Report: Disney theme park profits soar despite drop in visitors, courtesy of price hikes and charging for once free benefits

Disney’s magical image has taken a self-inflicted beating this year thanks to the company’s disturbingly “woke” policies and its very public feud with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, but the company’s decision to hike its theme parks’ prices and insult its loyal annual passholders has only served to boost the parks’ profits to the tune of billions of dollars, even as the number of visitors to the Magic Kingdom tanks.

Like much of the nation, COVID-19 locked down Disney’s already expensive Florida and California theme parks. When they began once again welcoming guests in April of last year, visitors discovered the cost of cavorting with Mickey and pals had skyrocketed, with previously free perks now coming with a hefty price tag.

Following the many controversies surrounding the company, the parks saw a 17 per cent drop in visitor numbers, but with the price hikes, the company’s per-guest profit increased by 17 percent, sending billions to the company’s bottom line, according to a report in the Daily Mail.

Over the most recent quarter of the 2022 financial year, Disney raked in a staggering $7.4 billion from its parks — a 70 percent increase over the previous year. Profits for that quarter jumped from $356 million in the same quarter a year ago to $2.2 billion.

But according to many loyal visitors to Disney theme parks, the profits are coming at their expense.

Take the once-free Genie+ pass.

Visitors to the park could once download the app for free to their phone and enjoy breezing past the lines for some of the park’s rides. They were alerted to merchandise promotions, saving them some money on the ridiculously-priced souvenirs. More than half of all guests took advantage of the app, with 70 percent saying they’d download it again on a future visit.

But when they do, they will now be charged $15 dollars a day for the privilege — on top of the 100 bucks or so they handed over to walk alone into the park. And if they want to experience some of the park’s most popular attractions — Disneyland and Disney World’s Star Wars Galaxy Kingdom Area and Guardians of the Galaxy rides — they’ll be hit with an extra $10 to $17 surcharge.

In an effort to compete with the 2016 opening of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in 2016, admission prices at the park jumped at approximately twice the rate of inflation over the 2010s.

Furthermore, the prices of everything from snacks to a set of Mickey Mouse ears have spiked. Those iconic ears will now cost visitors $39.99, up more than a third from the $29.99 price in 2021. A pineapple-flavored Dole Whip dessert has gone from $5.99 to $6.99 — a 16 percent increase.

Disney execs explained that the rise in ticket prices were meant to offset an “unfavorable attendance mix” at Disneyland. Longtime holders of the parks annual pass, called the Magic Key, which allowed them to enter the park for free on days that weren’t blacked out, understood that they were the “unfavorables.”

Annual passholders often live near the park, so they don’t need to spend money on hotel accommodations and are generally less profitable to the park than, say, international visitors or those on a family road trip.

Over the year, the cost for a Magic Key rose 14 percent, from $1,399 to $1,599 per pass and the number of blackout days, when the pass is not valid, were increased.

Today, while it allows existing passholder to renew their Magic Key, Disney has stopped selling almost all new annual passes.

Magic Key holders are understandably outraged at the insinuation that they are “unfavorable” guests and have taken to social media to express their dismay.

“We don’t have a ton of money,” wrote one user on Twitter. “The extra we did have we put into Disneyland. In turn, @Disney called us unfavorable park attendees.”

“It may sound lame but that hurts,” the user continued. “Today was our last day of passes and we can’t justify to renew. Hope one day the magic is back at Disneyland.”

 

 

 

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