Disney reverses some changes in policy and costs at US parks

Posted | Contributed by Jeff

From the New York Times, from Parks & Experiences Chairman Josh D'Amaro:

“If you move a tree, if you change a procedure, if you start asking for reservations — that’s a big deal to our guests,” he added. “They care. They really, really care. And if people care that much, then I have an obligation to listen and, when appropriate, to make some changes and modifications.”

Disney Parks Blog says the following changes are coming at Walt Disney World:

  • Resort guest parking fees are going away.
  • Annual passholders will no longer need reservations after 2 p.m., excluding Magic Kingdom on weekends.
  • Attraction photos will be included with Genie+ purchase.
  • Photos for passholders are implied to return, given that, "We’ll share a start date with Passholders soon for when these offerings will become available, as well as information about a new offering that is planned where you can create and share short Disney-themed video slideshows with favorite photos from your theme park visits."

Disney Parks Blog says the following changes are coming to Disneyland Resort:

  • Park hopper tickets will allow park hopping starting at 11 a.m.
  • About two months of $107 tickets will be available throughout the year.
  • All "ticketed guests" will be able to use PhotoPass for free.
  • New annual passes will become available periodically.
Jeff's avatar

Charging passholders for PhotoPass has always been cosmically stupid. I'm sure they've figured out by now that they're not going to pay for photos of the same rides they've been on a hundred times. But if it's free, they might post it on social media, and that's free advertising.

Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Phrazy

What's funny is they could easily get away with raising every hotel room $20/night to counter dropping the resort parking fee and 95% of even the Disney Debbie Downers wouldn't notice.

I applaud them for taking steps to remove the unnecessary park reservation system.

Jeff's avatar

You're right, I think so much of it is perception. Pass prices have been going up hard for years, but I didn't think much about it until they yanked photos and the food discounts.

Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Phrazy

I'm surprised the "photos included with Genie+" took this long. That was in place when we went out to Disneyland last year and it was a factor in us going ahead and upgrading. But, now it will be free on California for all ticketed guests? What is the difference? I'm guessing it has something to do with attendance and the pressure that would put on the photographers at WDW? Even the way it is now there are often some significant lines for key locations like in front of the castle.

Mist likely the parking fee revenue will be made up with room price increases……

However any fee on top of the advertised room fee is basically false price advertising. People want to know the all in price. Not some fantasy lower price with a bunch of gouging fees. It’s a sleazy way to do business

Speaking of sleazy Busch fas a 5% surcharge on their food and merchandise now on top of posted prices.

Jeff's avatar

Really? That's super lame. See also: "Resort fees."

Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Phrazy

I was going to say...resort fees have been a fact of life in Orlando for at least a decade and I'm usually surprised if I run across a hotel in a popular destination that does NOT have resort fees.

Does Holiday World still provide free sunscreen and soda? I thought that was genius when they first announced it (relatively inexpensive good will) and we actually provide free sunscreen in some of our more active City parks now.

Holiday World does indeed still provide free sunscreen, soda, and parking. The soda at least since 2000, so it must be working for them.

I’m sure these perks are made up in the admission price, but I think the uniqueness of these freebies earns HW a ton of gratitude from the public, resulting in return visits.

Good-will indeed from good Will (Koch). :^)

Dang. We are missing the earlier park hopping at DLR by a week. Ah well, 1 pm isn't terrible.

It doesn’t matter if resort fees are the norm it’s a poor way to do business. Just charge the final price to start with.

But… that won’t trick people into showing up.

kpjb's avatar

Honestly, I think that it should be against the law to advertise a rate that clearly isn't true. $99 room with a $50 "resort fee" for wifi and a gym.

It's like when airlines advertised super low prices, but it didn't include taxes and fees which are over half the cost of your ticket. That was made illegal, and in my opinion hotel fees and ticket fees that are unavoidable should be in the same category.

Get off my lawn.


Jeff's avatar

What Ticketmaster does takes it to an entirely new level. Not sure why the FTC doesn't crack down on all of that bull****.

Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Phrazy

I guess there's a move afoot for the FTC to try to crack down on "junk fees", in particular citing any fee that cannot reasonably be avoided, and any fee that is kept secret, that is not included in the marketing materials. The more I read about it the more I wondered if parking fees in general (never disclosed in advance, should be included in the ticket price but aren't, never advertised...) start to look like the kind of junk fees the FTC is talking about. SEAS 5% surcharge certainly applies.

Personally, I'm a generally anti-Government type; if pressed hard enough I'd describe myself as a 'practical Libertarian' (acknowledging that the most pure variety is about as impractical as the Articles of Confederation). But sometimes the market fails and guardrails become necessary...

--Dave Althoff, Jr.

    /X\        _      *** Respect rides. They do not respect you. ***
/XXX\ /X\ /X\_ _ /X\__ _ _ _____

Jeff's avatar

I don't fit clearly in either camp myself. I feel like I have to tell hard lefties that capitalism is great if it's regulated, and righties that free-for-alls historically crumble societies through extreme inequity.

In retrospect, Disney started tacking on and removing all the things so slowly that I didn't really notice. I figured ticket pricing had to go up as a function of demand, and I've always been good with that. But in combination with the paid queue management, no photos, no passholder food discounts, and apparently reduced availability to enter a park in California, the value proposition has definitely changed. It still hasn't changed enough for us to bail, because geography and Food & Wine.

Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Phrazy

I think my biggest issue is that it has just made the process for planning and visiting Disney parks is just unnecessarily complex. Yes, an out of town vacationing family is going to do significantly more planning for a week at Walt Disney World than they will for a day trip to Cedar Point. But when us coaster nerds can't keep up or figure it all out, I feel like it's too much.

Jeff's avatar

Making a reservation, often the same day, doesn't seem like a heavy lift to me.

Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Phrazy

kpjb's avatar


What Ticketmaster does takes it to an entirely new level. Not sure why the FTC doesn't crack down on all of that bull****.

I got tickets to see the Killers and Johnny Marr. Tickets were around $35 and cost me around $55 with fees.

They changed the date and I'm going to be out of town. Due to the dynamic pricing, tickets in my section are now going for $265 each. I figured I'd undercut because I wanted them to sell right away, so I put them on resale for $199 each, and they sold within a few hours.

However, I did not receive $398 for the sale. After Ticketmaster fees I got $335.

The person who bought my $199 tickets? They paid $246 each.

So on $70 worth of tickets, Ticketmaster made a total of $197 in fees.


ApolloAndy's avatar

This strikes me as a "Tragedy of the Commons" type situation. It's way better for everyone if there aren't these junk fees at all, but if anybody decides to do it, you're kind of forced to do it in order to compete. It's almost a case study for a the benefits of regulation.

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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