✩ Impact of Disney's New $100 Tickets

  • Disney Ticket GateWalt Disney World’s price jump pushing some tickets past $100 has two immediate impacts:

    1. Disney is clearly aiming at more upscale travelers, and
    2. Other theme parks are certain to follow.

    One other impact is that Disney prefers that visitors buy multi-day passes, as noted by Orlando Sentinel writer Beth Kassab. The reason for that is simple economics: visitors staying longer make more purchases.

    Disney announced that one-day ticket prices will rise to $105 plus tax at the Magic Kingdom. Prices at Disney World's three other parks are increasing, too, but at $97 will stay under triple-digit territory. "A day at a Disney park is unlike any other in the world, and there is strong demand for our attractions and entertainment," spokesman Bryan Malenius said. "We continually add new experiences, and many of our guests select multi-day tickets or annual passes which provide great value and additional savings." Because of those options, along with Floridian discounts, many will actually pay less than single-day prices. Industry consultants say the sticker shock of a one-day ticket could push even more consumers toward those choices. Prices are also rising on the multiple-day tickets and passes. Basic Florida resident annual and seasonal passes will cost $529 and $329 before taxes, up from $485 and $319. Renewals are discounted about 15 percent. The hike was six percent for the Magic Kingdom.

    The price change wasn't solely for Walt Disney World, either. Disneyland and Disney California Adventure also felt a bump to $99 from $96, but Magic Kingdom stands alone as the first park to surpass the $100 mark.

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    Disney has a range of price options for its hotels, and ones under construction at the resort's western edge are budget-oriented. At the same time, Disney has been adding high-priced experiences such as dessert parties costing up to $100 and time-share bungalows on the Seven Seas Lagoon with nightly rental rates of more than $2,000. "I do think that Disney's perspective is they're a premium-priced, premium product," said Scott Sanders, a former vice president of pricing with the company. "They believe that ... there are some people who can't afford it, but there are a lot of people who are willing to pay for the experience.”Florida in general has become a less price-sensitive destination, Visit Florida President and CEO Will Seccombe said. Prices across the board for restaurants, theme parks and other attractions are all rising, he added.

    The average household income of overnight leisure visitors in Orlando was $95,720 in 2013 compared with $88,349 in 2012, according to Visit Florida."My sense of it is, yes, Orlando has become more of an upscale tourist market," said John Gerner, founder of Leisure Business Advisors. "It is likely the average tourist, even after adjusting for inflation, is spending more for their visit to Orlando than decades ago." Disney "became out of reach for people at the lower end of the income scale a long time ago," said Robert Niles, editor of ThemeParkInsider.com "That's one thing that I think has been keeping a lot of regional parks around the country in business." Locals have cheaper Disney options, including a $139 deal for three days and annual passes, which can be purchased in monthly installments. The $100 mark has "a psychological impact," said Joe Couceiro, a former SeaWorld chief marketing officer. "I'm not sure it's going to keep people necessarily away, [but] I think your first impulse is to say, 'let me see what kind of deal I can get.' " Disney and the other major theme parks typically raise their prices every year. Last year, Disney raised base prices by 2 percent to 5 percent, depending on the type of ticket. Both Disney World and Disneyland set record attendance in the company's last quarter.

    Disney is far from the only venue raising prices. Some analysts point out that the average cost of a Broadway show is now more than $100.Magic Kingdom -- the world's most visited theme park with an estimated 18.6 million annual visitors -- began charging more than the other three Disney World parks in 2013. Typically when one park raises prices, others follow suit. Universal Orlando has charged $96 and SeaWorld $95 for base tickets at the gate.

    As of now, no prices changes at Universal but an announcement is expected anytime soon.