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The Monday Rant: Mouse Values

Scott Vogel

Here we go with another installment in our periodic Time to Update Those Guidebooks series. This week we're talking Orlando, one of the world's most popular tourist destinations, a place that -- like many hot spots -- has been hurting recently.

On the other hand, Disney just reported strong profits (they rose 9% in the third quarter), which makes the company's decision to raise the pricesat Disneyworld all the more surprising. As of last week, it now costs $75 for one day at the Magic Kingdom for adults (opposed to $71), while children, which Disney defines as those 3 to 9 years of age, pay $63 (up from $60).

And as is customary with these things, Universal Orlando quickly followed suit, matching the $75 figure just 4 days after the Disney price increase went into effect.

It's only a few bucks more and visitors to these Orlando parks will still save money if they take advantage of, say, the Magic-Your-Way multiple-day ticket packages at Disneyworld. But still, you've got to wonder what's going on in these companies' minds, particularly this summer, with gas prices making car trips and flights to Orlando more expensive than ever.

Actually, let's throw this one out to you. What IS going on in their minds? Is this fair/advisable/wise? And are these still the happiest places on earth if you have to pay $75 to gain admission?

By Scott Vogel |  August 11, 2008; 7:10 AM ET  | Category:  Monday Rants , Scott Vogel
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I don't see what's so difficult about this - what's going on in their minds is they think they'll make more money. And the point you made (albeit unintentionally) is that with gas and airfares so expensive, paying a few more bucks for park admissions isn't going to stop anyone from going. The travel costs are going to be the limiting factor for most people, not the admission prices.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 11, 2008 9:18 AM

yikes! how does anyone afford to go to those places? Especially a family. I guess maybe if you road trip there your travels costs (while higher than before) are not as huge as flying a family some place. And you can find reasonable motels in the area I assume. But that is still a major chunk of change just to get in. Then you pay inflated prices for crappy food once inside.

Posted by: Glenn | August 11, 2008 1:52 PM

Glenn, keep in mind that for passes of more than the 3 days, the cost per day decreases significantly. A 6 day pass is about $40 a day, for example. We were there for a week in June, and the parks were plenty crowded, so it's not like the prices are keeping anyone away.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 11, 2008 2:16 PM

Glenn -

In addition to Anonymous@2:16's comments, you should also note that if you go in a large party, then the cost of the food plan cost goes down per person as well (at least, for our party of 12 it did in May).

With the deluxe food plan, you can eat at the nicer restaurants and have full meals that pretty much leave you begging to skip a meal here or there, not to mention the extra punches for snacks and drinks. And it is far more cost effective to use the food plan than buy the food with cash.

Not to mention, if you stay on campus or at a hotel with a kitchenette, you can save lots of cash by hitting the local grocery stores and making your own breakfast and snacks and such.

Is it an expensive place to go? Oh yes. I'm not a huge Mickey fan (as my family says, we go once a decade), but if you plan it right, there are cost effective ways to visit the parks.

Posted by: Chasmosaur | August 11, 2008 3:18 PM

Well it just goes to show that purchasing a pass that doesn't expire can be a good thing. I was last down in 2004, and I think I still have one day left on a Disney Pass ( from a couple of years befor that) and 2 days left on a Universal Pass ( I had bought the Universal Pass in 2004, but ended up not using it) When I go down again after the Harry Potter area opens up at Universal, I won't have to buy a ticket.

Also Glenn, there are some restaurants in the Disney Parks that have very good food. You just have to keep to the places with table service, and be prepared to pay.

Posted by: rja112 | August 12, 2008 12:35 AM

Duh. What's going on in their minds???? What a stupid question. Like Anon said, it's to make more money. Is this the most pressing thing in the travel world these days? If you can't afford it, don't go.

Posted by: anonymous2 | August 12, 2008 9:41 AM

The profit was a direct result to the price increases. I am sure prices went up all over the park and not just admission.

Disney and Universal are places where you can easily travel to and not have to rent a car---thus burn fuel. Since the ticket prices for airlines went up, to make up for that cost people optes to take cabs or shuttles instead of renting a car.

The reall price impact in airfare costs are impacted more on long haul flights where you are flying across the country.

Posted by: DJP | August 12, 2008 3:57 PM

Okay, I'm going to point out something no one has brought up here. I used to work for Disney in college. They pay their hourly seasonal workers a little bit above minimum wage (and it will always be so; they don't want to just pay minimum wage). The minimum wage is going up, so they will have to raise wages in response to that, which will drive up their expenses to operate their parks.

Posted by: Duh | August 12, 2008 5:42 PM

I enjoy travel, but I cann't stand to travel alone again in my life. And more terrible, everything become expensive, gas, ticket..... I wish to find my Mr. right, of course, he should enjoy journey. I also wish to find more friends, so we could travel together, that will make trips cheaper. But how could I realize my dreams? Last week, my friend introduce ( to me, I meet some like-minded persons in it, I start to work on my new exciting journey plan.

Posted by: bird | August 13, 2008 4:09 AM

Lots of Orlando visitors are Europeans and with the strong Euro and visit to Disneyworld is cheaper for them than it has been in decades.

Posted by: Tom | August 18, 2008 10:37 PM

If you want to see the duck, whale, rabbit and, his highness, the mouse in style and save money - it is recommended that you rent a villa (a house). You'd be shocked at the average nightly rate in season - $85 to $130 per day for a 3 bdr +, pool, fully equipped kitchen, etc. The easiest way to rent a villa is through the internet - most of the homeowners are British and, frankly, haven't figured out what they have (it's a good thing the Brits aren't familiar with OC).

As for ticket deals, they are few and far between, that is, unless you visit Greater International Travel Services or call Kissimmee Guest Services - they both serve the rental home market.

Being a Maryland resident for over 45 years and now living in Orlando for 14 years - it is expensive to be a tourist in Orlando, however, there is no excuse to stay in a hotel room with a family of four when a house rental in most cases is the same price. Think about it!

Posted by: John | August 19, 2008 12:16 PM

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