Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Theme Parking: Will Dynamic Pricing Come To Disneyland? [Updated: 2/29/2016]

  • A pair of stories appeared on Theme Park Insider recently about pricing for Universal Studios Hollywood and Shanghai Disneyland. Though they are unrelated, they signal a shifting tide in theme park admission pricing. I would be very surprised if dynamic pricing does not arrive at the Disneyland Resort within a year.

  • The price offers differ slightly between the mentioned parks. Universal Studios is maintaining a constant gate admission price while offering a discount for online orders. Shanghai Disneyland is instead splitting ticket prices across the board for peak and non-peak days. The effect is basically the same, though you have to make a greater effort to take advantage of the Universal prices.

  • Two data points are not a trend. However with circumstances as they are at Disneyland, this seems like the exact solution Disney Parks will be looking toward in the future. On one hand, ratcheting up Annual Passport prices hasn't really lessened crowds at the park. That may slacken over time as some passholders allow their passes to expire. But attendance pressures are only going to increase when Star Wars Land finally opens. Adjusting annual passport prices can't be sufficient to prevent overcrowding.

  • On the other hand, the one day ticket for Disneyland is now $99.00. Crossing that threshold and making the price to visit the Happiest Place on Earth at least a hundred dollars will have huge psychological repercussions for visitors. Even now, as a middle aged man, I balk any time a price climbs into the triple digits. I suspect that I am not alone.

  • The obvious solution for Disneyland to meet these disparate needs is to institute dynamic pricing. The park can raise prices on peak days and leave off peak days at the current price. That would allow the park to say that they still have a sub-hundred dollar ticket while also encouraging attendance on lower traffic days. Blockout days for lower tier annual passports already serve that function. It's time that daily tickets offer the park the same tools.

  • From my point of view, this is an inevitability. When they decide to do so is anyone's guess. But if Michael Colglazier happens to be reading this, drop me a line. I'd be happy to put a proposal together for you.

  • UPDATE 02/27/2016: I would say "Called it" if it hadn't been so blatantly obvious. Laughing Place and various Disneyland bloggers are reporting that seasonal pricing is starting at Disneyland this weekend. Pricing signs on the ticket booths have already been replaced with monitors, a necessary step to adjust prices from day to day. Good thing we have annual passes. Oh, those expire in April? Damn.

  • UPDATE 2 02/27/2016: It's official.

  • UPDATE 3 02/29/2016: As long as I'm making updates to this thing, I might as well mention that it is not really dynamic pricing. It's not even seasonal pricing as Disney would have it unless we're talking the weekend and holiday season versus the early week season. It's really just tiered pricing. Any other name actually implies too much. So I was only mostly right.

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