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7 Sneaky Ways Disney is Making Guests Pay More on Their Disney Vacation

In recent years, The Walt Disney Company has decided that the best way to protect the theme park experience is through crowd control And the company's most consistent form of keeping traffic in check is via price increases. 

A few years ago, I provided a detailed analysis of theme park ticket price inflation. Until then, Disney prices had remained fairly consistent. Alas, the situation has taken a sudden, dramatic turn. I don’t expect matters to improve, either. 

FastPasses

Image: DisneyDisney recently did something brilliant. They introduced the paid FastPass at Walt Disney World resorts. You didn’t read about it in the news because the company pulled off a Trojan horse trick. The company quietly introduced a 90-day FastPass for certain deep-pocketed guests.

Theme park tourists who stay on the Club/Concierge floor of high-end Disney resorts can buy FastPasses. For $50 plus tax per person per day, guests receive three additional FastPasses per day, and these aren't for a single theme park.

With these paid FastPasses, guests can reserve a spot in line at Avatar Flight of Passage and Frozen Ever After if they’re so inclined. It’s the least Disney can do since you’re paying for the privilege. And this isn’t an isolated situation, either.

MaxPass at Disneyland is a paid service for digital FastPasses. When Disney introduced it, the Happiest Place on Earth became the third Disney theme park with paid FastPass, joining Shanghai Disneyland and Disneyland Paris. The count is up to four if we count Walt Disney World. Make no mistake on this point. A paid FastPass system is (regrettably) the future of Disney theme parks.

Ticketed events

Image: DisneyMickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party is one of my favorite times at Walt Disney World. During these ticketed events, guests receive exclusive access to Magic Kingdom. For a set fee of $100+, Disney also delivers a marvelous nightly experience filled with parades, shows, and fireworks presentations. It’s well worth the money, I swear.

Disney hosts more than one ticketed event these days. Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party has been a holiday staple for years now, and park officials have doubled (well, tripled) down on the concept recently.

Image: DisneyDisney After Hours is another ticketed event that’s not holiday-related. Instead, it’s another exclusive opportunity to spend time at a Walt Disney World theme park that’s closed to the general public. A debacle at first, this event has evolved into one of the most popular upsells Disney offers. In fact, the company introduced Disney Villains After Hours in 2019.

You don’t have to be a business major to understand the math of the situation. By closing the park at 7 p.m. for regular guests, Disney can make a lot more money selling additional access to a few thousand guests at $100+ a pop. Expect more of these events in the future, especially now that Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge is open.

Limited-time engagements

Image: DisneyOut of everything listed here, the purist concept is the limited-time engagement. Walt Disney was never happier during his career than when his Imagineers dominated the 1964 New York World’s Fair. When he excitedly announced the Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow, Uncle Walt essentially promised that it would feature a daily World’s Fair.

Whenever Epcot hosts a festival at the World Showcase, park management honors one of their founder’s last wishes for his company. And that’s why Disney currently offers four different events each year. On more than half the days on the annual calendar, Epcot runs limited-time engagements.

The trend will expand in the coming years. At this point, seemingly every event comes with the phrase "most days ever" as part of the announcement. Disney does this because they can create a sense of urgency for guests.

The unique merchandise at these festivals is only available for a limited time, and then it's gone forever. Plus, restaurants can get packaged with special concerts at higher rates. Disney sells the same meals for a higher price this way. Speaking of which…

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