Walt Disney World has increased prices for all tiers of Annual Passes and for regular tickets at the water parks, as well as parking at the theme parks and its PhotoPass packages. This post offers details and our commentary about all of these changes, the amount of cost jumps, motivations, and more.
This is the first notable price increase of the year on admission at Walt Disney World. They normally happen in early February or mid-October, so it’s not particularly surprising that one happened after the holiday weekend. In fact, that’s why we’ve been advising readers to purchase tickets and Annual Passes in advance to lock-in current prices in Price Increases Likely Soon for Late 2023 & 2024 at Walt Disney World & Disneyland.
With the date-based pricing scheme, it’s sometimes difficult to ascertain whether regular park admission has increased. But to the best of our knowledge and what we’re seeing, the good news is that prices on single and multi-day tickets, as well as the Park Hopper option all have remained unchanged!
If this remains the case and ticket prices don’t increase through the remainder of the year, it’ll be relatively unprecedented. In fact, price increases don’t always happen “only” once per year. As we’ve previously discussed, Walt Disney World actually raised ticket prices twice last year.
The first increase price increase last year occurred in mid-February and the second happened on December 8. That was actually a bit of a weird one, as Walt Disney World made structural changes and removed reservations for single-day tickets and gave three weeks’ notice before implementing the changes. But it was also effectively a price increase for most dates.
Exactly this has happened before, with Walt Disney World having raised prices twice annually on a few occasions in the last decade. That’s why we’ve been advising readers to purchase tickets in advance to lock-in current prices in our 2023-2024 Discount Walt Disney World Ticket Buying Guide.
Against that backdrop, here are the new prices for each tier of Walt Disney World Annual Pass:
Incredi-Pass: $1,449 – previously $1399
Sorcerer Pass: $999 – previously $969
Pirate Pass: $799 – previously $749
Pixie Pass: $439 – previously $399
Additionally, Walt Disney World has also raised parking prices effective October 11, 2023. Standard parking for a regular vehicle is now $30 per day, which is an increase of $5.
Oversized parking has increased to $35 per day, also up by $5. (This applies to vehicles like buses, limos, campers, RVs, etc.) Preferred parking rates vary by season, and range from $45 to $55 per day.
As a reminder, standard parking at the four theme parks is included as a perk for guests of Walt Disney World Resort hotels. Additionally, overnight self-parking is once again free to guests staying at Walt Disney World Resort hotels. That changed at the start of 2023 after years of significant backlash.
Although many of you tourists might go unscathed from those price increases, there’s another potentially major one: Memory Maker. Here are the new prices for that photo package service at Walt Disney World:
When it comes to regular tickets, there’s only one increase–and it’s not at the 4 theme parks. Single day water park tickets for Blizzard Beach or Typhoon Lagoon (whichever is open) have gone from $69 to $74 for adults, and from $63 to $68 for children ages 3-9.
On a positive note, 1-day water park tickets with blockout dates prices have not changed–that’s still $64 for adults and $58 for kids. Also unchanged is the new Disney Water Park Seasonal Pass that’s valid from now until May 24, 2024 and remains priced at $79 for adults and $73 for children.
Similarly, the price of Fantasia Gardens Miniature Golf Course and/or Winter Summerland Miniature Golf Course is also increasing for adults, up from $14 to $19. Kids’ prices remain unchanged–$12 for ages 3-9.
In terms of the new pricing, no real surprises here. Although AP prices have increased significantly in the last several years, demand for them has kept pace–and then some. There was a multi-hour virtual queue to buy Annual Passes when they finally returned, and if attendance and crowd trends have been any indication, a slowdown in visits among Floridians and fans is not among Walt Disney World’s problems. (The company doesn’t release numbers, but I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if there are more Annual Passholders today than there were in 2018.)
What’s most interesting to me is that the Pixie Dust Pass increased by “only” $40. I’m not saying that’s insignificant–just that it’s somewhat surprising. Unlike the other tiers, this option for Floridians didn’t have sales paused, so there are a ton of them in circulation. That’s resulted in some ‘interesting’ and unprecedented crowd dynamics, such as the weekends (when that AP is blocked out) being the slowest days of the week at Walt Disney World this year.
Trying to ‘nudge’ Pixie Dust Passholders to higher tiers via higher pricing on it would have made sense. But then again, Walt Disney World may not want to lose ‘borderline’ APs, especially since that tier helps fill the parks during the off-season. So keeping the amounts relatively even across the board–even if the percentage gains are higher for the lower tiers–makes some degree of sense, too.
Walt Disney World plans to offer select days on which Annual Passholders and Cast Members may visit theme parks without needing a park reservation. Once introduced, Walt Disney World will roll out these good-to-go days on an ongoing basis.
This will be in addition to the recent update which offers Passholders the opportunity to visit the theme parks after 2 p.m. without needing a park reservation, except on Saturdays and Sundays at Magic Kingdom. Good-to-go days may vary by park, and pass block out dates and capacity limitations continue to apply like they do today. Stay tuned for more details on good-to-go days.
Again, don’t expect Walt Disney World to entirely eliminate reservations for Annual Passholders or Cast Members. Ever. As we’ve indicated repeatedly, the most likely long-term scenario is that Disney Park Pass is here to stay for Cast Members and Annual Passholders in some capacity, but will be eliminated entirely or at least integrated into tickets for everyone else. Josh D’Amaro was at Disneyland when the Flex Pass debuted there, and was reportedly an advocate for the reservation system for Cast Members.
Frankly, given the Flex Pass at Disneyland, overall increases in attendance in early 2020, and population explosion in Central Florida, I suspect park reservations were an inevitability for Walt Disney World APs and CMs. Even if the closure and everything else never happened, it’s highly likely that Cast Members and at least some tiers of Annual Passes would be required to make park reservations in 2023. It probably wouldn’t look like the current system–or be as restrictive–but it wouldn’t be like 2019, either.
Retaining reservations for APs and CMs gives Disney control over the attendance mix on busier days, and allows the company to prioritize tourists who spend more per visit on average. Although Disney wants Annual Passholders and Cast Members to visit–and spend money–when there’s excess capacity, the circumstances are different when the parks are busier.
Even if there is a summer slowdown, the economy enters a recession, or pent-up demand exhausts itself, it’s still likely that the peak weeks around Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Eve will continue to be very busy. It thus makes sense that Walt Disney World would want to prioritize resort guests and other tourists and not fill the parks with Annual Passholders at the expense of more lucrative vacationers during busier dates.
Hence the compromise of no reservations on slower days or after 2 pm most days for APs (and still subject to blockouts–which includes much of the holiday season for all tiers but the Incredi-Pass). That’s also why we do not expect park reservations to be retired for Annual Passes in 2024.
In terms of commentary, our biggest surprise is that only Annual Pass prices have increased at Walt Disney World (for now). Of course, that could change in the coming weeks or months, but Walt Disney World usually tries to get all admission price increases out on the same-day to avoid multiple days of negative press.
With that said, it should be noted that advance booking of Lightning Lanes is rolling out sometime next year. That may seem like a random aside, but depending upon how that’s implemented, it could necessitate further changes to single and multi-day tickets. In short, we might be seeing a repeat of the scenario where Walt Disney World waits until the heart of the holiday season to increase prices on regular tickets.
Or maybe they’ve simply opted against raising rates on single and multi-day park tickets. As we’ve previously discussed, there are a couple of compelling “arguments” against price increases. The first is that, upon returning, Bob Iger indicated that he was “alarmed” by previous Walt Disney World price increases and layoff plans in leaks to media. It’s worth noting that came out after the Chapek regime had announced Walt Disney World’s price ‘changes’ (read: increases) last holiday season, but before they had been implemented. They happened anyway.
Given that Iger was largely brought it to stem the bleeding from streaming and improve Disney’s financials, I have a difficult time believing that he is going to take the immediate hit on prices and the other upcharges just to improve goodwill among Walt Disney World fans. It’s very difficult to envision a way that Iger does that in the near-term given the uphill battle that Disney+ and Hulu face.
The other reason they might hesitate on more price increases is that Iger also confirmed on the most recent earnings call that attendance and hotel occupancy are both down at Walt Disney World. Disney executives have repeatedly ‘warned’ investors of a slowdown at Walt Disney World due to the end of revenge travel and conclusion of the 50th Anniversary.
Walt Disney World did a “great” job of capitalizing on revenge travel, raising prices and increasing per guest spending by a whopping 40% as compared to 2019. That’s a big part of why increases occurred at an “alarming” rate–because guest demand was so strong and resilient no matter what shenanigans Disney pulled.
Consequently, it might be time for the company to take its foot off the gas and pump the brakes on runaway pricing. There’s already the question of whether discounting will be enough to incentivize guests to return, or if irreparable brand damage will have been done during the last decade or so of increases. We don’t have an answer to that–no one does–but yet even more price increases certainly can’t help.
Wall Street analysts and investors have similar fears, and have asked the company about contingency plans and whether the current rate of growth is sustainable or damaging in the long term. (Remember the proxy fight earlier this year? That was one of the issues.) In response, Disney indicated that there are a number of “levers” they could pull. We’re already starting to see that happen via discounting.
Ultimately, I think there’s still a decent chance of more price increases later this year…but it’s equally likely that they’ll hit pause until February 2024 after several years of having their foot on the gas, so to speak. There’s probably internal apprehension about the perception of even more price increases, and also how it’ll negatively impact the already-soft forward bookings.
It’ll be interesting to see what, if anything, happens with prices at Walt Disney World over the course of the next few months. Even in the face of pent-up demand exhausting itself, the heart of the holiday season will likely be busy. However, price increases and other changes last beyond Christmas. So it’s really a question of whether capturing extra revenue for another couple of months is worth the headlines that further cement Walt Disney World as a travel destination with sky-high prices.
Thoughts on the price increases to Annual Passes at Walt Disney World? Think ticket prices will still increase across the board later this year, or will they hit pause until February 2024 in light of the economy? Do you think Disney is going too far with increases in a way that’ll leave lasting reputational damage, or will the company be able to quickly pivot along with economic circumstances? Agree or disagree with our assessment? Any other considerations we failed to take into account or details we missed? Any questions we can help you answer? Hearing your feedback–even when you disagree with us–is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!