For the first time since February 2007 January 2006 [Ed. Note: The 2007 Winter increase was for Water Park admission only. So the January, 2006 increase is the most analagous to this new Winter ticket price increase], Walt Disney World has increased ticket prices outside of its usual summer ticket price increases. Ticket prices last increased on June 2, 2013 – not quite nine months ago. A couple of brief notes before we get to the price increases themselves and my analysis of Walt Disney World’s price increase trends. This increase was essentially a “stealth increase.” I learned about it the way most Disney fans did – when Jason Garcia of the Orlando Sentinel retweeted a link to a one-paragraph story in the Sentinel about an increase coming on one-day Walt Disney World tickets. I correctly speculated that the whole rate card would be going up. As of 10:45 a.m. Central Time today, there is still no reference to these ticket rate increases on either the Disney Parks Blog or even in the news section of Disney Travel Agents web portal. The only official evidence of these price increases is on the Walt Disney World ticket ordering page, where the new prices apply to ticket orders placed today. I don’t think I’m being too much of a conspiracy theorist to suggest that perhaps Disney was hoping that news of the price increases would get buried in social media circles by posts from the Walt Disney World Princess Half Marathon. I won’t comment on whether the price increase itself is good or bad or justified or not – it is, and my goal here is to explore a bit what the increases actually are and explore the trends that are revealed by an analysis of increases over time. But from as both a Walt Disney World fan and a travel agent, I am disappointed by the lack of transparency involved in this round of price increases. WDW is free to change pricing any time it wants – but it’s bush league to try and sneak an increase through without disclosing it through their own established public channels. Increase chart and analysis after the jump.

Walt Disney World Ticket Prices (before applicable taxes) effective February 23, 2014:
Feb 2014 WDW Ticket Price ChartWhat we see from the new chart is that Walt Disney World’s basic pricing structure is pretty much unchanged since June’s introduction of premium pricing for 1-day Magic Kingdom tickets. Variable pricing remains limited to the Magic Kingdom. The first four ticket-days are the most expensive on a per-day basis, with ticket days five through ten adding a flat $10/ticket/day to the cost of the ticket. We can speculate a bit more about Disney’s goals with these price increases when we look more closely at the pricing trends over time.

Feb2014 WDW Ticket Price Trends
[Ed: The chart is updated – sorry, I inadvertently posted last increase’s chart initially]
(Note: Click on the trend chart to see it full-size)

So what can we glean from these trends? First, we see that increases for Child tickets and Adult tickets are very similar. This is the second time in a row that there has been very little variation in the rate of increase between Adult and Child tickets. Both 2011 and 2012 brought much steeper increases in rates for Child tickets than for Adult tickets. To me, this tells us that Disney is comfortable with the current spread between Adult and Child ticket prices, and that’s a pleasant surprise. I had expected that we might see regular tickets go the way of annual pass rates, with no difference between Adult and Child prices.

Second, the overall rates of increase were quite moderate by Disney standards. The single highest rate of increase was on 4-Day tickets, which increased 5.38% for both Adults and Children. Perhaps the closest thing to “good” news in this round is that we appear to have stemmed the tide of steep price increases on longer tickets. Since 2011, the smallest rate increase for a ticket of 5-Days or longer was 5.58% in June, 2011; and they ranged as high as 12.13% for a 10-Day Child ticket in that same increase. This time, the biggest rate of increase for tickets longer than 5-Days was right at the 5-Day mark, and was only 5.19%. This suggests to me that the strategy of aggressively encouraging longer vacations is back, which is consistent with the MyMagic+ strategy of increasing on-resort spending per guest.

Finally, not on my chart, but worth noting, is that the rate of increase on Annual Passes is down substantially. Since 2011, Annual Pass pricing increased rather steeply, including the elimination of lower prices for Child Annual Passes. In this round, regular Annual Pass prices only went up 4.11%; and Premium Annual Passes (which include Water Park admission, among other additional benefits) went up only 3.43%. Those are the second and third smallest increases on the entire rate card – only the increase in 2-Day ticket prices was lower.

If I had to guess, I would speculate that this round of increases reflects two things – a much slower and more expensive than expected rollout of MyMagic+ and a desire to push forward with the Avatar project in Disney’s Animal Kingdom (and, hopefully, some other capital projects as well). Walt Disney World, as a business unit, has to justify its budget to the mother ship. And absent the expected revenue growth from MyMagic+, they likely had to find another revenue source to justify the capital spending projects.

What do you think of this round of ticket price increases? Will they affect your Walt Disney World travel plans? Tell us about it in the comments below.

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