Have Disney World Ticket Prices Ever Gone DOWN?

While Walt Disney World is the “Most Magical Place on Earth” to visit, we realize it can  be a bit rough on the pocketbook, especially as prices for entry to the parks increase annually. However, before one gripes about “modern” Disney management only being in it for the money, all one has to do is look back over the history of ticket prices at WDW to see that increases are nothing new. In fact, ticket prices have increased nearly every year the resort has been open.

“D” Ticket from the Magic Kingdom in 1977

When the Walt Disney World complex first opened in 1971 – in its “Vacation Kingdom” configuration of the Magic Kingdom theme park, Polynesian Village Resort, Contemporary Resort, Golf Resort (now Shades of Green), and the Palm and Magnolia Golf Courses – tickets to the theme park worked in the same ticket book format that had been used in Disneyland since that park opened in 1955.

Visitors would purchase a general admission ticket to enter the park, then be able to purchase books of A-E tickets that allowed them to experience the park’s attractions. At opening, the ticket books cost $5.75 for an ”8 Adventure Ticket Book” that contained one A ticket, one B, one C, two D, and three E tickets and $6.75 for a”12 Adventure Ticket Book” that contained one A, one B, two C, four D, and four E tickets.

1971 “E” Ticket for the Magic Kingdom

Walt Disney World saw its first price increase just months after its opening when general admission tickets rose to $3.75. Throughout the rest of the 1970s tickets increased by $.50 to $.75 each year, with the notable exceptions of 1976 and 1977. Tickets saw no increase in either of those years, and they remain – as of 2019 – the only two years in the resort’s history that prices didn’t go up.

Disney World ticketing changed forever in October 1982 with the opening of the theme park then known as EPCOT Center. Upon the opening of the second gate, Disney abandoned the ticket book format and instead adopted the attraction-inclusive ticket model that today’s guests are familiar with. At the same time, Disney introduced a $32.00 World Passport option that allowed access to both the Magic Kingdom and EPCOT Center, the precursor to today’s Park Hopper ticket option. The following year saw one day ticket prices rise above $10.00 for the first time, first to $13.25 and then $15.00 by October 1982.

EPCOT Center commemorative opening ticket

Ticket prices continued to increase throughout the 1980s, hitting $29.00 for a single day when the then-Disney MGM Studios theme park opened in May 1989. Over the course of the next two decades, one day ticket prices continued to rise annually. In addition, Disney continued to introduce various multi-day ticket options that included entrance to ancillary attractions including water parks.

Disney made a major change to their ticketing structure in 2013 when they began charging more for a single-day Magic Kingdom ticket than those for the other three on-property parks, Epcot, Hollywood Studios, and Animal Kingdom. In 2015, a one-day ticket to the Magic Kingdom rose to $105.00, becoming the first on the resort to break into triple digits.

Disney once again changed the pricing structure in 2016, introducing a tiered pricing model for the first time. Instead of having a flat rate year-round, prices for one-day tickets were now dependent on which category – Peak, Regular, and Value – a date fell under. The tiered system remained for several years,  and new categories including Holiday and Low were added.

walt disney world ticket
Walt Disney World Ticket

Disney wasn’t done experimenting, however, and in October 2018 the tiered system was changed to a date-based ticket system.

Essentially this brought a two-fold change to Walt Disney World ticketing. First off, pricing tiers are no longer seasonal, but rather can be different each day based on a variety of factors, including crowd levels, and ticket price per day decreases the more days a guest adds. Secondly, now when purchasing one-day WDW tickets, guests must choose specific dates for using said ticket. That is, if purchasing multiple days – anywhere from two days to 10 at a time – guests must choose a start date. There is then a small window following that start date for the remaining park visits. For example, a five-day ticket expires eight days after the selected start date. For an additional fee, a “flexible start date” may be added to a guest’s ticket purchase, which allows them to not be locked in to a specific start date.

Click here to read more about date-based ticket pricing.

Date-Based Walt Disney World Tickets
Date-based ticket pricing was introduced in October 2018

As of the most recent price increase earlier in 2019, the most expensive one-day ticket is now $159 and the lowest is $107.

To answer our initial question, no, Disney World tickets prices have never gone down. In fact, if history is any indication, Walt Disney World ticket prices will only continue to rise in the foreseeable future, especially given all of the new attractions being added throughout the resort in preparation for WDW’s upcoming 50th anniversary.

Do you think that Disney World’s tickets are out of line? Or do you still feel the price of admission represents a good value? Drop us a line in the comments.

Did you know that you can get a slight discount on Disney World tickets, as well as tickets for some other Orlando-area attractions? Visit MapleLeafTickets.com to find out more!

Want to learn more about present-day Walt Disney World tickets? Check out our Ticket Basics video below:

 

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17 Replies to “Have Disney World Ticket Prices Ever Gone DOWN?”

  1. WDW is expensive, no doubt about it. Over the years, we’ve adjusted our approach. First, we became DVC members. Yes, there was a hefty buy-in (although the sales rep remarked that our minimal purchase was “getting our toe in the water”!), and we have to pay annual dues. But for our family, it makes more financial sense than a nightly hotel fee. Then, we skip a trip every other year. Instead, we roll points so we pay for our hotel in its entirety on that every-other-year trip. Having a condo allows us to make breakfast and snacks, which helps cut food costs. We also don’t buy park tickets for every day of the trip. Last time, we were there for 8 nights, but we bought only 4 days of park tickets. The rest of the time is spent relaxing at the resort, browsing at Disney Springs, or going off-site to a museum. I am sure that some families spend hundreds for a few hours at a ball game. To me, WDW is a comparable expense.

  2. It’s not just the price of the tickets but the cost of the parking, you can add $350 onto the cost of your tickets just for the privilege of parking your car. This parking fee should be cheaper maybe a nominal charge of $10.

  3. Pricing is out of control for sure! most families that would normally come to the parks can no longer afford to take there kids there. for example to take a family of 4 to the park will cost $107 at a minimum per person plus will need to buy lunch/supper and snacks so in total you day will be $600 plus for the day.
    the Disney experience has changed drastically for the last 10 years and it seems to be getting worse. The overcrowding in the parks makes getting on the rids a challenge, very long line ups and wait times makes spending the money less worth it. In fact it has become a large deterrent from ever visiting the parks because you are not getting value for the money you pay because you just can get on the rides without wasting large amounts of time waiting for the ride. I don’t know what the solution is but we have been going to Disney from Canada for the 20+ years and it used to be a great experience and very enjoyable but the changes and over crowding have ruined it. My wife and her family have been going since she was born so for around 45 years, they too have found that its a step back for them.
    We still find that we would love to go, in fact its child hood memories for my wife Kids and I, so the desire is there but the price to go keeps us away. 🙁

  4. Disney increases have priced out my family. There are far too many other options that are cheaper than a Disney vacation.

    Disney used to be “somewhat expensive, but good value for the product quality”. Those days are long past.

    With over a dozen trips under our belts from 2005-2015, we have no plans to ever return.

    1. Same here. They’ve shown that they no longer want my business. Fine by me, I’ve tried out 3 different cruises this year and still haven’t spent as much as an on property WDW vacation.

  5. Disney has really been money grabbing lately. They’ve changed the annual pass holder tickets to a tier system. Before, your tickets were good for 365 days without blackout dates. Now you have to purchase silver,gold,or premium tickets. Prices will always go up. The demand is there

  6. It would be a pretty bad sign for the popularity of the parks if there was ever a decline in nominal prices. I’d be interested in saying how they compare over time when adjusting for inflation, or compared to average purchasing power.

  7. Disney World for seniors/snowbirds. We don’t go on the most popular rides but spend money on food and gifts. We are in favor of all seniors being able to purchase annual passes at the same rate as residents.

  8. Eventually, people are not going to want to pay so much for the chance to visit an overcrowded vacation resort. Not to mention that many people can’t afford to take their family to Disney, which is heartbreaking. I realize the necessity to increase costs due to labor, supply, utilities, etc. If there isn’t enough room for all the guests, and if no one can afford to go Disney World will see a drop in ticket sales. But there will be the small percentage that can afford to spend gross amounts of money on whatever vacation they want.

  9. As I am just now retiring, I’m having to “tap out” on the parks and resorts. I’ll just save up and do a Disney Cruise in a couple of years.

  10. It’s all about supply and demand. And there appears to be an endless supply of suckers demanding to spend their vacation in the most overpriced and overrated vacation destination in the USA.

      1. Laura & Brian, It’s not so much that I hate WDW, as it is that I’ve lost all respect for it as a business. I certainly respect their ability to turn a hefty profit, but they have totally abandoned the original Disney philosophy and business model in the process. I could write a thousand words detailing that, but from the comments of many long time disney visitors, most already understand (and agree) with what I’m talking about. I guess I’m more bitter than some because I had the pleasure of enjoying WDW when it was that “shining castle on the hill” and it saddens me to see what it is today and how new visitors will never experience that and don’t even know what they are missing. Unless you visited WDW from 1971 thru about 2003 you cannot begin to fathom how bad the place has gotten.

        I have been an Allears visitor for many years and, your right, I have recently gotten more cynical in my view of WDW. I suppose that is due to the realization that it has peaked, is in decline, and will never again be what it once was. I continue to visit Allears because they are a great Disney enthusiast site that’s always on the cutting edge of what’s going on at Disney, and I’m always looking for an article that might give me hope that Disney has seen the error of their ways and just might be ready to get back to what made them great.

      2. It’s not odd. Read “Disney Wars” and you can learn how The Disney Company changed from what Mr. Disney started. You can still love Walt Disney and dislike the modern Disney Company.

  11. Good article, but I think you’re a year off on the opening of Epcot. I’m pretty sure its inaugural year began in October of 1982.