Disneyland and Walt Disney World have long been favorite family vacation destinations, places to make lifelong memories surrounded by characters from some of the world’s most beloved franchises. But those memories aren’t exactly priceless.
Over the past two years, Disney has increased prices across the board and discontinued several popular free perks and features. Although visitor traffic slowed during the pandemic, per capita spending grew by 17%. The company refers to the approach as “yield management,” wherein it focuses less on the number of guests who visit and more on how much each visitor spends during their trip, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Disney has increased the cost of just about everything from hotel rooms to merchandise and food, and the WSJ reported the rising costs far out-pace inflation. The company also introduced a lucrative feature that’s costly to visitors — Genie+. The smartphone app costs $15 per person daily and allows visitors to reserve a time to skip to the front of the line for certain rides. But for some of the most popular rides and attractions, visitors will have to pay an additional $10-17 to reserve a time slot, even if they have Genie+.
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The jarring price increases have made a trip to the theme park cost a fortune, and many of Disney’s most loyal parkgoers feel they’ve been disregarded as the company chases profits. Disney has essentially stopped selling annual passes to the parks, and although existing members can renew their annual passes, the cost of doing so has jumped from $1,399 to $1,599.
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Mariana Epperson, a 29-year-old from Kentucky, has been a longtime Disney fan and says some of her fondest memories with her father are at Walt Disney World. Now, her husband has suggested a break from the parks because they’re getting too expensive, Epperson told The Wall Street Journal.
“A lot of people will say, ‘Oh, I can go to Europe for cheaper,'” Epperson told the outlet. “But Disney now holds the last really good memories of my dad, so for me it’s so important.”
The rising costs have priced out loyal visitors like Epperson who have nostalgic ties to the parks. Now, those memories are only accessible if customers are willing to pay.
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