disneyland Annual Passport has also become more popular. This has made for busier days with more people visiting Disneyland. I’m sure this is good for the bottom line at some level because it does lead to more food sales, more souvenir sales, more tour sales, more parking sales… you get the idea. However, as the demand of more people and the need for more services weighs down on both facilities of the Disneyland Resort and its Cast Members, quality can end up suffering. As more people pour through the gates, lines get longer for everything, wait times increase for everything, and the wear and tear on Disneyland and Disney California Adventure gets worse. Quite often the Cast Members also suffer from this wear and tear. To sum it all up: quality suffers.

The question in my mind then becomes, would I rather have a more affordable experience that suffers in quality or pay more for an experience that is unmatched in quality? The answer for me is a no brainer, I want the quality. Quality is something Walt Disney hoped would continue on after he was gone. It was something that Walt Disney always stood by and fought for. But quality costs money. Quality costs resources. Quality also takes a dedication to doing what is right and not always what is the most popular.

I would like to believe that by raising prices and capping how many annual passes are sold (potentially at any level), this will help the Disneyland Resort combat the issues I mentioned and maintain a gold standard of quality.

DisneylandMainStreetCastleSupply and Demand

Clearly raising the price hasn’t done enough to cap how many people visit the Disneyland Resort. Anyone who visits regularly can easily recognize that there are a lot of people still visiting. The demand to visit Disneyland continues to exceed the supply.  In my mind, putting a cap on the amount of annual passes being sold becomes the next logical (albeit undesirable) step and a compromise that is far more desirable than the alternative.

The alternative to capping how many annual passes are sold is to continue to raise the prices until it really does discourage enough people from coming and attendance is controlled. This would clearly price out a lot of families and is not what is wanted. I would venture a guess that a much steeper price increase would still sell annual passes but also discourage many families from visiting. By capping how many annual passes are sold, Disney is able to slow down the rate of price increase and still allow families to visit the Disneyland Resort. As long as there is a value to what is being paid for, people will continue to visit the Disneyland Resort. Walt Disney always wanted Disneyland to be a place where families could go together. I believe that this is an effort to preserve Walt Disney’s dream for Disneyland. Yes, it will be more difficult for families but hopefully it won’t be impossible.



17 Responses

  1. I completely agree with you. I have been an AP holder for 10 years and I DO feel bad when I show up and a sign out front says Disneyland is full. Bad, not for me, because I live close enough and can come back tomorrow . . .but for that family that came out on vacation, and this was their “Disney” day and they cant get in right away ): I feel they should limit the number sold to keep space for others with daily passes. I go every couple three weeks not every day, but some go every single week with kids, several times. But maybe they can somehow give a break to so many people a year to pay less, kind of a lottery or something

    1. Yea, it really is a tricky question to figure out the answer for. I can’t imagine the amount of man hours and meetings and thoughts that have gone into figuring out this issue and trying to come up with an answer that keeps people happy, builds on Walt’s legacy, and also helps with the bottom line (that is doing really well).

  2. Mr. DAPs I want to thank you for posting your opinions on the price raise (again). I completely agree with your views and I have been a proud passholder for a long time as well and have said as long as finances allowed me I too would keep my pass. I hope that people do take some action if they really feel strongly about the price hikes.

  3. Oh, oh, I know, I know, pick me!
    1) How about people cannot use their unemployment debit cards or EBT cards to get into or use once in Disneyland, I’m sorry but I don’t need my tax dollars paying for someone elses $8 corn dog, or jamming the line to Indy, the only line those people should be in is the line for a career fair.

    2) No monthly payment options for annual passes. Once upon a time you had to learn to save your pennies in order to afford an annual pass, as soon as they aloud monthly payments interest free, regardless of your credit score attendance hasn’t stopped getting out of control since. It also lost it’s prestige of being an AP because everyone could now do it. So either do away with the payment plan, charge interest or run a credit report and make payments only available to people with excellent credit.

    3) I personally wouldn’t ever cap the sales of annual passes, but I would lower the cap on attendance to the park in general, instead of shutting the gates to Disneyland at 80k people, shut them at 60k for the day, thats still a busy summer day but at least Indy isnt 120 minutes to ride etc.

    That’s my 3 cents and I definitely feel if just options 1 and 2 were implemented we’d see a 20% drop in daily attendance.

    1. I get the feeling that your anger here isn’t just towards the topic at hand. You seem to have deep seated issues against “lower class” citizens. Truly I am open minded towards these discussions but your statements here are a tad bit emotionally fueled and quite honestly it comes off as arrogant.

      Keep in mind, customers are purchasing tickets to an amusement park. It’s as simple as that. They aren’t applying for loans or trying to purchase a car over here.

      Disneyland is and always will be a magical place for families to create memories. ALL families. No need to discriminate here.

  4. I would agree in price increase IF at least a small amount went to the employees. Many different ways that could be achieved. BUT, you mentioned a for profit company. Disney is NOW run out of Florida, when they (management) comes to the West Coast very little time is actually spent in the areas nor is time spent with the cast members (except those selected because management wants a pretty picture painted) to get a REAL idea of what the employees see the company as. When the Disney Resort only wants you to stay a maximum of 5 years or transfer into another department (because it changes your pay rate) it is NOT looking at the best interest of the company. When Michael Eisner was asked by a reporter in 1985, did he ever feel like Walt was behind him the response was “Walt is DEAD, this is MY park NOW.” Management continues to display this attitude.

    1. I completely agree. Disney raises prices but rarely wages. And people in tipped positions at Disney don’t get tipped as often or as well because people feel they are already paying enough to Disney.

  5. Chandler- Disney parks don’t accept EBT. Get over yourself. There are plenty of people on assistance who, umm, you know, work! But still need assistance to make ends meet for their families. Also- MY tax dollars go to those benefits as well as everyone else’s. Perhaps you should tell the old folk and disabled not to go to Disney on their social security income, as that’s where a majority of everyone’s tax dollars go (almost 25%). Have a magical day :)

  6. Well put! I believe that there are many AP holders who ruin their day and others by their own attitudes and a sense of self entitlement. As you stated your own attitude will affect your visit. I love going and enjoy every aspect of the parks. I smile when I hear someone complain about how “Disney doesn’t care” or “I should get more for being a passholder”. Sad really. Meanwhile I stroll down main street admiring the light from the sun setting as it glows yellow and orange over the buildings. Stopping in front of Walts apartment and smiling at the ever burning lamp and saying “thanks for another great day”. Finishing my corn dog 32 steps later I’m in front of a trash can and toss out the stick. I chuckle and say to my self he thought of everything.

  7. They can raise prices as much as they want as far as I’m concerned. I already don’t go. They’d have to pay me to go stand in their lines and that isn’t likely to happen. And live only 20 miles away.

  8. I am a fairly new AP holder. We live only 20 mins away. My husband and I would take our kids once a year, something we ALL looked forward to. Last year though when planning our yearly trip I suggested to Annual Passes. Why? Because I was the family that would go to the park and it was crowded. Rides that my kids looked forward to out of order, wait times way to long , or we would miss parades hoping the lines would be shorter. Now having the AP we have been able to actually enjoy all and everything of Disneyland. Rides are down? It’s ok we can get it on next time, already ate lunch and you spot a place you want to eat at? Next time were back. I truly enjoy the pass. In the end Yes I completely agree with you, I prefer quality. I probably wouldn’t have a pass if maybe my family would have experienced better past annual trips. For now we love our passes and I’m happy we can give our Kids serveral Disney memories.

  9. I may not be an Annual Passholder but I have been fortunate to visit Disneyland numerous times since I was 4 years old and going to Disney World as well. I am now am a Cast Member at Disney World. I remember my parents who are the middle class Americans from the Midwest who would break their bank every few years just to be able to take my siblings and I to a Disney park and that was in the 1990’s and early 2000’s we did that as a family. There is no way with prices before and after the current price change at either park that my parents would be able to afford to take us if we were kids. I obviously love Disney and wouldn’t have gotten a job as a cast member of I didn’t and I completely understand the economics and everything else behind the price change, but I also feel it is going against what Walt wanted: middle class Americans like how he was before he became famous to have a place to go with their families, multiple times, regardless of where you lived in the country to have fun. Raising prices defeats that purpose. Am I always tired at the end of my shift, of course, but I try to make every interaction with a guest a magical moment no matter how busy I am at work.

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