It starts with the blare of an early-morning alarm and a pair of sneakers that can withstand a day of walking.
The agenda then might proceed as follows: a quick whip around Space Mountain to get your sea legs, a hair-raising tour of the Haunted Mansion, an aerial view of London from Peter Pan’s perspective and a Mickey Mouse-shaped ice cream pop before the parade.
A staggering 148 million visitors frequented Disney theme parks worldwide in 2014, according to the Orlando Sentinel. Orlando’s Disney World, aka the Magic Kingdom, was the most-visited theme park that year, attracting 19 million guests alone.
It isn’t called the “Happiest Place on Earth” for nothing, and due to its unreal demand, the price of an adult-admission Disneyland ticket has skyrocketed 9,400 percent over the last 60 years — from $1 in 1955 to $95 today — according to CNBC. And tickets to Disney World are even more expensive.
In February 2016, Disney World and Disneyland introduced surge pricing to the mix, increasing rates on high-demand days. The price difference between “value” days, or slower days for the park, and peak days shakes out to $17 per ticket at Disney World, with a regular-day ticket coming out to $102 as of publication. For a family of four, the difference in attending the park on a value versus a peak day could be $68, not including food and merchandise purchases within the park’s gates.
The team at MooseRoots wanted to take a closer look at Disney World’s price progression. To do this, they used data aggregated from the leading Disney forum AllEars to obtain face-value ticket prices since Disney World’s opening in 1971. Next, they used data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics to calculate the inflation-adjusted price of a ticket each year in today’s dollars.
For each year since Disney World’s opening, we’ve included a notable event that occurred for the Walt Disney Company, Walt Disney Animation or Walt Disney Pictures. Facts about Anaheim’s Disneyland, Shanghai Disneyland, Disney’s California Adventure, Tokyo Disneyland, Hong Kong Disneyland, Disneyland Paris and the Magic Kingdom were gathered from Mirror, Sacramento State University’s timeline of Disney events, D23.com and the DisneyParks Blog. Data on film earnings and accolades comes from PrettyFamous and IMDb.com.
Ticket Price in 1984: $18.00
Inflation-Adjusted Price: $42.78
Anaheim Disneyland’s ticket prices experienced a big uptick with the introduction of Michael Eisner as CEO. According to Sacramento State University’s timeline, Eisner believed Disneyland tickets should be on par with those of Broadway. Prices were increased to $56 to surpass the average Broadway ticket price at the time.
Ticket Price in 1985: $21.50
Inflation-Adjusted Price: $48.99
While Florida’s Disney World offered a 365-day operating schedule since its opening, Anaheim’s Disneyland routinely closed for offseason days until 1985 when it too adopted a 365-day park schedule.
Ticket Price in 1986: $26.00
Inflation-Adjusted Price: $57.22
Captain EO, the park’s inaugural 4D film, opened featuring pop icon Michael Jackson. The film was set in space but incorporated dance and singing elements that Jackson was known for. It was brought back to Anaheim’s Disneyland from 2010 through 2014, according to Billboard.
Ticket Price in 1987: $28.00
Inflation-Adjusted Price: $60.47
To mark the 10th anniversary of “Star Wars,” Anaheim’s Disneyland opened Star Tours, a simulation ride. This would mark the first time a Disney park created an attraction based on a non-Disney film, according to Sacramento State’s timeline.
Ticket Price in 1987: $28.00
Inflation-Adjusted Price: $58.33
Mickey Mouse turned 60 in 1988; the Magic Kingdom Park unveiled Birthdayland in his honor.
Ticket Price in 1989: $29.00
Inflation-Adjusted Price: $58.05
The release of “The Little Mermaid” in 1989 ushered in Disney’s Renaissance period. The film’s rating among critics on Rotten Tomatoes is over 90 percent, and it won two Academy Awards for best score and song for “Under the Sea.”
Ticket Price in 1990: $31.00
Inflation-Adjusted Price: $59.19
The Walt Disney Company toyed with the idea of expanding its Los Angeles holdings to a suite of resort hotels in Long Beach, California. Though the plan was ultimately scrapped, some elements were later incorporated in Tokyo, according to Sacramento State’s timeline of Disney events.
Ticket Price in 1991: $33.00
Inflation-Adjusted Price: $59.78
First up in Disney’s suite of classic 1990s releases, “Beauty and the Beast” was released in 1991. The film was nominated for an Oscar in the best picture category, despite being an animated film. It went on to win two Oscars for best song — “Beauty and the Beast” — and score.
The Walt Disney Company was added to the Dow Jones Industrial Average that same year, according to Mirror.
Ticket Price in 1992: $34.00
Inflation-Adjusted Price: $59.10
Walt Disney Pictures took us to the Arabian city of Agrabah where the penniless Aladdin would find his fortune change with the help of a magic lamp.PrettyFamous estimates that 44 million people saw “Aladdin” in theaters in the U.S.
Ticket Price in 1993: $35.00
Inflation-Adjusted Price: $59.05
Mickey’s Toontown was added to Anaheim’s Disneyland. An offshoot of Fantasyland, Toontown lets guests immerse themselves in the neighborhood where Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, Minnie Mouse and Goofy all live.
Ticket Price in 1994: $36.00
Inflation-Adjusted Price: $58.99
Audiences couldn’t resist seeing “The Lion King” in theaters when it debuted on June 15, 1994. The film earned $422.9 million in U.S. box offices, outpacing the box office earnings of “Forrest Gump,” which was released that same year and went on to win the best picture Oscar in 1995.
The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror opened at the Magic Kingdom for its first frightful fall on July 22.
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Photo by Hernan Piñera
Christina Lavingia is an Editorial Lead at Graphiq. She manages the editorial calendar and freelance team, and edits copy. She also writes for Credio, HealthGrove and FindTheHome while trying to keep a pulse on developments in Graphiq's verticals. What's going viral? What do readers find engaging? In her spare time she's a Ted Talk enthusiast, Skimmer and SF Giants fan.