Disneyland has raised ticket prices 70% to ease crowds — but attendance is soaring

Disneyland crowd
It costs a family of four about $US500 just to get in the park on peak days. Philms/Flickr

To millions of people, “The Happiest Place on Earth” is well worth the time and money.

Over the past decade, Disneyland has raised one-day ticket prices nearly 70% — up to $US124 on peak days — to reduce wait times and ease crowding, to no avail, according to a new report from the Los Angeles Times.

In fact, attendance at the Anaheim, California, theme park jumped nearly 20% during the same time period; almost 18 million people visited in 2016, a slight downtick from Disneyland’s 60th anniversary the previous year.

On average, visitors waited in line 24.4 minutes for the park’s most popular rides in the first six months of 2017, according to the LA Times, a 28% increase from 2015. Space Mountain had the longest wait time, at just over an hour.

That’s significant considering prices have been rising steadily for at least 10 years to curtail attendance without losing profit. A one-day adult ticket — including children 10 and older — now costs $US97 on low-demand days, $US110 on regular days, and $US124 on peak days, which are set in advance and detailed on Disneyland’s website. An extra $US50 grants you a park hopper ticket for access to Disneyland’s sister park, California Adventure. Current prices for annual passes range from a discounted $US340 for Southern California residents to $US1,049 for a full access pass with no blocked dates.

Earlier this year, Disney announced its latest effort to reduce wait times: expanding its Fastpass system. For $US10 a day, visitors can reserve ride times directly from their phones while in the park.

Disneyland fastpass
Disneyland recently introduced a digital Fastpass. HarshLight/Flickr

Disneyland reached full capacity twice this year already, once in January and again in May. It’s the second most popular theme park in the world, behind the Magic Kingdom in Orlando, Florida.

While prices have risen in Florida too — a one-day ticket for Walt Disney World is now $US107, a 51% increase over the past 10 years — it’s significantly less than the 67% increase over the same period for a regular ticket to Disneyland.

A family of four would need to shell out nearly $US500 to visit Disneyland on a peak day, plus $US20 parking (if you’re not staying at the on-site resort), food and drink, and of course, souvenirs.

“People are going to Disneyland in droves regardless of lines, prices or weather, and Disney knows this,” Aaron Goldberg, author of “The Disney Story,” a book on the history of Walt Disney and his parks, told the LA Times. “They have a captive audience.”

Some experts say overcrowding at Disneyland is leading to an increase in attendance at California Adventure, according to the Orange County Register. The debut of blockbuster attractions, like the new Guardians of the Galaxy ride, is also driving visitors to the neighbouring park.