Disney Admission Hikes Outpricing the Middle Class Family

05_Flatbed_1 - NOVEMBER   Original Filename: Disneyz.jpg

05_Flatbed_1 – NOVEMBER Original Filename: Disneyz.jpg

Florida residents are no stranger to the glorious get away that is Walt Disney World, a theme park where dreams come true and fanny packs run free. However, the price to make a dream come true is growing to the point that middle class families are losing their opportunities at the classic Walt Disney experience.

When Disney World first opened in October 1971, the cost of a one-day admission was $3.50. Today, that same ticket is a staggering $105. The cost of admission has been raised 41 times since the park opened and it’s doubled in the past decade.

According to the Orlando Sentinel, Disney claims the constant price hikes are to accommodate record attendance rates and further a quality experience. Disney spokesperson Jacquee Wahler, told the Tampa Bay Times, “We continually add new experiences, and many of our guests select multi-day tickets or annual passes, which provide great value and additional savings.” There is no question that a billion dollar company will be proactive in securing their spot at the top; however, things get messy when this strife for greatness begins to exclude an entire class of consumers.

Realistically, it can be said that Disney World is just growing into its capitalist mold. When Walt Disney established his park, the middle class wasn’t progressively disappearing. Now, the middle class – or what’s left of it – is struggling to find its place in erratic economic times. Theme Park Insider’s Robert Niles doesn’t find Disney’s prices all that surprising, writing, “Disney’s made a strategic decision that they’re not going to discount to hold onto people at the middle part of the economy, they’re going to set their prices at the top 10 percent of family incomes and make their money where the money is.”

It’s plausible the company is just making strides to break up the volume of visitors during peak times of the year while maintaining its profit margin. This could indeed be seen as an effort to improve the quality of the park experience.

Navigating through a jam packed Magic Kingdom during the excruciating heat of the summer can serve to be an onerous task. To elaborate, attendance at Disney World and Disneyland rose seven percent in the quarter that included Christmas last year according to The Tampa Bay Times.

The introduction of annual and season passes has helped to curb attendance during Disney’s peak attendance dates (Christmas, traditional spring break weeks, and most of the summer) but still maintain the desired profit margin for Disney.

The cheapest season pass that will allow for admission to all four of the major theme parks (Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Disney’s Animal Kingdom) with the ability to go from park to park on the same day is the Disney Weekday Select Pass at $275. To add weekends, the cost jumps to $415 and can be as high as $585 for added features. Remember, those passes all include the aforementioned blackout dates. Costs for an annual pass without blackout dates start at around $700 each.

It is hard to say whether or not Disney’s ever escalating admission costs will eventually hurt their bottom line. Its mass popularity only continues to escalate as time goes on, as very few families can pass up a weekend at the “happiest place on earth.” Meanwhile, if one wishes to visit the park, it’s in their best interest to pinch pennies…make that dollars, months in advance.