LOS ANGELES — Alhambra, Calif., secretary Laurie Casado struggles each year to buy Disneyland annual passes for herself and her family, so the park’s recent announcement that it was jacking up prices by up to 30 percent wasn’t exactly good news.
But Casado will buy the passes anyway and cut out something else.
“I’ll keep going because Disney is a big part of our lives,” said Casado, who buys annual passes for her husband, daughter and two grandsons, ages 4 and 5. “But the price increase is so disheartening.”
Disheartening, perhaps, but inevitable, industry experts say. Disneyland and other theme park operators have learned that they can raise prices without denting attendance.
This year, modest improvements in the economy and a major new attraction at Disney’s California Adventure has apparently emboldened park operators to boost prices a bit more than usual, according to John Gerner, a theme park consultant and managing director for Leisure Business Advisors.
“Now that the economy has improved, that in itself justifies increasing prices,” Gerner said.
Disney officials declined to explain their reasons behind the latest hike, except to say in an email, “we periodically evaluate and adjust our pricing structure to ensure we are offering a great entertainment value.”
This year, daily passes for the Anaheim Disney parks — Disneyland and Disney California Adventure Park — rose as of May 20 from $80 to $87. The biggest increase hit the estimated 300,000 park-goers, such as Casado, who buy premium annual passes that include parking. Those went from $499 to $649. The jump last year was lower — Disney raised the daily pass by $4 and increased the price of the premium annual pass by $40.
The last time prices rose so much was in 2005, shortly before the park unveiled an array of new shows and attractions to celebrate its 50th anniversary. At that time, daily ticket prices for Disneyland jumped almost 13 percent — from $49.75 to $56.