By Forrest Brown, CNN
(CNN) — From parking their vehicles for the day to purchasing annual passes, visitors to Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, California, are going to be paying more to enjoy that Mickey Mouse magic. Again.
The latest increases were announced and went into effect on Wednesday, October 11. That happens to be the exact one-year anniversary of a previous increase in prices for the two theme parks at the resort: classic Disneyland Park and the newer California Adventure Park.
The silver lining in this latest round of hikes: There’s no price increase for a single-day, one-park ticket on what Disneyland calls its Tier 0 days (which are days with the traditionally lowest attendance): That price remains at $104. But many other significant prices are going up, including for other one-day, one-park tickets.
Here’s an overview of some of the increases, why they’re happening, a look back at historical prices and what’s happening at Walt Disney World in Florida, too:
What’s going up at Disneyland?
As any Disney regular or newbie can tell you, it can be a real labyrinth navigating all the packages and options and upgrades for a visit.
The ultimate price can vary by so many factors: the number of days there, the number of people in your party and their ages, when you go, whether you buy skip-the-line options, whether you park hop, etc. A final out-of-pocket tally is pretty much unique to the visitor, but here are some of the basic increases:
One-day, one-park tickets per person: As previously mentioned, Tier 0 tickets remain at $104. If you go on Tier 1 day instead, that’s going to cost you $119, a $5 increase from the previous price.
However, one-day, one-park tickets go all the way up to Tier 6 for the most traditionally crowded days. That will set you back $194 (previously it was $179).
As far as those cheapest Tier 0 days go, Disneyland is offering a similar number of days this coming winter and early spring compared with 2023. (The whole 2024 calendar isn’t out yet.)
Multiday passes: These aren’t on the tier-system. They cost the same whether you set reservations for busy times (think Christmas week) or slow times (mid-September or mid-January, for instance). Here’s that breakdown:
• Two-day ticket — now $310 (previously $285)
• Three-day ticket — $390 (previously $360)
• Four-day ticket — $445 (previously $395)
• Five-day ticket — $480 (previously $415)
Park Hoppers: These allow you go back and forth between classic Disneyland and California Adventure for an extra price on the same day. And the price of park hopping is going up – unless you’re on a one-day ticket. That remains at $65. Here’s the breakdown for other prices:
• Two-day Park Hopper add-on — $65 (previously $60)
• Three-day Park Hopper add-on — $70 (previously $60)
• Four-day Park Hopper add-on — $70 (previously $60)
• Five-day Park Hopper add-on — $75 (previously $60)
Annual passes: Called Magic Key Passes, these are particularly popular with locals and die-hard visitors, according to Don Munsil, president of MouseSavers, a guide to discounts and deals at Disney and Universal parks. The less expensive passes include more black-out dates, and the more expensive ones offer more date options. Those increases are:
• Imagine Magic Key — $499 (previously $449)
• Enchant Magic Key — $849 (previously $699)
• Believe Magic Key — $1,249 (previously $1,099)
• Inspire Magic Key — $1,649 (previously $1,599)
Other increases: Disney Genie+ is the park’s line-skipping feature to bypass long queues on popular attractions. If you purchase it pre-arrival, it will now cost you $30 instead of the previous $25. You can buy Genie+ after you arrive, but that price can be even higher depending on current line waits.
Finally, parking is going up, too. Standard parking is now $35 (previously $30) and preferred parking is now $55 (previously $50).
Why another price increase?
Rapidly rising prices are a tough fact of life these days – US wholesale inflation heated up in September, for instance. Very little seems out of inflation’s grasp, including travel and leisure destinations.
“We are constantly adding new, innovative attractions and entertainment to our parks and, with our broad array of pricing options, the value of a theme park visit is reflected in the unique experiences that only Disney can offer,” said Disney spokesperson Jessica Good.
Longtime Disney observer Munsil said these price increases at Disneyland point to a pattern of trying to manage park crowds, steering visitors away from high-attendance dates and toward days when crowds are usually lower.
“The broader message for the past several years is that Disney is trying to optimize park attendance to get a better experience for people paying full prices for a ticket and to maximize revenue,” Munsil told CNN Travel.
He pointed out it costs almost as much to operate Disneyland on a low attendance day as a high one. Evening out the peaks and valleys is good for the bottom line – “it’s the holy grail for theme park businesses.”
That’s why you’re not seeing a price increase for a Tier 0 ticket but higher prices for other options, Munsil said. “They’d love to get more people in the low season and don’t need more in the high season. … I would expect more of this going forward.”
And what might be down the road for prices and options?
“Keep in mind that Disneyland has still not opted to make multiday ticket prices vary based on the dates covered. That’s an obvious move, and one that I expect them to eventually do,” Munsil said.
Historical prices at Disneyland
Disneyland was the first theme park for the Disney brand when it opened on July 17, 1955. And the opening day entry price back then might make someone scratching up almost 200 buckeroos for a high-demand date try to invent a time machine instead.
Munsil, who keeps historical records of Disney prices, said initial admission to the park was $1 for adults and 50 cents for kids. According to the US Inflation Calculator, that same $1 ticket should now cost $31. Clearly, Disneyland inflation has outstripped general inflation prices.
However, there are caveats to keep in mind.
First off, ride technology and experiences are many levels higher than what 1950s technology could deliver.
And back then, that $1 simply got you into the park. “Each attraction had a separate ticket, ranging from $0.25-0.35 for adults and $0.10-0.25 for children,” Munsil said. Bigger rides and bigger thrills came at higher prices.
Very soon afterward came an ever-changing array of prices and options that continue to this day. By 1956, they had introduced a combo package of admission plus 10 rides for $3, with discounts for younger ages, armed service members and even clergy, Munsil said.
It wasn’t until the early ‘80s that your admission bundled attractions. “In 1982, they started offering the ‘all you can ride’ price at $12.”
Even early 21st century prices can make a person wistful.
“In 2001, Disney’s California Adventure opened, adding a second park to the resort. The price for a one-day ticket to either park was $43,” Munsil said. Back then, Park Hopper wasn’t offered for one-day tickets, he said.
What’s going on at Disney World in Florida
Disneyland wasn’t the only place boosting prices on October 11. Walt Disney World Resort in Florida – an even bigger resort with four major theme parks – also increased some prices.
Yearly pass prices are going up to 10% higher, according to the news agency Reuters. Called the Incredi-Pass, the most expensive one is now selling for $1,449, up $50. Roll in taxes and you’re looking at almost $1,500. But with that comes no black-out days and possible savings on dining and merchandise.
And there’s one more silver lining at the Florida resort: Starting January 9, you can park hop any time of day with no restrictions. Until then, people who are park hoppering will continue having to wait until 2 p.m. to make the jump between theme parks.
CNN’s Natasha Chen contributed to this report.
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