After a recent trip with her husband and two children to Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida, Gina Lee said she felt like she had lost “all concept of money and time.”
“It has become more expensive. “It’s crazy,” said the New York-based content creator. “I feel like when you go to Disney it’s almost like planning a wedding. You say, ‘Hey, I’m already on this, what’s 20 or 30 more dollars?’ Before you know it, you’re out of control, but you’re in this Disney mentality.”
In recent years, prices have risen throughout the Disney universe. Not only have theme park visits become more expensive, but so have cruise vacations, souvenirs and the Disney company’s streaming services. Your timeshare program, disney vacation club, high prices starting January 30. Over the summer, Disney quietly raised prices at two of the adults-only restaurants aboard its cruises to $135 per person for dinner, an increase of $10. according to the Disney Cruise Line blog.
Some of these increases are modest and common to Disney’s rivals in the entertainment and travel businesses. Inflation has also played an important role. But one thing is for sure: being a Disney fan has never been more expensive.
The price increases come as Disney faces a decisive moment in its history. The global entertainment giant is grappling with a still-unprofitable transition to streaming, recent box office missteps (like the soon-forgotten animated film “Wish,” released in November) and a murky CEO succession plan. A legal battle is underway with Ron DeSantis, the governor of Florida, which is the state with Disney’s largest and most profitable theme parks.
Disney investors appear to be reeling from uncertainty: The company’s stock is down 11% over the past five years. (Disney reports its quarterly results after the stock market closes on Wednesday.)
The company did not respond to a request for comment from CNN.
Meanwhile, admissions to iconic parks have skyrocketed. A one-day ticket to Disney World during peak holiday season has increased 47% since 2019, far outpacing the rate of inflation, according to Don Munsil, president of MouseSavers, an online guide to theme park discounts and deals. from Disney and Universal. .
Here are Disney’s estimates for a family of four: Two days at Disneyland and California Adventure parks the first weekend in March (which is not a peak period) will cost $1,310 for tickets and parking. Genie+, a pass that speeds shoppers through some attraction lines, adds $240 to the total. That’s almost $1,600, not counting the mouse ears and giant turkey legs.
Parks and cruises see price spike
The benefits that Disney customers had become accustomed to also began to disappear. In the past two years, free airport transfers to Florida parks have been eliminated and the once-free FastPass system has been replaced by Genie+, which starts at $25 per day.
“Over the course of the time we’ve been running MouseSavers, we’ve certainly seen Disney introduce more upsells,” Munsil said. Disney had begun raising the prices of its cruises “pretty quickly,” he said, although he added that growing demand for Disney’s ships has played a role.
Brittany Huizinga, a travel agent with Arizona-based Smart Moms Travel, took a two-part trip with her husband and two children over the holiday season: the first four nights were spent at Walt Disney World and the last five nights were spent at a Disney cruise. ship.
“Including airfare from Arizona to Florida, car rental and all the extra excursions we did on the cruise, it was about $20,000,” he said, or more than $2,000 a day.
Disney’s cost-cutting efforts
However, it’s not just in-person experiences that have gone up in price. In the fall, Disney raised the price of its flagship streaming service, Disney+, and CEO Bob Iger said the company would take steps to end password sharing in 2024.
In its 2023 annual report report, published in November, Disney cited “recent inflationary conditions” as the reason behind some of its higher costs. However, the report also shed light on some of the House of Mouse’s struggles: Operating income in the company’s entertainment division plummeted 32% between 2022 and 2023.
After a year of box office disappointments and heavy investments in Disney+, the company has looked for ways to save money. In November, Disney announced it would cut spending by another $2 billion, on top of the $5.5 billion reduction it had previously announced, which included thousands of job cuts.
Doug Arthur, an analyst who covers Disney for Huber Research Partners and has a “buy” rating on the stock, is confident that money will soon be coming for Disney’s streaming business.
“They will make money from this and they will probably make a lot. I’m not too worried about whether it will be this quarter, next quarter, this year or next year,” she said. “It will happen”.
On Tuesday, Disney’s ESPN, along with Fox Corporation and Warner Bros. Discovery (CNN’s parent company) made the previously unthinkable announcement that they would team up to create a new streaming service to house their sports assets. Each company will own one third of the new service.
Disney has said it hopes to turn its streaming business out of the red by the end of this year.
For now, however, Disney, like most companies facing rising costs, appears to have passed some of those increases on to its customers.
Lee said he devised a strategy to cut the extra costs of his Disney vacation, including pre-purchasing cheaper replica Mickey Mouse ears on Amazon. Disney-branded mouse ear headbands, sold at the company’s theme parks and online, have risen in price in recent years, along with other Disney-branded products. According to the Wayback Machine, a digital library of historical websites, headbands have increased nearly 17% since 2022.