Published on: February 29, 2016by Kevin Coupe
The New York Times reports this morning that Disneyland and Walt Disney World are adopting a demand pricing model for single day tickets that will make the parks more expensive on busy days and less expensive when things are less crowded.
According to the story, "At Disneyland, located in Anaheim, Calif., which attracts roughly 17 million visitors annually, single-day tickets now cost $99. Starting on Sunday, the park will charge three different prices based on the calendar. 'Value' tickets, for Mondays through Thursdays during weeks when most schools are in session, will drop to $95. 'Regular' tickets (most weekends and many summertime weeks) will climb to $105. 'Peak' tickets (most of December, spring break weeks, July weekends) will cost $119.
"At Disney World in Orlando, Fla., which includes four major theme parks, the price changes are more complex, because they vary by park. At the most popular Disney World park, the Magic Kingdom, which handles nearly 20 million visitors annually, single-day prices will remain at the current level, $105, for value periods. Prices will rise to $110 for regular periods, and to $124 for peak."
The Times notes that Disney tends to raise prices once a year, usually at a rate higher than inflation, and almost always inciting consumer outrage. However, Disney says that the price hikes are modest based on demand, and that the higher prices on busy days are actually aimed at encouraging people to attend at slower periods, which would reduce lines on busier days.
Now, before I comment on this, let me stipulate that I'm not a Disney guy. I enjoyed taking my kids there when they were young, and I'll be happy to take my grandchildren there someday, assuming that I'm still ambulatory when I have grandchildren. It also assumes that I won't have to take out a second mortgage to take my grandchildren there ... because that seems to be the way things are headed. But I'm not one of those adults who would ever go to Disney without kids ... I have nothing against people who do, but I'm just not one of them. (Epcot, for example, holds little charm for me ... but then again, I'm lucky enough to have actually been to most of the places that it purports to represent.)
I just have to wonder if the Disney folks are hurting the brand by making the Disney experience out of reach for a broad swath of folks who are yearning for a couple of days in Orlando and/or Anaheim. One of the reasons the park is busy at certain times is because that's when the kids are off from school ... it isn't like most people have a choice when they go to Disney or any other amusement park. And it seems to me that the demand pricing will have the effect of increasing attendance on "slow days" without having much impact on the busy day lines.
Good for Disney in the short-term, certainly. But it raises an interesting branding question in my mind, since if a brand increasingly becomes beyond the reach of the core audience that consumes it, what is the long-term impact on the brand?
Just curious. Not that it will have any impact on me ... at least, not until my kinds start giving us grandchildren. (The way things are going, I've got plenty of time to save...)
- KC's View: