While I understand inflation and that Disneyland was never for the poor - I used to use babysitting money to buy an annual pass and that was in the 70's - it was a Magic Kingdom pass back then (but if a high school person could afford it, and it was where fun dates were - then I don't agree with the idea that it was only a place for those that did not have problems with their bills).

First of all disneys vision was for all to enjoy. People got deessed up for everything back then. In addition they can limit the amount of guests without raising prices. You clearly are an apologist for disney who rakes in billions. Garbage. Sorry so many people are buying into your flawed logic.

In reply to by Doug (not verified)

Walt Disney is long since deceased. Things evolve. Its a private corporation now whose #1 concern is profits. Thats capitalism baby. Dont like it, dont go. Talk about your "first world problems". Anyone who complains about it comes across as a spoiled brat.

Disney should go back to ride tickets.Not like the physical ones,used in the past.They could just give you some kind of wrist band that would be scanned for each ride.This would cause people to not do the same ride several times,which would reduce lines.Would also cause customers to try different rides,so they wouldn't get burned out on any given ride.Would allow Disney to lower the price for patrons having a fixed number of rides and could price for those not using rides at all.Also,would make people appreciate each ride,more than they do now,when there is no cost for a ride.

my family has been going to disney for 29 years and i know it is expensive but if you stay at a disney resort (and there are reasonable priced ones) you get free transportation to and from the airport plus they even pick up your luggage. or you could go to a broadway show and spend 150 to 200 dollars each for tickets or go to a sport game and spend 100 to 200 dollars including food so it boils down to do you want a 8 to 10 hour day of enjoyment or about 2 hours sitting in one place. disney is a company that has to make money to fund all these new projects that's my opinion

In reply to by jerry patalano (not verified)

Exactly! Good point Jerry.

Correct solution to the problem would be simply dropping the annual pass completely If keeping the park busy during the off season becomes a issue. Then create a flex system such as lower prices for off season days to balance out yearly attendance averages.

Of course it really just boils some really bad design decisions over the years (Such as DCA). Not to mention underutilization of what little space they do have. Really rides or area's with a poor traffic to footprint ratio should be demolished and replaced (You have to let go of the nostalgia, in order for the park to grow). That means things such as Tom sawyer's island, Innovations, Submarine Voyage, Autopia, Toontown, Small world (The largest show building in the park), Faire grounds, festival area. Should all be demolished to make way for new attractions. As they all take up a massive amount of real estate with vary low traffic. These area's Combined take up more then half the park in landspace.

I too agree about the strollers. Today they are triple the size that they used to be and it seems that families just bring their SUV trollers just to cary all of their stuff around. It is so annoying to have to go around them or have them bump into you. Leave your babies at home people it makes it more enjoyable for EVERYONE!

I don't mind price increase. If they just limited strollers the place would feel less crowded without lowering the number of people. I would pay double the price if they cut strollers in half!

Great article. The dress during the 50's and 60's though was much more respectable even to those with limited funds. It doesn't reflect upper class at Disneyland because middle class and most lower wore their "Sunday" best to most public establishments even though they only had one nice dress or trousers.

What I have yet to see someone take into account is the billions spent on the California Adventures park. I looked it up the other day, 600 million initially, park was a failure. another 1.1 billion on a remodel, and its estimated that Cars Land cost another 1 billion. When a company spends that much money, they are looking to make it back up in the next couple years. I know its 2 separate parks... but the money all goes to the same pool. Essentially part of price raises have to be going to finish paying off California Adventures. Also... Minimum wage in California went up this year (and if I recall, its going up next year too), so that has to be factored in as well.

In reply to by gnattilly (not verified)

I get your point, but lets get the facts correct, shall we? BillionS!? It was quoted as 1.3 and also as 1.1 billion for the remodel INCLUDING Cars Land. A billion, not billions.

I'm laughing at those people who complain that they can't afford Disneyland anymore. Neither can I, but DISNEY DOES NOT CARE, it is a corporation and like all corporations its only purpose/goal/reason to exist is to make the best return on investment for its shareholders. That's what corporations are all about. You aren't entitled to go see Disney characters or to introduce your kids to Disneyland. Your "suggestions" about how to price the park are irrelevant. Disney employs a ridiculous number of MBAs and accountants and computer experts to predict and calculate what admission prices will result in the largest revenue stream. That's it. That's all that matters. Stop thinking that Disney is some friendly neighbor who feels bad that you can't afford to enjoy the parks.

Something that you missed is the payment plan. Had it not been for the payment plan a lot of locals likely would have opted for the lower tier pass because it would have been "money up front". The AP Blackout system is based entirely on sticker shock. You want more access you pay more. The problem is Disney removed that sticker price. Instead of being $500 "up front" it's "a down payment and $30 a month". You'd have to be an idiot to go for a lower pass when the higher tier was only $20 or $30 more... people pay more for a cell phone bill.

Disney ran the 50th promo which brought people in. Then they ran the "free on your birthday" which brought more people in. Then they allowed those birthday peeps to use the free ticket as a down payment for an AP. If you had an AP they gave you a gift card which a lot of people used to renew for another year... Around the same time the get in free bonanza was going strong they introduced the payment plan. It's heavily advertised, heavily utilized. $60 a month and you have unlimited access to the park. It's not the AP system itself that caused the crowds, it's the fact that the local community can pay it off like a cell bill, utility bill, gym membership etc. This isn't offered to out-of-state AP's, only to the locals who would be using it most.

Here is a crazy solution. Why not limit the number of tickets sold to an amount that the park can handle reasonably. You can make reservations a year or two in advance Just like camping in Yellowstone or Yosemite. Go back to a system where there are two price structures admission with out the E and D rides and limit the admission for the Big rides to keep lines no more than one hour

Sure. For an extreme example, see Discovery Cove, limited to 1,300 people per day.

And guess what limiting crowds does to prices? Supply and demand... If only, say, 5,000 people were let into Disneyland every day, the price would be hundreds and hundreds of dollars or more.

Because if you're suggesting that Disney Parks allow in only half as many people but keep prices the same, you're looking at a system that would be losing money - or at least making a lot lot lot less of it.

As long as people keep going, Disney had no REASON to change what they're doing... except to charge more money. It's a double-positive: they make more, and (hopefully) a few less people come. Win-win.

I have to assume you're joking about making reservations a year or two in advance.

I can remember as a little kid going with my brothers and my mom and dad to this happy place in the 1960's. Times were so innocent then, and they have changed in a way that takes the Magic out of Disneyland.
It makes me sad........
Lisa G

I thank you for the info on the ticket price increaeses. But, unfortunately, inflation hasn't been adjusted for horly wage for years. Disney has kept with inflation but wages in the US have not. And there lies the problem. Many of us who struggle with paying bills can no longer afford a day at the park. Until hourly wages rise to meet inflation, the problem of Disney park admission will continue to be controversial.

In reply to by rob kaufman (not verified)

I'm sympathetic to this and I agree and I feel your pain. But you must understand that if you're struggling to pay bills, Disney is not *trying* to be for you. It's a premium product. Very much so. Even from the beginning, it wasn't supposed to be something that everyone could do. When you see the photos from the 1950s of everyone dressed to the nines to spend a day at Disneyland... those were *not* people who were struggling to pay their bills. To have the disposable income to visit the park was even rarer then than it is now.

The price increases might be "controversial' to those who find that the amount of money they're spending is less comfortable than it used to be, but that's (in part) why Disney is doing it. If the price did *not* rise beyond inflation and admission to Disney Parks was still $50, the place would be absolutely overrun. And those "rough" crowds people always talk about at Magic Mountain would be at Disneyland instead. While I hate that you're struggling to pay your bills, the unfortunate truth of capitalism is that this is how the system is *supposed* to work. If you're struggling to pay bills, you don't go to Disney Parks. I wish there were a nicer way to say it!

I totally agree with what you're saying man. However, the truth of capitalism isn't "unfortunate," it just plain works. If people are struggling or can barely pay their living expenses, then taking their family to a Disney themed park shouldn't even be a thought that enters their minds. Maybe those struggling to pay living expenses should take half the cost that a Disney trip would cost, reinvest it in themselves (courses/certificates/degrees), use their new skill set to re-enter or progress in the free market where they could earn enough to pay both living expenses and that trip to Disney.

You have who went to Disneyland in the 50s all wrong. Disneyland opened the year I turned 8 and my folks and I went yearly. The clothes you referred to is how we dressed in the 50s when we went out. Men wore suits and ties and women dresses and some wore hats. This also included going to church, out to eat and on a plane. People dressed up. Many women made their own clothes and most men had at least one suit. It was the style and not an indication as to what the families economic status was. In the mid 60s fashion became more relaxed. That was the era of Bermuda shorts and capris pants. Walt wanted ALL the children to be able to go to his Land. I remember him saying this on his TV program numerous times and that remained the case for years. Then he died and now it has turned into an upper middle class and beyond zone. How sad.

I think a major revamp to the AP plans is in order, adopting a points model similar to timeshares. I’d offer a costly premium AP, good for any and everyday of operations for a full-year at all U.S. Disney parks pass at $1,000 to $1,200 per person, then there will be AP levels based on points ... How would this work?

Well, say you buy an AP with 55 points. Points are deducted based on the season, the day of the week and whether the guest stays in one park for the day or park hops. Admission could be as little as one point for a one-park visit on a Tiuesday, Wednesday or Thursday in mid-September up to five or six points for a Saturday or Sunday visit to two (or more) parks during the Christmas break or July. There would be no blackout dates, but AP purchasers would have to monitor their available points and would not be allowed to re-up until a week before the annual renewal date.

I’d sell a 23-point AP ticket to D23 members at a really good price (about the price of a four- or five-day park-hopper) and maybe offer two other point levels to the general public, maybe 55 and 110.

I’d still offer single and multi-day tickets for tourists and locals alike and the parks could still run various promotional deals if needed to draw more guests during the slower, off-season calendar days.

I agree with the article. However, our annual Disneyland trip has turned into our annual Magic Mountain trip. More thrills,less money, besides my kids are getting older. I'll still be taking my first trip in 3 years to the park, without the kids.

The price hikes have changed the way I use the park. A minimum of 5 days a year has now turned into once every 3 years. But part of that is the insane crowds. There are no off-peak days anymore. In the 90's I went to the park on empty, desolate days and had he time of my life. Those days simply don't exist anymore. I've made special arrangements to go on the slowest days of the year and still big crowds!!

I don't care if the prices change. The hikes keep the parks in check. As far as the crowds are concerned--security, "riff-raff", Disney is well-worth the extra money.

Thanks for crunching the numbers and figuring prices with inflation. Hopefully, this will calm some of that "Walt would never do that!" talk, as it's clear he raised ticket prices $10 in just a few years.

The "free babysitting" and rougher crowds you mention as reasons why he charged admission and installed one gated entrance in 1955 still applies today. If a Disney visit was too cheap and affordable, they would have the very same problem. When you invest more in a product (or vacation) you tend to treat it with greater care and attention, enjoying it more. Lower prices would - psychologically - make Disney seem like less valued in some minds, leading to abuse and the loss of the magic feeling.

As for crowd behavior, that's more of a societal thing. Attention spans in general have grown shorter, so there's little patience or appreciation for slower paced shows like The Hall of Presidents and Carousel of Progress. The zippy, flashy, quicker attractions and rides are more appealing to generations born after 1971, hence the long lines.

If I may suggest there is actually another alternative to raising prices to keep the crowds down. In fact, this already occurs on the busiest of days and the park hits its "safe limit", admission is halted and no more new admissions are allowed into the park. If they did want to limit the number of people for an enjoyable experience, they could decrease the maximum number of people in the park, but folks would complain about that when they tried to get in on a Friday night. There really is no good option that people aren't going to complain about.

Disneyland is an incredible place that is bound by the laws of physics, economics, and geography just like anything else.

In reply to by Kyle Hayes (not verified)

I think this is a good idea to limit pass holders even if it isn't a block out date.... I can't imagine how disappointing it must be to parents who plan a vacation for their family only to be blocked put that day or even to be so crowded that they can't go on many rides.

In reply to by D Urbina (not verified)

In rebuttal to that, I'm a passholder, and I'm planning my one big trip this year in October for the Wine and Food Festival. Why should I be turned away just because I'm a passholder? Technically speaking, I've spent way more money than someone who's only coming for one day, so I'm sorry, but that doesn't mean I should get turned away.

I am a passholder of the higher-tiered Southern California annual pass and I have noticed the increasing crowds in the past couple of years. I never go on rides that have a 1+ hour long wait and I prefer to go on weekdays when there are less crowds. I don't personally feel like I detract from tourists' experiences because even when I go, I just go there to relax. Some days I don't even go on rides because I've been on them and they're not worth the wait for me when I can come back another day.

That being said, I went on a Friday a few months ago around Christmas-time and it was so ridiculously packed that you had to shuffle through the crowds to get ANYWHERE. It was terrible, and I stayed for 30min total before I left because it was too packed and my friend and I were getting agitated. I feel sorry for those who only had that one day to experience Disneyland because it was way to crowded and hectic for enjoyment. Especially if you're new to the park and don't know your way around as well. I'm sure Friday-Sunday is always like this, that's just how Disneyland is. But even on weekday evenings, my usual visit time, I saw that it was more crowded than usual. It definitely devalued my pass because I visited Disneyland half as many times as the year before. It wasn't as worth it anymore.

So now I am considering not renewing my pass because of the crowds, but then again I have the suspended Socal pass so I might just renew it just to keep my favorite pass tier.

I believe all the reasons you listed for the price inflation, and seeing as I can afford it, I can't complain. Even if prices do go up and people can no longer afford it, you wouldn't want to go anyway when the park is overpacked. It turns into a more stressful experience than a fun one and you don't get the most out of your money because even if you arrive when the park opens and leave when it closes, you'll probably only be able to ride maybe 3 rides all day, including time waiting in lines, taking breaks, parades, eating, etc. Not worth it.

Anyway, this was a good read. I enjoyed learning a little about the ticket history of Disneyland.

In reply to by dlandgoer (not verified)

This mirrors how I feel, I have a premium pass because I live out of state and do the RunDisney races and they are during blocked weekend on the other passes, I go every other month so I spend much of my time just wandering and enjoying the atmosphere between rides.

Over Star Wars weekend (mid Jan) the parks were so packed I could only last an hour or 2 before needing to get out of the insanity and I ended up spending most of my time at my hotel, not only was DL not magical, it wasn't even fun.

I'm happy to see theincrease go up and I hope they keep going up until the crowds are under control, I know I risk getting priced out myself but the reality is if the crowds are like the last time I went it's not worth going.

In reply to by dlandgoer (not verified)

I totally agree. .I doubt we are renewing our passes either. It gets too crowded abc I also get agitated. . There have been many times we have gone there just to get in and then just leave. And I do feel sorry for those people who only have the one day or weekend to experience the park (s). They should try a reservation type system to ensure a more free flowing movement of people. But I also think they should have more perks for passholders. Many of us have had these passes for years and always come back for more. . But Disney doesn't seem to appreciate the commitments of passholders.

Congratulations Disney! You have finally priced yourself into having only affluent customers. I have a good job, my husband has a good job and I can't see using my hard earned money to pay $600 for my family to walk through the door. Goodbye Walt Disney World!

In reply to by Susan (not verified)

I was about to make the same point. I can't imagine that Walt would allow low and middle income families to be priced outside the gates to his Magic Kingdom.

In reply to by Dave Williams (not verified)

Did you not read the part where Disneyland was the first amusement type park that charged an entrance fee? If he were really thinking about middle class, it would have been free. My parents took my brother and me when we were still both free!

In reply to by Dave Williams (not verified)

Did you not read the part where Disneyland was the first amusement type park that charged an entrance fee? If he were really thinking about middle class, it would have been free. My parents took my brother and me when we were still both free!

In reply to by Susan (not verified)

Basically what this -- and several other "articles" in recent days -- all boil down to is "Disney screwed up in offering annual passes, it backfired, and now they're using increasing prices as an attempt at 'crowd control', which hasn't been working".

Not ONE of them offers the simplest of suggestions: limiting gate entries.

Setting up a system where people can, well in advance, "book" their spot in the park (I'm thinking of actual tourists here, people coming from other places around the country to have their once-in-a-lifetime trip to Disneyland/world) from a block of spots isn't at all outrageous. You go to pretty much any business you can think of, and if there are too many people there, they'll stop people at the door until people leave.

A certain number of "international" slots per day, a certain number of "national" slots per day, and a certain number of "local" slots per day. The "FastPass" setup they have, if further refined and more widely implemented, could potentially regulate all the crowding on rides. Those two together would handle most, if not all, of the "overcrowding" present in the parks.

But that ignores the most chaotic and simple reason why they don't bring it up: overcrowding ain't the reason for this stuff. They've spent decades in "live research" through movies, diagnosing and perfecting their formula with every new movie, all toward the end of getting people so emotionally addicted to the Disney way that they'll keep returning to whomever their local "pusher" is and pay whatever price for the next fix.

And until we "just say no!" to the dealer, they'll keep right on raising prices and enjoying a never-ending flow of ever-increasing revenues.

In reply to by Ian Malcolm (not verified)

We were at Disneyworld in 2007, had the parks to ourselves till Thanksgiving day, then the day after Magic Kingdom started turning people away at noon. So they can limit overcrowding. I will preface my next statement by saying I am not rich. But I feel the same way about Disney properties as I do about Disney cruises...a special treat, to be enjoyed every few years, after we've been socking away cash to pay for these special trips. Some people pay extra for the good season pass because they LOVE disney. Can you blame them?

In reply to by Ian Malcolm (not verified)

First, the Disney Parks do stop people at the door until people leave. They are subject to capacity as per the fire marshal just like everywhere else in the US. It's actually happening more and more frequently at Disneyland. It leaves many people very disappointed.
Second, slots per day sounds horrible. I would hate to drive an hour only to find the "local" slots have filled up. What if I have family visiting and the "national" slots fill up? This makes zero sense.
Third, FastPass was part of what started the overcrowding problem. When FP was introduce park capacity lowered because instead of standing in queues, guests are wandering around.

In reply to by Susan (not verified)

Try taking a family of four ANYWHERE else to see multiple professionally - produced and performed stage shows, a dozen or so incredible dark rides, parades, fireworks, efficient transportation, friendly staff that knows the answer to everything, all in a well - maintained, clean environment where they even control the mosquitoes... For under $600. Let me know when you find that and I will be the first in line.

In reply to by Rob Bradshaw (not verified)

It's called Universal.

In reply to by Jon Carmichael (not verified)

:) I can't argue with that. Universal, by the way, is more expensive than Disney World.

And we can charge anything we want, 2,000 a day, 10,000 a day, and people will pay it. And then there's the merchandise...

In reply to by QuickPaw (not verified)

Donald, Donald... This park was not built to cater only for the super-rich. Everyone in the world has the right to enjoy these animals.

Sure, they will. Well, we'll have a, a coupon day or something.

In reply to by QuickPaw (not verified)

Curse you, John Hammond and your blood-sucking lawyers!!

What's killed it for me are the crowds, you're right. But they bring cell phones and selfie sticks; they plow through scenic areas elbowing to be the first to take pics and then move on like locusts to eventually wind up in a 4 hour line where they hog the "cool" rides like bullies in an 80's arcade.

Yea, there's still magic there that nobody cares about anymore. Seen the line for carousel of progress or the hall of presidents lately? Nobody will stand around watching circle vision anymore either. That's another reason the "big" rides are crowded.

There was a day and age where people took their time and enjoyed themselves and they're long gone.

How could you miss one of the most important factors of the last 20 years? You completely skipped over it! The 50th anniversary was the single most significant change in pricing structure in the last 20 years. In 2005, the pass pricing structure dramatically changed- no renewal incentives were offered to existent passholders and the price for tickets and passes unapologetically increased about 30%. Thanks for all the info about the 50s, but don't fail to acknowledge the more relatable present.

Well said! Very good history and reasoning. Great read. Thanks.

In reply to by Joel Sirner (not verified)

I agree. Well said. I never thought of it from that perspective before.

I was shocked at the new prices. I'm glad you went ahead and did the math and research to make the news less upsetting. Thank you! :-)

In reply to by Marie (not verified)

Effectively they cannot CURRENTLY lower prices
If they are near capacity
Lowering or even keeping them the same would cause more closures and can you imagine families from anywhere of any distance
Coming to Disneyland to find it closed due to capacity?

The solution: build a third theme park to increase capacity
This would even allow lowering prices and even increase profits

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