Nearly 20% of Guests Go Into Debt From Disney Vacations, Will Prices Ever Settle?

in Disneyland Resort, Walt Disney World

family on the matterhorn at disneyland

Credit: Disney

There’s no denying that the Disney Parks and Resorts are expensive. From the lavish Aulani Resort in Hawaii to the iconic Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, California, Guests need to shell out the big bucks when visiting Disney properties.

family on the matterhorn at disneyland
Credit: Disney

Unfortunately, prices seem to keep going up. In the month of November alone, we have seen Walt Disney World, Disneyland, and Disneyland Paris all implement quite a few major price increases Resort-wide. Most notable was the bump in Annual Passes at both Walt Disney World and Disneyland. If you’ve planned a visit to Walt Disney World Resort or Disneyland Resort over the course of the last few years, you’ve likely noticed steady increases in Disney prices, including Park tickets, Resort Hotel stays, snacks, beverages, and merchandise.

Because of how pricy Disney can be, Guests look to guides and tip boards for any help they can get. However, a large portion of Guests is reportedly going into debt for their Disney vacation.

Walt Disney World in the rain resized
Credit: Disney

A new report shows just how passionate and willing to swipe their credit cards Disney fans can be. The report, coming from LendingTree.com, reveals that nearly 1 in 5 Guests are going into debt for one or more Disney vacations, with food and ticket prices being the main culprits. The study surveyed approximately 1,548 Guests.

To quote the study itself, “From November 2022 through October 2023, a one-day, one-park ticket price for Disney World visitors 10 and older averages $141.74. Many Disney attendees may save for the trip, as less than 1 in 5 (18%) tell LendingTree they went into debt for one or more of these trips.”

mom taking picture of two daughters by cinderella castle at disney world
Credit: Disney

Thousands of Guests have claimed that Disney is slowly “pricing them out” of the Parks. Guests have also noticed things like lackluster food, smaller portion sizes, quality control issues, and the aforementioned price increases in seemingly every area, Guests are starting to become frustrated with the Walt Disney World experience.

The survey specifically asked Guests to list expenses that had become more expensive than originally imagined, and the top responses were not surprising. Guests listed Park food & drinks, tickets, and lodging as the biggest costs. It’s important to remember that far more goes into the cost of a Disney trip than these factors, with Disney Genie potentially costing Guests hundreds of dollars.

Walt Disney World alone is about to get a lot more expensive this holiday season. Starting December 8, Park prices will vary depending on the day and Park for single-day ticket holders. The prices for each Park will fall under the ranges listed below:

  • Animal Kingdom: $109-$159
  • Hollywood Studios: $124-$179
  • EPCOT: $114-$179
  • Magic Kingdom: $124-$189

DisneyGenieLaunch_Blog_Header[3]
Credit: Disney
Disney Genie, Genie+, and Lightning Lane is an entirely separate issue, one that has caused a lot of backlash and drama within the Disney Parks community. Since The Disneyland Resort as well as the Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, Disney’s Animal Kingdom, and Disney’s Hollywood Studios, all reopened after the pandemic, we have seen crowds slowly begin to increase. Despite capacity not fully being back to what the pre-pandemic levels originally were, the crowds are still overwhelming.

Disney is always going to be busy no matter when you visit throughout the year. However, there are certain times of the year that are much worse than others. To combat these issues, Disney has employed several systems throughout the years to help, but the most recent version has been quite controversial.

Disney Genie+, the paid aspect of the system, allows Guests to use the Lightning Lane when their return time strikes — which has replaced the previously free FastPass lane. Then both theme park resorts have separate options where Guests can pay varying costs per ride, per person to ride the attraction.

disney genie
Credit: Disney

Walt Disney World and Disneyland both have so many great and immersive attractions ranging from exciting thrill rides like Splash Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Pirates of the Caribbean, Matterhorn Bobsleds, and Space Mountain to creepy ghost-filled houses with The Haunted Mansion, but due to the popularity of all the Disney Resorts, Guests will for sure be waiting in line at one point or another.

To make up for this, Disney Genie was introduced. Disney Genie+ used to cost $15.00 per person per day for Disney World Guests and $20.00 per person per day at Disneyland, but Disney recently implemented a fluctuating pricing structure than changed based on the day.

A few days before Thanksgiving, Disney Genie+ hit its highest recorded price ever, reaching a staggering $29 per Guest.

disney genie plus
Credit: Disney Parks Blog

To quote Disney itself, “Disney Genie service works hard all day long to continuously update your “My Day” itinerary with all of the latest and greatest information. Simply tap on this tab to find Disney Genie service recommendations and plans you’ve made, including dining reservations, Disney Resort hotel reservations, and activity bookings. You’ll also be able to virtually chat with a Cast Member who can help answer any questions that arise.”

By far, the most interesting aspect of this study was how Guests felt about their debt. A whopping 71% of Disney attendees who went into debt say they don’t regret doing so. Actually, 4 in 5 (80%) say they’ll pay off their debt in six or fewer months.

Another interesting facet of this study was examining the age groups that attend Disney. The baby boomer generation was the age group most likely to have attended a Disney theme park. Gen Z’ers were the least likely to have visited:

Baby boomers ages 57 to 76 are the most likely generation to have been to a Disney park. Of the 88% of baby boomers who’ve been to a theme park, 83% have been to a Disney park. Comparatively, Gen Zers ages 18 to 25 are the least likely. Of the 83% who’ve been to a theme park, just 69% have been to a Disney park.

Kids and Donald Duck at California Adventure for Anaheim Ducks Day 2020
Credit: Disney Parks Blog

To make matters even worse, Disney Vacation Club members are expected to be hit with a price increase of their own. Currently, active selling Disney Resorts, which include The Villas at Disney’s Grand Floridian, Disney’s Riviera Resort, and Aulani, Disney Vacation Club Villas are expected to increase from $207.00 as the current direct price to $217.00.

Now-former Walt Disney Company CEO Bob Chapek commented on price increases quite a few times, with one of his more recent quotes really striking a nerve among fans. Chapek sat down with The Hollywood Reporter and shared his thoughts on this new era of Disney:

“We have much more demand than there is supply. What we will not bend on is giving somebody a less than stellar experience in the parks because we jammed too many people in there. If we’re going to have that foundational rule, you have to start balancing who you let in… Our ticket prices and constraints we put on how often people can come and when they come is a direct reflection of demand. When is it too much? Demand will tell us when it’s too much.”

holidays at disneyland castle
Credit: Disney Parks Blog

With Bob Iger back in charge, the future is quite uncertain for The Walt Disney Company. On the one hand, many viewed Iger as a more creativity-focused leader, whereas Chapek was more of a businessman first and foremost. However, Iger’s short tenure may prove to be more of the “status quo.”

Mere days before Chapek was fired by Disney, it was announced that The Walt Disney Company would be undergoing a hiring freeze as well as bracing for imminent layoffs. This bombshell came just days after Disney shared its 4th quarter earnings which included some impressive numbers.

According to the filing by Disney, the Disney Parks division of the company posted $7.4 billion in revenue for the fourth quarter of 2022 and a whopping $28.7 billion in total revenue for the fiscal year 2022, which ended on October 1, 2022. However, Disney’s stock price has continued to drop, seeing the biggest drop it has had in a single day in over two decades.

Bob Iger
Credit: Silvia Elizabeth Pangaro/ Shutterstock

This decision was up in the air during the transition between Chapek and Iger, but at a recent town hall, Iger committed to following through with the decision. Following the massive numbers, The Walt Disney Company shared during its 4th quarter may rub a lot of fans the wrong way, especially when looking at how many Resorts are being affected by price hikes.

The Disneyland Paris Resort has been the most affected, with restaurant prices increasing the most in the Resort’s history.

family celebrating EPCOT International Festival of the Holidays
Credit: Walt Disney World Resort

The analysis also revealed that a baseline trip to Walt Disney World for a family of four costs $5,731 in 2022 — or $287 per person per night. This theoretical trip included the following:

  1. Flights
  2. Transportation to and from Disney World
  3. A five-night stay at Pop Century (a Disney World resort)
  4. Five day tickets without Park Hopper, but with Genie+ — a paid line-skipping service — at Magic Kingdom and Hollywood Studios
  5. All meals at roughly the cost of the standard Disney dining plan, which was suspended during the COVID-19 pandemic
hong kong disneyland christmas tree
Credit: Disney Parks Blog

As to what the future looks like at the Disney Parks and Resorts, we will have to wait and see. Bob Iger is set to serve as CEO of The Walt Disney Company until 2024, meaning a successor will be needed rather quickly. Iger proved he was a competent leader for Disney in his 15 years at the company, but also saddled the company with huge amounts of debt, mostly from the acquisition of 20th Century Fox.

Still, there are always exciting things to look forward to on the Parks side of things, but how much it will cost you to see them is another story.

Is Disney feeling a little too expensive for you?

View Comments (2)