Sunday, October 4, 2015

Theme Parking: Paying More For Less - Disneyland Annual Passport Prices Increase

  • Sometime Saturday evening, rumors started spreading that annual passports would be increasing in price. Within a few hours, those rumors became a reality for both Disneyland Resort and Walt Disney World. The biggest change for Disneyland was the abolition of the Premium passport and its 365 day access. In its place are two new passes, the Signature and Signature Plus passes. The Signature is $50 more expensive than the old Premium pass, but now includes fifteen blockout days over the holiday season. The new 365 day pass, the Signature Plus, is now $1,049, a full $270 higher than the prior version.

  • The one announcement that was not made was any change to standard ticket prices. The one-day one-park ticket is still $99 and I don't see Disney wanting to break the hundred dollar barrier lightly. Instead, this increase is primarily targeted at annual passholders, especially those who fill the park on their busiest days.

  • It is for that reason why I find myself so confused about the comments I see about the increases. The common troupe is that Walt built the parks as a family vacation destination. While increasing ticket prices does have an effect on vacation planning, annual passports are not targeted at vacationers. While Walt was alive, the parks were still selling ride tickets. Annual passes did not show up until the mid 1980's when attendance was falling. There is no way to tell what he would have thought of people who return to the park repeatedly.

  • It will cost my family an extra $150 next year if we choose to renew our Deluxe passports for roughly the same amount of access. Thankfully, it's a decision we don't have to make until next April. We have already spent nine days at the resort during the first half of our passes and foresee spending several more days there. At this point, the passes have more than paid for themselves even at the new prices. When we decide whether or not to renew, our decision will come down to how much more we will want to visit Disneyland over the coming year.

  • In the meantime, something must be done about the massive crowds who seem to show up no matter what the prices are. Until the parks become too expensive for the value they provide, people are continue to flock to the park in droves. And even this price increase will not be enough to keep people away.

  • For more thoughts on why prices keep going up, here are articles from Robert Niles from the OC Register and Brian Krosnick from Theme Park Tourist (from earlier this year, but still relevant).

  • UPDATE 10/07/2015: Here is one more link, this from LA Times report Brady McDonald, titled "7 reasons why Disneyland raised its annual pass prices". There has been a lot written about Disney's greed (by the LA Times, OC Register, Motley Fool, and Frommer's). And although that is a factor in this change, it is not the only one. I would have written my own blog post, but Brady McDonald covered everything I wanted to say in much better fashion.

No comments:

Post a Comment