The most expensive place on Earth



Under its heavily marketed “magic,” Disney is still a money-minded business, raising its prices as its demand has risen over the years.

With its colorful billboards on Florida highways and sparkle-filled commercials, Disney World widely advertises itself as “the most magical place on earth…where dreams come true.” But underneath the pixie dust lies the harsh reality of expensive tickets and a system that prevents this magic from being experienced by the majority of people.

In fact, the barrier that Disney’s high ticket prices create, which many middle class families cannot overcome, is precisely what Walt Disney, Disney’s founder, did not want. In response to the grand opening of Disneyland in California, Walt Disney stated that he wanted Disney parks to “be a source of joy and inspiration to all the world.” With the grand opening of Disney World in Orlando, Florida in 1971, guests were able to purchase a ticket for a mere $3.50 to enter Magic Kingdom park, which is about $22 today. Since Disney World opened its gates, ticket prices have increased by 3000%.

Today, a one-day, one-park Disney World ticket starts at $109 per person. If this price was not already high enough, Disney actually varies the prices of admission depending on the time of year. Ticket prices typically increase during the more popular travel times of the year. For example, a one day, one park ticket on Christmas Day in 2021 costs $159, while a park hopper costs $224 on the same day.

Even when one is inside the park, the economic hierarchy is very much present. For example, families or groups might only be able to wait in the standby line, while another family may be accompanied with a Disney tour guide who “magically” takes the group around the park and personally customizes a group’s day at Disney World. But magic always comes at a price. Each hour of a VIP tour can range from $425-850, and each party must book at least seven hours. And the cost does not even include admission to the park.

In addition, the many added perks that Disney now offers makes a magical Disney vacation suddenly complicated. Those who may be visiting the parks for the first time are already at a disadvantage, for the complicated system favors those who have visited before. From Genie Plus, which is Disney’s new fastpass-type service that costs $15 per person, to Lightning Lane, which allows individuals to skip the line for Disney’s most popular rides that are excluded from Genie Plus for a certain fee, families are now confronted with confusing processes and countless purchases that take away the fun before the magical day even begins.

Intentional or not, Disney has created a system in which only those at the top of the economic ladder benefit. What Disney must consider is if their mission of providing a magical experience for all actually holds true. Instead of expanding more options to “enhance” the Disney experience through offering additional items for purchase, Disney should focus on decreasing costs and their list of “perks” which are only financially reasonable for the wealthy so more families can experience the magic for themselves without added stress on their wallets and minds.