Disney hates poor people

Thursday, June 18, 2015 11:20 AM
Jeff's avatar

I saw this opinion piece in the Washington Post, and it annoys me. It's predicated on a lot of silly assumptions:

  • The presence of VIP offerings means Disney is catering to the rich. That these VIP offerings do not diminish the "standard" experience makes this nonsense.
  • Expensive rooms means Disney is shutting out the middle class or lower. Nevermind that they have rooms that you can get for under $100 a night at certain times of year, with free rides to and from the airport.
  • The Magic Kingdom one-day ticket is $105, sure, but who is paying that? Five-day tickets knock that down to $63/day.
  • The criticism assumes that $63 a day isn't a good value for what you get. I don't know many places that you can go and tour one of the best zoos on the planet and take in a Broadway-style show then ride a few roller coasters. Or take in a bunch of classic roller coasters, parades, dark rides, etc.
  • Are 19 million visitors really all Wall Street traders? That's just stupid.

So let's say I'm a family of four, and I want to stay on property the week after Thanksgiving. The cost for 5 nights at one of the All-Star resorts, with 5-day tickets, is about $1,900. If I add a counter service dining plan, it's another $600. If the median household income in the US is $50k, which seems reasonable, especially if both parents work, is $1,900 really out of reach? If you can save $158 per month, for a year, you're there. Is that possible for a disciplined, budgeting adult, or am I totally out of touch? If we do use $50k household income as some kind of minimum that makes WDW affordable, that means half of Americans can afford it. If you make it $35k, which is about $18 hourly, then two-thirds of Americans can afford it.


Jeff - Webmaster/Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Twitter - Video

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Thursday, June 18, 2015 11:39 AM
Thabto's avatar

You didn't factor in travel costs into your equation. That could be another few hundred dollars and to some, that alone can be a barrier. But as discussed here before, Disney's price increases doesn't make much of an impact on their attendance and it would make sense for them to adopt a dynamic pricing model. Probably many Disney visitors are once in a lifetime visitors and have saved for months or possibly years to make their visit.

Last edited by Thabto, Thursday, June 18, 2015 11:45 AM

Brian

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Thursday, June 18, 2015 11:53 AM
Lord Gonchar's avatar

Even if they are ignoring the less well off or catering to the 1% or whatever - so what? I don't get the implication.

"Those bastards are running a high quality, high end business that demands top dollar!"


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Thursday, June 18, 2015 11:53 AM
Vater's avatar

Asinine. The "article" is a complete contradiction of itself. All the author does is whine that Disney keeps pricing out the "middle class" while simultaneously acknowledging it sets attendance records year after year.

I despise talk of "class," anyway, within the US. We're not a true classist society. Someone could have an identical salary as mine but might be able to afford a much more (or less) expensive Disney vacation experience than I, based on a crapload of different factors, like family size, location, cost of living, other stuff we spend (or don't spend) our money on, etc.

Lastly, I value the Washington Post about as much as I do Weekly World News.

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Thursday, June 18, 2015 11:57 AM
rollergator's avatar

When there were fewer people, and travel was more difficult, Disney needed to be accessible to a higher percentage of the population. Wage stagnation and such have removed a sizable chunk of Americans from the group of potential customers, but population growth offset that to a large degree, and global travel has expanded access GREATLY. On net, the company is becoming more profitable by serving the higher-end clients more and charging them more for those services they find valuable.

In relative terms, a larger percentage of people can no longer go to Disney. On the other hand, if prices were low enough to be more accessible to the larger audiences of old, then the parks would be absolutely teeming with people and would be less pleasant places to be.

All of this is of course my own whacked-out opinion, and not representative of the larger group of CB'ers. ;~P


You still have Zoidberg.... You ALL have Zoidberg! (V) (;,,;) (V)

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Thursday, June 18, 2015 12:30 PM
slithernoggin's avatar

Walt was a savvy businessman (there's a reason he wanted the Florida Project to straddle two counties). If I may take my turn putting words in a dead man's mouth, I'd say Walt would be very comfortable with the resort's pricing.

And I don't notice the Post dropping its price to make it a more affordable paper....

Last edited by slithernoggin, Thursday, June 18, 2015 12:31 PM

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Thursday, June 18, 2015 1:37 PM
Jeff's avatar

Thabto said:

You didn't factor in travel costs into your equation.

That's because it's irrelevant. If someone is coming to Orlando to do nothing at all, Orlando is still X miles away. It has nothing to do with how Disney prices itself.

The problem with these kinds of opinion pieces is that they ignore value, or in this case, talk about the economics but then cast them aside to make some weak moral case.


Jeff - Webmaster/Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Twitter - Video

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Thursday, June 18, 2015 1:44 PM

You could make a case that many professional sports are only catering to rich people these days...if you use this writer's arguments.

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Thursday, June 18, 2015 1:57 PM

The last time I went to Orlando from Canton, OH, I spend 10 nights at one of the Disney value resorts. It was me and my ex-girlfriend, and it was just over $3,000 for EVERYTHING, including travel, food, lodging, souvenirs, taxis to/from Universal for 2 days, and our tickets to all of that as well. I'd say that's pretty damn affordable.

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Thursday, June 18, 2015 2:15 PM
Lord Gonchar's avatar

Jeff said:

That's because it's irrelevant. If someone is coming to Orlando to do nothing at all, Orlando is still X miles away. It has nothing to do with how Disney prices itself.

I see what you're saying but...

If you want to go to WDW, you have to go to Orlando.

If you want to go to Orlando, you don't have to go to WDW.

It's not like Disney is just feeding off of Orlando tourism - "What can we do while we're here in Orlando? Hey! I Know! Let's visit this Disney World I've heard so much about!"

If anything is exactly the other way around - "What else can we do in Orlando while we're visiting Disney World?"

Plus, I don't think it's fair to include the travel cost of staying in Orlando (the All-Star resort), but not the travel cost of getting there. But that's where Disney started to blur the line with resorts and packages and such. All they need now is an airline.

It does have nothing to do with the way Disney prices itself in the sense you're talking, but they're certainly aware of the fact that most people have to incur the cost to travel to Orlando to visit them. And as a customer the cost of getting to and staying in Orlando is certainly a factor.

Generally, I agree with you (I know it doesn't sound like it), but I don't think it's that simple.

$2500 ignores travel and any other purchase beyond room, tickets and included food. Right now the best flight I can get from here for 5 or 6 days the week after Thanksgiving is $320. That's $1280 just to get there. We're up to $3780.

And going back to the idea that $2500 included no additional spending, let me add a modest $25 per day for incidentals per person and that's another $500 (if I lowball it that hard, I'd argue you can't).

$4280 for a family of four. That's not an irrelevant difference. Suddenly they have to save $357 a month for a year. That vacation is now costing 8.5% of the average $50,000 family's gross income. It's even more grim if you consider net income.

Is it reasonable to expect people to spend 8 or 10 percent of their income on one 5-day vacation? I have no idea because in the end it doesn't matter. Disney is a high quality experience with extremely high popularity. It has nothing to do with right or wrong or whatever. It's the equivalent of arguing that Rolls Royce has priced their product out of reach of the common man.


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Thursday, June 18, 2015 3:26 PM

This is one of the facts he uses to support his stance that Disney is catering to Wall Street dads:

Disney’s two Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutiques sell a $195 pampering for little girls that includes a makeover, hair-styling, a costume and a princess sash.

What he omits, since it somewhat sandbags his argument, is that is the most expensive package available. More financially conservative parents, like me and my wife, can opt for the $60 package minus the costume, t-shirt, and photo package. We can take our own pictures, forgo the t-shirt since she'll outgrow it in a few months, and pick up a costume in advance of the trip online or from a toy store for $20. My daughter is now getting the equivalent of the nearly $200 package for less than half the cost.


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Thursday, June 18, 2015 4:14 PM
Jeff's avatar

Ditto for the comment about desserts. Sure, you can spend $49 a head on the Sparkling Dessert Party at Epcot, or you can cross the midway to Refreshment Port and buy a cronut and frou-frou drink for about $14.

Lord Gonchar said:
Plus, I don't think it's fair to include the travel cost of staying in Orlando (the All-Star resort), but not the travel cost of getting there.

No, I still think it's irrelevant. The "Disney hates poor people" narrative is about how Disney prices its offerings. By your argument, the Space Needle's pricing in Seattle has to be accountable for the air travel of observation deck enthusiasts. And honestly, right now you can score flights for about $200 a head from some eastern half airports. Or if you have a Honda Civic, you can drive it from Cleveland for less than $200 in gas round trip, so like the author, you can use the numbers in whatever way you want to suit your argument.


Jeff - Webmaster/Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Twitter - Video

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Thursday, June 18, 2015 4:47 PM
Lord Gonchar's avatar

Jeff said:

No, I still think it's irrelevant. The "Disney hates poor people" narrative is about how Disney prices its offerings. By your argument, the Space Needle's pricing in Seattle has to be accountable for the air travel of observation deck enthusiasts.

Well, no. Disney and the Space Needle don't have to be accountable. The visitor does. Travel is absolutely part of the cost equation.

And I'd still argue that WDW is a destination, not just a tourist attraction - which adds to the consideration...along with the fact that they have almost 30,000 hotel rooms that say they're aware of and willing to be part of the travel consideration. When the Space Needle opens a couple of thousand rooms and books weeklong vacation packages to stay with them, we can add it to the conversation.

And honestly, right now you can score flights for about $200 a head from some eastern half airports. Or if you have a Honda Civic, you can drive it from Cleveland for less than $200 in gas round trip, so like the author, you can use the numbers in whatever way you want to suit your argument.

Oh, totally. There's a million ways to get there. Someone in your shoes pays nothing to drive the Leaf down the road. Joe Sixpack might load up the Civic and pay little more than $200 for gas. I'd have to pay $320 per ticket to fly.

But it all counts toward the cost of visiting. It's a little disingenuous to say it doesn't.

In the end, your $1900 to visit for 5 days + $600 for counter serice meals is just the starting point. Beyond that travel and incidental spending absolutely adds to the cost of visiting.

And none of this proves you or the article right or wrong. It's just a fact. Like I said, I sort of agree with you, but I don't see a need to skew the numbers in any direction. Bare minimum it's going to be $2500 + Travel + Spending to do your hypothetical weeklong vacation after Thanksgiving.

Is that pricing out the middle class? I don't honestly rightly know or care. If I were forced to answer, I'd say it certainly leans towards a higher end experience. I don't see a problem with that...and neither do the 18 million people that visit the Magic Kingdom every year.


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Thursday, June 18, 2015 6:59 PM
Pete's avatar

I really don't think it makes a bit of difference even if the author is correct. Disney is profitable and they get all of the attendance they need with their current business model. If it attracts higher end guests, so be it. There is nothing wrong with pricing a product to what the market will sustain, they are not a charity or non-profit that has to worry about which class group they attract. The author just strikes me as a whiner that wants socialistic equality.

Other recreational venues are similar. Look at ski resorts, a ski vacation is probably more expensive than a Disney vacation, and skiing is certainly a sport that shuts out poorer people. Can't say I complain about that, sometimes it's nice to do something higher end that isn't available to all.

Last edited by Pete, Thursday, June 18, 2015 7:01 PM

I'd rather be in my boat with a drink on the rocks, than in the drink with a boat on the rocks.

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Thursday, June 18, 2015 7:35 PM
Lord Gonchar's avatar

Five Things To Skip at Disney World to Cut Costs


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Thursday, June 18, 2015 8:03 PM

Oh my goodness.

1) Hospital cafeteria food? Not hardly. Pre-made food from a nearby grocery store sounds like a hassle (she was at a Disney resort, right?) and no better. Ok, maybe cheaper, but that's chintzy.

2) Limiting Disney memorabilia is certainly a way to cut costs, but picking one of those lumpy cultured pearls? Seriously? That says neither Disney or fun to me. Pins are a good idea, though, easy to pack, and not too expensive. Let the kids pick their favorite characters and ride from each park. They can wear those around all week.

3) I wish I would walk around all day with a dollar store poncho in case it rains.

4) Parkhopper. Here's where I almost agree. If I go to WDW with a first timer I usually suggest staying put for a full day. On subsequent visits it's hop.

5) Paying to park if you're at a resort is just dumb, so I've already saved that money.

Lemme at her.

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Thursday, June 18, 2015 8:48 PM
Tekwardo's avatar

All I know is that every time I go to Disney, I spend a lot of money, have a look fun, have no regrets, and want to go back soon.

I'm thankful my sister lives in Orlando. Because it gives me an excuse to come visit more often.


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Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened.

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Friday, June 19, 2015 5:29 AM
ApolloAndy's avatar

I just got back from Hong Kong Disneyland (well, to my hotel). Disney is pricing out people who can't afford $1600 round trip airfare.


Hobbes: "What's the point of attaching a number to everything you do?"
Calvin: "If your numbers go up, it means you're having more fun."

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Friday, June 19, 2015 10:30 AM
Vater's avatar

RCMAC said:

4) Parkhopper. Here's where I almost agree. If I go to WDW with a first timer I usually suggest staying put for a full day. On subsequent visits it's hop.

This is interesting. I'd been planning to get a park hopper for my Disney trip in November, but after reading her (and your) take, I wonder if it might be better to forego it. My family and I are essentially Disney noobs (I'm the only one who's been there before, at age 6 and again at 14, and was only at Magic Kingdom...so yeah...noob), and it makes sense being our first time there to take it all in and not worry about hitting up more than one park in a day. We could also stand to save some cash since we'll be on a budget (we'll actually be staying at our in-laws' rental property an hour from Orlando). Thoughts?

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Friday, June 19, 2015 11:20 AM
Jeff's avatar

What are the ages of your kids? When it was just me and Diana going, before we lived here, we had a funny way of ending up at Epcot most nights because that's where many of the best restaurants are. I mean, if I want to sit down for a good dinner, in my opinion nothing is very good at Magic Kingdom, for example. That's where park hopping helped us out, and it gets even more useful if you do more than four days. That way, you can, uh, hop around to catch up on things you missed or wanted to do again.


Jeff - Webmaster/Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Twitter - Video

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