Beginning today, many visitors to Disney theme parks will pay more for the privilege of posing for selfies with Mickey & Co. But some will pay less. And others will pay a so-called regular rate, that is actually a price increase. Yes, it’s complicated.
The newly implemented surge-pricing scheme features three price tiers, Value, Regular, and Peak, with daily rates increasing or decreasing according to daily demand.
At Disneyland, for example, one-day Value tickets are priced at $95, Regular tickets are $105, and Peak tickets are $119. (The all-year-round ticket price was $99 per day before the new prices took effect, so the new “regular” price is itself a price hike.)
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In March, only seven days were available at the Value level. Ten days were priced at the Regular rate. And 14 days were Peak-priced. So, twice as many days were priced higher than were priced lower.
According to Theme Park Insider, an industry blog, Disney is instituting the new pricing scheme to better control demand, resulting in more manageable crowds during high-demand periods as visitors reschedule their attendance to take advantage of Value prices on off-days. That may indeed be a byproduct of the variable pricing. But as Disney is well aware, park attendance is dictated by time availability, on weekends, national holidays, school vacations. The great majority of visitors are locked into traveling during defined periods; they don’t have the option of scheduling their trips on the second Wednesday in March, to save a few bucks. So they will pay more.
Stripped of its complications and rationalizations, what this is is a price hike, by as much as 20 percent in some cases. That’s the why and the wherefore of Disney’s move. And it’s why Grumpy’s so grumpy.
Reader Reality Check
How high can Disney raise its prices before you would simply take the family elsewhere?
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After 20 years working in the travel industry, and 15 years writing about it, Tim Winship knows a thing or two about travel. Follow him on Twitter @twinship.
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