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Disney World Raises Its Prices ... Because It Can

Rick Munarriz, The Motley Fool

It's going to cost a bit more to park or be a passholder at Disney's (NYSE: DIS) sprawling theme park resort in Florida. Disney World is boosting the parking lot prices at its four theme parks by at least 11%, with the biggest percentage move coming for standard parking -- up 14% to $25 for cars and motorcycles. 

Parking has always been included for passholders, but those annual ransoms also went up on Tuesday. Annual passes for the four different tiers are now 3% to 9% higher than they were earlier in the week, with the largest percentage increase for the cheapest Silver pass, which is blacked out during the summer and the seasonally active holiday breaks. 

Annual Pass New Price Old Price Change
Platinum Plus $994 $949 5%
Platinum $894 $849 5%
Gold $609 $589 3%
Silver $479 $439 9%

Source: Disney World. 

Mickey Mouse in front of Cinderella's Castle at Disney World's the Magic Kingdom.

Image source: Disney.

Part of your world

The increases coincide with Tuesday's shift to date-specific pricing for one-day and multiday tickets, along with the introduction of an online planning tool to help better prepare guests for the sticker shock and pricing nuances. But unlike the move to date-specific day-guest parking that was announced ahead of time in late September, the new prices for parking and passes were unveiled just as they took effect for arriving guests on Tuesday. 

Disney doesn't typically announce price increases, which inspires guests to book early to lock in current pricing before any potential hikes. However, the rite is mapped by enthusiasts like windstorm trackers. Annual prices have gone up in the fall, and one-day pricing has been jacked up on a Sunday in February for five consecutive years

Social media heats up whenever Disney boosts its prices at its theme parks. Folks will say that Disney is getting too greedy, and that they will stop coming.

Shareholders don't need to panic: It's just talk. As long as the global economy is holding up and Disney is adding new attractions, the guests will keep coming -- and they will be paying more than they did a year earlier. Disney's theme parks and resorts segment was the only business to grow its revenue and operating profit at the media giant in fiscal 2017. 

This won't be the last hike. Disney World is expected to introduce Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge late in 2019, the industry leader's most ambitious expansion project in years. Several other new rides and attractions will open in the next three years as Disney World gears up for its 50th anniversary. The pricing moves might not be popular with park guests, but shareholders don't seem to be complaining. 

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Rick Munarriz owns shares of Walt Disney. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Walt Disney. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.