Though Walt Disney World has been going a little crazy with the upcharge experiences lately, we were shocked yesterday when it was announced that Disney was monetizing something that most Walt Disney World guests had previously taken for granted: bus transportation.
Beginning next week, Disney will be offering a new Express Transportation ticket option that will allow guests to pay extra to have a special VIP bus pick them up inside the theme parks and use backstage roads to get guests to their destinations faster than regular bus service. Express Transportation vehicles will also feature more regular arrival times than standard buses, running on a precise 30 minute schedule. Here’s where the pickup areas will be inside the theme parks:
- The Magic Kingdom: In Tomorrowland next to the Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger Spin exit
- Epcot: Near the front of the park on the side of Spaceship Earth with Guest Relations
- Disney's Hollywood Studios: On the far side of Sunset Boulevard next to Rock 'n' Roller Coaster.
- Disney’s Animal Kingdom: In the Africa section of the park near the entrance to Kilimanjaro Safaris
This new premium option will cost $15 per person for a single day, or $24 per person for multiple days. This new option can be added on to park hopper tickets purchased in advance, and guests who already have tickets who want to add this option can do so any time at Guest Relations. Annual Passholders are also able to purchase this service, but only at the $15 per day rate.
The addition of this new option definitely came as a shock, but given recent events at Walt Disney World, perhaps we shouldn’t be so surprised by the addition of a better, “paid” transportation option....
Disney has been quietly monetizing transportation for some time
Paid bus transportation may be where we are now, but this concept really kicked off earlier this year when Disney introduced its preferred parking initiative. Initially billed as a limited time test, the option to park at the front of any given theme park lot for a $35 fee proved to be popular enough to be profitable, and Disney made the easy decision to make preferred parking a permanent option at all four of its parks just a few weeks after it first debuted.
Though this may seem like a singular addition, it taught Disney a valuable lesson about its guests: a certain segment of customers are ready and willing to pay more if it means they can travel less. Which led to an expansion of this concept at the Magic Kingdom and its surrounding resorts.
Last month Disney debuted a private water taxi service option that provided service for guests between Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa and any of the destinations found around the Seven Seas Lagoon. This new private transportation service accommodates up to 10 passengers on each boat and costs $20 each way. Interestingly, return service must be booked separately (making it $40 for a round trip) and is not guaranteed to be available from the Magic Kingdom Park.
With these two upcharge transportation options providing a proof of concept, its clear that transportation is a resource that Disney can capitalize on and monetize, as there will always be a segment of guests that are interested in this type of upcharge. However, there's also something else factoring into Disney's decision to introduce this latest VIP bus amenity..