By Kerry Toribio
Local and Current Affairs editor
One doesn’t have to be an economist to know that a visit to Disneyland, or any Disney park, has become a lot more expensive. The latest example is Disney’s hike in the price of its top-ranked unrestricted Annual Pass from $779 to $1,049, an increase of nearly 35%. The increase has some of the local parks’ most loyal customers denouncing the company as “greedy.” One-day at the park now costs as much as $99 per person plus parking, food, and Disney-themed souvenirs. According to the Desert Sun, “Over the life of the Disney parks, they’ve outpaced inflation, sometimes significantly. But things are more complicated than that when you’re tracking price changes over 60 years, dating back to Disneyland’s opening in 1955, and given changes in the economy and American lifestyles.” Disneyland trips used to be an affordable luxury; however, the price increase could make the theme park too expensive for the average person to afford.
The new annual passes will help manage strong demand and continue to deliver a world-class experience, while providing more choices for guests to select the pass that best meets their needs. Walt Disney Parks and Resorts have set attendance records in the last three fiscal years. In the latest quarter, Disneyland Resort reported the highest attendance and profit for any quarter in its history. The higher prices are meant to extend this winning streak and at the same time to thin the crowd during peak times.
The bottom line is that for most of its history, Disneyland retained its original value as a California attraction and even enhanced its appeal. In recent years, the park has become more oriented toward pricing at whatever the market will bear. Given its robust attendance figures, plainly a $99 admission fee isn’t much of an obstacle to the customer base. Disneyland sets the pace for Southern California theme parks such as Universal Studios, Legoland and Sea World, which are all cheaper by the day, but not always by much. When asked about whether the price will affect her trips to Disneyland, College of the Desert student Marina Padilla said, “I love Disneyland! So I was very upset to hear about the price increase. My boyfriend and I love going there, but it is understandable if they are using the proceeds to finance new and exciting rides.”