Disney World vacations were once seen as traditional vacations for middle-class American families, but are increasingly out of reach.
Over the past few years, amusement park ticket prices have skyrocketed as executives continue to raise food prices and begin serving higher-paying customers.
To make matters worse, Disney executives are eliminating cost-effective features at theme parks, such as free shuttles from the airport and free parking for those staying on site.
It also removes the free option to help people skip the ever-growing queues at certain rides – replacing it with a paid service.
All of this puts more pressure on budget-conscious families as the US Census shows the average family earns $67,521 per year in 2020.
The cost of a one-day ticket at Disney World has increased by more than 3,000 percent since it first opened in 1971
A family of four reportedly spent $8,480 on the trip – and when calculating airfare, that number rises to more than $10,000.
In February, the entertainment conglomerate raised ticket prices with a standard four-day ticket costing a minimum of $447.70, according to the Disney World blog Inside the Magic. The cheapest four-day ticket used to be $434.83.
A four-day Park Hopper ticket — which allows park visitors to travel from one part of the theme park empire to another — costs a minimum of $540.89, up from $525.35.
And the four-day Park Hopper Plus ticket — which allows Disney fans to visit each park in one day — jumped from $546.65 to a low of $559.53.
On average, Inside the Magic reports, ticket prices are about $20 or 2 to 6 percent higher than the previous year.
At the same time, Disney World is gradually removing some cost-saving options, reports Frommers.
Prices at Walt Disney World are now 2 to 6 percent higher than they were a year ago, as theme parks remove the option of free parking for those staying at its resorts.
Orlando’s theme parks were once considered the average American vacation
The free bus service from Orlando’s main airport is missing – adds about $30 to $60 per person to and from the resort.
In addition, parking fees applicable on resort property can add up to $15 to $25 per day.
Menu prices have also increased overall – with a cup of coffee costing $3.49 and a churro $6.39.
And the cheapest resort on the premises costs over $200 per day.
Meanwhile, at nearby Universal Orlando, executives lowered the cost of their four-day admission to Universal Studios and Universal’s Islands of Adventure.
Until September 30, announced last week, guests can purchase a four-day pass for $79 per person, per day – down about $40. Guests can also stay at its beach resort for about 20 percent cheaper from June 3 to August 13, according to WPTV.
However, Disney’s exorbitant prices are nothing new.
When Magic Kingdom first opened in 1971, entry fees were $3.50 for adults and $1 for children, according to Market Watch.
When taking inflation into account, that would amount to just $24.98 for adults today, and $7.14 for children – about $100 less than today’s adult tickets cost, or an increase of more than 3,000 percent.
At the time, Jason Cochran, editor-in-chief of Frommers.com, explained: ‘They weren’t sure they were going to get people to travel to Florida at all, so general acceptance was pretty low.’
And, he said, Walt Disney wanted to be like Disneyland in California, where ‘he wanted everyone to get in, no matter what your income level, so everything was priced accordingly.’
But in 2010, The Wall Street Journal reported that Disney World began raising its ticket prices at roughly double the inflation rate while trying to compete with Universal Studios, which opened the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in 2016.
“Disney doesn’t like to lose — not only does it lose, Disney doesn’t even like to compete,” Robert Niles, founder of Theme Park Insider, told Insider.
‘Disney wants to dominate its competition.’
Prices at theme parks are increasing overall as parking options are limited and people have to walk more as theme parks are eliminating parking trams that would take guests to their cars
Limited edition gold plated Mickey ears sold at the park for $1,000 last year
Now, however, it seems to be looking for high-end clients.
“Disney has said publicly, but appears to have personally made the decision that they want to prosecute guests who spend more money per day than guests are used to,” Cochran previously told FOX Business.
And as a result, middle-class American families feel valued beyond magic, with one family of four from New Jersey telling FOX News Digital they were in shock after a recent trip to Disney World.
They said they spent $200 on private transportation to the park because the shuttle from the airport was missing, and they spent $2,550 on Park Hopper tickets for five days.
A four-night stay at the theme park costs another $3,780, they say, and once inside the park, they spend another $300 on a Genie Plus ticket — which allows them to skip lines at some rides — and $950 for a sit-down meal.
They also spent another $700 on souvenirs – luckily didn’t buy the limited edition gold plated Mickey ears which cost $1,000 each.
All told, FOX News Digital reports, a family of four shelled out $8,480 on the trip — and when calculating airfare, that number rises to more than $10,000.
“I feel like Disney puts a price on people,” said the unnamed mother. ‘Can the average American family really afford this?’
‘My kids thought Disney was magical and to me, the cost was worth it, but it’s not the same Disney,’ she said, noting she has been traveling to Disney World since she was 6 years old, and is now 39.
Some people have taken to Twitter to complain about the exorbitant prices
Others expressed their frustration on Twitter, with one woman writing that she was canceling her upcoming trip to Disney World.
“We had a lot of fun last month but it was so expensive and having to buy a Genie+ every day seemed like just one more thing,” Amanda Smith Methot tweeted last weekend.
‘Going to take a break from our favorite place, just as pathetic as I am.’
Heidi S. Kulesh also wrote that it wasn’t the Disney World she loved in the 1990s, saying ‘It’s ruined and gone.’
He said it was now ‘too crowded, so expensive, so much work and planning just to TRY and enjoy a park day,’ adding that he ‘used to come at least once a year,’ but no longer intends to return.
Another woman also said she missed going on vacation to Disney World ‘but when I started thinking about planning a vacation, I remembered how complicated and very expensive it was,’ and J Danzi wrote that it wasn’t worth doing anymore.
Another user simply wrote that it was so expensive and he spent ‘so much money’ on tickets, including a GIF of a man crying.