Analysing Whether Disneyland's New Dynamic Admission Pricing Is Working

As much as people love to complain about the cost of going to Disneyland, they seem to love actually going to Disneyland even more.

So when Disneyland raised the price of its top annual pass above $1,000 last fall, I read all the comments from fans online who said they were done with Disneyland, and expected attendance to keep going up anyway. I thought many fans would decide not to renew their annual passes, but there are always more fans willing to take their place.

That seemed to be the case in the weeks following last October’s price increases. Disneyland was slammed, as usual, through last Christmas season and through spring. The ongoing 60th anniversary Diamond Celebration and the “Star Wars”-themed Season of the Force event brought out huge crowds to the park.

Until recently.

The Fourth of July typically is the height of the theme park season across the country. For parks that stay open year-round, such as Disneyland, the week between Christmas and New Year’s draws bigger crowds, but the Fourth usually brings in a larger-than-average summer crowd. Especially in years when the Fourth falls on an extended weekend, as it did this year.

But Disneyland wasn’t as full this year. Wait times didn't extend beyond an hour even on Hyperspace Mountain and Radiator Springs Racers, which typically have the longest wait times. Many traditionally popular rides also had shorter wait times.

Disneyland’s Deluxe annual passports weren’t blocked the day after the Fourth, as they were over the holiday weekend, and wait times did increase to higher levels.

This summer seems to be amplifying an effect many Disney fans have been noticing over the past few years – that attendance at Disneyland doesn’t rise and fall with weekends and holidays as much as it does with the number of annual passes that are blocked on any given day.

In February, Disneyland, along with the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida, also changed the way it priced one-day tickets. Instead of charging the same price every day, the Disney theme parks, just like Universal, now charges one of three prices, based upon how busy they expect the park to be that day. That gives Disneyland a one-two combination to hold down attendance of traditionally high-demand days: peak pricing for one-day tickets and blockouts for annual passholders.

It seems to be working. So here's the question: Is that what Disneyland wants?

Obviously, Disney wants to make as much money as it can at Disneyland. Smoothing crowds by encouraging people to visit on less-busy days than holidays and weekends helps Disneyland operate near a reasonable capacity on as many days as possible, without turning people away or overcrowding the park. But if holidays such as the Fourth of July are attracting relatively light crowds, that suggests that maybe Disneyland’s may have finally tipped the scale a little too far.

Source: OC Register

Banner Photo Credit: Kaylee Huffman