Walt Disney World Seasonal Pricing 2016

Disney Magic Band [© Disney. All rights reserved]
Disney Magic Band [© Disney. All rights reserved]

On February 28, 2016, Disney introduced seasonal tiered pricing for the first time at both Walt Disney World in Florida and Disneyland in California. This follows the trends set by airlines and hotels to charge more during the busy periods like summer holidays and special celebrations like Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas.

A few weeks ago, Universal Studios in Hollywood announced a “demand-based” pricing structure in the run up to the opening of their Wizarding World of Harry Potter, becoming the first theme park to offer year round seasonal one day ticket pricing. Of course Universal has been charging seasonal pricing on their front-of-line Express Passes for years.

It had been rumoured for a few months that Disney were looking at the idea of charging more during peak times, and I guess it was inevitable in the light of Universal’s decision to introduce a similar idea in California. The last regular ticket price increase at Walt Disney World was in February 2015 and both Disney and Universal tend to increase prices every 12 months.

These seasonal price bands only relate to one day park tickets. Whilst multi-day park ticket prices have increased, they are not affected by seasonal pricing. Annual passes were revised last October and have not been affected this time round.

During peak periods, the parks often reach capacity and Disney has to turn guests away. The rationale behind a tiered pricing structure is one of managing guests expectations by effectively reducing the number of guests who visit the parks during the busiest periods and encouraging guests to visit during the quieter periods.

As an example, a one day ticket to Magic Kingdom during peak seasons will now cost $124 instead of $105, an 18% increase.

Of course a lot of parents with school age children will not have the luxury of visiting “out of season” and will still visit in numbers during the peak seasons so it remains to be seen whether it will impact on visitor numbers or simply increase Disney’s profits.

Disney One Day Ticket Seasons

Disney has decided to go with three seasons which they are calling “Value”, “Regular” and “Peak”.

Peak season covers three weeks around Easter/Spring Break, the early part of the US school summer holidays, Thanksgiving and Christmas accounting for just under 30% of the calendar with Regular season coming in just under 50% and Value around 20%.

For 2016 the dates are as follows:

  • Value — February 28 to March 3, August 22 to September 29
  • Regular — March 4 to 10, April 3 to May 26, July 24 to August 21, September 30 to November 19 and November 28 to December 21
  • Peak — March 11 to April 2, May 27 to July 23, November 20 to 27 and December 22 to 31

Visitors from the UK will see that most of the UK school summer holidays falls into the Value or Regular seasonal price bands, rather than the Peak season.

Like the airlines, Disney will typically show their seasonal calendar between 8 and 11 months in advance.

One Day Ticket Prices

For 2016, Disney has kept the Value season prices the same as the general pricing in 2015. All quoted prices exclude tax.

For the Value season dates, at the Magic Kingdom, a one day adult ticket will cost $105 and a child ticket $99. At the other three parks one day adult ticket will cost $97 and a child ticket $91. A one day hopper ticket will cost $155 for an adult and $149 for a child.

For the Regular season dates, at the Magic Kingdom, a one day adult ticket will cost $110 and a child ticket $104. At the other three parks one day adult ticket will cost $102 and a child ticket $96. A one day hopper ticket will cost $160 for an adult and $154 for a child.

For the Peak season dates, at the Magic Kingdom, a one day adult ticket will cost $124 and a child ticket $118. At the other three parks one day adult ticket will cost $114 and a child ticket $108. A one day hopper ticket will cost $164 for an adult and $158 for a child.

The new one day tickets will also have an expiry date (tickets purchased before February 28, 2016 will not expire). In future an unused one day ticket will expire at the end of the following calendar year so a ticket bought in March 2016 will expire on December 31, 2017. If it is not used, its original value can be used towards a new ticket at the current price.

Multi-Day Prices

Multi-day prices are not affected by the new seasonal tiered pricing structure but have gone up for 2016.

A two day ticket has increased by $10 from $192 to $202 whilst a ten day ticket has risen by $35 from $365 to $400. The cost of the Park Hopper add-on has also been increased.

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