Disneyland price hikes shock some visitors

Thursday , March 06, 2014 - 12:11 PM

Stephanie Hoops

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Just getting through Disneyland’s gates would cost Simi Valley resident Candi Kirby and her two children nearly $200 and she’s simply not willing to pay the price.

‘‘That’s insane,” she said. “If they made it more affordable for people with children we would go more often, definitely.”

Kirby, whose kids are 1 and 4, would rather spend the money on groceries or other household necessities. After Disneyland announced a price hike that took effect Sunday, she decided that maybe it’s time to visit other parks, like Knott’s Berry Farm, which costs $60 a day.

Disneyland raised its one-day, one park admission prices for an adult (ages 10 and over) nearly 6 percent to $92. Tickets for kids ages 3-9 also rose, from $81 to $86. Other ticket options saw similar increases, the largest jump being for the Disney Premier Passport, which went from $849 to $979 a year for unlimited admission to Disney parks in both Anaheim and Orlando, Fla. The price for the super pass has jumped nearly 40 percent since its introduction in 2010 when it was $700 a year.

Annual price increases aren’t unusual for Disney, said Adrienne Vincent-Phoenix, a founder of MousePlanet, an unaffiliated website that reports Disney news. She noted that Disney has even been known to hike prices twice in a year.

‘‘The concept of an annual increase isn’t surprising,” she said. “Everything goes up.”

Despite its admission prices, Disneyland remained the second-busiest theme park worldwide last year with 16 million visits, behind the Magic Kingdom in Florida, which had 17.5 million guests, according to a report released this week by the Themed Entertainment Association. The total includes many repeat fans who often rave about the positive experience.

But in the opinion of Camarillo resident Hani Blair, Disneyland’s prices are “outrageous.” She said it is her family’s favorite area park, but this year they will go to Six Flags Magic Mountain, at a cost of $65 a day, or another amusement park.

‘‘It’s expensive,” she said of Disneyland. “We would like to go more often but you know we can’t.”

Nathalie Habash echoed Blair.

‘‘It’s getting expensive,” said the Camarillo resident, who holds premium and deluxe passes for herself and her three kids that cost more than $2,000. She said she won’t renew the passes this year, but will take her kids instead to Six Flags Magic Mountain even though she prefers Disneyland.

Habash, Blair and Kirby aren’t the only ones having trouble swallowing Disneyland’s increasing admissions costs. When the Disney Parks Blog -- Disneyland Resort’s official blog -- gave early notice to its readers that prices were to change, some were taken aback.

‘‘Why do tickets have to keep going up all the time?” asked a reader named Courtney.

‘‘OUCH! That’s quite an increase!” commented reader Gregory from PA.

But others didn’t care.

‘‘Sure I don’t want to pay more, but will I pay more? Of course I will. Why? Because it’s DISNEY, and with Disney, I know I’ll get my money’s worth,” posted reader Jeffrey from CA.

Reader William agreed with Jeffrey, posting that the price increase may sting, “but where else can you experience all the amazing things the Disney parks have to offer? And where else can you relive childhood memories over and over as well as create new ones after each visit?”

Disneyland’s media relations office isn’t commenting beyond a prepared statement that says: “Like any business, we evaluate and adjust our pricing based on a variety of factors. A ticket to our theme parks represents a great value, particularly when you look at the breadth and quality of attractions and entertainment we offer, and the special moments guests experience with our cast.”

The company’s pricing is a key component to its earnings. Revenues at Walt Disney Co.’s domestic parks and resorts rose 11 percent during fiscal year 2012, according to public filings. Sales climbed to $10.3 billion with average guest spending up 5 percent, primarily because of higher average ticket prices, food and beverage spending and daily hotel room rates.

Disneyland’s 2012 attendance fell from the previous year about 1.1 percent, according to Themed Entertainment Association. But the Anaheim resort offset that drop with higher attendance at Disney’s California Adventure, where 2012 visits rose 22.6 percent to 7.8 million as people flocked to see the new Cars Land, which opened last summer.

(Stephanie Hoops is a reporter for the Ventura County Star. Reach her at SHoops@vcstar.com. Distributed by Scripps Howard News Service, www.shns.com.)

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