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New Extra Pricing Options: Is Disney Getting Greedy?

You guys know me. I’m not a negative person, or one that wants to stir up debate. Especially when it comes to Disney World, or the Disney brand in general. But there has been a trend developing lately, and I know I’m not the only one who’s noticed. Disney has announced two new “add-on” options they’ll be testing over the coming months.

First is new VIP cabanas in Magic Kingdom. Rented per day, they will include charging areas, food service, A/C, lockable storage, and more. Of course, these come at a hefty price- just under $700 per day. Yeah. That’s pretty steep. The Orlando Sentinel did an interesting article noting what could be bought with that money instead.

The second add-on was an Express Transportation option that give you park to park transfers using backstage areas so as to avoid park re-entry, security screening and so forth. This will cost an additional $15 per person per day.

Disney is no stranger to extra ticket options. The special event parties have been happening for quite some time, and aren’t new to us, all though they’ve certainly grown. Now the Halloween and Christmas parties at Magic Kingdom last two full months each and happen more nights than not. If you want to visit Magic Kingdom during a week vacation, and you don’t want to pay the extra admission for the party, you’ll have only three nights to choose from out of your week,and all of those will have higher crowds since it’s limiting the time people can experience the castle lighting, Wishes, and other general nighttime entertainment. Forcing lots of people into three nights a week has made a big difference in crowd levels at night.

But I don’t really complain about this. Obviously there is enough demand for these parties to make it worth offering them so often. So if people are attending and enjoying them, then good. That’s understandable.

But these latest offerings are straying away from the standard “special event” up-sell and targeting a higher income level. By using words like “VIP” you create a separation. It used to be that for the most part, everyone who walked through those entrance gates was equal. All have the same opportunity for magical experiences. Sure some may plan more in advance, therefore having less waiting time, and some may choose to eat at more expensive restaurants and so forth. But overall, the end experience is relatively the same and the options available are equal. The only real VIP treatment we had was reserved for celebrities or really big names, and we rarely even see these- they travel largely back stage.

But with these latest offerings, we are seeing a trend of paying a premium price for more comfort and convenience. Disney is all ready pretty expensive. Not everyone can bring their family to a vacation here, it’s just a fact. But I hate feeling like what I’m all ready paying (which is really quite high) isn’t enough. Like every time we turn around Disney is standing there with their hand out asking for more. I’m not saying it’s gotten to a ridiculous level. Yet. But is this where we’re headed?

In Disney’s latest earnings report they announced that all though attendance was slightly lower, they had record breaking profits. This is good news for us Disney Parks fans. Profit means more money being spent on new and exciting additions to the parks we know and love. But they mentioned raising profits further by moving towards “demand oriented pricing”. We saw them implement this  when they changed ticket prices to seasonal pricing tiers. Basically meaning the more crowded the season, the more you will pay. This was supposed to help increase overall guest satisfaction by encouraging more people to come at slower times, thereby spacing crowds out a bit more.

I’m not saying I have a solution to all this because I don’t. What I do know is that guest satisfaction is dropping. Crowd levels are increasing. Prices are higher than ever. Large tour groups from foreign countries are in the parks all the time, not just “off-season” creating additional headache and irritation for guests and cast members. I hate to see a downward trend. I want every family who comes to Disney World to leave feeling like they had an incredible, magical trip. Not feeling frustrated and fleeced of every penny they own while “VIP’ guests are avoiding these frustrations by paying through the nose.

What do you think? Do you think these latest additions are a good thing? Would you pay the extra money for these or other options if it allowed you to have a smoother trip? Let me know! I’d really love to hear your thoughts.

Interestingly, I asked people on my Instagram whether they would pay for these cabanas. The comments were interesting: (click on the pic to view them)

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