Seasonal Pricing for Multi-Day Tickets?
As anticipated, Walt Disney World and Disneyland increased prices overnight. That’s bad news for anyone purchasing tickets or vacation packages directly from Disney today. The good news is that you can still purchase tickets from the “old” inventory at the old prices from ParkSavers (for Walt Disney World or Disneyland) or Get Away Today (for Disneyland). So you might want to jump on that if you missed our ‘heads up’ post yesterday and awoke today to the news of higher prices.
One tidbit you might’ve missed that we added to that post when revising it today was the possibility of seasonal pricing for multi-day tickets at Walt Disney World (and, presumably, Disneyland). This isn’t just speculation on our part–although we have (wrongly) speculated that it would be rolled out for the last couple of years now.
Disney spokesperson Andrea Finger released a statement to the Orlando Sentinel: “Given the small percentage of guests that purchase a one-day ticket at Walt Disney World, extending pre-published, date-specific pricing to multi-day tickets will further advance our efforts to spread attendance throughout the year and ensure all guests have a magical experience no matter when they visit.” The Sentinel further indicates that Disney is planning to begin selling these tickets later this year.
What, exactly, this means is unclear. The vague wording allows for a range of interpretations, and describes everything from Florida resident ticket deals to the type of pricing that was introduced a few years ago for single day tickets. In our estimation, the latter is the most likely possibility. (It also opens the door for “Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge Opening Month…Season” with prices for Disney’s Hollywood Studios about double what they are now.)
In Disney parlance, this is known as seasonal pricing. It’s the same as flex, demand-based, surge, or variable pricing. The higher demand, the higher the cost, and vice-a-versa. For 1-day tickets, there are currently three seasons: Value, Regular, and Peak.
When these price seasons were introduced a few years ago, prices increased fairly significantly for both the Regular and Peak Seasons, while Value Season prices were a small decrease as compared to regular prices at the time. This was a clever move on Disney’s part, as it allowed them to issue statements like the following when discussing the price changes: “[guests] have a variety of options, including many days in the value period, which will give them the opportunity to pay less for a 1-Day ticket.”
If seasonal pricing is introduced for multi-day tickets (and despite Disney’s statement, it is still an if at this point; plans can always change until they happen), we would expect the same: a slight drop in the baseline for Value Season pricing, with spikes for Regular and Peak Seasons.
Let’s tackle what this could mean for you. The obvious one is that you’ll potentially pay more thanks to a second price increase (err…”change”) in 2018. When looking at historical price increases for Walt Disney World and Disneyland tickets over the course of the last decade, July or August 2018 seems like the most likely time for this to occur. This would also allow Disney to analyze summer trends post-Toy Story Land opening, and also have a good idea of what fall bookings look like.
If you travel during anything but Value Season, prices for your multi-day tickets would likely increase if/when seasonal pricing for multi-day tickets is introduced. To get an idea of which ‘season’ you’re visiting during, look at the current single-day ticket calendar (DVC point or hotel rate charts could also be useful). While that calendar should be instructive, it’s not definitive. Disney may fine tune seasons more to further manipulate crowds.
That’s the obvious impact, but not the only one. In our Summer Isn’t Peak Season at Walt Disney World Anymore post, we focused a lot of attention on dynamic ticket pricing, and attributed the pricing seasons as one of the reasons May and June had not been as busy for the last two years as they had been in previous years.
We extended this logic in our more recent Is There an Off-Season at Walt Disney World? post, commenting that a variety of factors have caused surges in crowds across the board–and have also made predicting crowd levels extremely difficult.
Introducing seasonal pricing for multi-day tickets should not have the effect of increasing crowd levels across the board. If the net impact is higher prices (as will be the case), seasonal pricing should “help” to further thin crowds. What it will do, though, is make crowds even less predictable, and push crowd calendars further towards obsolescence, at least in the short-term.
Predicting crowds requires a mix of reliable historical data and forward-looking information that offers a window into Disney’s internal crowd forecasts. When prices change like this, historical data becomes less reliable (as there’s a new variable present that did not exist before), and for a period of time, it’s tough to predict exactly how visitors will react–to what degree crowd patterns will shift.
This is problematic for all of us who try to cherry-pick the sweet spots for crowds: mid-January, September, and early December. (Two of which are already skewing towards being significantly busier.) Personally, I can stomach price increases to a degree; what’s more troubling for me is visiting during times that have historically been off-seasons…only to find the parks swarming with people.
Ultimately, a lot of this is informed speculation at this point. While the official statement from Disney makes seasonal pricing for multi-day tickets seem inevitable, it’s not a done deal until it happens. We think it’s pretty safe to say we have not seen the last big ticket price increase–or even second to last one–before Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge opens next year. While you can’t fully prepare for that/those price increases quite yet, buying now to lock-in pricing is definitely a good idea if you’re visiting later in 2018.
We have more details about Walt Disney World and Disneyland ticket pricing, and the best ways to save (and also how to lock-in old prices) in our Tips for Saving Money on Walt Disney World Tickets and Disneyland Money-Saving Ticket Tips posts.
What do you think of the price increase and likelihood of a shift to seasonal pricing on multi-day tickets? Are you concerned that Disney is pricing out too many guests, or do you think it’s a good move to curb ever-growing crowds? Other thoughts or insight? Share your opinions or questions in the comments below!
I am not surprised to see this. When I ‘did the math’ on the increases – value season single day tickets were less $ than multi day tickets until you got to 4 days. Since they want to push the multi-day, it makes sense to tier it also. To ‘even out’ the savings between different seasons.
Of course it makes sense for Disney to try to eliminate ‘off-season’ as much as those of us who are not tied to the current school schedules wish they wouldn’t. I think that could explain why the up-charge morning & evening events are working for them. People are wiling to pay more for less crowds.
I was just there the last week in Jan, and the parks were slightly busier than I expected. The Sat before the Superbowl especially, but If I have to deal with the crowds it is certainly better at 70 degrees and not 90 🙂
When I look at the one day seasonal calendar, it looks like in many cases the “value” season is Monday through Thursday, with Friday-Sunday as “regular” season, even in typically slow months like September. How would they handle a guest who is staying for a week and buying a 7 day pass if there aren’t 7 consecutive days of the same season? Or do you think there would be separate calendars for one day and multi day seasons similar to the blackout date calendars for the various AP products? Could they pro-rate by the day, based on the one day calendar? It just seems very confusing to try to keep track of.
Have you ever done the Southern California CityPass through Disney? We are talking about going to DL in late April/early May. We are coming from PA, so we were talking about making the trip a bit more full by going to Sea World and Legoland too. We’ve never done anything like this, so it is all new territory. lol Not sure if it is worth it to buy through the Disney vacation package online or some way different.
This article is very intriguing I booked my package this week in light of the impending ticket price increase.
I mock checked today the same package including the same number of day tickets and it is the same price!
It is during a traditional low crowd time of year
Do I assume that I could be in one of the windows where my price is not going to increase ?
I’m not sure how I feel about ticket price tied to time of year and crowds i feel like it is disneys way of enticing more people to ” off seasons” therefore making it a zoo there year round.
I called Disney reservations yesterday and was told that the package prices stay the same throughout the calendar year even if ticket prices increase. This seemed incorrect to me, but I was assured that If I modified my package after the increase the ticket component of the package would not increase. This is contrary to what I’ve read elsewhere.
Similar to Beth, I booked a 6 day trip in Nov to WDW prior to the expected price increase and the cost would be the same if I we’re to book the same package today.
Just wanted to give a big shout of THANKS!! To the DTB. I saw your email blast last week predicting ticket increases on February 11. I snuck in and bought my AP — you literally saved me $200. Thanks!!!
For me, seasonal price variations have never loomed large in deciding when to plan aWDW trip. The variation is small compared to the total, and since I only go every other year I’m more interested in making sure I have a good time than I am in fine-tuning the cost. So it’s crowd size I think of first.
Which is to say that, rather than being upset about price increases, I’m more unhappy with Disney’s efforts to even out attendance. I want my empty off-season, in fact I’d likely be willing to pay a premium in higher ticket prices during the off-season for lowr crowds! Of course that’s the opposite of what Disney wants to accomplish, so there’s no chance of them doing it.
But in the near future, I’m going to keep a sharp eye on attendance patterns. If Disney accidentally overshoots and creates a new low-crowd season, I’ll want to jump on it before it shifts again!
“If Disney accidentally overshoots and creates a new low-crowd season, I’ll want to jump on it before it shifts again!”
Same. Unfortunately, the low crowd season they have accidentally created is now parts of May through July, and I’m VERY weary of booking a trip for those sweltering months only to discover that Disney somehow “fixed” the problem this year, and I’m stuck with high crowds and miserable weather.
Thank you Tom for the heads up yesterday on park tickets increases. I am glad I got my DL tickets yesterday.
Whenever a rumor like this comes around, I have a few concerns. One of which is my Disney ticket stockpile. I know it sounds ridiculous. But I got married in 2009 and one of the things I did with some of our wedding money was stockpile Disney tickets. Nothing ridiculous, sort of akin to purchasing DVC, but locking in ticket prices instead. I think what my husband and I have left at this point are a 10 day non-expiration ticket apiece, as well as a set of 4 day and a set of 5 day park hoppers for us and our children (once we had kids, I started “stockpiling” for them as well – with Disney ticket prices rising far faster than inflation or anything else, this seemed like a good “investment.” I think we each also have a set of 2 day park hoppers from a FD package that we didn’t use. All tickets were purchased before Disney started putting expiration dates on tickets.
I just hope that all of my tickets will always be acceptable forms of admission. Disney does a great job of honoring past admissions, and I hope it continues.
On a side now, if you were me, what would you do with this “stockpile?” I currently have all ticket numbers saved in a Google doc that would be unrecognizable to any sort of identify thief, (the document says nothing about Disney or tickets) and the only tickets linked to our MDE account are the partially used 10 day hoppers and the 2 day hoppers from the package. Should I link all of them now, or do you worry that would trigger some sort of expiration date?
Thanks :- ) And thanks for your usually reliable “rumors” 🙂
I’m in the same boat, with some non-expiring tickets and even a voucher for a non-expiring ticket that I have not yet redeemed. That one is my immediate concern. I don’t like the surge pricing at all. Disney is complicated and expensive enough. If they are trying to drive people away it’s working with me.
Do you link your extra tickets to MDE or just have them sitting around in a closet or drawer (or electronic document) somewhere?
I would stick to exactly what you’ve done. Disney has not messed with its grandfathered tickets in the past, and I think adding them into MDX is a potential recipe for disaster. All it would take is missing a click-wrap agreement in an update to the app for your tickets to suddenly have an expiration date.
Betsy, I admire your forward thinking by investing in WDW in a way most wouldn’t have thought of. Smart move.
I purchased park hopper, no expiration tickets about two decades ago, but didn’t begin using them until recently, even though I was at WDW often enough and could have. The earlier trips involved my family, including young grandchildren, and it was just easier to get MYW packages, with tickets included. Plus, I had the feeling that I should hold onto those no expiration tickets, treat them like my Disney IRA, something to be used in old age. While I didn’t expect ‘no expiration’ tickets to go, I did expect ticket prices to increase.
I am retired now and living on a smaller income, so my WDW trips are mostly resort vacations, with one or two park visits per trip, which suits me fine. Not having to pay today’s prices by using the no expiration tickets allows me to enjoy the parks, a little at a time.
You’re a smart young lady, Betsy. I hope people follow your lead.
I wish I’d done the same. I should probably have taken out a second mortgage and bought Disney tickets, they have approached faster than the stock market. 🙂
Very disappointed that my AP renewal window is three days away and I wasn’t able to renew at the old prices. Now I probably won’t renew at all.
If you’re talking about California, you should head to a local grocery store to see if Annual Pass vouchers are in stock. The odds of finding one might be low, but I know they’ve been sold before, and if they are, they should still have the old pricing. You don’t need to be in the renewal window to buy an AP voucher.
Thank you Tim for this info. Very helpful. I know now this is going to make it alot harder for me to go with this increase. I’m devastated . Of course the memory maker went up also right?