Saturday, July 21, 2012

The Razor's Edge Of Disneyland's Admission Pricing

Tilly at the Main St. Cinema Ticket Booth

Two feature articles came out this week on the two Disneyland websites I most often follow that seem to be such complete opposites of one another that it is hard to reconcile the two.

Author, Disneyland insider, and MousePlanet contributor David Koenig writes that Disney, delighted with the crowds this summer at the resort, are quickly formulating plans to increase admission prices to capitalize on the great reception of their recent park enhancements. They are possibly pointing to another increase by Christmas this year and another one before next summer's prime vacation season. You can read David's article here.

Yesterday's weekly In The Parks feature on MiceChat spent some time discussing that while Cars Land in Disney California Adventure continues to pull in huge amounts of guests, the crowd levels throughout the rest of DCA and especially over at Disneyland are quite manageable and seem to be a little flat. The comments seem to be based mostly on observation but since they are in Disneyland on a weekly basis, who am I to argue? MiceChat went further by putting up a poll as to the reason why the attendance would appear to be lackluster. The overwhelming majority point to high prices.

So which is it? "We're doing fine, let's raise prices" or "Uh-oh, maybe that last hefty price jump has bitten us in the rear". The one thing that is for certain is that Disney has a pretty good idea. All the data collected from survey takers, online surveys, and even in depth surveys taken of guests in the park in special rooms is not done just for the heck of it. Disney also has their hotel capacity and bookings well mapped as well as keeping tabs on the area hotels and motels (they are called "Good Neighbor" hotels for a reason). Disney also tracks the buying habits of various pass holders - those food and merchandise discounts are not given out to be nice. Disney wants to know how much you are spending along with where and what.

If I were a betting person (and I'm usually not) I would tend to go on the side of David Koenig. He is not someone prone to wild speculation or rumor in his Disneyland writings. On the MiceChat side pointing to flat attendance and manageable crowds, I think back to the trip my family made in July 2005 during Disneyland's 50th Anniversary celebration. You would have thought the place would have been packed during that time but it really wasn't. The blocking out of Southern California pass holders during several weeks of the summer just makes the crowd levels more bearable. We were certainly surprised.

One thing is for sure - the prices on annual passes will not go down. If there are additional price increases coming, I suspect the jump on AP's will be in smaller increments going forward. Same with daily admission price (does anyone take their family to Disneyland for one day anymore?) and the popular multi-day tickets. And I would guess that if things do slow down because of over-pricing, Disney is really good at various discounts on admission tickets as well as accommodations in their hotels.

I also know that if there is another increase before Christmas, the screams will be long and loud. Go out and read the Disney website message boards if you don't think so.

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