Walt Disney World Tickets Prices Rise By Nearly 500%

in Disney Parks, Walt Disney World

Cinderella Castle Partners statue at Walt Disney World

Credit: Disney

Walt Disney World Resort opened its gates to the public in 1971, and ever since that year, the admission price to visit “The Most Magical Place On Earth” has only gone one way – UP.

Cinderella Castle at Magic Kingdom
Credit: Disney

Related: Disney World Parks Get Massive Price Increase For Single-Day Tickets

Walt Disney World Resort welcomes more than 58 million Guests each year. During any given year, at least 21 million of those Guests pass through the entrance gates of the Magic Kingdom alone. If you want to visit Disney World, you’ll need to buy tickets — and the cost of admission continues to climb yearly.

GOBankingRates recently released a report that caught our eye. The report shows how much gate tickets have increased in price during the last 50 years.  Astonishingly, fees to enter the Walt Disney World Resort’s iconic Magic Kingdom have increased 31 times since the Theme Park’s grand opening in 1971. Now, of course, there is a little bit of inflation adjustment that needs to be pointed out when just breaking out the raw numbers, but even on an inflation-adjusted basis, ticket costs have risen five times since Walt Disney World’s first day of operations.

Disney World has changed tremendously since 1971.  What was initially a single Theme Park operation and a few hotels have now turned into nearly 40 square miles featuring four theme parks (Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and Disney’s Animal Kingdom); two water adventure parks (Disney’s Blizzard Beach and Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon); dozens of Resort hotels (24 owned and operated by Walt Disney World); 81 holes of golf on five courses; two full-service spas; Disney’s ESPN Wide World of Sports complex; and Disney Springs, an entertainment-shopping-dining complex. The Walt Disney World Resort always has one constant theme it can point to; CHANGE.

The ride experiences and entertainment have also been upgraded since the Park first opened. For example, in 1971, no ride in the Magic Kingdom could be likened to Seven Dwarfs Mine Train or the upcoming TRON Lightcycle Run. Over the years, the attractions and shows have only improved, and behind those enhancements comes a certain level of research and development spent to increase this first-class professionalism.

In a certain way, if you want your Disney Park experience to keep changing, you will have to accept that you’ll need to pay some more cash.

Tree of Life at Animal Kingdom
Credit: Disney

Related: Disney Called Out on “Ridiculous” Price Increase

One of the biggest complaints from Guests visiting Walt Disney World Resort is the costs associated with a visit.  It seems as if, and especially today with the price increases being felt across the board, that The Walt Disney Company is out to nickel and dime Resort Guests for any little service. Surprisingly, the price difference these days is only ten dollars cheaper at SeaWorld, and Universal is now charging the same price as Walt Disney World.

Sure, you could opt to go to Universal Orlando Resort or SeaWorld Orlando to save a few dollars, but will you receive the same experience and be encompassed in the magic in the same way? The answer is probably no, especially if you have little ones, for example. Don’t get us wrong, Universal Resort and SeaWorld are excellent theme parks.  The rides are first class, and the staffs at both resorts are great, but it doesn’t match the look in a young one’s eyes when they first see Cinderella’s Castle at the Magic Kingdom.

To a certain extent, The Walt Disney Company understands how valuable a Walt Disney World Resort vacation is to families, and they don’t take the fact that they own this unique asset for granted. They know that, in most instances, they have pricing power. Unless the world is in extenuating circumstances (like a massive economic recession), Disney will do everything in its power to squeeze every ounce of juice out from it’s Theme Parks. And here’s Disney’s dirty little secret, people will still come and visit regardless!

monorail-at-epcot
Credit: Disney

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

As we mentioned before, Walt Disney World Resort is constantly changing.  Theme Park tickets haven’t been immune to this change and have risen from $3.50 in 1971 to $109.00 for a standard Park Pass for the Magic Kingdom in 2022.  Below is a list of how ticket prices have risen throughout the decades and what developments have occurred in each of those years.  We also included the costs in 2021’s figures on an inflation-adjusted basis to provide a slightly different perspective.

Related: New Theme Park Report May Surprise You, Universal Gains on Disney

Disney Price Tickets From 1971 to 2022:

1971: $3.50

  • Price increase from the previous year: N/A
  • Cost adjusted for 2021 inflation: $22.62

Visionary entrepreneur and mogul Walt Disney died before this namesake Park opened on October 1, 1971. That year, the Walt Disney World Resort debuted with the Contemporary Resort, Polynesian Village Resort, Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground, and Magic Kingdom. The price of admission was $22.62 after adjusting for inflation.

1975: $6

  • Price increase from the previous year: 75 cents
  • Cost adjusted for 2021 inflation: $29.12

1975 represented the third 75-cent price increase in a row, but fans likely were distracted by a new, otherworldly arrival. That year, Space Mountain debuted at Disney World, which would remain one of the most impressive, exciting, and popular rides for the next 40-plus years.

1980: $8

  • Price increase from the previous year: $1
  • Cost adjusted for 2021 inflation: $25.44

In 1980, Disney World experienced two firsts. It was the first time prices had been raised twice in one year — to $7.50 in March, then to $8 in November. It was also the first time audiences had experienced the thrill of one of the most beloved rides in the Park: Big Thunder Mountain Railroad.

A group of people on a city street
Credit: Disney

1985: $21.50

  • Price increase from the previous year: $3.50
  • Cost adjusted for 2021 inflation: $52.46

Price increases in June and November 1985 represented the last year that a $20 bill could buy you a day at Disney; the first year, it couldn’t. Annual Pass holders, however, saw their prices remain the same at an even $140 per year.

1990: $31

  • Price increase from the previous year: $2
  • Cost adjusted for 2021 inflation: $62.53

The onset of the 1990s was an exciting time — not just for visitors to the Florida theme Park but also for TV audiences at home. That year, two of America’s most beloved casts of children’s characters united when NBC aired “The Muppets at Walt Disney World.”

1995: $37

  • Price increase from the previous year: $1
  • Cost adjusted for 2021 inflation: $63.81

On April Fools’ Day 1995, Disney World thrilled and chilled visitors with the grand opening of Blizzard Beach Water Park. The 60-acre Park was themed to mimic a ski Resort, complete with the 90-foot Mount Gushmore body slide.

disney springs water tower
Credit: Disney

2000: $46

  • Price increase from the previous year: $2
  • Cost adjusted for 2021 inflation: $70.02

Any visitor to Fantasyland knows that official Disney princess dresses are hugely popular among young visitors to Disney World. That all started at the dawn of the new millennium when Disney sold the dresses for the first time in Florida.

2005: $59.75

  • Price increase from the previous year: $5
  • Cost adjusted for 2021 inflation: $80.43

In 2005, prices jumped by $5 — the most significant increase. That year, Disney also removed one-day Park tickets and replaced them with the “Magic Your Way” base ticket. The good news for visitors was that the interactive flight simulator ride Soarin’ debuted in The Land pavilion at EPCOT.

2010: $82

  • Price increase from the previous year: $3
  • Cost adjusted for 2021 inflation: $98.93

In 2010, the dawn of a new decade also saw the relocation of Winnie Pooh’s massive tree, which signaled the first milestone in the further Fantasyland expansion.

2015: $105

  • Price increase from the previous year: $6
  • Cost adjusted for 2021 inflation: $115.72

In 2015, the price to enter the Magic Kingdom hit the three-figure mark for the first time in the history of Disney World. That year, prices increased across the board — including the special reduced rate for Florida residents. Also, in 2015, the Annual Pass became the Platinum Pass, and the annual premium pass became the Platinum Plus Pass.

Mickey Mouse performing during Fantasmic! at Walt Disney World Resort
Credit: Disney

2019: $125

  • Price increase from the previous year: $3
  • Cost adjusted for 2021 inflation: $128.14

Although there was only a $3 rise in ticket prices from 2018 to 2019, annual passes increased by $225 in June 2019. That increase might’ve made you think twice about buying one.

2020: $125

  • Price increase from the previous year: None
  • Cost adjusted for 2021 inflation: $126.89

Disney World closed its doors for about four months in 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic, and upon reopening, visitors would see a different Disney World. The Park required masks and temperature checks for Guests, capped capacity, and suspended FastPass+ upon reopening.

2021: $125

  • Price increase from the previous year: None
  • Cost adjusted for 2021 inflation: N/A

By May, Disney World had begun to lift some of its COVID-19 restrictions as the number of vaccinations increased, and virus cases dropped. Plans continued for “The World’s Most Magical Celebration,” an 18-month commemoration of the Park’s golden anniversary that kicked off October 1 — 50 years after the magic at Walt Disney’s dream Park began.

walt disney world railroad
Credit: Disney

2022: $109

  • Price decrease from the previous year: $16

As you can see, there has been a ton of change throughout the Walt Disney World Resort. From Theme Park tickets to the attraction and entertainment options, the Resort is constantly changing.

Are you surprised to learn that Disney World tickets have increased by this much in 50 years?  Let us know by leaving us a comment below.  

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