Theme park pricing outpacing other forms of entertainment over the last decade

Posted Monday, March 6, 2017 8:19 AM | Contributed by Jeff

Prices are rising for most forms of entertainment, including movies, concerts and sporting events. But the cost of a theme park ticket has gone up much more than that of other pastimes over the last decade.

Read more from The LA Times.

Monday, March 6, 2017 8:21 AM

And when will the predictions of self-induced doom stop, I wonder. Watching the ticket prices here in Orlando for the last four years has been interesting, because the parks aren't getting less crowded.

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Monday, March 6, 2017 8:47 AM

Now that I'm done beating my head against the wall...

... I have approximately zero sympathy for someone who is "forced" to decide between a $600+ annual pass and a $400+ annual pass.

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Monday, March 6, 2017 9:32 AM

The [Detroit] Lions said ticket prices increased an average of 2.8% to about $99 per ticket, which ranks in the bottom half of the NFL.

An average of $99 a game for season ticket holders, plus another ~$45-$50 a game for an annual parking pass, to spend 3 hours watching the worst team in sports create new ways to lose.

Theme park tickets are so over-priced. /s

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Monday, March 6, 2017 9:40 AM

Ken P said:

The [Detroit] Lions said ticket prices increased an average of 2.8% to about $99 per ticket, which ranks in the bottom half of the NFL.

To be fair, it is not clear that the Lions are a professional team.

As for the original article: I'd like to see the prices for other than "general seating" for the pro sports franchises. I bet there has been a significant spread between "good seats" and "at least we're in the building."

Last edited by Brian Noble, Monday, March 6, 2017 9:41 AM
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Monday, March 6, 2017 10:32 AM

Ditto for average price paid for theme park admission. I'm sure many people pay the single-day/park rate at the gate, but I'd be shocked if it was a significant portion of people.

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Monday, March 6, 2017 1:47 PM

Jeff said:
Ditto for average price paid for theme park admission. I'm sure many people pay the single-day/park rate at the gate, but I'd be shocked if it was a significant portion of people.

I think that depends a lot on the park. At DisneyWorld, very few pay the single day rate. Having just been there last week, very few of the ticket kiosks were being used. And, they mainly looked like they had been ghosttowns for quite a while. Much of that is resorts and switching to magic bands, etc.

However, at regional parks, I'm sure there is a lot more one day purchases occurring. Cedar Point, Six Flags, etc. do have a lot of people who only visit for a day. Many of them do buy their tickets online, but there still are a lot of one day visits there (versus season passes).

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Monday, March 6, 2017 2:47 PM

Article is comparing ticket prices for several parks in California, WDW in Orlando, two sports teams in LA, top 100 national concerts and nationwide movie and ski lift ticket prices. Something of a mishmash of comparisons. Difficult to make meaningful comparisons on a city specific level versus national level. And ticket sales are just one component of revenue for each industry. How important other components are to entities at issue varies by industry (for sports, TV revenues are huge) and within the industry (WDW lodging/food are much bigger revenue drivers than they are for regional parks).

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Monday, March 6, 2017 4:01 PM

OTOH, admission to a theme park is a full day's worth of entertainment, typically from 10am to 9 or 10pm. A sporting event lasts maybe 3 or 4 hours. A concert, maybe 4 or 5, depending on how many bands are playing.

I think most people know what the prices of different forms of entertainment are and simply accept it. I do not bat an eyelash at park admission, because I know what it costs, and budget it into the trip in the planning stages. Much like the cost of gas, hotel, food, etc, it simply costs what it costs. (Look for coupons, though.)

P.S. My dad says that when he was a kid, movies cost a nickle. And when I was a kid they cost $3.75. But you're still welcome on my lawn.

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Monday, March 6, 2017 4:41 PM

Those in this group obviously see the value in the price of a ticket to a park. Most of the general public experiences sticker shock and I think its for a couple different reasons. Most I talk to are shocked by the prices of Disney because the last time they bought tickets it cost them $65 or whatever it was 10+ years ago when they last went. They don't keep up with industry trends like we do. Another reason is when people look at the overall cost of a trip to a park that is outside of their region. People look at the advertised cost of airfare, hotel, rental car, park, etc. They don't bother to go after deals for all of those items which 99% of the time will bring the cost down by a lot.

I travel a lot each year and I never pay full price for anything that I don't have to. I have become sorta of the "expert" on travel at my job. Everyone is always asking how I get such good deals but are amazed to find out I just use Priceline. I don't just buy the first hotel that comes up when I search, I look around for deals. I have bought airfare for $17 oneway, rental cars for $4 a day, and 5 star hotels for $65 a night. And that isn't rare thing either. Doing that lets me spend extra on offerings like parks, concerts, and ballgames that don't discount much off of their price. It's amazing how many people don't realize how to work a site like Priceline and how often they just pay full price for a plane ticket.

Last edited by 99er, Monday, March 6, 2017 4:44 PM
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Monday, March 6, 2017 6:36 PM

I likewise consider myself a savvy traveler. Ask anyone who has had the pleasure of staying at a Sandusky Rodeway Inn with me :-) Okay, they call me cheap...

But I have trouble buying into the idea that the general public experiences much sticker shock, given that Disney and Universal Orlando and the Chicago Bears and Hamilton continue to sell huge volumes of tickets. They've clearly found the sweet spot with their customers between 'let's make as much money as we can' and 'let's not drive away customers with prices that are too high'.

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Monday, March 6, 2017 6:51 PM

That's because those people are still going ahead and buying the tickets because they've already decided to make the trip. This is exactly what happened two weeks ago when a friend who hadn't been to Disney since high school asked me how much it was to get in. She was shocked and a bit angry when she found out how much it was now. Her family is still making the trip this summer but she wasn't happy about the price now.

This still applies to other forms of entertainment too. I have friends that have gone to 'Hamilton' but didn't enjoy the price tag. I believe the reason so many think places like Disney are too high priced are those who rarely or have never visited before and assume the price will be similar to their local amusement park.

Last edited by 99er, Monday, March 6, 2017 6:54 PM
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Monday, March 6, 2017 8:25 PM

I was looking in old photo albums the other day and came across a Cedar Point parking stub for $5 from 1995. To me the price of admission doesn't seem to have increased more than other forms of entertainment (at least Cedar Point) but in park food seems much more out of line now than it did years ago. It was never cheap but we used to think nothing of planning to have dinner in the park as a weekly treat back in the 90s. Of course I have to remind myself that we were only feeding 2 people back then so maybe that accounts for the sticker shock in that category.

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Monday, March 6, 2017 11:35 PM

99er said:
I have friends that have gone to 'Hamilton' but didn't enjoy the price tag.

There's where I get hung up. Going to see Hamilton, or going to Walt Disney World, or going to a Chicago Cubs game, or going to Chicago's Museum of Science and Industry, that charges more for parking than Walt Disney World -- is purely discretionary spending. If someone doesn't enjoy the price tag, they should take their dollars elsewhere.

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Tuesday, March 7, 2017 1:03 AM

Paisley said:

I was looking in old photo albums the other day and came across a Cedar Point parking stub for $5 from 1995.

My stub says $4 (and I thought it was a 1996 stub, but it may be a 1995...it can't be earlier than that though)

Last edited by Lord Gonchar, Tuesday, March 7, 2017 1:04 AM
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Tuesday, March 7, 2017 7:04 AM

I had dated mine because it was an anniversary trip (we had been at the park on our wedding day also). Yours is probably just from earlier in the season, mine was October. I may have a $3,50 one around I'll have to look some time.

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Tuesday, March 7, 2017 9:56 AM

Paisley said:
I had dated mine because it was an anniversary trip (we had been at the park on our wedding day also). Yours is probably just from earlier in the season, mine was October. I may have a $3,50 one around I'll have to look some time.

What is interesting is that that parking stub seems to support a bit of what the article is saying. Parking in 1996 at $5.00. Parking in 2016 $15.00. The difference? A 200% increase, or on average, 10% per year.

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Tuesday, March 7, 2017 12:24 PM

I find it interesting that KBF is also raising prices in line with Disney and Universal. I wonder if that's because of the market they're in or if other regional parks are increasing at a similar rate.

I also wonder if theme park prices were artificially depressed ten years ago in the wake of the Premier Parks Six Flags ownership stuff. Although the ticket prices haven't changed that much since that era, so maybe not? (Edit: I actually have no idea what one day ticket prices for a regional park are. I haven't bought one in over a decade).

We are headed to Disneyland later this month for a 3 day weekend and I was a little bit taken aback by sticker shock, even as a follower of the industry. The first day is something like $100+, the second is $80, the third is $70, the fourth is $20, and the fifth is $15. They really want you to stay for 4 days, but we only have 3. We still decided to go, but cut back on hotel and determined that even though we are now driving distance (San Jose: ~6 hrs.), it's not something we can do every year. We can, however, go to KBF and SFMM basically as much as we want because of CGA and SFDK passes.

I will say, however, that we completely changed our travel plans based on crowd forecast (we were originally planning on taking a longer trip during Easter week, but apparently it's one of the worst weeks to go) and I'd be willing to pay a significantly higher price if it chased away some of the crowds. At this stage of life, budget, and family, time and energy are way more important than money. Also, I hate poor people.

Last edited by ApolloAndy, Tuesday, March 7, 2017 1:25 PM
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Tuesday, March 7, 2017 1:15 PM

We recently did a five day ticket at WDW and it was expensive enough, but we remarked about how cheap it was to add an additional day if we wanted it. Like, 15 bucks or something. (Don't quote me)
There's a certain "trap em and hold em" thing going on there, and that makes sense. Extra days mean extra resort nights, meals, etc.
I've mentioned before that on occasion I've been a one day/multi park customer at both Disney and Universal. That cash outlay really hurt, but it certainly seems less ouchy to get five days for less than five times that amount. And still, it's currently running close to 500 for those 5 hopper days.

Edit: in checking I see day six is more than 15 bucks. It's still a lot cheaper than day one though.

Last edited by RCMAC, Tuesday, March 7, 2017 1:21 PM
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Tuesday, March 7, 2017 1:23 PM

I think 5 day hoppers at DLR are "only" $350 right now.

And I still, for the life of me, can't figure out why they don't dynamically price anything but the one day tickets. "Want 5-day hoppers for the week between Xmas and New Years? That'll be $800." Solves multiple problems at the same time.

Last edited by ApolloAndy, Tuesday, March 7, 2017 1:27 PM
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