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Sleeping Beauty's castle at Disneyland at Christmas

Disneyland may be the happiest place on earth, but that happiness certainly comes at a price. Tickets to the park are not exactly inexpensive, and as of today they are ever so slightly more expensive, as the park has raised prices, something which has happened at this time of year every year since 2017 (at least).

You can pretty much count on price increases at Disneyland somewhere between January and March every year now, and 2020 will be no exception. However, while Annual Passports have seen increases across the board, standard park ticket pricing is a bit more complex. Previously, Disneyland Resort had three different pricing tiers, called Value, Regular, and Peak, that caused prices to fluctuate with expected crowd levels. The new pricing structure (via ThrillGeek) breaks pricing into five separate tiers. While the new base level price has not changed, a single day, single park ticket is still $104 for an adult,  the base level Park Hopper ticket has gone up by $5, and the most expensive tickets, the days when the park is most crowded, have gone up by $5 for the single park and $10 for the Park Hopper.

Annual Passports have also seen increases. The Flex Passport, the base level pass if you don't live in Southern California, has gone up $50 per year to $649 and most other passes have seen similar increases. The Premier Passport, which allows for access to all parks at Disneyland Resort and Walt Disney World without blackouts, now exceeds $2,000 a year.

Expectations were high ahead of Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge opening at Disneyland Resort at this time last year, so the price increase was far from shocking. However, when the new land opened, the massive crowds many were expecting failed to materialize. Disney CEO Bob Iger spoke on more than one earnings call and stated that the feeling at Disney was that the smaller crowds were a result of factors other than increased prices, such as the fact that one of the land's major attractions was not yet open.

Based on the popularity that not yet open attraction, Rise of the Resistance, did see when it opened, it would seem to indicate that Iger was more right than wrong, and this price increase is clearly doubling down on that idea. If Disneyland Resort was afraid price increases were keeping people away, we wouldn't be seeing one now.

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And to be fair, there's little evidence that price increases do keep guests away from Disneyland or Walt Disney World. The drop in attendance that the parks saw last summer was a blip, that has been recovered from. The most recent earnings call did show a slight increase in attendance, but mostly increased revenue in the park was due to increased spending per guest, and that gets to the heart of the issue.

The fact is that Disney is, almost certainly, trying to reduce attendance with these price increases, at least somewhat. In a perfect world, for Disney, Disneyland sees fewer guests, but those guests each spend more money, and part of what makes guests spend more money is a positive experience, which can be aided by making the park less crowded.

The difficulty is that for the most part these price increases don't seem to be balancing that crowd equilibrium much. Of course, that just means they continue to happen. If you can keep raising the price and the crowds don't slow down, you might as well do that and make more money, right?

It would seem like, eventually, these increases would eventually cause a significant portion of guests to pull back, and when that finally happens, we'll stop seeing these regular price increases, but who knows when that will actually happen. At the end of the day, that would mean not going to Disneyland and who wants to do that?

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