Prices rise at Disneyland since reopening

Disney employees and fans have mixed feelings

Fans swarm into Disney through the main gate. Photo by Oscar Beltran

For many fans, Disneyland is a magical place where fairytales come to life. For some, that’s true only until they’re hit with recent ticket prices.

A UT Community News analysis of ticket prices from 2018 to 2022 shows a 22% increase in average one-day one-park tickets and a 24% increase in average one-day park hopper tickets over those five years. Fans and employees have mixed feelings, with some saying the increases make sense considering inflation in recent years and the need to keep crowds manageable.

Others, even some employees, say they can no longer afford to go with their families — despite their employee discounts.

“As cast members, we are allowed to bring in a certain number of guests per year. I would usually bring in the kiddos first and then the rest would pay for their tickets. But now with the price increase, my family can’t afford to pay for their tickets and on top of that, pay for food for themselves and their kids,” Aaron Martinez, 24, Disney cast member and La Puente resident said. “My employee benefits are just not enough for us to go anymore.”

Pre-pandemic ticket increases help reduce crowds

In 2018, the average ticket price per guest was $117 for a one-day, one-park ticket. Guests who wanted to enjoy both Disneyland and Disney California Adventure would pay $167 for one-day “park hopper” tickets. In 2019, ticket prices rose about 10% per guest — to $129 for regular tickets and $179 for park hopper tickets. These tickets were set to the standard ticket sales at the time and fluctuated throughout the years.

2018-2022 Disneyland adult ticket prices

Like other employers, Disney is facing higher labor and inflation-related costs. Longtime Disney employee Vincent D’Amore, 52, said the increase in pricing also helps control the rise of guest attendance. 

“The rise in prices is to control the large crowds to ensure that guests and cast members have a magical experience,” said D’Amore, who has been working for Disney since 2005. “I personally think it’s a great way for guests to enjoy the Disney experience without the large crowds.”

Gerardo Oropeza, 52, has been going to Disneyland since he was a kid and said that he is unbothered by the changes. 

Crowds have never bothered me,” Opropeza said. ”Prices don’t bother me at all either, because it’s my happy place and I’m happy to pay the higher prices.”

Disney during the pandemic

After Disneyland closed its gates in March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, guests and employees were unsure they would ever see Mickey Mouse and their favorite attractions again.

Disneyland Resort furloughed more than 11,500 cast members during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the Orange County Register. In April 2021, the park announced it would resume operations and bring back 80% percent of its furloughed employees.

Post-pandemic ticket price hikes make Disney unaffordable for some

After it re-opened, Disney introduced a new tiered program, completely based on reservations.

The tiered pricing depended on the days guests would reserve, with weekdays being the cheapest and weekends and holidays costing the most. There were approximately six tiers ranging from $104 to $164 for one-day, one-park tickets, and park hoppers ranging from $164 to $224.

In 2022, Disneyland introduced a tier 0 that helped stretch out more dates with different prices. Today’s tiers now range anywhere from $104 to $179 for one-day, one-park tickets and park hoppers range from $179 to $224. The recent $104 ticket price is currently only available 11 days out of the year, for the days of Jan. 9-12, 17-19, 23-26, 31, Feb. 1, 7, and 8 of 2023. 

The tickets are untenable for some fans, especially those who are lower-income or working, or middle-class.

“I’m not a huge Disney fan, but my kids love it. I try to take them at least once a year, but now it is becoming a luxury with the price hike and I don’t think I can afford it anymore,” said Keith Fort, 56, a Los Angeles resident and a small audio production business owner.

While some Southern California families worry that their Disney days are coming to an end due to high prices, some cast members said the price increases are needed and won’t stop hardcore fans from attending.

“I’m onboard with Disneyland raising the prices because of how packed it gets,” said Crow Alameda, 29, a Disney cast member for seven years. “But it won’t matter to those hardcore Disneyland fans who buy tickets regularly no matter what the cost.”

Demand for Disney doesn’t die despite increased costs

Despite price hikes, the worldwide demand for Disney continues and the community of fans seems to continue to grow every year. Fans say that’s because the company introduces new attractions and perks for guests visiting the theme parks.

I will go regardless [of price hikes] because Disney is my happy place,” Marjorie Sacay, 50. “I don’t mind paying. It’s worth it to me.” 

Some of the world’s most dedicated fans create Disneyland Facebook groups, podcasts, and even livestream on social media throughout the day to inform others on how to get the full experience out of your day. 

Linda Garrett Flores, 61, a long-time Disney-enthusiast and Disneyland Facebook group member said that the prices don’t matter to her because she has an emotional connection to the park.

“I love Disney and I will continue to come to the parks until the day I die,” Flores said. “When they [Disneyland] finally opened the gates to my second home, I was so happy I cried.”