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Disneyland Article
After Latest Ticket Price Increase Is Disneyland Still A Good Value

Orange County Register
Robert Niles
February 16, 2017
February 22, 2017
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So Disneyland raised its prices again, and many fans are upset about it. After watching the Cubs win the World Series and California get enough rain to pull the state from a drought, it's reassuring to see that some constants remain in our world.

This year's price increases weren't as steep as in years past. The biggest jump, by percentage, was for parking, which went up from $18 to $20 a day - an 11 percent increase. One-day tickets went up $2 to $5, depending upon the time of year you visit.

Multi-day tickets went up between $4 and $20, depending on the number of days you visit and whether you want the Park Hopper option or not. Annual passes went up $10 to $20, except for the highest-priced Signature and Signature Plus passes, whose prices remain unchanged from when they were introduced in October 2015.

And Disney kept the monthly payment option for local annual pass holders, meaning that many fans in the Southern California won't see their monthly payment to go to Disneyland go up by more than a buck.

But that hasn't kept some fans from feeling upset about the increase. For years, Disneyland offered one of the best entertainment values in Southern California, if not the world. A Disneyland ticket provided a great value for anyone who wanted a day of world-class entertainment at a reasonable cost.

But "great value" is another way of saying "under-priced." At some point, Disney was going to figure out that it could close that value gap, jack its prices far faster than inflation, and still hold on to its customers.

So it did. Over the past decade, one-day ticket prices to Disneyland have nearly doubled, rising from $66 in 2007 to up to $124 a day now. Yet attendance has continued to climb, too, rising from 14.87 million to 18.28 million visitors a year at Disneyland between 2007 and 2015 and from 5.68 million to 9.38 million visitors annually at Disney California Adventure, according to the most recent Themed Entertainment Association's industry attendance reports.

If people were mad at Disney for raising its prices, not enough of them stopped buying tickets to make the parks' attendance go down - until, perhaps, this past year. The Walt Disney Company recently reported a drop in annual attendance at the Disneyland and Walt Disney World Resorts. Could the value gap finally be closed?

Granted, the Diamond Celebration ended and Star Wars land construction has kept several Disneyland attractions closed for the year. In Orlando, a hurricane, a fatal alligator attack and a mass shooting kept Walt Disney World's hometown in the news for all the wrong reasons last summer.

Maybe if Disney's prices were the deal that they were more than a decade ago, enough people would have kept coming out to the parks to keep attendance rising despite those challenges. But they didn't.

If Disney really has closed its value gap, then it won't be able to keep raising prices faster than inflation - unless, of course, it builds new attractions that people find worth that extra expense. I believe that most fans would see that as a fair trade.

But would Disney have to build a lot more than a new "Star Wars" land and maybe a new Marvel land, while keeping prices steady, for fans to get back to enjoying the same value from Disney tickets that they did a generation ago? Should Disney continue to expect the same level of brand loyalty from its guests that it did back then? Closing the value gap on theme park tickets might make Disney's bottom line look better, but it also encourages its loyal customers to start shopping around.

Which brings me to this point: Universal Studios Hollywood recently said that it enjoyed record-setting attendance last year. Interesting.
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