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Are Walt Disney World Price Increases Really Too High?

On October 13 Walt Disney World and Disneyland had a price increase on select travel options. But were those increases really as bad as some Disney guests were implying?

What Changed

The increases that were seen involved theme park parking rates, Annual Passes, and Memory Maker. There were no price increases to dated tickets, Genie+, or to park hopper.

Walt Disney World Annual Passholder Card

Annual Pass Price Increases

Most theme parks have “levels” of Annual Passes. These levels grant you more access to the parks, sometimes higher discounts on merchandise and food, and other the perks the higher up you go. At Walt Disney World there are currently four levels of Annual Pass. Due to Covid closure Walt Disney World suspended selling new Annual Passes for 18-months. They introduced their current AP system in 2021, but have closed sales several times due to hitting sales capacity for each AP type.

Walt Disney World Annual Pass Pricing Changes

There are four types of Annual Pass currently available at Walt Disney World. Each pass type has different blackout rules.

  • The top-tier Disney Incredi-Pass, which is the only option for non-Floridans, but has no blackout dates.
  • The Sorcerer Pass, which is available to Disney Vacation Club Member and Florida residents, has less than 20 days blocked out from October 2023 through October 2024, most of these days are at Thanksgiving and Christmas.
  • The Pirate Pass and Pixie Pass both are Florida resident only options.
    • The Pirate Pass has over 60 days blocked out from October 2023 through 2024, most of those days are holidays, runDisney events and other known busy times.
    • The Pixie Pass has over 150 days  from October 2023 through 2024. This includes all weekends, holidays, runDisney events and other known busy times.

Walt Disney World Annual pass prices when the current program debuted on September 8, 2021 prices were as follows:

  • Incredi-Pass: $1,299
  • Sorcerer Pass:$899
  • Pirate Pass: $699
  • Pixie Dust Pass: $339

In April 2023 Walt Disney World increased their annual pass rates anywhere from $50 to $100 depending on the pass type.

  • Incredi-Pass: $1,399
  • Sorcerer Pass: $969
  • Pirate Pass: $749
  • Pixie Dust Pas: $399

In October 2023 increased their annual pass rates anywhere from $30 to $50 depending on the pass type.

  • Incredi-Pass: $1,449
  • The Sorcerer Pass: $969
  • The Pirate Pass: $799
  • The Pixie Pass: $439

Universal Orlando Annual Pass Pricing Changes

Universal Orlando  2 and 3-park Annual Pass Cards

While Universal has never paused their Annual Pass sales due to Covid, but they have increased their annual price over the last three years.

2021 Universal 2-park annual passes prices were as follows during their “Buy 12 get 3 months free” offer:

  • Seasonal Pass: $305
  • Power Pass: $355
  • Preferred Pass: $395
  • Premier Pass: $560

In June 2022 Universal increased their annual pass rates anywhere from $30 to $80.

  • Seasonal Pass: $325
  • Power Pass: $380
  • Preferred Pass: $440
  • Premier Pass: $640

In April of 2023 Universal Orlando increases the price of their top two annual passes $90 to $150.

  • Preferred Pass: $630
  • Premier Pass: $905

What this means is, since 2021 Walt Disney World has seen a $150 increase to it’s top tier Icredi-pass, a $70 increase to the Sorcerer Pass and $100 to it’s lowest level Pixie pass. Universal Orlando has seen a staggering $345 increase to it’s Premier 2-Park Park to Park pass, a $235 increase to the Preferred 2-Park Park to Park but only a $20 increase on it’s Seasonal 2-Park Park to Park pass.

*At Walt Disney World an annual pass grants you access to their four theme parks, you have the option to add Memory Maker on for $100 and Waterpark for $100 to any pass type. Universal Orlando lets you choose between accessing the two theme parks, or the two theme parks and their water park Volcano Bay. For equal comparison all prices above show Universal’s two park annual pass rates.

Parking at the Parks

This month Walt Disney World increased the price of parking at the parks from $25 to $30. This is the first Disney Parks regular parking increase Walt Disney World has had since 2021 when rates went from $20 to $25 a car.  Walt Disney World  park guests that aren’t staying at a Disney-owned resort are the only guests who pay to park. Disney Vacation Club members and Annual Passholders receive free parking when visiting the parks.

In 2017 Walt Disney World introduced their Preferred Parking system, which uses the parking spots that had been reserved for guests that booked AAA Disney travel packages. For $40, a $20 upcharge from regular park parking, guests could park closer to the park entrances. Preferred Parking at Walt Disney World has not seen a price increase in six years.

Recently as an added perk, Walt Disney World has added a complimentary car locator feature to their My Disney Experience app to help guests find their car at the end of the day.

The Magic Kingdom Parking Lot – Google Earth

At Universal Orlando, all guests pay to park in their parking structure, there isn’t a free park parking option for Universal Resort guests. In 2021 parking at Universal Orlando was $26 a day, it increased to $27 a day in 2022. In 2023 Universal Orlando raised it’s regular daily parking fee to $30 a day per car.

Universal Orlando’s preferred parking system is called “Prime Parking.” In March of  2021 Universal Orlando raised it’s Prime Parking from $40 to $50 per car a day. In March of 2022 Prime Parking was increased to by $10 a day to bring it $60 a car. Prime Parking rates did not increase in 2023.

Universal has seen a regular parking increase of $4 over the last 3 years, and their Universal’s Prime Parking has increased $20 over the last 3 years.

Resort/ Hotel Guest Overnight Parking

Prior to 2018 Walt Disney World Resort guests didn’t pay to park at their hotel resort overnight. From March 10, 2018 until January 10, 2023 all Disney Resort guests, except Disney Vacation Club Members, paid a fee for overnight self-parking. This fee ranged from $15-$25 a night based the resort being a Value, Moderate, or Deluxe/Deluxe Villa resort. Walt Disney World Resort guests do not pay to park at the Disney Parks.

Universal Orlando resort guests have always paid to park at their hotel. As of October 2023, Universal Orlando Resort guests pay between $15 to $28 a night to park at their Universal Resort hotel depending on the resort. If a Universal hotel guests decides to drive to the Universal Parking complex they will have to pay the daily parking fee. Keep in mind if you are a Universal Resort guest that opts to drive to the Universal Parks parking complex, you will pay to park there as well.

Whereas Disney Resort guests started saving $15-$25 a night on overnight parking, Universal Resort guests still pay $15 to $28 a night to park at their resort.

Memory Maker

The price of Disney’s Memory Maker product, which lets you download all your ride, park and Photopass studio photos increased. The advance purchase price is now $185, up from $169. The day-of/post vacation purchase price is now $210, up from $199. But this is the first time Memory Maker has had a price increase since 2017. In that time Disney has added a slew of special photo lenses, they now over offer 75 magic shots to include the ultra-popular Super Zoom and Tiny Earth Magic Shots, ride videos, character video messages, four free Photopass Studio locations, and more.

Despite seeing a price increase of $16, over the last six years, Disney has more than doubled the options you get with your Memory Maker downloads.

 

Memory Maker update information from the Disney Parks Blog

 

What Does This All Mean?

Understandably people hate price increases, but many act as if the ones we saw recently were a world ending dumpster fire. While tickets, annual passes and parking have seen increases, they aren’t the only price changes the parks have seen over the last two ro three years. Disney and Universal have seen increases in food pricing, but lets be honest even your local McDonald’s and Dollar Tree have raised food prices since 2021.

Certainly we can see by doing some simple side by side comparison, at the end of the day both major Orlando theme parks have seen price increases since Covid reopening. But, the Walt Disney World increases that people have made out to world ending increases are in many ways aren’t worse or are on the same increases we see at Universal Orlando.

Tell us what you think, are the price changes really that big between the two parks or does one fan base just like to fuss more than the other? And make sure you follow GNN on Facebook, Twitter, and our website for all your Geek News needs!

Are you considering visiting the Walt Disney World, Disneyland, Universal Studios Orlando or Hollywood or SeaWorld Parks? GNN staff members Autumn and fellow Jon Hile staff member are both experienced travel agents at Pirate and Mermaid Vacations, an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner. PMV also books Universal and SeaWorld Travel. To learn more about their agency visit their website.

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