One of the biggest criticisms of a Disney World holiday is the cost. Aside from it being half way across the world, it is not a cheap holiday choice. Every year, the price to visit Disney World increases, and shows no signs of stopping. When I started going to Disney World, for 2 weeks dining plan included, was around £1000. I'm sure some of our more grown-up fans remember it cheaper than that. Being Brits we have a long flight out there, so I'm going to disregard the costs of travel, even though that doesn't fluctuate too much, as it's out of Disney's control.
There is another factor that effects us Brits, and that's the currency exchange rate. When the UK voted to leave the EU in 2016, the pound dropped around 20%. Even though big companies like Disney hedge against big currency movements, it doesn't last forever. And as Disney are an American company who prices in US Dollars, to get that same amount in US Dollars, they need to put the prices up here in pounds. It is the downside of a weak currency, which we have at the moment.
Back in the day...
In 1971, a ticket to Disney World (only Magic Kingdom at the time) cost $3.50 (granted there was small extra charges for some rides). In 2017, a day ticket costs up to $132. Adjusted for inflation, a day ticket to a Disney World park would be $21.13. I could argue that there is much more than 5x the value and things to do in Magic Kingdom alone from what the park was in 1971.
When you're standing anywhere in the parks and looking around, you can almost take for granted how beautiful everything looks, how clean the landscaping is, and the lack of litter on the floor. That doesn't happen naturally! They have staff working around the clock keeping the parks in the best condition possible, which includes cleaning, painting and much more.
They hire around 74,000 cast members, which costs more than $1.2 billion a year, and that's excluding $474 million spent on staff benefits each year. Disney World is the largest single site employer in the United States. That's not cheap to run!
There's no getting around that Disney is a public company that has shareholder interests and profit margins to maintain. People say that companies that have to put their shareholders and profit first are toxic in nature, but it's not all bad. Without getting too philosophical, we wouldn't have many life saving drugs without the reward of profit, and we wouldn't have a Disney World either if Walt never took the company public to get investment.
Disney isn't a "human right", as much as we'd like it to be. Some people say, and I tend to agree, it's a small price to pay for the memories created, and the joy it brings to people and their families. Seeing the face of a young child (or adult) light up seeing Mickey Mouse for the first time is a priceless experience.
The word "greed" is thrown around a lot, too. I don't think Disney as a company is inherently greedy, they just value their product to a high standard and think there is a price that goes with that. It's no different than you demanding the top interest rate of the money you have sat in a savings account. If you feel strongly about it, you could always buy some Disney shares and own some of Disney!
Disney have struggled in recent years with huge crowds. Unfortunately, there isn't a whole lot you can do about it (what a great problem to have!) The only real effective way to control the crowds is by manipulating the price. Disney have recently moved to a season based pricing structure for their tickets (it doesn't apply to us unless we buy day tickets over there, which you shouldn't). Putting up prices can price people out, and I totally agree that it sucks. The plan is not to price people out, it's to move some of the busy peak crowds to the value off-peak times to help spread out demand. So even though it costs more money at peak times, you're technically paying a bit more for slightly less crowds. You'll have to decide what value that has for you.
I am also well aware that some people have no choice but to go at peak times because of school times etc, it is a hard thing to get around.
Disney is constantly investing and growing their parks. Every time you visit there will always be something going on. Disney Springs just got completely re-done with all new parking garages, Magic Kingdom just got a new expansion of New Fantasyland. Animal Kingdom has just opened Pandora - The World Of Avatar. Hollywood Studios will soon have Pixar Land and Star Wars Land, Epcot will soon be getting some love, they're expanding the Caribbean Beach and Coronado Springs Resort, redoing all the rooms in Pop Century. They invested over $1billion setting up the Magic Band system. They introduced a new Magic Kingdom 'Happily Ever After' show with state of the art projections, many more fireworks, which would all cost more money. The list goes on. And all of this costs million, millions and millions,
Attitude, respect and audience
A major plus I find with Disney World being an expensive holiday destination is the people there. As it's a pricey place, it doesn't invite troublesome folk. Groups of troublesome teenagers, and the like. The people there are the people who all want to be there and the people who have spent a lot of money to be there. So people respect each other a lot more and respect where they are.
Sweetening the deal
Although the drop in the pound is out of Disney's control, they are doing some things for us to help that don't eat much or even at all, into their profit. That includes giving us memory maker for free (Americans have to pay for it) and DisneyLife subscription with bookings through Disney.
Disney World is one of the most secure places in Orlando. Like all cities, there are safe places and dangerous places. But at Disney World, crime is rare. As soon as you're on Disney property chances are you're on camera. All resorts have a security checkpoint before entering, bag checks and metal detectors when entering parks. Disney also have their very own police force working the areas and they have undercover police officers hanging around. Disney security is a 24/7 operation. Crime still happens of course, but it's rare, and it's almost impossible to enter Disney property without being on camera so law breakers can easily be tracked and identified.
The fact it costs more and more to go each year sucks, we wish it was cheap and could go all the time, but it's not the reality. Disney will continue to invest and expand the offerings which pushes prices up, but in return we get a better experience, more to do, endure slightly less crowds. Even if that means we save a little harder.
Where else makes you dance like this when it's time to go again?