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Disney CEO says price hikes may hit Disney World, Disneyland

Disney World and Disneyland customers may soon be getting hit with another round of price hikes, according to Disney CEO Bob Chapek.

After raising prices across Disney’s streaming services, including Disney+, Hulu and ESPN+, Chapek told CNBC that price hikes will likely hit the Mouse House’s popular theme parks next.

“We read demand. We have no plans right now in terms of what we’re going to do, but we operate with a surgical knife here,” Chapek said Thursday. “It’s all up to the consumer. If consumer demand keeps up, we’ll act accordingly. If we see a softening, which we don’t think we’re going to see, then we can act accordingly as well.”

Price hikes in times of strong demand is par for the course for Disney.

The cost of theme park tickets have jumped over the years with data tracking firm SJ Data Visualizations estimating that the tab for admission tickets to the Disney World and Disneyland theme parks have climbed more than 3,871% in the past 50 years — dwarfing increases in visitors’ wages, as well as the cost of rent and gas.

Disney CEO Bob Chapek
Disney CEO Bob Chapek said if demand keeps rising at the theme parks, price hikes will likely follow.
Bloomberg via Getty Images

At the start of the year, Disney hiked prices at Disneyland and Disney California Adventure in Anaheim, Calif. The popular single-day ticket price jumped 6.5% to $164 for admission at one park, while a two-day park hopper pass costs $319, up nearly 9%.

The price of tickets to the Florida theme parks — which include Disney World and Epcot Center — were unchanged, remaining at $109 for a single-day pass. For a park hopper option, which includes entry into more than one park, the price jumps to $169 for entry after 2 p.m. The park hopper option costs $194 a ticket if guests want to get in before 2 p.m. 

Ticket prices at both Florida parks can go up even higher if booked on a high-volume day — just like airline tickets.

Disney has also slowly been raising the prices of food and merchandise across its parks. For instance, at Disney World the iconic Mickey ear headbands jumped $10 in price to $39.99, while the popular Mickey’s premium ice cream sandwich and chocolate-coated premium bar rose from $5.69 to $5.99,  Disney fan blogs Inside the Magic and Walt Disney World News Today reported earlier this year.

The Mouse House has been reaping the benefits of the price hikes. During its most recent quarter, the Burbank, Calif.-based firm reported a 72% revenue increase in its parks, experiences and products division, rising to $7.4 billion. Disney said per capita spending at Disney World and Disneyland rose 10% and is up more than 40% compared with fiscal 2019.

During the earnings call, Chapek revealed a slew of price increases at the company’s streaming services, Disney+, Hulu and ESPN+, which continued to lose money as the company spends aggressively on content to keep pace with rivals like Netflix, Amazon and HBO Max.

The streaming division’s losses exceeded $1 billion compared with a year-ago loss of $300 million. Streaming revenue, however, climbed 19% to $5.1 billion.

Chapek said that a new Disney+ with ads, which will now be dubbed Disney+ Basic, will launch Dec. 8 at a cost $7.99 a month.

The price of Disney+’s ad-free service will be bumped $3 to $10.99 a month and be known as Disney+ Premium when the basic version launches.

Meanwhile, Hulu will also get a price hike. As of Oct. 10, Hulu with ads will go up a buck to $7.99 a month while the ad-free version will go from $12.99 to $14.99 a month.

The Disney Bundle, which includes Hulu with ads, Disney+ with no ads and ESPN+, will go up a dollar to $14.99 a month. The premium version of the bundle with no ads across any service, will remain at $19.99 a month.

General views of Sleeping Beauty Castle at Disneyland on May 27, 2022 in Anaheim, California
Disneyland and Disney World may get a new round of price hikes soon.
GC Images

As previously announced, the price of ESPN+ will increase by a whopping 43% on Aug. 23 to $9.99 a month.

Overall, the streaming unit has banked 221 million subscribers in total, edging out Netflix, which reported 220.7 million subscribers last month. By division, however, Disney is still chasing the steaming giant.

During the quarter, Hulu nabbed 46.2 million subscribers, marking an 8% jump from a year earlier. Roughly 23 million people paid for ESPN+ access, up 53%, as Disney+’s sign-ups total 152.1 million subscribers, a 31% increase.

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