Tickets pass the hundred-dollar mark
Entrance into the happiest place on Earth just got pricier.
The Walt Disney Co. on Sunday upped the ticket prices to all of its U.S. theme parks by $3 to $6 a ticket. While a single-day ticket at the Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom in Orland, Fla., used to cost $99, this week the price broke the hundred-dollar barrier to $105. One day tickets to Disneyland in Anaheim, Calif., now costs $99 for the 10-and-over crowd, up from $96. Prices also increased for children.
The parks’ prices usually increase annually, Disney spokesperson Suzi Brown told the Associated Press: “We continually add new experiences, and many of our guests select multiday tickets or annual passes, which provide a great value and additional savings.”
In the final quarter of 2015, Disney parks saw a record attendance bump of 7%.
Word is out that Disney is about to jack up theme park admission prices, like it does every year. This time, a single day at the Magic Kingdom will hit three figures.
Five years ago, the price of a one-day adult ticket to Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom was $79. Toward the end of the summer of 2010, prices were raised, to $82. From there, prices went on a tear. Sometime in the first half of the years listed below—before the peak summer season was under way—Disney raised prices as follows:
Here we are in early 2015, and, like clockwork, another theme park admission price hike appears to be in the works. The ThemeParkInsider blog and the Orlando Sentinel have both cited inside sources that indicate price increases will be announced as soon as Sunday, February 22. This time, the price of a one-day adult admission to the Magic Kingdom is expected to cross the $100 mark—it’ll hit $105, to be exact, taxes not included.
As has become custom, single-day prices at EPCOT and Disney’s other theme parks will likely be a few dollars cheaper, and prices for children (ages 3 to 9) will be a few bucks cheaper than those for adults. The prices mentioned are all for entrance at one park on one specific day; “Park Hopper” passes that allow visitors to hit multiple theme parks on the same day cost extra—and this option is all but guaranteed to cost extra as regular admission prices rise. Likewise, theme park giant Universal Studios will likely raise prices hand in hand with Disney.
As of Friday afternoon, Disney had issued no official comment on the subject of price increases, but given its recent history, at this point it would be more of a shocker if the company decided to forgo a price hike than leap over the $100 watermark. If the one-day Magic Kingdom price hits $105 as fully expected, admissions will have risen $26 (or about 33%) in a quick five years.
It must be noted that consistently strong visitor numbers give Disney and other theme parks good reason to keep jacking up prices. Year after year of price hikes haven’t scared the crowds away; in fact, on Christmas Day 2014, Disney parks were temporarily closed to new visitors on both coasts because there were simply too many people. There’s even a certain subset of fanatical theme park goers who wish that Disney and Universal would usher in price increases so severe and sudden that they would result in a sharp dropoff in visitors, at least on peak weekends and holidays if not year-round.
Overall, what the steady climb of one-day admissions and the general pricing structures of Disney and Universal do is destroy the spontaneity of a theme park vacation. A single day’s admission costs are so extraordinarily high that they basically force families into booking discounted multiple-day tickets in advance to get some semblance of decent value. Countless websites and guidebooks lecture visitors on the necessity of making dinner and “character breakfast” reservations, among other steps, months before heading to Florida. The idea of winging a trip to Orlando’s theme parks is widely viewed as foolish, perhaps somewhat by design.
For obvious reasons, this formula works out nicely for the theme park companies. Tourists are steered away from one-day, spur-of-the-moment visits in favor of multi-day vacations, dramatically increasing opportunities that they’ll also pay up for pricey lodging, meals, “after hours” cocktail parties and other extras.
It’s easy to see how, once you open the door into a theme park vacation, costs can quickly snowball. Sorta like what’s happened to theme park admissions prices over the past few years.
Lower prices and shorter lines await those who skip watching football on February 1 in favor of other attractions.
If the only hawks you care about seeing Super Bowl Sunday have wings and feathers, there’s a good chance your wish can come true—for cheap, no less.
Thanks to the one-third of the U.S. population that will be parked in front of their TVs watching football on February 1, it will be easier for the rest to snag discounts at zoos, ski resorts, spas, and other attractions—not to mention score seats at otherwise unavailable shows and restaurants.
Here are five suggestions for Super Bowl-skippers in search of good deals.
1. Take in a show
Super Bowl Sunday is a great time to see musicals and other popular shows that are normally hard to get into. For example, as of January 21, $99 evening tickets to perennially sold-out Broadway show “Book of Mormon” were still available for February 1 directly through Telecharge. And even if tickets to a hit show are all sold out at the box office, you’re still likely to get a discount on the resale market: Tickets on Stubhub for the same February 1 “Book of Mormon” performance are $40 cheaper than those for the following Sunday.
To look for theater performances near you, check Ticketmaster.com.
2. Finally eat at that restaurant you’ve been wanting to try
While everyone else has to settle for mediocre tailgate snacks, you have a much better shot than usual at scoring an enviable meal at some of your city’s hottest eateries. Restaurant reservation site OpenTable.com typically seats only about half the number of bookings on Super Bowl Sunday as on the Sunday before or after.
Some cities offer even better odds. In Philadelphia, reservations are typically down 60%, OpenTable found. But even major markets like New York City and Boston experience a pronounced dip: 30-40% fewer people will dine out in those cities on February 1.
A word to the wise: Even though your chances improve dramatically on game day, “some of the hottest and most acclaimed restaurants can still be tough to get into,” says Tiffany Fox, a spokeswoman for OpenTable. “So people shouldn’t wait to the last minute to book if there’s a special spot they’ve been dying to get into.”
3. Enjoy zoos and theme parks without the crowds
While Disney World spokespeople claim the event has no impact on park attendance, Disney vacation planning sites like EasyWDW.com and TheMouseForLess.com recommend visiting the parks on Super Bowl Sunday because you can expect far less company.
The game “keeps many locals away and is usually a great time to tour the parks,” notes TheMouseForLess.com, and Disney’s Hollywood Studios was “virtually dead on Super Bowl Sunday each of the last three years,” according to EasyWDW.com.
If you’re not going to be in sunny California or Florida come game day, try your local zoo or wildlife park. The Nashville Zoo, for example, is offering a “Zooperbowl Deal” this year that cuts admission by half. And last year the Virginia Zoo offered 50% off to anyone wearing merchandise from a Super Bowl participating team.
4. Hit the slopes
Skiers and snowboarders hitting the slopes instead of the sofa over Super Bowl weekend are in for a treat: Lift lines will be scant, and many ski resorts plan to roll out deep discounts that day.
The average booked savings on Liftopia.com during last year’s game day was 29% off window rates, making it the best value of any Sunday during the regular ski season. Prices are expected to drop similarly this year, but you will need to book in advance to take advantage.
The Arapahoe Basin Ski Area in Colorado, for example, has cut lift tickets to $57 this year, or 33% off, according to Liftopia. Utah’s Snowbasin slashed rates by 29% to $63. And in Vermont, Okemo Mountain is offering tickets for $73, or a 21% discount.
5. Have a spa day
If you’d literally rather stare at the ceiling than watch football, you can do exactly that—while getting a discounted massage or facial. You’ll find deals all across the country as spas promote their services for so-called Super Bowl widows (and widowers).
“If you don’t see a special at your favorite spa, just ask,” says Beth McGroarty, research director at spa directory site Spafinder.com. “Bookings may be lighter, and under-the-radar deals may be available—especially group discounts.”
If you don’t have a particular spa in mind, browse ratings on sites like Spafinder and Yelp and make calls to compare prices. Some examples of Super Bowl spa deals currently available include 15% off regular services at Clay Health Club + Spa in New York City; 25% off services at Kohler Waters Spa in Kohler, Wisconsin; and $50 off massages at The Palms Spa in Miami Beach, Florida.
Seven cases found in California and two in Utah
Nine cases of measles have been confirmed among recent visitors of theme parks in California, the state’s department of health said Wednesday.
Each of the cases were found to occur in visitors to Disneyland or Disney California Adventure Park in Orange County between Dec. 15 to Dec. 20, the department announced in a statement. Seven of the confirmed cases are in locations across California (six of them had not been vaccinated) and two are in Utah; three other California residents are suspected of having infections and are being monitored.
The department is urging people who are exhibiting symptoms of the airborne disease, which it calls “highly infectious,” to contact their health care providers immediately. Symptoms of measles include fever, cough, runny nose and eventually the appearance of a red rash — first on the face, then on the rest of the body. And patients can be infectious for nine days.
Measles has been eliminated since 2000, the health department added, largely thanks to the highly-effective vaccine. But because Disneyland attracts many international travelers and there have been outbreaks in recent years, it’s possible that someone could have brought it to the U.S. and, in turn, to “the happiest place on earth.”
No word yet on a Bill Murray-themed roller coaster
It happens every time: The credits roll on another Wes Anderson movie, and the curtains close on the whimsical universe he’s created. You’re ejected from the symmetrical, 1970s-colored trance of his movie sets into the cold reality of an asymmetrical, 2014-colored world. But talk of a theme park masterminded by Anderson and long-time collaborator Mark Mothersbaugh, co-founder of the new wave band Devo, hints at the possibility of a real-life counterpart to these fictional worlds.
In the foreward to Mark Mothersbaugh: Myopia, a new book by Denver Museum of Contemporary Art Director Adam Lerner, Anderson describes the vision: “It will include hundreds of animatronic characters and creatures, rides through vast invented landscapes and buildings, extensive galleries of textiles and sculptures, plus an ongoing original music score piped-in everywhere.”
But Anderson will play the role facilitator rather than chief visionary; the theme park is intended to be “conceived and designed entirely” by Mothersbaugh. The pair has enjoyed a long working relationship, with Mothersbaugh scoring many of Anderson’s movies (Bottle Rocket, Rushmore, The Royal Tenenbaums, and The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou). And Mothersbaugh is an accomplished visual artist in his own right, having worked in a variety of visual media since before co-founding Devo.
A glimpse inside Myopia offers a testament to a diverse array of influences, from pop art to punk, on Mothersbaugh’s self-described “particular brand of fear/enthusiasm for this flawed creature called Homo sapiens.” And though a theme park based on this vision seems a far cry from Disneyworld, Anderson’s promise that “the visitor will be amused and frightened, often simultaneously,” suggests that the two might not be so different, after all.
Should it come to fruition, the theme park will be located in Mothersbaugh’s birthplace of Akron, Ohio.
In a move designed to speed up theme park lines, Disney is running a test to make the Toy Story Mania ride a FastPass-only attraction.
The theme park opened on Oct. 1, 1971
A few decades ago, it was incredible to imagine a theme park surpassing the size and scope of California’s Disneyland — but Walt Disney World, which opened on this day, Oct. 1, in 1971, did. “‘World’ is right,” TIME marveled in the Oct. 18 issue of that year, alongside a map of the new attraction. “The latest Disney enterprise, four years in the building, includes a spotlessly clean amusement area, two enormous and elaborate hotels with marinas and beaches, two championship-caliber golf courses, lavishly landscaped lakes and a futuristic transportation network linking everything.”
The article went on to praise the “futuristic unisex jumpsuits” worn by workers, the $4.25 roast beef dinner at Cinderella Castle and the skill of the lawyers who worked to make Disney World “in effect a city-state” with near complete control of what goes on on its property.
So we can only imagine how much ooh-ing and aw-ing there would have been if those writers in 1971 had gotten a load of this modern map of Disney World:
Roll over to zoom; on mobile, click.
Everything included in the original map fits into the upper right-hand corner. Though the basic layout of the Magic Kingdom is unchanged, the resort — that’s Epcot, Animal Kingdom and rest of the whole shebang — now covers an area about the same size as San Francisco, by Today.com‘s count. But the craziest thing of all on that up-to-date map isn’t a new addition to the park; it’s that there’s still so much empty space into which it could still expand.
Read the 1971 article about the theme park’s opening, here in TIME’s archives: Pixie Dust Over Florida
A damning documentary hasn't helped the struggling theme park
This post is in partnership with Fortune, which offers the latest business and finance news. Read the article below originally published at Fortune.com.
By Ben Geier
On Friday, SeaWorld Entertainment announced that it is building new, bigger enclosures for its signature attractions — the orcas (also known as killer whales). Their jumps and tricks have delighted some, but their alleged poor treatment and inadequate habitats have enraged others.
The theme park company said it plans to upgrade the killer whale tanks at three of its theme parks, starting with the one in San Diego, Calif. The new orca tanks will be 50 feet deep and have a surface area of nearly 1.5 acres.
Will improved conditions be enough to reverseSeaWorld’s declining revenue? Earlier this week the theme park company said its revenue dropped 1 percent in the three months ended June 30 during a period that’s considered the company’s peak season. SeaWorld also attributed its poor quarter to bad press following the release of the “Blackfish” documentary, which accused the theme park operator of mistreating orcas.
Wall Street wasn’t impressed and sent the company’s stock price down over 30 percent.
For the rest of the story, please go to Fortune.com.
A new theme park area in Orlando and marijuana stores in Washington state both opened for business for the first time on Tuesday.
And that, perhaps surprisingly, is not the only thing they have in common. Here’s how the two opening days match up:
Diagon Alley: Universal Studios says Diagon Alley will double the size of its Wizarding World theme park area
WA Pot Shops: Washington says it will collect $190 million in pot-related taxes and fees over the next four years
OPENING DAY WAIT TIME
Diagon Alley: Up to 300 minutes (a.k.a. five hours) for visitors to get inside the park on Tuesday
WA Pot Shops: Up to one day—at least a couple people waited in line overnight outside pot shops anticipating a Tuesday opening
Diagon Alley: Anti-authoritarian fans of magic and fantasy
WA Pot Shops: Pretty much the same
PERSON YOU MOST WANT TO AVOID
Diagon Alley: Know-it-all spewing theories about stuff like the pros and cons of Half-Blood Prince vs. Order of the Phoenix
WA Pot Shops: Know-it-all spewing theories about stuff like the pros and cons of Cannalope Haze vs. Jamaican Lion
THING THAT WILL FREAK YOU OUT
Diagon Alley: Creepy animatronic goblins staring at you on Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts ride
WA Pot Shops: Creepy alive goblin-like customers staring at you—or at something—in front of the pot counter
Diagon Alley: Minimum height of 4 feet to ride Gringotts alone
WA Pot Shops: Minimum age of 21 to purchase marijuana
Diagon Alley: Many rides not recommended for women who are pregnant and people prone to nausea
WA Pot Shops: Pretty much the same
MOST MEMORABLE THRILL
Diagon Alley: Trip on the Hogwarts Express
WA Pot Shops: Trip on edible marijuana snacks like those “enjoyed” by Maureen Dowd
Diagon Alley: Fire-breathing dragon atop the Gringotts ride
WA Pot Shops: Pretty much everybody