For most vacationers, a trip to Disney World is quite a special treat. And, yes, that’s partly because of what a unique, magical theme park experience it is, for both kids and adults. (Just look at these hidden gems for grown-ups in Disney parks!) But it’s also because park tickets are notoriously expensive.
And the cost seems especially staggering once you learn what the cost of a ticket used to be. Believe it or not, Walt Disney World is fast approaching its 50th anniversary—the park first debuted in 1971. How much would you have needed to fork over for a day at the park back then? Would these ways to save serious money on a Disney trip even have been necessary?
First, let’s find out how much Disney World tickets cost today. That price can be difficult to keep track of because Disney World tends to raise its prices at least once a year. Plus, the prices are more complicated than they used to be—when Disney World debuted, there was just the one park, Magic Kingdom. Now that there are multiple parks, you can buy a single-park ticket or a more expensive ticket that allows you to park-hop.
But, for the equivalent of what the first Disney World park-goers got—one day at just one park—you’ll pay, at minimum, $109. (You’ll pay less per day if you buy more than one day at once, but it’s not until Day 5 that the price per day drops below $100.) Find out how this compares to Disney World’s California companion—is Disneyland or Disney World more expensive?
How does that compare to the cost of a ticket on opening day? Well, brace yourself, because it was cheap. Very cheap. The first-ever Disney World park ticket, back in 1971, cost $3.50.
Of course, keep in mind that these prices are not comparing apples to apples. Simply because of inflation, $3.50 was worth a whole lot more in 1971 than it is today. How much more? Well, $3.50 in 1971 is equivalent to around $21 today. And, while that’s hardly $3.50, you can’t deny that it would be an absolute dream to pay only that much for a day at Disney!
So, how did the ticket price go from $3.50 to a whopping $109 in 50 years? Well, there are multiple reasons for the steep price increase. The parks are far more technologically advanced today—just take a look at this behind-the-scenes exploration of Disney’s most immersive ride to date. Plus, they just offer more, period, than the Magic Kingdom back in 1971. Disney also knows that catering toward wealthier people with pricier park tickets means that guests are also likely to splurge more while they’re in the parks. And that’s not all; this is the full explanation for why Disney World tickets are just so expensive.