On October 4, Disneyland officially increased the prices of all tickets, passes and parking on their website. Most notably, the park removed their $779 premium annual passes, and a “Signature Plus Passport” was introduced for a price of $1,049. This is a price increase of $270, which is nearly a 35 percent increase from the $779 annual pass. Having recently announced its plans for a Star Wars Land, Disney fans should not be too surprised that Disney raised its prices. When Disney opened Cars Land, they increased its prices in a similar fashion. In addition to the park expansion, Disneyland has been experiencing record attendance rates, and Suzi Brown, a Disneyland spokeswoman, states that “[Disneyland’s] new selection of annual passes will help [Disneyland] manage strong demand.” While it is necessary for Disney to raise prices according to projected needs, it is not fair for the company to dramatically raise prices on their loyal fans.
If prices were raised in response to inflation of the U.S. dollar, many people would understand, but Disney’s recent price hikes have not paced themselves with inflation of the dollar. According to Michael Hiltzik’s article in the Los Angeles Times, “[ the cost of Disneyland’s premium pass] more than tripled from $329 in 2004 to $1,049 now, a period in which inflation should have added only about 25% to the price.” If Disney adjusted its prices according to inflation, the cost of the best pass would be $411.25. While price increases are pretty usual behavior, this increase is disproportionate with the history of Disney price increases.
It cannot be denied that one of Disney’s jobs is to keep the park exciting for its patrons. Disney wants to expand and introduce new attractions, such as the aforementioned construction of Star Wars Land, which will be on a 14-acre plot. In order to build this park, Disney needs money, because expansion is not a cheap task. While it is unknown how much this project would cost, one can estimate the costs based on the most recent expansion: Cars Land. This attraction is a 12-acre plot that opened its doors in 2012, and it is said to have cost around five years of labor and 1.1 billion dollars. It is safe to say that Star Wars Land should be around the same ballpark range in terms of price and construction time. In addition, the completed park will increase the cost of operation as well, but one must ask if it is justified for Disney to charge customers so much.
Another of Disney’s statements is that it has too many visitors, but it cannot be helped that Disney is so popular among consumers. Many people grew up enjoying the creations of Disney. For many, the world of Disney means something special and Disneyland is a physical representation of their childhood. It does not matter too much which facet of Disney is one’s favorite, because they are all at Disneyland in some shape or form. The park has everything from the first Mickey Mouse to Star Wars. So, loyal fans faithfully invest a lot of money and energy in order to visit Disneyland.
However, most people do not have or are not able to spend such a large sum to accommodate Disney’s price hikes. It is unfair for many loyal fans, who may be discouraged from visiting, because Disney implies that the happiest place on earth is only for those who can afford it.
Though Disneyland may be trying to do good for its fans by thinning the crowds and providing more attractions, the massive increase of prices is not the correct way, because the move alienates many Disney fans. What Disney is charging now is not a meager sum for most fans. Price increases may be inevitable, but Disney should only charge so much for experiencing a piece of one’s childhood. Expansions, inflation and record attendance do not justify Disney’s rapid price increase.