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Disneyland Article
Have Fans Finally Reached Their Limit

Star Tours
Orange County Register
Robert Niles
August 13, 2019
August 19, 2019
After years of raising its ticket prices, has Disneyland finally discovered the limit that its fans are willing to pay?

The Walt Disney Company recently reported its financial results for the latest quarter, and they included a rare decrease in theme park attendance at both the Disneyland and Walt Disney World resorts. Attendance dropped 3 percent at Disney’s U.S. theme parks, despite the opening of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge in Anaheim.

If you were around in January 1987, you might remember the epic crowds that packed Disneyland for its 60-hour opening event for the original Star Tours ride. Disneyland management certainly remembered that scene, and many people within the company worried that if crowds like that showed up for a Star Wars ride, how many more would show up for an entire Star Wars land?

So Disneyland did everything it could to “manage” the crowd size for Galaxy’s Edge. That included another round of aggressive price hikes and an expansion of blockout dates for annual passholders. More blockouts effectively serve as another form of price increase, as it means less value in return for the money you pay for your pass.

And it worked — too well. Perhaps if everything would have been open in the new Star Wars land when it debuted, more fans would have seen the value in paying all that extra money to visit. But with the land’s biggest attraction — Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance — not opening until January, many Disneyland fans stayed home. Eventually, Disneyland appears to have brought crowd levels back to normal with several discounts, including a new Disney Flex Passport that allows fans to come into the parks on days blocked out on higher-priced passes by making advance reservations to visit.

That’s the big takeaway in all this, for me. For years it seemed that Disneyland could keep raising prices at will and fans would continue to fill the parks. Disney didn’t even need to keep building new attractions. Since Cars Land opened in 2012, Disney California Adventure had gotten only overlays such as Guardians of the Galaxy — Mission: Breakout! and Pixar Pier, while Disneyland itself had not gotten an all-new permanent major attraction since Indiana Jones Adventure opened in 1995.

Finally, this spring, Disneyland fans collectively said, “enough.” If the Disneyland Resort wants more people to come to its parks, fans want to see either lower prices or more new attractions in return. With the recent discounts and new Flex Pass, it appears that Disney might have heard that message.

Now we should not forget that Disneyland ultimately made more money last quarter despite the lower attendance, thanks in part to the fans who did show up to Galaxy’s Edge buying so many $100 droids and $200 lightsabers. Even when it loses, Disney wins.

But not even Disney can keep winning forever. With this dip in attendance, Disney might now finally have discovered that ceiling beyond which it no longer can keep raising prices without consequences.
Attractions Referenced

Indiana Jones Adventure, Temple Of The Forbidden Eye

Star Tours

Star Wars Rise Of The Resistance

Lands Referenced

Star Wars Galaxys Edge

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