Why Disneyland has raised ticket prices 70%

Disney Celebrates 50th Anniversary
Getty Images | David McNew

The most magical place on Earth certainly isn’t the most affordable, but that doesn’t keep visitors from heading to Disneyland in droves. Even the ever-increasing ticket prices are not slowing down Disney fans’ vacation plans.

The L.A. Times recently published an in-depth look at the theme park’s rising ticket prices, which they say have increased by a whopping 70 percent in the last 10 years. They figured out Disney’s secret strategy: increase prices in a quest to make crowd sizes more manageable. However, the reporters concluded that Disney fans don’t let anything, even high prices, deter them from taking a ride on Space Mountain.

“[T]he demand for Disney Parks continues to grow, particularly during peak periods,” wrote the Disney Parks Blog when they introduced seasonal pricing last year, so “we continue to look for ways to help spread out visitation.”

The Results Are In…

Admission prices depend on a few factors nowadays. Single-day admission starts at $97 on value days, $110 on regular days and $124 on peak days. Value days are often found on weekdays, while peak pricing days tend to be weekends and holidays. You get more of a discount the more days you book, though, as 5-day admission starts at $61 per day.

According to the Orange County Register, attendance was down in 2016, but just by 2 percent. However, that doesn’t seem to be enough to slow down the Disneyland craziness.

“A Times analysis found that the average wait time for the resort’s most popular rides in the first six months of the year was 24.4 minutes, a 28% increase over the same period in 2015 when the park drew record-high attendance numbers,” reporters Hugo Martin and Ben Poston wrote in the L.A. Times.

Getty Images | Handout

The Times report includes a bounty of facts about attraction lines you can incorporate into your trip planning, such as:

  • Visit on Thursdays, and avoid Saturdays.
  • Arrive early! Lines get longer into the afternoon.
  • Visit in September or January, and avoid holidays.
  • Visit Splash Mountain, the only popular ride to have a quicker wait time compared to last year.
  • Bring a snack while you wait to ride Space Mountain, which had the longest average lines from January through June of this year at 65 minutes.

Flickr | randychiu

Other Parks, Other Ideas

Disney parks aren’t the only destinations trying new tactics to improve wait times and reduce frustration visitors might feel inside the park. Universal Orlando Resort is trying out a virtual line for the first time for “Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon.” Riders don’t have to queue; rather, they can reserve a spot at a specific time using the theme park’s app or an on-site kiosk. At their designated time, the riders can walk right inside to the “interactive pre-show areas” rather than a regular old line.

What do you think about Disneyland’s rising ticket prices? If you’re a diehard Disney fan, will anything keep you away?

Things You Can Get For Free At Disney

We all agree Disneyland is full of happiness—cheerful characters walking around, zippy rides to go on, fun treats to eat—but we can also agree on another thing: It’s not cheap.

However, we did some investigating to see what free things can be had at the 85-acre theme park.

I know what you’re thinking, the park that can cost families a mortgage payment—or a few—in just a long weekend gives things away for free? Yep! And here’s what we found.

1. Phone Apps

First and foremost, you should use some key Disneyland phone apps to help you organize your big day(s) at the park. They’ll not only help you get around with map apps and show you ride wait times, but they’ll also let you make dinner reservations and give you fun trivia.


2. Balloons

If your balloon pops, or if you find a popped one on the ground, go to a balloon vendor and get another one… for free.

3. Go On A Tour

Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa is BEAUTIFUL, and they provide complimentary tours to the public.

4. Park At Downtown Disney

Parking fees are never fun to shell out for, so when you just need to park for two hours, try Downtown Disney… for free.

If you eat nearby or go see a movie and get a parking validation, you can get another two free hours. Sweet deal! Also, this gives you a good opportunity to go back to your hotel to rest between rides, then just park downtown before and/or afterwards!


RELATED: Disneyland Is Now Serving Dole Whip Cotton Candy

5. Water

Everywhere you go at Disneyland, you see bottled water. But, when you see a concession stand, don’t be swayed by those pricey bottles, no matter how refreshing they may look. Instead, ask for a cup of water and you’ll get one for free.

6. Stickers

Toddler tantrums are an all-too-frequent occurrence at Disney parks. The excitement, heat and overstimulation can get to the little ones during a long day of fun. Luckily, there’s almost always a Disney cast member with a pocket full of stickers nearby, ready to swoop in and save the day with some free stickers for distraction.

RELATED: You Can Live At Disney World Year Round (But It Will Cost A Pretty Penny)

7. A Snack To Tide You Over

Need a tiny snack to stop hungry tummies from growling? Hit up a few popcorn stands for some samples.

We all know kids’ stomachs are tiny anyway, so this could work until it’s time for lunch or dinner. Similarly, at Disney California Adventure, the Boudin Bread Factory Tour will give you free sourdough samples and Ghirardelli’s Chocolate Shop gives out free chocolate squares. You can even make a game of snack-sampling with your kids.

8. Free Food For Kids Under 3

It’s no secret that food at the parks can really add up, and you don’t exactly want to shell out to buy your 3-year-old a meal he or she will barely eat. What do you do? Hit up Disneyland’s buffet restaurants, like Goofy’s Kitchen, to get a free meal for kids under 3 years of age.

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9. Free Photos From (Certain) Rides

If you’re like me, you love those photos they take of you on rides… but not the price. However, certain rides, like Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters, let you email the pic… for free. So always ask. You never know!

10. Character Photos

Your child wants a photo with Minnie, or another of the many Disney characters roaming the park, but your wallet is getting a bit thin. Usually, you can just ask the photographer to use your phone to take a photo… for FREE.

RELATED: When To Visit Walt Disney World And Save The Most Money

11. Souvenir Buttons

If you don’t want to spend a ton on souvenirs, stop by Guest Relations or City Hall and get a Special Occasion Button.

Whether you’re celebrating a birthday, anniversary or first visit, there’s bound to be a pin for you. Certain stores also have them on hand, so ask away!


12. Autographed Pictures

A wonderful souvenir from Disneyland is an autographed photo of your all-time favorite character. Once again, it’s amazing what a little asking can get you. All you have to do is send a letter to:

Walt Disney Company
Attn: Fan Mail Department
500 South Buena Vista Street
Burbank, CA 91521

Don’t forget to specify which character’s autograph you want!

About the Author

Haley Otman

Haley Otman is a news and features writer based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, where she roots for the University of Michigan Wolverines. A former broadcast news producer, Haley has 10 years of writing experience and has worked in both journalism and public relations. Learn More.