Disney’s Discount Slight of Hand

May 4, 2009

cinderella castle disney world Disneys Discount Slight of HandI’m a big Disney fan.  I moved from the hustle and bustle of the New York City metropolitan area to live in Central Florida for both better weather and to be able to go to Walt Disney World whenever I want.  My family has lived here for 4 years, and we still visit Disney World at least once a week.  Until recently, I’ve had just a handful of negative things to say about the Disney theme park experience.  With the recession, my perception has changed quite a bit.

Let me preface this by saying most people who visit Walt Disney World would never notice the little price increases here and there that Disney has implemented at its theme parks over the past few years, but since I’m there so often, I notice.  For example, the price of drinks and snacks sold at the multitude of carts and kiosks around the parks went up first by a quarter and then by another quarter.  Next, the food portions at restaurants became noticeably smaller while prices stayed the same or increased.  When I moved here in 2005, the price to park each day was $3 less than it is now, and a new array of park ticket packages make the short-term visitors pay a lot more than anyone can truly afford even in the best of economic times.  Luckily, I’m a Florida resident so my annual pass is a decent value given how often we visit a Disney theme park (and parking is free), but it kills me to have to pay over $300 for each of my 4-year old triplets’ annual passes.

These are just a couple of examples of the little price hikes that Disney has implemented over the course of the past year or two to make up for attendance losses.  At the same time, the company has been discounting hotel rooms and packaging in their dining plan to resort bookings.  For example, a current promotion allowed families to stay for 7-nights but only pay for 4.  There is no doubt these discounts are working to boost attendance.  I have never seen the Disney parks so crowded at all times throughout the year as I have over the past year or so.  There simply isn’t a “down time” anymore.  I’m constantly amazed by how busy the parks are!

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