Sunday, August 14, 2022

Priced Out of the House of Mouse

I never thought this day would come... but here we are. 

Today, I'm sharing a painfully honest post that's been a long time coming.  I know it's been all doom and gloom here the past few days, and I'm sorry for that.  But I really needed to release some of this in order to move forward.  I promise after today that I've got a lot of fun, happy posts planned.  However, before we can move onto those, I do have to discuss something that's been bothering me for quite a while now.

Things haven't felt as magical at the parks as they used to.  Don't get me wrong, I had a wonderful time at Disneyland in March, and part of me knew things would be different because of COVID, but it's not that.  Trips to Disney aren't carefree, fun, fancy and footloose like they used to be.  They're more expensive, and scheduled, and stressful.

Eliot and I have been feeling it creeping up for a while now... but the other day, I finally hit my limit.  We hadn't actually finalized our 10th Wedding Anniversary Walt Disney World trip.  And when it came time to start booking everything, I was stopped dead in my tracks about how much the Disney park tickets alone were going to cost us.

I guess I've been blissfully ignorant for the past few years... and that's all on me.  I will admit that I haven't been checking the Walt Disney World ticket prices since I hadn't had any reason to.  I honestly did not realize ticket prices had gotten that bad.  I knew they were around $100 a day, but I didn't realize the drop off once you get to five days or longer.  It's always been that way... but tickets for less days were never this much.

On top of that, Eliot and I have had annual passes on and off for the past 10 years, and that's really the only reason that we've gone to the parks so much.  We have shelled out anywhere from $1,000 to around $1,500 a piece for our annual passes (to both Walt Disney World and Disneyland).  So when Disney updated the prices of their annual passes for out of state WDW guests to $1,500... that seemed insane enough considering we used to be able to go coast to coast for that price only a few years ago.

We had 100% planned to buy annual passes over our anniversary trip in September, and we were going to use them again when we went to Florida in January for race weekend.  Then, we had hoped to take a trip down for a long weekend over the Flower and Garden Festival.  And maybe even squeeze one more quick trip down around our anniversary next year.  Basically, we'd make sure that we'd get our money's worth out of the annual passes, just like we always have.  

Eliot and I have always felt like we've gotten our money's worth out of our annual passes.  We use as many park days as we've had to... plus more.  We also used the 20% off merchandise discount all the time.  We've "saved" so much money with the passes over the years.  I'll never forget one race weekend Expo when we went a bit crazy and had like $500 worth of merchandise and the lady at the register told us we "saved" $100.  The guest next to us nearly dropped over trying to figure out how we managed a $100 discount, and we simply said we were pass holders.

Being a pass holder was always something that we were proud of and happy to hand our money over to the mouse for... but now they won't even take our money.

Annual passes have been paused for months.  Disney isn't even letting Disneyland guests know if they can renew theirs and they expire this month.  Disney says that the park reservation system "is working" yet they won't even allow anyone else to buy a pass because there aren't any days available.  There hasn't been.  That's been a problem since they debuted it.  They have even gotten sued by a Disneyland guest over false adverting for the passes... and I can't blame the guest for being upset.  It's not really an "annual" pass when you can only use it five times in 90 days.

I understood when they were using the park reservation system during the height of COVID... but we're past all that now... aren't we?  They're claiming that it's working, and it's just creating more stress for their guests.  Maybe it's helping them staff the parks correctly, but couldn't they do the same thing with limiting how many people can buy tickets each day?  Why only allow annual pass holders so many reservations at a time?  Can't they just go back to the old way at this point?

For those of you unaware, you can only hold so many days of reservations at a time as a pass holder.  (It varies for each level of ticket... but I believe five days is the max no matter what level of annual pass you have.)  That basically means you can't plan a weeklong trip and know 100% that you'll be able to get into a park all seven days.  

Unless... get this... you stay on property.  You have to have a reservation on Walt Disney World property in order to secure more than five advance park reservations.

Thus, I feel like they're gatekeeping the parks.  Eliot and I both hate the reservation system and it gives me horrible anxiety.  But on top of that, they're basically forcing your hand to stay on property if you want the "luxury" of being able to use more than five days on your annual pass.  And I think that's complete crap.

Eliot and I had hoped to work around it for our anniversary trip in September, staying part of the time on property and off of it part of the time.  I don't even know if that would have worked.  We won't find out because 1.) we aren't able to buy annual passes even if we wanted to and 2.) we aren't even going on our anniversary trip anymore.

And here's the main reason why we cancelled it altogether... 

It was $900 total for Eliot and I to each get a four day, single park ticket.  On top of that, we were also talking about dropping another $119 per person to go to the Halloween Party... possibly two of them.  That means, it would have been $900 for two full park days, and two half days if we were going to go over to the Magic Kingdom at 4:00 pm to use our $240 worth of Halloween tickets for the night.  That's $1,380 for 4 park days, including two Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Parties.

We could have skipped the parties, but one of them was on our anniversary and we wanted to spend that entire day at the Magic Kingdom.  So we would have been going to that party anyways.  We did so many calculations and nothing made sense.  I should add that our original plan was to go to Walt Disney World for an entire week over our 10th anniversary.  Now I'm just sitting here laughing at myself for being so naive.

Eliot and I have done so much math the past few days.  As I told you yesterday, we've completely changed our plans.  It didn't make sense to even go on our anniversary trip at this point, so we decided to extend our trip in January.  We'll have already paid for the flights down there and home, so we'll at least save a little bit of money there.  And it makes a heck of a lot more sense to go to Walt Disney World for multiple days.

It's going to cost us $1,340 for both of us to get 10 day single park tickets... 

That's only $440 more for 6 extra days of magic.

That is absolutely insane to me.  I've always known there was more savings in the higher day tickets... but it's only $440 more to get six extra days at the parks?!?!?  

Which begs the question, is it even worth it to go down to Walt Disney World if you aren't staying for an entire week and planning to only go there?  Because to us, flying down for quick "long weekend" trip seems out of the question now.  I'm not sure I want to drop $900 for tickets on a four day trip for two of us.  (I miss you annual pass!)

I can honestly say that I 100% get why people are so on edge.  Doesn't Disney see the writing on the wall?  There are literally fights breaking out in their theme parks.  And it's happening all too often now.  It doesn't even shock me anymore.  Guests are trying to maximize their time and the hard earned money they spent on tickets.  They might only get one day at each park due to the reservation system and the cost of theme park tickets.  People are stressed and it shows.

And no, the fights aren't all Disney's fault.  People are being jerks to others because we're all a bunch of psychos now after COVID and all of that craziness.  But it's pretty sad when crap like that is manifesting in a place that's supposed to be sacred.  (And I suppose... it's sacred to me, but to some people it's just another theme park.)

I do get the stress and general sense of overwhelm though.  Going to the Disney parks used to be carefree and fun.  Now, you have to make reservations for everything and it's just another schedule.  I feel like we're just bouncing from one place to another, and that's not a fun vacation to me.  I miss the days when I used to just sit on a park bench eating an ice cream and watching other guests walking by and enjoying the magic.  

Now, I feel like I have to be going from one thing to another every single second of the day just to get my money's worth.  And I absolutely hate it.

Eliot and I have talked about it a lot lately.  We still have fun on our trips to Disney, but recently, it hasn't been the same.  We don't feel like we're getting the same magical experience in the parks for our money, and it's costing us more money to have a less enjoyable experience.  I keep wanting to give them another chance... but how many more chances am I going to give them before I read the writing on the wall.  (I'm very interested to see how our first post-COVID Walt Disney World trip goes in January...)

At this point, we're probably going to pull back on the number of Disney trips we take from here on in.  It's not financially feasible at the prices they're charging, especially if we can't get annual passes that allow us to come down multiple times a year without worrying about if we'll be able to secure park reservations.  And it's too stressful to try to get everything done the way that they have it set up right now.

I never thought I'd see the day when we'd be priced out of the house of mouse... 

But here we are.  °o°

No comments:

Post a Comment