By Jayne Clark, USA TODAY
A week after Universal Orlando raised its single-day, single-park ticket prices to $88, giving it the dubious distinction as the priciest theme park in the land, Walt Disney World announced it will best its rival by charging $89, a $4 increase.
The price of a four-day Disney ticket rose to $256. Five- and seven-day passes are $268 and $288, respectively.
The increase, which occurs with clockwork regularity, has Orlando Sentinel columnist Beth Kassab wondering how long it will be before admissions hit the $100 mark. Given average 6% annual increases over the past decade, she figures it could happen by 2014. But, Kassab writes, "A hundred bucks is a lot of money. Like $4-per-gallon gas, it's a psychological milestone."
Eli Portnoy of CultureRanch, a consumer behavior company, agrees. "The moment you get to three digits, it has an emotional impact," he told the Sentinel. "It's a barrier no one wants to cross, and Disney is going to have to be careful about crossing it."
On the West Coast, meanwhile, "modest improvements in the economy and a major new attraction at Disney's California Adventure has apparently emboldened park operators to boost prices a bit more than usual, " theme park consultant John Gerner told the Los Angeles Times.
This year, daily passes for the Anaheim Disney parks - Disneyland and Disney California Adventure Park - rose from $80 to $87 as of May 20, the Times reports. The biggest increase hit the estimated 300,000 park-goers who buy premium annual passes that include parking. Those went from $499 to $649.
Industry experts told the Times this year's steeper hike was probably tied to a major expansion at California Adventure, including Cars Land, a 12-acre addition with rides and other attractions based on the hit animated Disney "Cars" movies. It opens June 15.