Disney is discounting child tickets at U.S. parks as industry attendance lags

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Visitors can avoid lines at Disney World if they buy into the system.
Joseph Prezioso | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

It’s about to be cheaper for families to visit Disney’s domestic theme parks.

The Walt Disney Company on Wednesday announced new, limited time discounts on children’s tickets at Disneyland and Disney World.

Starting Oct. 24, parents can purchase children’s ticket (valid for kids aged three to nine) for the California-based Disneyland resort for as low as $50 each. Tickets can be used between Jan. 8 and March 10 of next year.

As for the Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida, children’s tickets and dining plans will be half-off for guests who purchase a four-day, four-night vacation package at one of its resorts. The deal starts Nov. 14 and can be used from March 3 through June 30, 2024.

The price cuts come as the company’s U.S.-based parks have seen a slowdown in attendance and hotel room occupancy as consumers face higher costs due to inflation. Disney is not the only company facing these issues. Universal’s domestic parks, as well as region players like Six Flags and Sea World, have reported lower attendance this year.

Travel agents have pointed to higher ticket prices and a rise in trips to Europe as the major factors in declining domestic theme park attendance.

This is not the first time Disney has offered limited time deals or altered pricing. Earlier this year, the company updated policies at both domestic parks, including modifications to its reservation and ticketing systems for annual pass memberships. The changes came as guests complained about rising prices and longer wait times.

Parks, experiences and products, the division that runs Disney’s parks, has remained a bright spot for the company in recent quarters. Disney has faced ad-related revenue losses within its traditional media business and has had difficulty monetizing its streaming business, as production costs and licensing fees soar.

Meanwhile, the parks division saw a 13% increase in revenue during the third quarter, reaching $8.3 billion.

The company has touted that this segment has expanded at a combined annual growth rate of 6% since 2017, and generated $32.3 billion in operating income over the last 12 months.

Disney is leaning further into the successful business. The company is expected to nearly double its investment in its parks division, with plans to spend around $60 billion over the next 10 years.

Projects already in motion include redesigning Splash Mountain at both domestic resorts with a “Princess and the Frog” theme, as well as updates to existing hotel and resort locations. Disney also plans to nearly double the capacity of its cruise line, adding two ships in fiscal 2025 and another in 2026.

The company provided “blue sky” ideas for its parks during its D23 Expo last year in Anaheim, California. These projects are still in early development and may not see the light of day. This included the possibility of revamping Dino Land at Animal Kingdom in Orlando to be themed as a “Zootopia” or “Moana” area.

At Magic Kingdom, Disney is asking the question: “What is behind Big Thunder Mountain?” The company teased that an area based on “Coco” or “Encanto,” or both, could be in that location. There were also talks about the possibility of bringing to life an area of the Magic Kingdom overrun by Disney villains.

Price points will vary for these projects, if they do come to fruition. The recent additions of the two Star Wars: Galaxy Edge lands in Disneyland and Disney World are estimated to have cost $1 billion each.

Disclosure: Comcast is the parent company of NBCUniversal and CNBC.

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