Disney has figured out a way to get guests to spend more money once they're inside the gates, so it can afford to thin the herd a bit to improve the guest experience.
Disney is considering charging different prices depending on what day of the week and what time of year guests visit its theme parks in Anaheim, California and Orlando, Florida, the Wall Street Journal is reporting.
The pricing move is an attempt to thin crowds during summer weekends and holidays including Thanksgiving and winter break between Christmas and January 1. As of October 4, new annual passes at Disneyland are separating guests into three classes depending on available dates, ranging from a $1,049 ticket with no blackouts to a $599 one that won’t work on weekends in the summer or popular holidays. Disney also announced similar passes for its Florida parks.
The new ticket prices Disney is said to be considering would create different daily or multi-day ticket prices in order to encourage mid-week or other off-peak visits.
“We have to look at ways to spread out our attendance throughout the year so we can accommodate demand and avoid bursting at the seams,” Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Chairman Bob Chapek told the Journal.
Theme parks are one of the few remaining sectors in the travel industry that have not instituted variable pricing based upon demand. Hotels, transport, and vacation rentals already engage in this, while Uber is the acknowledged master (if grudgingly) of surge pricing.
According to Themed Entertainment Association, Disney welcomed 134 million visitors across its parks in 2014, up 1.3% over the previous year, a weaker year-over-year growth than Universal or Merlin, but double the total amount of guest either rival saw.
Despite this lackluster growth, Disney is also making more from its visitors than ever before. Aided by the rapid adoption of its MyMagic+ bands that combine payments, tickets, RFID, and room keys into a wrist band, the company has generated more than twice as much new revenue by getting guests to buy more and by raising ticket prices than it has by increasing attendance.
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Photo credit: Disney's MyMagic+ bands and the RFID-enabled iPhone check-out system at Walt Disney World resorts. Skift