Disneyland’s new prices

Allison McInnis | Assistant Opinion Editor | The USD Vista | @allisonmcinnis_


disney-land-graphic-1Nearly everyone has a memory of walking down Main Street at Disneyland. You can almost smell the churros, taste the gumbo, and feel the seemingly tangibly magical atmosphere.

But at what cost?

University of San Diego students make the occasional, for some more frequent, trip up the 5 freeway to take a picture with their Mickey Mouse ears on or with their favorite Disney princess or just to ride Space Mountain. Some students even carry an annual pass for the luxury of multiple trips a year.

The Disney corporation just released the new prices for the upcoming year, and, for some, these prices make Disneyland no longer the Happiest Place on Earth. Markups are commonplace from year to year, but Disneyland raised prices twice this year, both at an exorbitant rate. The daily pass is now $99, which is $3 more expensive than it was this time last year, and $50 more expensive than 10 years ago.

The real contention for Southern California locals is in regards to the the astronomical prices of the new annual passes. The cheapest annual pass, Southern California Select, has increased 30 percent to $330. The premium pass, which boasted free parking, no blackout dates, and discounts galore, has been discontinued and replaced by two different levels, one reaching the $1000 mark.

According to the National Broadcasting Corporation (NBC), Disney is cashing in on growing demands during peak seasons. NBC shared that Disneyland would like smaller crowds of passholders during Christmas and spring break. For this reason, only the most expensive pass has no blackout dates.

In a statement, Disneyland’s director of media relations, Suzi Brown, explained that this will both help with crowd control and provide guests with the best action-packed day that they can.

“The new annual passes will help us manage strong demand and continue to deliver a world-class experience, while providing more choices for guests to select the pass that best meets their needs,” Brown said.

Per Sjofors is the founder of a consulting firm that specializes in pricing research. Sjofors claimed that this is actually a win-win situation for Disney, not necessarily best meeting the needs of its guests.

“Attendance keeps on growing, and the parks only have limited space,” Sjofors said. “These increases are designed to leverage customers’ willingness to pay more while also controlling the number of guests at a theme park.”

Disney fans are responding emphatically, with both anguish and understanding.

Those who are angry with the markup assert that Walt Disney would not have wanted a park only for the affluent, which is what Disneyland seems to be increasingly becoming. They also seem to believe that this markup is a greedy, corporate move that does not reflect the Disney attitude.

Sophomore Halie Sonnenschein seems to believe that the prices are getting absurd, but they must know what they’re doing.

“It’s insane that some people would pay over a thousand dollars to go to Disneyland,” Sonnenschein said. “But hey, if people are willing, why not?”

Others find the markup fair, especially with Disneyland’s ever-growing popularity. According to TIME magazine, attendance at Disneyland grew by 3 1/2 percent to 16.7 million people between 2013 and 2014. Attendance is up 250 percent since the addition of Disney’s California Adventure in 2001.

Sophomore Mady Miller stated that she loves Disneyland regardless of the price hikes.

“I have had a pass for years,” Miller said. “I don’t know if can continue that this year with the new prices, but Disneyland is still Disneyland. I still love it and will look forward to going when I can. Maybe it’ll even be less crowded!”

Star Wars Land is going to be the newest addition to Disneyland, beginning construction in January 2016. With this expansion, many feel that the already congested areas of the park will fill up further due to the closing of several attractions. After the 14-acre addition is completed, the park will experience a huge spike of visitations. Disneyland’s proposed solution for crowd control may be crucial to maintain their magical atmosphere.

Regardless of where people stand on this seemingly controversial issue, many maintain they will always love the park, maybe just from afar now. Some passholders are rethinking their yearly purchase, while others think the new steep price is worth it in the long run. Time will tell if Disneyland will still be considered the Happiest Place on Earth for the USD community.