Feature: The Cost of a Year at Disney
In 2005, you could purchase either a Disneyland or a Walt Disney World annual pass for around $350. That included entrance to the park every day of the year as well as free parking. Fast forward 10 years and Disney’s annual pass price has doubled at Walt Disney World to over $750 and Disneyland’s top tier annual pass is now over $1,000. What happened in that 10 years? The truth is we all embraced the Disney.
Disney parks have seen a serious increase in park attendance over the last 10 years. An extra $2-5 million visitors a year and that increase doesn’t look to be stopping. With park attendance going up, so is the need for more amenities like hotel rooms, bathrooms, restaurants, etc… The times “Disney experts” considered off season have changed to increasingly less days. What used to be months of dead time at the parks is now just a week or two between holidays.
Disney is countering the increase in attendance by adding new spaces for guests to walk through, but these areas take time to develop. In the meantime, they have given us fastpasses to get onto attractions faster and adding in festive kiosks that coincide with whatever holiday is just around the corner….and these are some of the things annual passholders are looking forward to every year, but annual passholders aren’t who Disney appeals to. Numbers can easily tell you that. A guest purchasing an annual pass can visit most of the year. Even with the prices being over $1,000 for a Disneyland pass, if you went once a week all year long you would have paid $20 a day to be at that park and that includes parking. That’s extremely cheap considering a single day pass to a Disney park is around $100 and that doesn’t include parking. Clearly Disney would rather have a park full of single day ticket guests than one full of annual passholders. They do know that there is still a long list of people who would love to be annual passholders so they need to be able to balance guests on vacation with local guests who have their annual pass.
In order to get the money they need to operate at the level they’d like to and make the additions they want, the prices have continued to increase. This year, however, Disney added more tiers to their pass system which includes more additions like getting all of pictures taken by photopass photographers. Annual passholders are paying the higher price but Disney is giving them more options and more ways to enjoy their pass. They are hoping that will keep passholders coming back while still earning the cash they need to build new area of the park, renovate older areas of the park, and create the one-of-a-kind experiences they are known for.
With all that being said, I’m not against Disney raising their prices, especially with the fact that they are giving discounts on so much food and merchandise as well as photos from anywhere inside the parks. I’m not against it because I know that purchasing a Disney annual pass means you will be using it and at the parks more often than not. I’m not against this price increase because I know that Disney will give you more joy and entertainment for your money than almost any other place on the planet. Like Erika said in her post (Click here to read it!) going out to see a play for one night can cost a few hundred dollars and that’s just for one night for a few hours. An annual pass to a Disney park brings you 365 days worth of enjoyment.