Walt Disney World has announced a new discounted afternoon park admission option called the Mid-Day Magic Ticket, valid at Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Animal Kingdom, or Hollywood Studios after 12 pm. In this post, we’ll offer pricing and share thoughts about this new WDW ticket offer.
For starters, the basics. Walt Disney World’s new Mid-Day Magic Ticket is only a multi-day ticket, sold in 2 to 4 day increments. Currently, it’s available between now and December 15, 2019. If the Mid-Day Magic Ticket proves popular, we’d expect it to be extended.
While Disney Meetings has long offered convention guests special afternoon tickets, this is the first time Walt Disney World has sold such a midday ticket to the general public. It’s an interesting option, but perhaps not for the reasons you might think…
Let’s begin with pricing. Per Walt Disney World, here are the various options and price points:
2-Day Mid-Day Magic Ticket: Valid for admission after 12 p.m. 2-day Mid-Day Magic Tickets are available from $88 per day plus tax (from $176 total plus tax) and expire four (4) days after the selected start date.
3-Day Mid-Day Magic Ticket: Valid for admission to after 12 p.m. 3-day Mid-Day Magic tickets are available from $84 per day plus tax (from $252 total plus tax) and expire five (5) days after the selected start date.
4-Day Mid-Day Magic Ticket: Valid for admission after 12 p.m. 4-day Mid-Day Magic tickets are available from $79 per day plus tax (from $316 total plus tax) and expire seven (7) days after the selected start date.
One thing to note here is that there is no date-based pricing (at least not that we can see) for Mid-Day Magic Ticket, so the amount you’ll save varies by date. This means you’re looking at the least savings now or through most of September and greater savings October through December. You might save as little as ~$20 per day for an off-season date, or as much as ~$50 for a peak-season date.
However, it is worth noting that those 3 hours, especially during the aforementioned peak season dates, are the most valuable of the day at Walt Disney World. This is something we harp on a lot, but with an efficient 1-Day Disney Parks Itinerary or Touring Plan, you can do more during the first two hours of the day you can get more accomplished than during the next 5 hours.
It’s also worth noting that Walt Disney World is offering Extra, Extra Magic Hours for the entire months of September and October in Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, and Hollywood Studios. If crowds prove to be large during the initial months of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, we could also see this being extended to November and December.
During Extra, Extra Magic Hours, Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom will open to on-site hotel guests at 7 a.m., and Disney’s Hollywood Studios will open at 6 a.m. It should go without saying, but on-site guests who purchase Mid-Day Magic Tickets will not have access to Extra, Extra Magic Hours.
This means those guests will lose out on another 2-3 hours of time in the parks–early morning hours that will offer a huge strategic advantage to on-site hotel guests who are early risers. This is especially true if daytime and evening hours are busier than normal, you should be able to get a ton done first thing in the morning if you arrive early.
The flip side to this is that those who arrive later will be at a huge strategic disadvantage. If you’re rolling up to Disney’s Hollywood Studios at noon in September and October, you are essentially showing up 6 hours after the park has been open, at which point the crowds will have swollen pretty considerably.
If you’re an on-site guest, we’d implore you not to sleep in during this timeframe (for all of the reasons identified above). Nevertheless, if you’re the type who likes to relax in the morning or if you’re an off-site hotel guest on a budget, the new Mid-Day Magic Ticket is potentially an attractive discount option.
Off-site guests might actually be better off arriving later and staying later. You’re going to hit peak crowds at 9 a.m. anyway, so why not sleep in and not hold off for another few hours, save some money, and stay as late as possible (when crowds will once again start to subside). From that perspective, it’s tough to argue with the Mid-Day Magic Ticket.
Beyond the superficial, we’re also intrigued by the deeper implications of, and motivations for, the Mid-Day Magic Ticket. It would appear that this is a way to redistribute crowds (within a single day) while also offering a quasi-discount to lure in guests who have otherwise been priced out.
The ‘priced out’ guests are the most interesting part of this, and it makes us wonder whether we’ll see more options like the Mid-Day Magic Ticket in the near future. We wonder this because, the Walt Disney Company released its fiscal third quarter results last week, and revealed that attendance dropped 3% at Disneyland and Walt Disney World.
Disney CEO Bob Iger attributed this drop to aggressive Annual Passholder blockouts and people postponing trips due to Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge (in the case of Disneyland, fears of crowds; in the case of Walt Disney World, wanting to see the new land).
The reality that attendance is down is hardly surprising–we’ve been covering this phenomenon in our Why Are Star Wars Land Crowds So Low?post. It’s the underlying causes for the declines that have our interest. Speaking to this, Iger said: “we do not feel that we have a pricing issue at our domestic parks.”
While we agree with some of Iger’s purported rationales (fears of crowds, AP blockouts, people postponing trips until the entire land is open) and disagree with criticism of the land’s substance, we disagree that Disney doesn’t have a pricing issue. Of course Iger isn’t going to come out and say that–it’s his job to put a positive spin on Walt Disney Co’s results.
Disney’s aggressive price increases and their long term sustainability is something we’ve discussed at length in countless other posts. We won’t reiterate all of that here, but see our “Is Disney World Eroding Fan Goodwill?“ and Page 2 of our Should You Wait to Visit WDW? posts (among many others) for more of our thoughts on this topic. Suffice to say, cracks are starting to show in the travel industry at large, and this is with record consumer confidence.
The inverted yield curve and warning signs in the global economy have been making waves in the news the last couple of days, and the stock market has already started to react. Even if it takes another 18 months, it would appear that some degree of a recession is an inevitability. It will be interesting to see how Disney navigates a less-than-stellar economic environment after a long run of growth.
Walt Disney World and Disneyland haven’t felt the ramifications of these price increases (yet) thanks to guests being in a ‘spend freely’ sort of mood, but will that end? Will Disney’s parks be hit harder than during the Great Recession due to most expensive day ever perceptions? Will we see a litany of other promos and offers like this? If I were a betting person, I’d say the answer to all of those questions is yes, and we’ll start to see this play out in the not-too-distant future. Of course, I’ve been wrong (or at least premature) in my predictions about this for the last couple of years; perhaps Disney is better positioned than I think.
What do you think of the Mid-Day Magic Ticket? Does this ticket appeal to you, or are you a rope drop sorta crew? Thoughts on how a recession could impact Disney? Do you agree or disagree with our analysis? 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!