Due to COVID-19 and other factors, the Guest experience has looked quite a bit different in recent months at Disney. A big change has been the price increases at all Disney Parks, Resorts, hotels, and restaurants across the world. From Disneyland in Anaheim, California, to Tokyo Disney, Guests have come to expect that their Disney vacation will cost a little more than it used to pre-COVID.
Things are very exciting at the Disney Parks, but since the COVID-19 pandemic started, some Guests have voiced their concerns that the Parks getting too expensive. Simply, some Guests say they have been “priced out” from visiting the Parks and Resorts.
While some Guests have been able to ignore certain issues while in the Parks, many are starting to feel frustrated about the Resort in Orlando, Florida, claiming it’s getting too crowded and too expensive. One of the biggest complaints we’ve seen from Guests lately has been caused by the new Disney Genie+ and Lightning Lane systems which were introduced in late 2021.
Recently, all of the changes at the Walt Disney World Resort pushed a Guest to cancel their annual passes. The post starts with the following, as shared in a story from Insider:
“My family and I have reached our breaking point with Disney World.
As Florida residents, we’ve had seasonal silver annual passes for the past 11 years but, this time, we will not be renewing them. This was a tough decision for us even though the passes cost us a whopping $2,100 in 2021.
Over the past three years, though, the way I feel about Disney World has changed and our experiences in the parks have, in my opinion, gotten worse.”
Below are a few reasons they decided to axe their annual commitment to “The Most Magical Place on Earth.”
The Number of Guests
In the story, the Guest claims the number of people visiting The Walt Disney World Resort feels “overwhelming”. They say that on more recent trips, they were surrounded by people, even on days that were considered low-crowd days.
It feels like a “race” to get into the Park, competing with thousands of others doing the same. The Guest elaborates more:
“On our final visit to Disney World, we woke up every morning at 6:30 a.m. to arrive at the parks early enough to try to take advantage of shorter lines. Waking up at sunrise to navigate all sorts of logistics is not my idea of a vacation
As of mid-2020, you must reserve your park dates ahead of time, usually weeks or months in advance. You also have to determine which park you’d like to visit on specific days.”
A big point of contention for this particular Guest was the reservation system that Guests are required to use to access the Resort.
In the past, we have reported on multiple Guests facing issues regarding the Disney Park Pass reservation system. One of the newer additions to the Walt Disney World Resort, after Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, Disney’s Animal Kingdom, and Disney’s Hollywood Studios reopened, has been that Disney Park Passes are now needed to enter a Park. Gone are the days of purchasing a Disney Park ticket and strolling into the Park of your choice, now, reservations must be made on your My Disney Experience.
When the Parks reopened in 2020, we saw a lull in Guests as there were very few who were traveling as well as Disney has a very small capacity limit. Since that point in time, we have seen borders reopen and travel become a more “normal” part of life for many. Along with that, we have seen Disney open their capacity more, remove mask mandates, bring back a lot of entertainment, and head towards an operational schedule that reminds us of a pre-pandemic Disney.
The Guest asks how they’re supposed to know exactly what Parks they want to visit so far in advance. They also discuss how Annual Passholders are limited on the number of Park reservations they can have at one time. Essentially, the more expensive the annual pass you buy, the more reservations you’re allowed to hold at once.
The Guest brings up Disney CEO Bob Chapek, a controversial figure in the Disney community, to say the least. Chapek was quoted earlier this year saying, “while demand was strong throughout the quarter at both domestic sites, our reservation system enabled us to strategically manage attendance. In fact, their stellar performance was achieved at lower attendance levels than in 2019.”
Tickets and Annual Passes have also gone up in price a lot as well as food. As we reported a few months ago, Walt Disney Company CFO Christine McCarthy addressed the company’s fiscal situation and indicated that Disney is looking at a number of ways to cut costs behind the scenes, including “reducing portions” at Disney Parks restaurants. She even went so far as to say that this “would be good for Guests’ waistlines.” While this may not come as a complete surprise to the more experienced Disney Guest, it is definitely something to keep an eye out for while visiting.
We also reported on the growth of Disney World ticket prices recently, and the same goes for Annual Passes. The Guest goes on to describe the cost of the service:
“On our last visit, it would’ve cost my family $60 a day to use Lightning Lane. Plus, depending on the day, you may only get access to two or three rides. This isnt the only thing that will cost ypu significantly more while visiting Disney World.
The prices of Annual Passes have steadliy increased over time, getting to a point that many may reconsider renwing their passes. The Guest goes into detail about how this has affected their membership saying, “The cost of annual passes has increased almost every year since we purchased them, which isn’t surprising but is still tough to stomach.”
The prices of Annual Passes have also risen over the last few years:
“Previously, we had the silver annual pass that’s only for Florida residents. In 2015, when they first became available, they cost just under $400 each. This specific pass is no longer available but the most comparable one, the Disney pirate pass, costs $699.”
Unfortunately, Annual Passholders also no longer get access to Extra Magic Hours, a feature that allowed you to enter early or leave later. This special perk is now only for Resort Guests. The Guest also discusses price increases for hotels and Resorts:
“In my opinion, the term “value resort” is no longer relevant at Disney World.
In 2012, my family and I stayed at one of Disney’s cheapest resorts, the All-Star Sports Resort, for less than $70 a night. Now, those rates are closer to $180 or more a night with no housekeeping — and that price does not include the recently instated resort-parking fee.
Introduced in March 2018, standard resort-parking fees range from $15 to $25 per night depending on the type of resort.
Although resorts come with some nice added benefits, like extra time in the parks, it’s tougher than ever for us to find dates where rates dip enough to be affordable.”
Value Resorts are a crucial part of the Walt Disney World Resort and allow many more Guests to visit each year. Places like Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort or Disney’s Grand Floridian are incredible hotels but too expensive for many. Hotels like Disney’s All-Star Resorts and Pop Century are incredibly important in making sure all Guests feel welcome.
As these hotels increase in price, Disney World becomes less accessible.
Despite these issues, Disney is as successful as ever. The Walt Disney Company has posted record profits and numbers, with recent earnings reports revealing impressive numbers for the company. According to the report, the company brought in over $7 billion in its first quarter of 2022, an impressive feat regardless of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Regardless of price increases, Guests continue to flow into the Disney Parks by the thousands each day.
In Q4 of the fiscal 2021 year, Disney reported a 38% profit increase in the Direct-to-Consumer industry. The Disney Parks, Experiences, and Products revenues for the quarter also increased to $5.5 billion, compared to $2.7 billion in the prior-year quarter. This growth is due to an increase in Guests visiting the parks as well as an increase in the average “per capita ticket revenue,” meaning the company made more money from one ticket than it previously had before.
Do you agree with the Guest about Disney being too hard to visit?