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Have consumers hit their breaking point with rising cost of Disney theme parks? – DePaoli on DeParks

by Jeff DePaoli

We’ve all seen guests wearing those Etsy shirts around the Disney parks. The ones that read, “Most expensive day ever,” in a very Disney-esque font. Disney vacations being considered extremely expensive is nothing new. It’s been like this for a long time. But as prices continue to rise, yet with a recession impending, will the constant rising of cost for Disney experiences ever slow down? Or at least not rise considerably more than the normal cost of living rates? The answer really is, it’s up to the collective “You.”

disney rising cost

During an interview with CNBC, the reporter flat out asked about rising costs in Disney parks to Walt Disney Company CEO, Bob Chapek. His response was simply, “It’s all up to the consumer. If consumer demand keeps up, then we act accordingly. And if we see a softening, which we don’t think we’re gonna see, then we act accordingly as well. We’re very flexible.”

My response to this may surprise some, but I generally agree with the statement. I don’t like the statement, but The Walt Disney Company is in the business of making as much money as they can. We all (or at least most of us) have a breaking point. The breaking point is when an individual feels that what something is costing doesn’t feel worth what they’re getting, whether it be physical or emotional. Disney’s consumers have shown time and time again that they seem to be far from their breaking point.

When exclusive events like Oogie Boogie Bash raise in price, we’re not seeing less demand. In fact, this year, it sold out considerably faster than it ever has before. When a feature that was previously included in your ticket cost, like FastPass, becomes an added expense with Genie+ and Lightning Lane, we’re simply seeing tremendous amounts of added revenue for the company. Not guests refusing to pay for the upgrade. When annual pass programs returned with more cost yet less benefits and more headaches, the passes sold out.

oogie boogie bash

So, have people hit their breaking points with Disney? For many, I’m sure they have. But for just as many (if not more) it seems like they’re willing to give whatever Disney will ask. Let’s not forget that Disney is “very flexible,” but they’re not going to bend if they don’t need to. The consumer’s wallet has all of the power.

Annually raising costs is nothing new. But now we also live in an age where it’s tougher than ever to recognize when some of the prices have increased. When ticket costs were the same every day of the year, it was easy to tell when it was then costing you more. It always made the headlines every time this happened. But now, with a tiered cost system where more popular days cost more money, it’s become more difficult to keep track of changing prices.

So, how have the rising costs changed your Disney parks habits? Are you visiting the parks less? Are you willing to pay for all of the added costs, whether it be begrudgingly or not? Or have you slowed way down with your Disney spending? Leave a comment and let me know. If you have decided to visit Disney less due to rising costs, where have you decided to spend your entertainment budget that you used to spend at a Disney park?


Jeff DePaoli is a producer and voiceover artist living in Los Angeles. He can be heard as the voice of Disney Trivia on Alexa as well as the host of “Dizney Coast to Coast,” the ultimate, unofficial Disney fan podcast. Get your FREE gifts of “America’s Hidden Mickeys,” “On the Rohde Again,” “Theme Park Comfort Kit,” and more at DizneyCoastToCoast.com. DePaoli’s opinions are his own and do not necessarily represent Attractions Magazine.

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25 comments

Tina August 19, 2022 - 4:44 pm

I have to agree with what you posted. Costs have been going up for everything at the house of mouse and yet they are still making money due to movies, streaming service, online shop and more super hero movies that can be counted.
Going to the parks for me has been limited to one or two, no longer all four. Even pre-pandemic. Most of my Disney inspired items were purchased online or at a local Walmart. People asked at Disney where I bought them and I told them.
Going through cancer since 2019, everything is a crapshoot for me. Mostly due to Covid. Everything that was free is not and that added expense hits people in the face when you arrive. I’ll just keep my money and not plan anymore trips to the house of mouse. To me it just isn’t worth it anymore.
Disney has changed so much that even the things that were there ably a year or two ago are now gone. Memories made disappeared. Places and things you made a memory with has been wiped away. So, no thanks.
Even the free bus from the airport to the resort is gone, due to Covid. That always made the trip magical. For me the magic has died.

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DI$ August 19, 2022 - 6:33 pm

Unfortunately, Disney has a cult like following that literally have the “take my money” mentality, I’ve seen them in the comments actually suggesting a price increase to price other people out and defending the company for changing more and offering Much less, They are the sole problem with the demise of Disney and it’s magic, And convince themselves they are elite and privileged to go to an out of touch overly expensive (for no reason) theme park that has zero respect for them.
In short, The cult has created a Mon$ter.

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Robert August 19, 2022 - 6:38 pm

Living only about 20 miles from Walt Disney World and having annual passes we use to go two or three times a month. With food and drinks at the park, we would often spend two to three hundred dollars a trip. We gave up buying cheap China-made crap Disney sells years ago. Now we go once a month and spend much less. I have figured out I can buy Universal, Island of Adventure, and Sea World annual passes for less than Disney. Bye Disney.

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Clive August 19, 2022 - 6:40 pm

As with all of these issues, it’s a little more ‘grey’ than that. I’ve just visited wdw for the first time from the UK. The breaking point price was some way off, as we classed this as a holiday of a life time and a one off. This is because the cost of flights from the UK added so much, that a rise of a few hundred dollars was not significant to stop us coming. As such we spe t whatever was needed to do the fully Disney experience.

However, having said that, we are planning a 2nd Orlando holiday to do all the bits we missed such as Universal, Sea world, Busch gardens etc (first trip was pure disney bubble). We would like to go back to MK and ride Tron etc. But the cost of disney is so prohibitive that its just not worth it. We can save a few £/$ k, by simply saying we won’t do Disney at all. In fact this is the only way we can come back a 2nd time.

So it’s not a simple binary equation. No doubt Disney made more money off of us the first time by increasing their prices, but they won’t get any more off of me. There are enough people to pay for the disney experience once, but I think it will be the repeat business that gets hit the most.

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Dorcas August 20, 2022 - 10:58 am

Hi I definitely agree with you have said we used to visit the park at least every year or year and a half but we went on 2021 in January and now I have planned my next visit for 2025 We usually stay at hotels within the monorail so I know I am spending a lot more than the usual consumer but Now we are considering moderate hotels instead, however I will not be going back until four years so that is a difference for me.

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Jeff DePaoli August 20, 2022 - 3:22 pm

Tina, thanks for reading. You touched on Disney’s Magical Express in your comment. I would have to agree that the absence of that has a far greater impact than I believe the higher ups at Disney recognize.

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Jeff DePaoli August 20, 2022 - 3:23 pm

Thanks for reading, Di$. I would have to agree with what you said.

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Jeff DePaoli August 20, 2022 - 3:25 pm

Robert, thanks for reading. In Southern California a lot of people have a similar mindset with Universal, Knott’s, and Six Flags.

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Jeff DePaoli August 20, 2022 - 3:27 pm

Clive, thanks for reading. Solid points you’ve made. I agree that this will essentially hurt Disney in the long term, but I don’t think the current folks in charge are looking that far ahead. It’s eventually going to cost the company A LOT more money to build the trust again and get people to be repeat visitors.

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Jeff DePaoli August 20, 2022 - 3:29 pm

Dorcas, thanks for your comment. I’m finding that a lot of people are opting to go less often and stay at less expensive hotels. I even know of people who had only ever stayed at Disney hotels but now stay at Universal. I’ve heard Universal has GREAT hotels. Granted, the commute to a Disney park is less ideal in those cases.

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Janet Stuart August 20, 2022 - 5:46 pm

Being retirees on limited income, we quit Disney not only because of costs, because we must stay all night (not having the energy to “do” the park and drive back home, too) and we must both rent “scooters” to be able to get around well enough. As only a small number of scooters are available for direct rental and we cannot walk an exhausting distance just to get to that main gate to rent them, we must stay on Disney property and have the approved outside provider leave them with the bellman, who also must be tipped. Thus, the cost mounts rapidly just for a one-night stay and one-day pass, and two scooters, even if we try to bring food to consume in-room and purse snacks to get us thruogh the day, purchasing only one small meal apiece. Easily $700.00.

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Richard Young August 20, 2022 - 6:48 pm

We actually own DVC so our hotel stay is just what we pay in annual dues. We have seen how there is less magic – but it is also from the visitors to the parks. People are more on edge, rude even to cast members. I feel this is where a lot of magic has been lost. Yes there are staffing issues, food quality and price increases, but overall we still go back. We have considered selling our DVC membership as we don’t agree with a lot of what Disney’s wokeness has become. But that is whole other topic.

People will still visit. We no longer go for the rides as much as the experiences. We have been so many times now the rides are just an afterthought. We are looking forward to the new rides that are being built.

We did just go to Disneyland for the first time and were blown away by how different it was there. Had a great time for our 30th anniversary and hope to one day go back.

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thomas August 21, 2022 - 12:45 am

i am living in austria, we used to go one a year to florida including 10 days orland with all the parks, stayed onside, spend a lot of money….. we used to, last trip was march 2020 and still mo plans of going back there. we do disney paris, itnis much closer for us and way more cheaper than disney world or disneyland ……

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Delmar Shortt August 21, 2022 - 4:16 am

My family have been top level Annual Passholders for over fifteen years now. This year was our breaking point and we didn’t renew. The cost was horrible, but what sealed the deal was having to schedule ahead. What is the point of paying for no blackout dates if I can’t go to the park when I want?

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Adam August 21, 2022 - 9:04 am

DVC since 2005 went 2 to 3cweeks for over 10 years. Stopped since covid-19 and planned to go back this year. However breaking point hit. Will bank and or rent out my points until Disney takes a step back in price raising. For a family of 5 even at 899 per top pass was alot…now closer to 1300 and not even available. May e by 2025 or 2026 we will go back unless the ridiculous price hikes continue. Lol should have bought Stock in Disney instead of DVC in 2005!

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Linda Watach August 21, 2022 - 6:30 pm

30 annual trips and our sons wedding in 1999. We are done. No longer magical. Now you are on your phone constantly. Make ride plans, meal plans, see what’s available, try to book things etc… using the app all day long. No longer can you be spontaneous and watch your family enjoying themselves and make those memories. Pay on top of ticket prices for perks. Pay to park your car. Pay for airport to resort transportation. We will be making our memories in all the other places in this beautiful country. Sorry Walt. Your company left you and your ideas long ago. 😢

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Mike Dumas August 21, 2022 - 7:58 pm

I have one thing to add to the other comments. There is a growing segment of the population who can afford all those extra add-ons and as long as they pay Disney will offer those and more add-ons. We’re not in that segment so we’re stuck without the extras we previously didn’t have to pay for. It makes me feel like a second class park goer for simply maintaining the budget we’ve always had.

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Mike Monc August 21, 2022 - 11:22 pm

Greatings Programs……
I wish these articles would be a bit deeper than just “is Disney to expensive now”… This is something that is more than just about Disney. Disney is just following the model that the majority of entertainment companies and social gatherings have done for years. For sporting events and concerts this special VIP ticket attitude has been prevelant along with 10 to 15% increase year over year. This practice of add ons for additional costs and speicalized serviceing (Genie+) VIP seating/meet and greets, has been going on since I became financially independent enough to notice it (1986’sh)… Every major event I have done in the past 30 years has nickle and dimed everyone as much as possible…. I wont even get into the amount of people that buy apple like devices that pay for every small upgrade/app/ add on that is needed for it. Sorry for the rant but Disney is one of the most recent to figure out that they can do this. As mentioned in the article.., just stop spending your money on them. As also mentioned there are plenty of people in the world to replace us for these companies. Also remember companies are smart enough to know which customers they like to sell too. A high end jeweler told me once as I mentioned how out of wack there pricing was…. “I’m not trying to sell to you, your not who I make money from. ” That kind of said it all… and buy the way that Jewler 20 years later has stores in 30 countries now… He diffenently did not fund that by selling to me. So Yes we are all not happy with the increase costs and the lack of compassion for our memories. Until the majority get that you dont have to out spend your neighbors to have a good time this will continue. Ohhh and buy the way Universal/ Seaworld and any others you decide to try out as your replacement amusement parks will never compare to the service and amenities that you get at disney. Its a business culture and model that few can replicate. So my family will continue to pay to return to WDW… maybe a few less times or maybe we go only every 5 years, that may actually make it more memoriable who knows…..

END OF LINE…..

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Tom August 22, 2022 - 9:20 am

We used to go to Disneyworld every two years when our daughter was young. In 2019 I was able to take her entire family for the trip of a lifetime. Unfortunately Mr Chapek continues to make sure that WAS the trip of a lifetime. I know Mickey she’d a tear when Walt died but I believe not it’s Walt shedding that tear for the great family fun he had envisioned. The rich will continue to go snd get Disney out of the way so they don’t have to hear their spoiled kids complain about being the only ones who have not yet gone there. But I will still have the memories of how my daughter looked forward to return visits to enjoy time with the family and caring cast members.

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Sue August 22, 2022 - 9:37 am

It’s definitely hurt spending for me sadly. As someone who lives in Canada with no Disney store the shipping from ShopDisney stops me from buying Disney merch I would love. My friend and I were planning a Disney World trip and were serious enough to contact a travel agent but now that we are aware of the prices (which doesn’t include spending money or our flights, and we opted out of park hopper and Genie + in hopes of saving) we still cannot afford it when we were serious about attending in the year 2023. Which is pretty wild as two 25-30 year old childless adults that we still cannot afford it. But the cost of living is just so high at the moment and the Canadian dollar is poor. It’s very tough as a Canadian Disney fan that it just seems impossible because of the prices to get any Disney experience at the moment. I know my other friend who is a mother with a family, who usually did Disney trips every other year, is now no longer planning any future trips atm because she is worried about price. I don’t know if Disney will notice this from their international fans but I hope they take notice how hard it is to not only do a Disney trip, but shop Disney merch at all.

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Johan August 22, 2022 - 11:07 am

Chapek has no limits. One day he will charge us for the water or use the toilet.

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Christina Powell August 22, 2022 - 2:54 pm

The family and I have been coming to Disney since 1991, sometimes twice a year. We live in England so have to budget very carefully for this special holiday. For my son bringing his family it takes him 4 to 5 years to save for this holiday to get the full Disney experience, at this rate none of my family will be able to afford it at all.
We are DVC members and have used our points to help out our families from time to time when we could. We have missed coming to America since Covid and are going to take a chance on coming in 2023 and cannot wait but to be honest we will not be getting tickets due to the cost and to be fair also the restrictions of having to book a day for a certain park, what if in our 2 weeks we cannot get into the park we want due to capacity situations? It only takes a couple of off days that we cannot visit a park and in a way that has put the price of our tickets up due to the fact that they are not being used to their full capacity. Please Disney think of your customers Walt built the parks for everyone to enjoy but you are making it harder for ordinary families to do this. As much as we all love you and the whole Disney experience you are making it harder and harder.

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Len S August 22, 2022 - 5:29 pm

Since 2004 my family has made at least an annual trip to WDW. First of all because we love Disney but also because we truly felt that a WDW vacation gave more bang for the buck than anywhere else. We even became AP holders. Our last trip was in August of 2020. Since then, for the first time in almost 2 decades, we have no WDW trips planned, nor do we plan on taking any in the foreseeable future. We simply don’t feel that a WDW trip is worth the money anymore, especially considering how much the park experiences have changed.

It is really disappointing because it feels like a part of our world is missing. Sadly, I don’t believe what we are missing even exists anymore. I wish there was a way to express my concerns to Disney, if they would even listen, that is. So, for this family who has taken dozens of trip, the breaking point has been reached.

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Bob August 22, 2022 - 6:21 pm

The Wokeness made our decision to cancel our trip MUCH easier. Killing off B’rer Rabbit? Really? The only Disney theme (and movie) based on African American tales preserved and passed down through the generations from Africa? Tales that survived Slaver and the Civil War .. but killed off in one corporate Diversity committee meeting. Shame.

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Jeff DePaoli August 24, 2022 - 11:59 pm

Mike, thanks for the well thought out comment. One comment you made I would challenge you on. You said “Ohhh and buy the way Universal/ Seaworld and any others you decide to try out as your replacement amusement parks will never compare to the service and amenities that you get at disney.” I believe Universal is getting closer and closer to Disney quality as each day passes and I believe it’s very bad/dangerous for Disney that Universal will soon have a third (not counting the water park) theme park when Disney has four. If the folks at Disney were paying attention, they would have never let the competition get this close. Disney used to dominate the industry. Now they have a very close competitor in a lot of respects. Competition is good and overall great for the consumer. But to say that Universal “will never compare to the service and amenities” feels like a premature statement. Disney’s service continues to go downhill while Universal’s continues to rise.

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