Theme Parks: Are the Disney Parks Too Expensive?

Promotional concept image of the ‘Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser’ experience coming to Walt Disney World in 2022. Copyright goes to the Walt Disney Company.

Hey! Hallie here!

Before we even get into this post I’m going to answer my own question. Yes. The Disney parks are definitely too expensive. But often times Disney fans, such as myself, have been able to wave away some of the more extreme costs simply because of how much joy Disney brings. The parks are some of the best theme parks you could ever visit and their immersive nature and fun attractions are well worth a high price. But how high of a price is all of that really worth? Because Disney just keeps getting more and more expensive. The most recent news we’ve seen coming out of the Disney parks only seems to prove that. Are the new prices attached to the experiences Disney has introduced a complete deal breaker?

‘Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser’:

Let’s start with the most recent news. When the ‘Star Wars: Galactic Cruiser’ experience was announced, tons of fans were excited. All of the early concept art looked incredible and everyone was ready to see Disney take their immersive skills to the next level. Especially Star Wars fans who have dreamed of being transported to the Star Wars universe for many, many years. LARPers recognized exactly what this type of experience could mean for LARP in the future, as well. Namely, more high-scale and easily accessible LARP experiences. As such, many LARP and D&D fans, or fans of general immersive entertainment, jumped in on the excitement whether they were Star Wars fans or not. And then the price tag was announced. Disney revealed that the two-night experience would cost about $5,000 dollars for only two people. And that’s at its cheapest. What many people didn’t realize about the release of the prices was that these were calculated with the least busy time of the year in mind. Meaning at any given time, this price could be exponentially higher. So what could be worth over $5,000 dollars? Well, with your payment you get valet parking, all meals inside the hotel excluding alcohol, one meal inside the Disney parks, a ticket into only Hollywood Studios in an effort to connect Galaxy’s Edge to the hotel, and the immersive entertainment inside the hotel. Note that none of this includes the costuming that they keep advertising for guests. You could go to all of the Disney parks in Walt Disney World for much cheaper than almost $10,000 dollars for a family of four during regular season. Most people could never afford to take a vacation like that. It seems like the pricing is blocking out the majority of fans. They might as well have slapped a “For Rich People Only” warning on the prices. And while I do know that some fans will save up as much money as they can to attend the experience, part of me hopes it fails. It’s unfair that a rich company like Disney is making experiences like this less and less accessible.

Magic Keys:

Disneyland famously did away with their annual passes during quarantine. With their understandable reliance on a reservation system in order to prevent crowding in the parks during the pandemic, there was a question of whether or not annual passes would ever be available again. Surprisingly, Disney did decide they wanted to bring back the annual pass system. This time under the name Magic Keys. There are far less options for the Magic Keys than there were for annual passes. Also, the reservation system is still in play here. The lowest park pass for California residents is around $400 dollars, which isn’t too bad for a Disney pass. Except you’re only allowed to make two reservations at a time, and as usual, you’re blocked out for the majority of the year. What’s the point of paying for this pass if you can’t go most of the year because of black out dates, and you aren’t guaranteed going at any other point because of reservation limitations? With the price of this key, you seriously risk not getting your moneys worth. As the expenses of the keys go up you see less and less black out dates, which is nice. You also get more reservation slots at a time. But the closer you get to the $1000 dollar mark, the less most are able to afford it despite the benefits of the pass. These rates aren’t as bad as many predicted they would be should this system return, but isn’t that bad in of itself? That Disney has become so expensive that you need to pay nearly $1000 dollars per person just to get a decent annual pass? Most families can’t afford that. And on top of that, the reservation system calls into question whether or not any of the keys will benefit locals. Part of the appeal of annual passes for locals was that you could get in the parks on most days if you found you had a free day. Reservations aren’t a terrible system, but they do eliminate this option. So is the amount locals will even be able to get in the parks worth any of this money? I’m not sure it is.

Disneyland Paris FastPass Prices:

So this is a thing now. Apparently Disneyland Paris decided it was an excellent idea to try out charging for FastPasses. Yeah. This isn’t a new practice in theme parks. Universal Studios does this. But Disneyland is quite a bit pricier than Universal Studios. Universal Studios gives guests the option to buy a package that gets them front-of-the-line access so they have a steady way of making money off of guests separate from the park tickets. Disneyland’s standard prices are so high that this isn’t necessary for their park. They’ll still try it, though, because money.

I’m going to be honest here, I had an annual pass to Disneyland for most of my life. However, for the past few years I’ve switched to a Universal Studios pass. Disneyland passes just aren’t affordable for me and my family anymore. And with Disney adding even more additional pricing and introducing $10,000 dollar experiences, I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to attend the parks regularly again. I hate that so many families who found Disneyland as a major form of escape have had to give up going to the parks because of Disney’s cash grabs. I fear that Disney is going to become a playground for only the rich. And when the Disney parks do something, I fully expect their competitors to follow. Disneyland is setting a truly frightening precedent for theme parks in the future. And they can’t even pay their workers a living wage despite the continued price hikes. Make it make sense.

Don’t do anything fun until I get back!

Hallie

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