The History of Disney World Ticket Prices and Why They Keep Raising Them

Do you remember when the price of a day pass to Disney World was under $50?

Magic Kingdom

No? 20 years ago. 😲 Remember, I’m talking specifically about Walt Disney World. In September of 2002, a one-day pass hit $50. The pricing since then has become more complicated. Take a look at today’s pricing:

$159 Holiday
$139 Peak
$125 Regular
$117 Value
$109 Low

The Timekeeper

One-Day ticket pricing history

I’m going to go back in time with the help of The Timekeeper. Opening day in October 1971, a one-day pass to Magic Kingdom was $3.50. Each year after that the price only increased ~$0.50 until we got to October of 1981. 10 years after opening day, the price increase was $1.50. The following year in June of 1982, there was an increase of $3.75 which was most likely due to the opening of Epcot that same year. Three months later, Disney introduced the Annual Pass for $100.

From 1982 to 2004 the price increase was around $2.00 each year. During these decades, MGM Studios, Typhoon Lagoon, Blizzard Beach and Disney’s Animal Kingdom opened up. That’s four parks with a minimal price increase each year.

January 2005 was the largest pricing bump ever at $5.00. Disney introduced the Magic Your Way Base ticket (one day-one park) which replaced One Day park tickets. From 2005 – 2016 there was a steady increase of around $5.00 a year. In February 2016, Disney introduced its tiered pricing.

The prices have stayed pretty steady from 2016 to today for one-day passes.

Annual Passholder price history

In September 1982 the Annual Pass was conceived and at $100 it was a no-brainer! The following year there was a bump in price of $25, but after that the increases were minimal ranging from $10 – $15. In March 1997 there was a $33 bump. This was probably in preparation for Disney’s Animal Kingdom which opened in April 1998.

Between 1998 and 2011 the price increases ranged from $15 – $30. The big jump was in October 2015 at a whopping $90! Then in June of 2019 for $125! We saw a recent bump yet again in February 2020 for $76.

Why is Disney raising its prices?

The number one thing I’ve seen was “crowd control”. But how accurate is that? At the time of this article it should be low-peak season at Walt Disney World. At a recent visit to Epcot on a Saturday, the crowds showed no evidence of slowing down. I don’t see the price increase as a means of controlling its crowded parks. I believe the prices continue to rise because people are willing to pay for it. Yes, it’s that simple.

Will ticket prices continue to go up?

Yes. You can absolutely expect ticket prices to go up.

“There seem to be a ton of people willing to pay whatever price, and Disney doesn’t want to leave money on the table if people are willing to pay those high prices,” Martin Lewison, an associate professor of business management at Farmingdale State College who studies the theme-park industry, said in an email.

If you’re an early-adopter to Disney and its brand, you may be used to a middle-class pricing model that does not work in the modern economy. You may feel frustrated that you put in a lot of loyalty into this brand and you have to really stretch to keep up. However, at the same time if Disney is going to grow it has to go where the money is and in a direction that allows it to get maximum value from its investments.

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Steve is the founder and administrator of D-COT. If anything breaks on the site, @TheSwedishChef is the founder and administrator.

6 Comments

  1. I think I read earlier last week that the single day high season ticket price has reached over $200 USD for the first time? https://www.forbes.com/sites/lisettevoytko/2020/02/12/disneyland-single-day-tickets-rise-above-200-for-the-first-time-ever/

    I get that these are some crazy numbers, but does anyone ever actually buy a single day ticket? I’d imagine anyone who is local enough to call by for the day is far more economic to be an annual pass holder?

  2. Park crowds are at there highest ever. Single day prices are about the only way to control crowds, without losing money. Disney makes its money off multiple day visits. By raising single day and passholder prices, they attract more multiple day vacationers and keep the crowds manageable for them

  3. my husband is about done with the prices…our family of 5 cost us almost $3k in park tickets for this trip…he’s DONE. i fear this might be one of our last trips…but when you have a wife who’s crazy for Disney…good luck telling her no. ;)

  4. I liked the “good old days” when you got an affordable ticket, and then got hosed on souvenirs, dining, hotels, and everything else. LOL

    • Hah! Now you get hosed on the ticket prices AND all the other stuff…..

  5. I get it, but it hurts when Disney does stuff like close half of Hollywood Studios and still raise ticket prices. You’re offering less and charging more and that’s not cool. I’m sad about the AP price increases. We were able to become Annual Passholders for the very first time in 2019 and it’s looking to be the last. We got in just 2 days before a price hike as it turned out and we could only do it thanks to military discount. I could like with a $5-$30 price increase but $76 for two people is way too much. But I enjoyed reading this interesting history of the park ticket :)

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