Is Disneyland “Out Of Reach” For Americans?

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It’s difficult to ignore that Disney Parks have become increasingly more expensive over the years, particularly after reopening during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Disneyland Hotel Party header
Credit: Disney Parks Blog

A new report from The Hustle found that the cost of an average family vacation has increased two to three times the inflation rate. Steven Martinez, a customer service specialist in Los Angeles, had to break a promise to his kids after looking at the cost of a Disneyland Resort vacation.

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“Just for one day in the Park and one night at the hotel, we were looking at over $1k and that didn’t even include food,” he told The Hustle. “I had to explain to the kids that Mickey was out of Daddy’s budget.”

Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance
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The report analyzes the cost of various family outings from 1960 to 2022 – and how much an average American family has to work to afford them. For Disneyland, the report excludes the cost of airfare and food, instead focusing on:

  • Two child tickets (one-day)
  • Two adult tickets (one-day)
  • Parking
  • A one-night stay at Disneyland Hotel

Adjusted for inflation since 1960, a one-day Disneyland Park ticket should cost $54.81 for an adult and $35.06 for a child. Instead, they cost $149 and $141, respectively.

Holidays at Disneyland Resort - “A Christmas Fantasy” Parade at Disneyland Park
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Related: A Trip to Disneyland Is Twice as Expensive as Traveling to the Other Side of the World

For a night at the Disneyland Hotel, Guests can expect to pay around $445. In 1960, one night cost $18, or $178, when adjusted for inflation.

The cost of parking at Disneyland Resort has increased by 13.5x the inflation rate. In 1960, parking cost 25 cents or $2.47 adjusted for inflation. Today, it costs $30.

Scott Smith, an assistant professor of hospitality at the University of South Carolina, spoke to The Washington Post on rising Disneyland Resort costs in 2015. Prices have increased exponentially since then, but even at that time, Smith felt that Walt Disney would “probably be uncomfortable with the prices they’re charging right now.”

Disney California Adventure Park Entrance
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Of course, Disneyland Resort has added dozens of attractions, entertainment offerings, restaurants, and experiences – even a whole new Theme Park, Disney California Adventure – since 1960. This naturally increases operation costs, making it logical that the price of a Disney vacation would grow at a higher rate than inflation.

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However, The Hustle argues that since Disneyland has received around $500 million in government handouts over the years, “one would expect a little more generosity when it comes to price sensitivity for Guests.”

Red Car Trolley conductor at Disney California Adventure
Credit: Disney

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In 1960, a family of four would’ve had to work 26.1 hours to earn a Disneyland vacation. Now, two minimum wage parents would have to work 72.8 hours each, a 299% increase over 62 years.

Do you feel you’ve been priced out of Disneyland and Walt Disney World Resort? 


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