Editorial on current Walt Disney World prices

Tuesday, April 2, 2019 6:02 PM

https://finance.yahoo.com/news/why-walt-disney-world-isn-112100754.html

I feel like this could just as easily have been a Coasterbuzz editorial

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Tuesday, April 2, 2019 6:42 PM

Yeah. It didn't really take a super strong position, except in the headline, but the point still stands. Disney seems to be able to hike prices somewhat indefinitely without hurting attendance. That's a pretty good problem to have.

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Tuesday, April 2, 2019 8:23 PM

After seeing how busy the parks were on our first 2 days this past week, we ended up doing the After Hours ticketed event at the Magic Kingdom to make sure we got to do everything. Prior to this visit, I would have said no way would we ever pay that much for the 3 hours. Now we are talking about the possibility that we would do a trip where we depended on the after hour events instead of renewing our annual pass.

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Tuesday, April 2, 2019 9:15 PM

That piece just stops short of suggesting a possible outcome: The difference is pricing from expensive to cheap times of year is a non-issue for the people who can afford even the cheaper level. If you can afford to buy a $100 bottle of wine, do you really care if the one you want costs $200?

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Wednesday, April 3, 2019 9:47 AM

Ken P said:

After seeing how busy the parks were on our first 2 days this past week, we ended up doing the After Hours ticketed event at the Magic Kingdom to make sure we got to do everything. Prior to this visit, I would have said no way would we ever pay that much for the 3 hours. Now we are talking about the possibility that we would do a trip where we depended on the after hour events instead of renewing our annual pass.

What were your thoughts on the After Hours event? I imagine the experience there would be similar to what a true slow season day would have been like back in the day. Was it truly 3 hours of having the run of the place? If so, I would absolutely see the value in it, given the current crowd levels even during regular seasons.

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Wednesday, April 3, 2019 3:04 PM

I picture it more along the lines of the experience of the after hours Halloween and Christmas events. And that experience is awesome. Adding a theme to it like they're doing with the villain themed event brings it more in line with the atmosphere at those parties.

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Wednesday, April 3, 2019 4:16 PM

bigboy said:

I picture it more along the lines of the experience of the after hours Halloween and Christmas events. And that experience is awesome. Adding a theme to it like they're doing with the villain themed event brings it more in line with the atmosphere at those parties.

My understanding is that, other than FoP, it is pretty much walk-ons for everything. I don't know that I'd ever pay to do it, after all, we were able to do everything we wanted in 7 days in Dec. using clever FastPass strategy and Rider Switch, but I certainly understand the appeal given the constant busyness of the parks.

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Friday, April 5, 2019 12:36 PM

I'm amazed by this. On one hand- if they're able to get away with this, more power to 'em. On the other, I wonder if there will be long-term ramifications? If I were spending between $150 and $200 to visit on a busy day and only got to ride a few things, I'd be hesitant to go back. There has to be a tipping point, right?

I have never paid for extra time at one of the parks but recently used my annual pass for an extended hours-type thing at Epcot (advertised as 9:00 to 11:00 p.m., although not totally accurate since Illuminations means regular paying guests are in the park until 9:30 anyway). I didn't experience an empty park, that's for sure. Frozen was a 35 minute wait (opposed to the average of 60 these days) but other than that, there were still lines, and I didn't get a chance to do as much as I'd hoped. That made me wonder what the "pay for extra time" events are like.

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Friday, April 5, 2019 1:41 PM

There is a tipping point, but I firmly believe, given their ability to raise prices and not significantly put a dent in crowd, that Disney has a pretty good idea of that tipping point. Demand just appears to be seemingly endless. I'm sure they're pricing people out, or at least continuing to price out those that have never been able to afford it, and plenty seem to be able to find a way to get to the parks.

I would assume from my experiences at the pay for extra time events that their wait times are significantly different from the passholder and extra magic hour wait times. At the Halloween party event a few years ago, the longest lines we found were Seven Dwarves Mine Train and Space Mountain and at 60 and 30 minutes long, they were significantly shorter than the day time waits. Everything else we tried was a walk-on or less than 5 minutes. And SDMT was about a 10 minute wait with a 30 minute advertised wait when we jumped in line about 10 minutes before the end of the event.

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Friday, April 5, 2019 2:35 PM

Remember, Disney has a small army of actuaries and researchers to figure this stuff out. They know what the right numbers are, but likely take a conservative approach toward price adjustment. This last year is the most aggressive change we've seen, but I don't think they're done.

Part of the problem I theorize is that they have more than one category of business. Magic Kingdom visitors I bet tend to be the vacationers, while Epcot, with its festivals, has more of a regional appeal. They have to adjust one without harming the other.

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Friday, April 5, 2019 4:19 PM

...which may be the reason why Disney has made the Magic Kingdom more expensive than the other parks? At least on certain days?

I stand by my belief that the Magic Kingdom probably should be priced higher than the others, because there is just so much more to do in a day. When I'm in the area, I grab my three Fastpasses and plan to spend a couple hours at the park, but spend two or three more and end up doing almost everything. Magic Kingdom is the only one where a full day is required, and probably still not enough.

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Saturday, April 6, 2019 4:56 PM

When I worked there I was told that they seriously contemplated dropping a second, identical Magic Kingdom, somewhere on the Florida property. Back when I heard that I thought it was preposterous...but now I'm not so sure it wouldn't have been a good idea.

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Saturday, April 6, 2019 7:25 PM

If you're the Walt Disney Company, don't you look at the fact that a family is spending $1000 on plane tickets, and another $500 or $1000 on hotels, and a couple hundred more on a rental car, and all the other incidentals, and think that the value people place on your product is whatever tickets cost plus that $2000? So when ticket prices were about $200 for five days, they were only capturing maybe a third of the overall value of a visit.* I'd want to get more of that for myself if I could (if I were a ruthless capitalist, which is really kind of another question).

*Ignoring, of course, that a lot of those people are staying in Disney hotels, and eating Disney food, etc., and that sunshine, warm weather, palm trees, etc. are at least part of the value of the vacation too.

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Saturday, April 6, 2019 11:23 PM

Value sure is subjective. I'm just about at the end of my tenth anniversary trip, which I approached with reckless abandon in terms of cost. You think a few days at Universal is expensive? Harry Potter and The Cursed Child, both parts, on Broadway, costs $400 per person for decent seats. I'll tell you right now it's in the running for the best five hours of entertainment I've ever experienced, and I'm not even a Potter fan.

It goes back to the countless points others have made about what people pay for concerts, sportsball, and yes, live theater. Even as a season subscriber at the local theater, it's maybe $80 a show. By that measure, a day at a theme park is a steal, especially WDW.

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Saturday, April 6, 2019 11:33 PM

I'm sure this is chicken and egg, but Magic Kingdom's higher demand isn't just because it has the most rides. I think it's because nobody goes to WDW and skips the Magic Kingdom. I had some friends go summer of 2018 and they're thrill junkies and I told them they would like DHS more but they said if they were going to spend one day at WDW, they were going to do it at MK. They weren't particularly impressed, but they couldn't imagine going and not doing MK.

I think the real question will be what happens next time the economy hits a downturn. What kind of discounts, if any, will we see to keep all the infrastructure, hotels, etc. full? Or will they still be able to keep cranking up the prices, offering the extras, and raking in the cash?

Last edited by ApolloAndy, Saturday, April 6, 2019 11:33 PM
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Saturday, April 6, 2019 11:33 PM

As you note, they are getting a lot of dollars in terms of Disney resort and food purchases. What raising ticket prices (and what gets the headlines are single day tickets but most people are visiting on multiple day tickets I would expect -- haven't looked at what increases have been there) does is allow you to offer discounts on resorts and dining to help offset ticket prices if necessary (such as during an economic downturn). The people you would lose in that instance are people who aren't staying on property (with dining plans) so if you lose someone, that is who you want to lose.

Disney Express helps replace some rental cars. Also makes it less likely people will go somewhere else in Orlando (such as Universal). Though riding sharing may lessen the benefit there.

Not sure Disney has an interest in running an airline to capture that revenue stream. Though maybe they could use cruise ships up and down the costs to shuttle people to and from the parks (start your Disney trip with 2-3 day Disney cruise, followed by 4-5 days in parks and 2-3 day Disney cruise home. LOL But what the airline tickets get Disney is another day or two in the parks because people would be driving to the parks rather than flying and spending a day or two of their vacation in a vehicle.

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Sunday, April 7, 2019 12:59 AM

I see where you're going, but I think it's too distributed once you leave the Orlando bubble. I mean, how many people are flying from San Jose (where I live) to Disney any given day. Probably not enough to fill a single flight.

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Sunday, April 7, 2019 8:15 AM

I agree. And even if any given airport has enough Disney goers to fill one or more flights per day, the time flexibility with multiple non-Disney flight options that exists today presumably is of benefit to people headed to Disney which would be lost with more limited Disney flights. And airlines are a tough business. Seems like they have to run themselves through bankruptcy every so many years to shed costs and keep viable. Can't imagine Disney would want to invest capital into something with returns like an airline when they could invest it in new resorts, attractions, lands, etc. But if the idea is capturing the revenue stream Disney goers are spending on airline tickets, having an airline would be a way to do that (though again not one that would make a lot of sense for Disney).

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Sunday, April 7, 2019 8:41 AM

I didn't really express the point I was trying to make well. My point was more that, in theory, nearly all of the value people derive on their Disney vacation comes from visiting theme parks (nobody goes on vacation for the excitement of air travel). Families are effectively paying $3,000 to get in the door. If the travel and hotels, etc., were free, they might pay $3,000 for tickets.

You can't wish away the travel costs, of course, and if you kept raising prices forever at some point someone else would build a cheaper mousestrap. But it's hard to imagine Disney doesn't look at the total amount of money being spent and think, "all of that is because of us - we deserve more of it."

(Again, I'm ignoring sunshine, the feeling of being away from home, etc. And no, I can't imagine Disney wants to run an airline - much better to let someone else have those tiny margins.)

Last edited by hambone, Sunday, April 7, 2019 8:43 AM
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Sunday, April 7, 2019 9:59 AM

That's basically what they did with the resorts. Disney is capturing the hotel/dining expenditures for large numbers of guests. Rest of the expenditures are low margin. And they really don't want 100% of the resort market. Would be too many times during the year with empty rooms.

The other example of the all-inclusive concept (in terms of $$ spent Disney captures) are the cruise boats. Don't get the airline tickets but again thats low margin and very much spread out across the country/world.

Last edited by GoBucks89, Sunday, April 7, 2019 10:09 AM
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