Seasonal Pricing Arrives at Disney Theme Parks

Starting now, you’ll pay a different price for admission depending on when you go to the park.  There are three tiers of pricing – Value, Regular, and Peak.  As you can imagine the labels are pretty self explanatory.  Tickets during value days are less expensive than regular days and even less than peak days.  Based on projected attendance, a 1-day ticket will vary in cost.  It isn’t hard to imagine which days might be considered “Peak.”  At Disneyland those are Spring Break weeks, Memorial Day weekend, weekends during Summer and July 4th, Labor Day weekend, Thanksgiving and Christmas weeks.  Most days near and during summer are otherwise considered “Regular,” and all other days are “Value.”

Ticket pricing on Saturday the 27th - one day before seasonal pricing happened
Ticket pricing on Saturday the 27th at Disneyland resort – one day before seasonal pricing happened

In all, about 81 days are priced in the “Value” range, 141 in the “Regular” range, and 85 “Peak” days.  At first, people will be shocked and surprised but considering the value of a Disney park, this pricing doesn’t seem unreasonable.  The days are pretty well distributed with nearly twice as many “Regular” days as either “Value” or “Peak” making for a nice bell curve distribution.  And the pricing only affects 1-day ticket prices.  Multi-day tickets and annual passes are (at least as of this printing) unaffected by the new pricing structure.  This makes both of those an even bigger value than they were before.  In fact, at Disneyland the price of a one-day, one park ticket went DOWN by $4 and adding Park Hopper went DOWN by $1.  It many not seem like a lot, but when was the last time you saw prices go down at a Disney theme park?

Walt Disney World already prices Magic Kingdom differently than the other theme parks. How will seasonal pricing affect WDW?
Walt Disney World already prices Magic Kingdom differently than the other theme parks. How will seasonal pricing affect WDW?

Walt Disney World has similar but slightly different peak days.  For instance at WDW, Spring Break weeks are slightly different, everything from Memorial Day weekend to late July is considered “Peak,” but Labor Day weekend is “Regular” as is all of October. Overall, the WDW curve is slanted toward the right (costing more) with 43 “Value” days, 165 “Regular” days, and 99 “Peak” days.  There is no $4 price break for “Value” days at either Magic Kingdom (which remains at $105) or the other theme parks ($97).  But again, annual passes at WDW remain the same price as before.

Star Wars-themed lands will be coming to Disneyland park in Anaheim, Calif., and Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Orlando, Fla., transporting guests to a never-before-seen planet, a remote trading port and one of the last stops before wild space where Star Wars characters and their stories come to life. Inside these authentic lands, guests will be able to step aboard The Millennium Falcon and actually pilot the fastest ship in the galaxy, steering the vessel through space, firing the laser cannons, in complete control of the experience. And with the arrival of the First Order to the planet, guests will find themselves in the middle of a tense battle between stormtroopers and Resistance fighters. (Disney Parks)
Star Wars-themed lands will be coming to Disneyland park in Anaheim, Calif., and Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Orlando, Fla., transporting guests to a never-before-seen planet, a remote trading port and one of the last stops before wild space where Star Wars characters and their stories come to life. (Disney Parks)

The reasoning behind it is logical.  According to the Disney Parks Blog, it’s supposed to help “spread out visitation” to the parks.  If you’ve been to Disneyland any time in 2015, you know how crowded it was – even in traditionally “Value” days.  According to one of our leaders at the Disney Institute class I participated in, 2015 was the busiest in Disneyland history!  And with an entire land devoted to Star Wars coming on the horizon, it’s only likely to get busier.  Trying to find a way to make every day an enjoyable experience is something Disney theme parks are intent on doing.  Seasonal pricing is something that occurs on cruises, in hotels, and in other aspects of traditionally tourist services.  Should theme parks be any different?

What do you think?

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