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Star Wars Prequels Entertainment

Surge Pricing Arrives In Disney's Magic Kingdom Just in Time for Star Wars Opening 164

HughPickens.com writes: Taking a page from the Uber playbook, Christopher Palmeri writes that Disney's six parks in Orlando, Florida, and Anaheim, California, are raising the cost to visit its theme parks as much as 20 percent during the busiest times of year and lowering them on typically slow days. Previously, the parks charged the same price for a one-day pass any time of year. "The demand for our theme parks continues to grow, particularly during peak periods," the company said. "In addition to expanding our parks, we are adopting seasonal pricing on our one-day ticket to help better spread visitation throughout the year." The move is designed to help manage traffic at the parks, which had record visits in the final three months of 2015. Busy days at Disney's amusement parks cause long lines for customers, and even gate closures. Dynamic pricing is meant to financially incentivize customers to choose less-busy days, spread out attendance, and to make as much money as possible on days when the park is historically expected to be full. It is also likely to boost Disney's total revenue since most visitors will pay more for their tickets.

One reason Disney may expect bigger crowds this year is the upcoming Star Wars theme park expansion which includes a virtual reality ride that allows guests to control the Millennium Falcon in an aerial battle with the First Order. "Star Wars is, for lack of a better word awesome," said Harrison Ford. "I'm so blessed that I had the opportunity to be a part of it. To walk in these iconic locations. And soon, you'll be able to do that as well. Not in a galaxy far, far away, but in a place close to home."
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Surge Pricing Arrives In Disney's Magic Kingdom Just in Time for Star Wars Opening

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  • That's good (Score:5, Insightful)

    by phantomfive ( 622387 ) on Monday February 29, 2016 @06:40PM (#51611215) Journal
    That's a good thing, it also helps you see what times you can go when it will be less busy.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      I am glad to see Harrison Ford has recovered enough to be giving statements. The injury he took in the movie looked pretty severe.

      I guess he may be back for the next movie after all.

      • I am glad to see Harrison Ford has recovered enough to be giving statements. The injury he took in the movie looked pretty severe.

        It was just katsup.

      • I think he came back from the dead. He wouldn't be the first carpenter impaled on a cross to do so. Here's hoping he's back for the sequel!

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      The issue parents have is that they are stuck with school term times, and so everyone wants to go during the same few weeks. Schools could stagger their breaks perhaps. Parents are basically unable to avoid surge pricing (or peak times as they used to be called).

  • by Overzeetop ( 214511 ) on Monday February 29, 2016 @06:42PM (#51611223) Journal

    200% would be surge pricing. 20% is just your run of the mill peak period price. I'm a bit surprised they didn't have seasonal pricing already (though, in effect, they do through specials and offers).

    • by rtb61 ( 674572 ) on Monday February 29, 2016 @08:39PM (#51611885) Homepage

      Actually the far better language, which is clearly not their intent is discount pricing. You have your main seasonal, peak public holiday and weekend pricing and then everything else is discounted. Surge pricing is jacking up the price without warning, so promising a cheap price and then wham without any extended notice, already trapped there bam the price goes up 1000% take it or leave it. So publicly declared pricing structures announced years in advance (families book holidays well in advance) is seasonal price and whether people choose to attend during peak period or go for the discount is their choice.

    • They wanted to have it sooner but their US IT team wasn't up to the task. Now that the H1Bs are there, they cranked it out in a few days thanks to the tremendous skills of their managers. (Sorry for those who have trouble with sarcasm)
    • 1 year passes have been sold at different prices depending on which days were blacked out for at least 25 years.
  • by rsborg ( 111459 ) on Monday February 29, 2016 @06:43PM (#51611237) Homepage

    This is seasonal pricing, and as long as it's advertised in advance is very common in various industries.

    Surge pricing (a la Uber) is random periods of higher price - it could be normal pricing one minute, then surge the next.

    Completely different. This article is Uber-cliqbait.

    • Uber doesn't choose random periods to institute surge pricing! Surge pricing goes into effect during peak demand periods. This is the same thing. The only difference is that Disney knows exactly when their peak periods are.
      • by dwywit ( 1109409 ) on Monday February 29, 2016 @08:24PM (#51611811)

        Tell that to the people trying get out of Sydney during the cafe siege.

        Uber's pricing responds to demand - it may be pre-programmed for known peaks, but it's also flexible enough to respond to conditions - although the surge during the Sydney siege was perhaps immoral, it was just the pricing algorithm doing its job, responding to a random increase in demand.

        • Uber's pricing responds to demand - it may be pre-programmed for known peaks, but it's also flexible enough to respond to conditions - although the surge during the Sydney siege was perhaps immoral, it was just the pricing algorithm doing its job, responding to a random increase in demand.

          I'm not even convinced of that. People focus on what Uber was charging, but were their traditional taxis who were willing to drive into the middle of the situation to pick up passengers for standard fares?

          Uber increases the rates drivers receive in order to encourage them more drivers to participate in times of high demand. The question is, would more or less people have been able to get transport out if Uber drivers hadn't been receiving higher rates? If the answer is "more", then I'd say Uber's actions we

      • The difference is that Disney sets the price well in advance. With Uber, you could want a taxi at a non-peak time and then suddenly it's raining and everybody wants a ride so the price goes way up and some people get left in the rain. At Disney you won't get an exceptionally nice day, show up at the gate, and be given a higher price than you normally would during that season. Although "surge pricing" is *largely* predictable, it is a function of actions taken by users. Season pricing is made in advance
    • This is seasonal pricing, and as long as it's advertised in advance is very common in various industries.

      It's not quite seasonal pricing. They're talking about raising prices for very specific times throughout the year, for instance having a higher price on Memorial Day weekend vs. pricing for the rest of that week. Conversely, they likely will be lowering prices for the week after Labor Day, as that's historically been Disney World's slowest week of the year.
      • by iserlohn ( 49556 )

        That's still peak period pricing, increased prices are calculated in advanced and advertised in advanced. Surge pricing ala Uber is algorithmic and done pretty much on-the-fly when there are periods of high demand and low supply of services.

    • This article is Uber-cliqbait.

      Can we 3D print smart cloud IoT apps?

  • My deal with Disney (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Ol Olsoc ( 1175323 ) on Monday February 29, 2016 @07:03PM (#51611361)
    I don't go there, and they don't take my money.

    Having gone there many years ago - and once was more than enough, Disney's pinnacle achievement was not the rides, the infrastructure or any of the things most people would attribute to them.

    Its the fact that they have managed to get a lot of people to spend a lot of money to spend a lot of time waiting in line.

    I remember incredible lines to ride on space mountain,and the mostly teenagers who came out of the ride, only to get back in line for another. I figure even at that time, they were paying something like 25-30 dollars per ride.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      I was the designated grown-up for quite a few years for taking the kids and their cousins to Cedar Point (nice, big, amusement park in Ohio). I have to say, spending hours waiting in line talking with the kids is actually one of my most cherished memories.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Ridiculous. I go every few years with my family for ~5 days at a time, and we can easily do 10-15 rides per day. at $100 per day, that's less than $10 per ride, plus all the fun of the park itself. Given that I buy 5-day tickets, the price drops to about $50 per day, and also gets us into California Adventure next door.

      The price into the park isn't outrageous given the content.

      • That's the rub though, you have to go multiple days to bring in affordability. I've been to Dland enough times to know it's not worth multiple days to me. That's from when I was single. As I am now married with three kids a bare minimum $500 to get in the door? No thanks. My money goes father with better entertainment value at almost any other theme park. The Disney price premium is just to high.
      • That averages to one ride per hour, amazing. How long is the average ride, three minutes?

        • It varies. For Disney World, the shortest attraction is Goofy's Barnstormer in the Magic Kingdom at 1:03, and the longest is Ellen's Energy Adventure in Epcot, at 45:00.

          "It's a Small World" clocks in at 10:30. I mention this last one to help fine-tune the dosage for whatever medication you need to remain unconscious.
          • "It's a Small World" clocks in at 10:30.

            The Euro-Disney version of the Belgium Kiddie Porn Industry was a lot better . . . "It's a cruel world after all . . . "

          • I loved Ellen's Energy Adventure... Seeing a young Bill Nye extolling the virtues of fossil fuels brought a tear to my eye.

      • Ridiculous.

        Take the busiest ride, on a busy day. Stand in line, and immediately get back in line after you get off. You still saying you can go on 15 rides a day with a 45 minute wait for each? I'm not bullshitting you, I have no need to. but not accounting for ride time, a 45 minute wait gets you to around 11 and a half hours of waiting. Even a 30 minute ride is getting toward 8 hours of waiting.

    • I remember incredible lines to ride on space mountain,and the mostly teenagers who came out of the ride, only to get back in line for another. I figure even at that time, they were paying something like 25-30 dollars per ride.

      I used to go there all the time as a teenager. Back then it was around $20 to get in the door, so we didn't mind waiting in line for hours on end, because it was cheap and we'd just hang out. Now it's about $100, which is relatively less to me than $20 was when I was just a broke ass high school kid, but I'll be damned if I'm going to spend that much money to stand in line with a bunch of tourists. They've really done a good job at pricing the locals out of the park over the last 15 years. Even the annual p

      • They've really done a good job at pricing the locals out of the park over the last 15 years. Even the annual pass prices are out of control. It's probably because we didn't spend all our money on food and merch; we were just taking up space as far as they're concerned. Welcome to Disneyland, the pinnacle of American capitalism.

        Similar situation at the Florida parks. I used to go to Epcot a couple of times each week to have dinner, but with the tourist dining plans they've implemented over the last seve
      • by schnell ( 163007 )

        They've really done a good job at pricing the locals out of the park over the last 15 years [...] It's probably because we didn't spend all our money on food and merch; we were just taking up space as far as they're concerned.

        Yes, yes you were. Why on Earth would you even think that Disney cares about pricing out the locals? Maybe Disney Land was, but I know for a fact that Disney World wasn't built to cater to locals. If these parks had been built for locals, there would be a Disney (Land/World) in every large city. Disney World in particular was built to cater to idiots like me and my two young girls who couldn't wait to take a six hour plane ride and wait for hours just to get into Jedi Camp. If Disney had the foresight to ha

        • If that's a way of complaining about not being priced for locals to visit often, then refer to my previous statement about the park not being intended for you in the first place...

          Well the curious thing is they used to have steep discounts for the locals. Back around 1995ish, if you lived in a So Cal zip code, it was $19 to get in. Then the next year they bumped it up a few bucks, then a little more, but it was still reasonable. Annual passes with included parking ran around $300 if I remember; my family had them for years, but I never paid the bill. I think it was about the time they dug up the parking lot and installed that stupid California Adventure park that they decided they no

      • IIRC, when Disneyland annual passes were first introduced, they were $100. Now they're $1049.
    • by NormalVisual ( 565491 ) on Monday February 29, 2016 @08:03PM (#51611675)
      Having gone there many years ago - and once was more than enough, Disney's pinnacle achievement was not the rides, the infrastructure or any of the things most people would attribute to them. Its the fact that they have managed to get a lot of people to spend a lot of money to spend a lot of time waiting in line.

      Having worked there, I found the REAL pinnacle achievement is running payroll for 60,000 employees each week and not screwing it up. EPCOT actually stands for "Every Paycheck Comes On Thursday". ;-)
    • by antdude ( 79039 )

      Yep, I haven't been to Disneyland for a couple decades. I went back recently for free. It felt smaller and pretty much the same. Whatever. Although CA Adventure was new to me, but it was OK.

    • ...Disney's pinnacle achievement was not the rides, the infrastructure or any of the things most people would attribute to them.

      Its the fact that they have managed to get a lot of people to spend a lot of money to spend a lot of time waiting in line.

      This is what I keep trying to tell my wife, to no avail. Here's hoping for some non-surge pricing in the fall...

    • I'm a real cynic in most areas of my life, but I've always enjoyed the visits we made to Disneyworld. I went in '77 with my parents in our rmotorhome from Minnesota. The day we got to Orlando, we drove to the Magic Kingdom and walked into the Contemporary hotel and I can still remember the sense of awe I had walking into the atrium and seeing the monorail pass through.

      That being said, I think Disney has fucked itself on crowds and capacity. Disneyworld now has more on-premise hotel capacity than all of O

      • I think they need to fairly radically re-think the nature of their attractions and have fewer of them, but make them much higher capacity to minimize queuing, using continuous loading cars and long, serpentine paths to essentially make queuing part of the ride itself. An attraction the size of a football stadium, but enclosed with a serpentine path for the ride should be able to accommodate 20,000 or more people at a time. It could also make the ride longer, which would help with fewer rides overall.

        Actually I think WDW does a good job of keeping you entertained while waiting. The queues for most of their rides are themed. Space Mountain, Star Tours, and the Toy Story ride are all good examples, helping to set the mood/theme for the ride with lots of attention to detail. They are far and above almost any other amusement park that just put you into a long line, that snakes back and forth 8 or 9 times.

        • by swb ( 14022 )

          I'd say only kind of. The theming of the waiting areas is nice, but for the most part it's not much more than just interesting decoration which wears thin, especially when ride waits exceed 30 minutes or more.

          I wouldn't actually be surprised to see almost all rides going completely reservation-only at some point. The ability to book fast passes weeks in the future has nearly made it that way, only limitations on how many fast passes you can get prevents this from being true now.

          Now, the parks are amazingl

  • enough to visit any of these places. They have everything I hate, crowds, fat people, hot weather, children, overpriced mediocre food, the list goes on.

  • I can just see it now as a Disney blockbuster title: Disneyland Surge Pricing: The Quest for More Money!

    Seriously?

    Honestly?

    Really?

  • How much do you think they paid Harrison Ford to be willing to lay it on so thick? Obviously millions, but how many millions?

    • Star Wars turned Harrison Ford from a nobody to a star with a 40-year-long career. I would say very positive things if I were him.

    • Well, as I understand it, one difference between Harrison Ford and the rest of the cast is that Harrison had a piece of the revenue the movie made. So he ended up making a heck of a lot more money than the rest of them.

      Maybe he's also getting a piece of the action of the revenue from the ride. In which case, hell yeah, he'd be up to promote it.

  • by Dcnjoe60 ( 682885 ) on Monday February 29, 2016 @07:55PM (#51611635)

    Disney says they are doing this to control busy times at the park. That is pure BS. Disney is doing this, not because of supply and demand, but to gouge even more profits. Why are summer and holiday visits the most popular? That's a no brainer - it's because people are off work or out of school. Changing the pricing won't change that reality.

    If Disney was truly concerned with limiting overcrowding, a very simple solution would be limit the number of tickets sold. Once the park is sold out for the day, it is sold out. Works at stadiums, works on Broadway, works just about everywhere. But then, that solution won't increase the profits like a 20% price increase will.

    I wonder if Disney will pass those extra fees on to the employees who have to work on those overly crowded days? After all, they are the ones who have to deal with the problem first hand.

    • by hondo77 ( 324058 )

      Disney is doing this, not because of supply and demand, but to gouge even more profits.

      I don't think you quite understand how supply and demand (and capitalism) works.

      • In his defense, most people, including and especially its proponents, have little idea how supply, demand and capitalism work.

      • Disney is doing this, not because of supply and demand, but to gouge even more profits.

        I don't think you quite understand how supply and demand (and capitalism) works.

        Supply and demand would would dictate an equilibrium would be reached between buyer and seller based on the value of the goods and services. That is not what I am complaining about. Disney is saying they are doing this to combat overcrowding. That is the disengenous part. I agree with the supply and demand, not the spin put on it by Disney. Granted, if they said we are raising the price because we can, that wouldn't have gone over well, but that is exactly what they are doing. So why lie as to the reason?

      • Disney is doing this, not because of supply and demand, but to gouge even more profits.

        I don't think you quite understand how supply and demand (and capitalism) works.

        Do you? They're aren't doing anything to meet demand with supply, just putting prices up when demand is up. That's gouging. They can call it whatever they want but they're doing it for the cash money.

        • Umm, you don't understand how pricing works do you? Increasing the price reduces the demand. Gouging generally refers to a price hike on necessities during an emergency. Disney is not something essential, nor would there ever be an emergency that reduced the supply of Disney. I don't know why you are so angry at Disney, but charging more money to reduce crowds seems pretty reasonable to me.

          • Umm, you don't understand how pricing works do you? Increasing the price reduces the demand. Gouging generally refers to a price hike on necessities during an emergency. Disney is not something essential, nor would there ever be an emergency that reduced the supply of Disney. I don't know why you are so angry at Disney, but charging more money to reduce crowds seems pretty reasonable to me.

            There's more to it than (+) price = (-) demand. Just look at apple. Disney is the apple of theme parks, there are plenty others out there more reasonably priced and just as good but disney is disney. They aren't even trying to reduce demand at all, just spread it out by making other days seem more appealing by seeming cheaper, but as others have pointed out, places like this are naturally going to most busy in the times when the kids are on school holidays and other public holidays. It's all well and good f

    • by Anonymous Coward

      a very simple solution would be limit the number of tickets sold. Once the park is sold out for the day, it is sold out.

      Raising prices is as good a way of reducing the number of visitors. One method involves park staff excluding people based on visit order, and the other relies on self-selection based on ticket prices.

      Disney says they are doing this to control busy times at the park. That is pure BS. Disney is doing this, not because of supply and demand, but to gouge even more profits.

      This I 100% agree with. Controlling visitor numbers is a *side effect* of the price increase. If two methods are equally effective at doing something, I'll choose the one I get more money from.

    • by JBMcB ( 73720 )

      Disney is doing this, not because of supply and demand, but to gouge even more profits.

      Because supply and demand doesn't affect prices? What?

      • Disney is doing this, not because of supply and demand, but to gouge even more profits.

        Because supply and demand doesn't affect prices? What?

        Supply and demand only works in a free market. Are you taking the position that there is adequate competition to Disney?

        • by JBMcB ( 73720 ) on Tuesday March 01, 2016 @12:02AM (#51612657)

          Supply and demand only works in a free market. Are you taking the position that there is adequate competition to Disney?

          Amusement parks are "substitutable goods". You don't have to go to Disney World for vacation. You can go to the beach, or a museum, or a water park, or a national park. There are tons of options.

          Disney spends, and has spent, *boatloads* of money on Disney World. People have shown they are willing to pay premium prices for a premium experience, so Disney get to charge premium prices. That doesn't mean you can't go anywhere else for vacation.

          • For most people a bicycle is not an alternative to a car and yet both are modes of transportation. But it's not about alternatives. Disney doesn't want people to go spend their money elsewhere. Their stated goal is to reduce load on peak times so that people will go at less desirable times. When one's work schedule and the kid's school schedule dictate the available days, changing the pricing won't cause that to happen. It could very well reduce the load on peak times, but at the cost of lost customers if

    • by DRJlaw ( 946416 )

      If Disney was truly concerned with limiting overcrowding, a very simple solution would be limit the number of tickets sold. Once the park is sold out for the day, it is sold out. Works at stadiums, works on Broadway, works just about everywhere. But then, that solution won't increase the profits like a 20% price increase will.

      Yeah! Because secondary ticket markets (a.k.a. brokers and scalping) simply do not exist for stadiums, broadway, concerts, etc. That's 20% that will be going into little Joe's colleg

      • Because secondary ticket markets (a.k.a. brokers and scalping) simply do not exist for stadiums, broadway, concerts, etc.

        It's not like it would be hard to eliminate the secondary ticket market if you wanted to. See, the robust secondary ticket market for plane tickets (oh, wait...)

        I grant that the need to show ID would be modestly annoying. But a ton of events do that already (for alcohol-serving reasons) so it couldn't be that big a burden to bear.

        But the fact remains, secondary ticket markets work well

    • by hawaiian717 ( 559933 ) on Monday February 29, 2016 @09:15PM (#51612053) Homepage

      If Disney was truly concerned with limiting overcrowding, a very simple solution would be limit the number of tickets sold. Once the park is sold out for the day, it is sold out.

      They do. But the number of people it actually takes to reach the point of "sold out" when they stop letting people in the park is quite high. They usually don't stop ticket sales, because there's one other park (in California) and three other parks (in Florida) that guests can usually still go to. They simply stop letting people in the park.

      The other difference is that, unlike a sports event or concert, the number of people in the park fluctuates throughout the day. All the people will be there for a specific event, they know exactly how many seats are in the venue, and everyone will arrive before the event and leave after. But a theme park is open all day with lots of different things to do. People will arrive at different times, leave at different times, some will leave and come back, some will go to another theme park. So even if Disney does stop letting people into a park because of overcrowding, it's usually just for a couple of hours until enough people have left that they can start letting people in.

    • by KalvinB ( 205500 )

      Actually, they do stop selling tickets at a certain point.

      This will help control crowds by not only making it cost more to get in, but also by informing them ahead of time that it's going to be busy and they may want to pick a different day.

      What really drives park usage is the locals with their season passes who can show up whenever.

      You really have to be willing to go during the non-peak days in the off season if you're not from Southern California if your goal is to ride on all the rides rather than just h

    • Funny you mention two examples from industries which charge a different rate depending on the desirability of the show.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      They actually do this; Disney, like all major theme parks, has an occupancy limit (due to fire / emergency hazards) and does actually close the park to new guests at a certain point.

      Which happens basically every weekend in the summer.

    • If Disney was truly concerned with limiting overcrowding, a very simple solution would be limit the number of tickets sold.

      Not an econ major, eh?

      Raising the price will result in fewer ticket sales, and will help drive people to visit on less busy days. That's even better for Disney as it helps them smooth out the crowds a bit and makes employee scheduling easier.

      Also, Disney's parks aren't like watching a show in a theater. There's no defined start/stop time except for open and close, and most people come after opening and leave before closing. When we went a few years ago we had a "park hopper" pass and visited more than on

  • by sdinfoserv ( 1793266 ) on Monday February 29, 2016 @08:27PM (#51611825) Homepage
    I guess the projected cost savings from firing their IT staff and replacing them with low paid H1B's isn't enough for the corporate greed masters.
  • Ford is a good actor, maybe even great in some parts, but a total douche bag in person. Convinced he 'changed' the world and can walk on water, his public temper tantrums regarding questions about Star Wars give true insight into his actual personality. His public endorsement is only the result of significant $$$ incentives.

  • Since the Star Wars lands won't open until sometime next year.

    • Since the Star Wars lands won't open until sometime next year.

      YES! You have to be in the line-up right now, in order to get a turn before the end of the decade!

  • ...then you're a bad person.

    Did you forget how they treated their IT people? I found out about it here of /. The whole, replace them with H1-B workers, make them train the replacements thing.

    I skipped Deadpool over it. Bummer, it looks really good, but I'll just have to wait for a copy to pop up on bittorrent. My wife and I really wanted to go. But I couldn't look at myself in the mirror if I supported them with my $.

  • Oh good lord, the shock of it all, that a business would increase prices when demand is greatest.

    "Star Wars is, for lack of a better word awesome," said Harrison Ford. "I'm so blessed that I had the opportunity to be a part of it. To walk in these iconic locations. And soon, you'll be able to do that as well. Not in a galaxy far, far away, but in a place close to home."

    Said Harrison Ford, or said some guy in marketing?

  • Took a trip to Orlando and had the opportunity to visit both parks during the trip. Universal not only has better rides, they also have fast passes that you can buy that let you cut through the lines without having to show up at some stupid predesignated time. I was able to go on every ride in the park in less than two days. Counter that to Gisney where the lines are obscene and then more lines for the stupid fast passes. Universal is compact enough to walk around between the two parks whereas in Gisney you

  • The Star Wars expansion won't be ready in 2016 for sure. 2017 would be a best case scenario with 2018 or even 2019 being more likely. Disney is very slow to construct and they generally don't commit years out to opening dates. They started construction almost 2 years ago on the new Frozen themed ride in the Norway section of EPCOT and they still haven't committed or even hinted when it will be open, but sometime in late spring this year is a good guess. And I can promise you that what they did in EPCOT
  • Get in line to get into the park early, more than an hour before the park opens. Plan ahead to do the most popular rides first, and rush. Usually, you can get in 4 rides in the first hour, before crowding starts to be a problem. Stay until closing time, lines are short late at night. Persevere, and you can do every ride in the park in one day.

    Stay alert and flexible. Not all rides start running when the park opens, and some will be closed for repairs for all or part of a day.

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