Less Is (Going to Cost) More: 90% Spike in Pricing Demonstrates Disney’s Ideal Theme Parks Strategy

Less is more will cost more. Guest spending per capita. Shareholder return. Yield management. ARPU. All terms that have driven Disney’s strategy, to a certain extent, over the years. Enter COVID-19. Disney executives have not been shy about the lessons they have learned during the pandemic. Most notably, Disney CEO Bob Chapek and Disney Parks Chairman Josh D’Amaro have said that the pandemic has allowed the company to be bold and innovative in their business decisions. So, what does that mean? Well, a lot of things. Disney has shifted towards a more mobile-centric experience, and that is scheduled to evolve dramatically with the introduction of the Disney Genie app. It also means that we’re seeing Disney lean in on some pricing strategies that are causing a ripple through social media and beyond.

Differences Between Disney Genie, Disney Genie+, and Lightning Lane
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Let’s start with a balk – Disneyland Magic Key. The Annual Pass replacement program really failed to be dramatically different than the prior iteration, leading many to wonder why the change was necessary in the first place. Many Disney fan sites rang the alarm that the Annual Pass replacement program would signal the end of times for Disney fans, but the Disneyland Magic Key program that BlogMickey.com exclusively reported first turned out to be a far cry from the doomsday that others had forecasted.

In reality, Chapek and Co. could’ve gone further with the Disney Magic Key program, but it seems like they balked a bit and essentially offered a very similar Annual Pass program to the one they replaced. It remains to be seen how the Magic Key implementation might solve some of the problems that the Annual Pass program had – most notably the sheer size of the Annual Passholder base. Ok, sidebar over, back to the matter at hand.

Disney Confirms “Magic Key” Disneyland Annual Pass Pricing and Details, On Sale August 25
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The demand for a Disney theme park experience is high and growing. An average day at Magic Kingdom consists of wading through seas of crowds before even a single attraction opens. From there, high demand at restaurants and even grab and go locations continues the Queuing Kingdom experience. Finally, at the end of a long, hot day, you’ll find yourself shoulder to shoulder on Main Street USA so you can either catch the highly attended “final run” of Happily Ever After, or, soon, the highly attended debut of Disney Enchantment. There are moments of magic sprinkled throughout your day, which is enough for you to keep coming back, but Disney is aware that they can provide a better experience. While Disney Genie is certainly going to change the guest experience forever, we think that there is something else that really demonstrates the ideal future for the Disney theme parks.

Enter: Disney After Hours. First announced in Spring 2016, Disney After Hours was essentially extra time in the theme parks with the promise of low wait times, and some complimentary snacks. Over the next four years, Disney would tweak the After Hours concept to include an expansion to more theme parks and even some themed After Hours events like Villains After Hours. Recently, Disney After Hours Boo Bash debuted for the Halloween season at Magic Kingdom. We think that the event was a bit of a swing and a miss for Disney, but they seem to be listening to feedback and will create a better After Hours event for the holiday season. As a matter of fact, we think that Disney Very Merriest After Hours is Disney’s ideal solution to lower crowds and higher per guest spending.

Tickets to Disney Very Merriest After Hours range from $169 to $249 per person. By contrast, tickets to Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party in 2019 (the last year it was presented) ranged from $99 to $139. On average, a ticket to Very Merriest After Hours will cost nearly 90% more than a ticket to the Very Merry Christmas Party.

Let’s do some math. If Disney sold 25,000 Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party tickets, they would make, on average, $2,775,000. To make that same amount of money at Disney Very Merriest After Hours, they would only need to sell 13,406 tickets. They would be able to effectively cut attendance in half to make the same amount of money. There’s no doubt that the Halloween and Christmas parties have been oversold in recent years. Not only did guests experience long attraction lines throughout the event – trying to view shows, a parade, and fireworks was quite difficult and required you to carve out a significant portion of your limited time to get a good spot.

With the “After Hours” concept, Disney cuts attendance at the events in half while making the same amount of money off of tickets. Going back to Disney’s indicator of success – guest spending per capita – Disney Very Merriest After Hours is the ideal pricing and guest satisfaction event.

With the latest announcement that Disney World’s first full parade will return during Disney Very Merriest After Hours, the gap between the new event a Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party is starting to narrow. We’ll have a full write-up on the differences soon, but suffice it to say that a stage show here or there might bring the themed After Hours event to near parity with the former Very Merry event.

We might even go as far as saying that the seasonal After Hours events will replace the lower priced Not-So-Scary and Very Merry Christmas Party events completely. As of publish time of this article, only one Disney After Hours Boo Bash date is available for purchase. This has to be viewed as a win for executives who bet on themed After Hours events, and, if sales continue to be strong, could be an indicator of what seasonal events look like in the future.

Tickets for Disney Very Merriest After Hours are on sale now: https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/events-tours/magic-kingdom/disney-very-merriest-after-hours/

As always, keep checking back with us here at BlogMickey.com as we continue to bring you the latest news and photos from around the Disney Parks!

Mike is the owner and writer for BlogMickey.com. Visiting the parks daily allows him to keep up with the latest Disney news, reviews, and photos from around the Disney Parks. You can reach him at [email protected]

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  1. Wait Times published in My Disney Experience are false and highly managed by Disney. I have noticed that they do not even change durin the day and they are always in round numbers. They appear to be useless to manage one’s park day.

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