Disney comes out with tiered admission pricing for parks

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Citing a need to modulate visitation patterns, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts is instituting tiered pricing that will assign “value,” “regular” and “peak” single-day rates for different days of the year, effective 6 a.m. on Feb. 28.

The current rate of $105 for the Magic Kingdom will become the new value rate, meaning that the new structure also heralds an increase in the average admission price for that park. The regular price will rise to $110, and the peak price will be $124.

Similarly, the current $97 daily admission to Epcot, Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios will become the value price, with regular pricing moving up to $102 and peak to $114.

Only Disneyland in Southern California will have a new tier that is lower than current regular pricing, with value pricing dropping to $95 from its current daily rate of $99, although the new regular price rises to $105 and peak to $119.

Which days are value, regular or peak will vary at individual parks and will be determined by the venue’s visitation patterns. Disney said that peak days will fall around spring break/Easter, some summer weekends and winter holidays.

Individual park websites will post calendars with pricing information eight to 11 months in advance. The prices will be locked in, with Disney noting that there will be no “surge” pricing effects once a calendar is posted.

Although Disney declined to put a percentage on the de facto rate increase that the new pricing structure represents, prices will rise for the majority of calendar days. A plurality of days will fall under the new regular pricing, which will represent 49% of Disney World's calendar and 46% of Disneyland's; value pricing will be in effect for 22% of the time at Walt Disney World and 27% of Disneyland; and peak pricing will account for 29% at Walt Disney World and 27% at Disneyland.

Package pricing will also change, though those changes will be package-specific, with no percentage or fixed daily rate formula uniformly applied. The company said it expects the majority of guests to continue to select multi-day tickets or annual prices, “which provide the best value.”

Disney had signaled its consideration of experimenting with pricing models when it surveyed annual pass holders last year about a three-tiered structure that would bump up prices during summer, Christmas and spring break.

The company said the overall hike is “on par” with previous increases, and stressed that the prime motivator for the new structure is to impact visitation patterns and provide a positive guest experience. “The demand for our theme parks continues to grow, particularly during peak periods,” said Disney spokeswoman Jacquee Wahler. The pricing changes were part of a broader effort to “help better spread visitation throughout the year.”

When the parks hit capacity during high seasons, Disney closes the entrance gates for brief periods.

Disney's tiered pricing comes just weeks after Universal Studios Hollywood announced demand pricing in advance of the opening of that park’s Harry Potter attraction.

Disney parks in Shanghai and Paris had already instituted variable rates while Hong Kong has not. (Tokyo Disney is not owned or operated by Disney Parks and Resorts.)

While not citing capacity issues specifically, Disney mentioned new and announced park attractions in a blog post announcing the new pricing to consumers. Among these are Frozen Ever After at Epcot, Star Wars lands at Disneyland and Disney Hollywood Studios, Toy Story Land at Hollywood Studios, and the World of Avatar at Animal Kingdom.

“As you may have read in the news, the demand for Disney parks continues to grow, particularly during peak periods,” the blog said. ”At the same time, we have an unwavering commitment to exceeding the expectations of all our guests. It is … why we continue to look for ways to help spread out visitation.”

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