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Should Disney charge for theme park admission AND attraction access?

Should Disney charge for theme park admission AND attraction access?

With ticket prices increasing and Disney theme parks around the world rolling out paid “skip-the-line” access, it begs the question: should Disney charge for both?

Rising prices

Credit: KtP

We are seeing the constant raising of prices at Disney World – from food and hotels to ticket prices, Disney is more expensive than ever. Just last week, we shared that Disney is now charging for bread that was once free. Even Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party is more expensive than it has been in previous years.

Then, you have things that used to be free but now cost money. Genie+ and Individual Lightning Lane Selections can add an extra $40/person/day to get Lightning Lane access to Disney attractions. This used to be free with FastPass+. When you combine that with the price of ticket admission, that’s almost $200/person/day to enjoy your day in the parks.

Should Disney charge for both?

A little bit of Disney history

Credit: Monica

When Disney World opened in 1971, they charged for both admission and ride access although purchasing e-ticket booklets was not mandatory. Admission was roughly $3.50 per adult $1.50 per child although sources differ a bit. In today’s economy, that’s roughly $25 per adult and $10 per child.

Then, Guests purchased e-ticket booklets that were valid for various attractions. Those prices ranged anywhere from .10 cents to .90 cents depending on the attraction. For the most popular headliner attractions, that equates to roughly $7 in today’s money. These lasted until the early 1980s when they were phased out.

However, these e-ticket booklets did not grant you front of the line access. They simply allowed you access to the ride, and you still had to wait. Back in the 1970s, Guest attendance was in the ballpark of 10,000 Guests per day. Disney had 19 attractions along with other entertainment options like fireworks and parades.

Compared with today

Credit: Monica

Ticket admission is approximately $150/person today with so many variables including season, hopper options, and length of stay. Compared to $25/adult in “today’s money” that is quite a bit higher than what Disney charged in 1971.

There are also many combinations of ride access. While every attraction is free at Disney World with theme park admission now, you can pay extra to skip the line at almost every ride. That is not something Disney had back in the 1970’s!

Disney World, Disneyland, Disneyland Paris, and Tokyo Disney all have some sort of paid access. At Disney World, you can pay $15/person/day for Lightning Lane access. Additionally, there are other headliners you can purchase a la carte for up to $20/attraction/person.

Credit: KtP

You could absolutely get away with not purchasing any paid options. However, you will need to be very strategic as well as realistic with what you will accomplish.

Park attendance now is roughly 60,000 people per day at Magic Kingdom – give or take. Disney does not share capacity or numbers, but this is a decent estimate. According to the Disney World website, there are 53 “things to do” at Magic Kingdom for attractions and entertainment.

Should Disney charge for admission and “skip-the-line” access?

Credit: Kenny the Pirate

Many people will say comparing 1971 with 2022 is comparing apples and oranges. I definitely agree with that! There are so many different variables that it’s hard to stack them up side by side.

Stack your ticket and Lightning Lane access pricing with photo packages, food, souvenirs, and other miscellaneous expenses and Disney World is becoming less and less affordable.

We would love to hear from you! Do you think Disney should ditch theme park admission or at least make it cheaper if they are going to keep paid FastPass options? Or, is it fair to charge for both knowing how high standby wait times are?

Share your thoughts with us in the comments below and on Facebook.

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Tuesday 17th of May 2022

Disney has out priced themselves for us,already.. The only time we would go is when free dining was offered and now that doesn't appear to be coming back anytime soon. I was a fan of fastpass plus but I can tell without even using it I'm not a fan of genie plus or LL. Then, for whatever reasons attractio a are having a lot more issues than ever before. Through the years we managed to visit over 50 times. Now, I feel we get better value going to Dollywood or Silver Dollar City. Resort costs are cheaper going to these other destinations, too, as well as, eating costs. I do believe the bubble will burst for Disney. It will take a while but I'm patient.


Tuesday 17th of May 2022

They are crazy, it cost enough to enter the park. Why pay to ride??? If they are gonna charge to ride like in the olden days of amusement parks then it's 0 charge to enter. Besides dusney us eventually gonna outprice the public soon enough in my opinion.


Monday 16th of May 2022

Tonya you are correct. Disney obviously now cares about one thing: PROFIT!

Want to buy 1000 DVC points anybody?


Monday 16th of May 2022

I actually do not have a problem at all with them charging for Genie Plus. It is consistent with the theme park industry and I always assumed it was a matter of time before FastPass wasn't free anymore. My problem is that it is an inferior service when compared to FastPass Plus. I would like it better if it worked a little more like the previous system. With that said, yes, Disney is expensive and getting more so every day. We used to go about every 5-6 months and now we are going every 12-18 months. But it isn't Genie Plus that priced us out - increased ticket prices, fewer discounts on rooms, no dining plan, less value for the money - those have had more impact on our bottom line than Genie Plus has.


Monday 16th of May 2022

I don’t think it really matters what anyone thinks. Disney doesn’t care what we think. They probably only used to appear to care what we thought. I KNOW it’s a business, but this business was created out of a man’s desire to have a place where families could go and enjoy the experiences together. I can totally afford to go to Disney. we prefer to rent a car and stay offsite. It just works for our family the best. So now with Genie+, LL, having to be on my phone at 7am, price increases all around, ugh!! Sounds exhausting even for someone that has planned 10+ trips.

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