Orlando, Florida’s Disney World Resort is considered one of the happiest places on earth, and it’s definitely a tourist favorite. School groups and families have always patronized the amusement park, but, with the addition of Universal Studios, now Disney World offers fun for children of all ages – including fans of the Marvel Universe and the Star Wars saga.
However, like most other tourist destinations during the COVID-19 pandemic, Disney World Resort saw a decline in visitors. Yet, the highly popular resort has continued to make money during the pandemic – with fewer visitors. While individual day ticket prices have not increased (nor have multi-day ticket prices), Disney World Resort now makes more money per guest, according to a Walt Disney World News Today report.
It’s important to remember that Disney World did close down as the pandemic occurred in 2020; in fact, the popular tourist destination closed in March 2020 but reopened in July of that same year. However, Disney World reopened with a plan in place so that visitors could enjoy themselves and stay safe at the same time. Initial crowds that were allowed to attend the theme park were limited to assist in social distancing, and visitors were required to wear a mask, along with other health and safety protocols. Even now, the park is not allowing the full capacity of visitors.
Staffing is still a bit of an issue, plus some of the most popular shows have not begin running as of this writing.
Disney changed their approach to how they make money, however. Disney created a strategy in which they figured out ways to make more money per visitor, and these monies aren’t garnered simply from charging higher ticket prices (although annual passes did see a price increase). Disney also made money by decreasing portion sizes of food served in the park, and they charged more for food.
Ticket prices increased for individuals who purchased tickets that would allow for longer visits (more than three days) as well as tickets that allowed for “park hopping” (entrance to both Walt Disney World and Universal Studios).
Those who want to visit the park for five days used to pay between $463.56 and $630.85. Now, those same tickets cost between $484.52 to $646.87. Park hopper tickets that allow for visitors to tour Universal Studios as well as Walt Disney world have increased from five days at $554.09 – $721.38 to $527.47 to $739.92 for a five day visiting experience.
Some tourism experts say that Disney is out to prove that people will pay most any price in order to visit the place, and they may be right. People are still clamoring to the resort, and for many families, it is a yearly trip not to be missed.
Even as prices go up (and food portions go down), Disney CEO Bob Chapek says that the company is working to give visitors more for their money.
Chapek says the company is heavily investing in its parks. Chapek stated, “Over the last several years, we’ve transformed the guest experience by investing in new story telling and groundbreaking technology, and the records at our domestic parks are the direct result of this investment.”
Chapek stated that in addition to these amenities, people are now better able to “personalize” their visits to WDW, and they are also spending less time in line and more time having fun.
Chapek added,” From new franchise-based lands and attractions to craveable food and beverage offerings to must-have character merchandise, there is more great Disney storytelling infused into every aspect of a visit to our parks than ever before.”
Consumers should note that spending less time in line is a direct benefit of purchasing either Lightning Lane or Genie+ passes. These products replaced the FastPass+, which was once free.
Chapek promised to continue investing in the park so that customer can have the best experience possible. This is something that the Disney company did not historically do, particularly between 1980s and 1990s.
Chapek says that Disney is committed to investing in the guest experience, and the company looks forward to being able to return to a “more normalized environment.”
Although the resort was closed to the public between March and July 2020, since the park has reopened, visiting WDW has remained on the bucket list of many American families, and this trend will likely continue even as America experiences periodic outbreaks of the latest COVID-19 strain.