Pixar Pier reopened at Disneyland Resort on Friday. The revamped boardwalk is just the latest attraction at the California Adventures Park in Anaheim and served as a test-bed for the company’s new “Dynamic Pricing.” That’s corporate communications gobbledygook for a significant hike in ticket prices.
Dynamic Pricing is simple in concept but complex in execution. Tickets are more expensive during peak hours and, for the grand opening of Pixar Pier, guests were able to enter the park for $299 for six hours (approximately $50 an hour). That’s a sight more expensive than a traditional 1-day ticket, which usually ranges from $97 to $135. The new ticket prices are based on supply and demand, similar to airfare or ridesharing, and charges guests a premium to visit the park during busy periods. In theory, Disney makes the same money in sales while lowering the number of visitors to the park. If that’s the case, the park is less crowded and visitors enjoy shorter lines and waiting periods. (If you’ve ever been to Disneyland, or any theme park, that’s a major draw.)
Sounds like a win, right? The only problem is that more popular times to visit the park might see price surges. Disneyland is supposed to be a family vacation and most families will try and visit the park during the summer when children aren’t in school. Visiting later in the year off-peak season isn’t an option for everyone. If you end up flying out to Anaheim and staying at a hotel to visit the resort, it doesn’t make sense to avoid peak hours—most families have a limited time to actually head inside the park. And it’s not like Disneyland is getting any less attractive for young families. Pixar Pier is just the latest addition to the park. Coming up in 2019 is Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge! Dynamic Pricing might be a big win for Disney—but not so much for family visitors.
Dynamic Pricing will be a balancing act for a company that has sought to foster a family-friendly brand. If executed well, it might help reduce congestion during peak hours and increase the park’s accessibility for everyone. We’ll have to wait and see.