If you thought your last Disney World trip was expensive, get ready. 💰
A number of price increases have hit Disney World lately, on everything from food to Genie+. But more price changes are on the way. We’ve already seen “surge pricing” introduced with Disney World’s tickets and Individual Lightning Lane purchases, but soon surge pricing will impact Disney World prices even more and it’s critical that you be prepared.
What Is Surge Pricing?
Surge pricing is defined by the Cambridge Dictionary as “a way of setting the price for a product or service in which the price changes according to how much demand there is for it at a particular time.”
In other words, it’s when pricing for a specific item doesn’t stay the same from day to day. Instead, it changes based on expected demand, becoming MORE expensive when demand is high, and cheaper when demand is low. Surge pricing can impact your Disney World trip in a number of ways.
Ticket Surge Pricing by Date
Surge pricing can impact Disney World theme park tickets in a few different ways. First, Disney World ticket prices vary by date, with “peak” days (those expected to be the most popular/in demand/crowded) priced the highest, and slower periods priced lower.
This is a pricing structure that has been in place at Disney World for a while now.
As you might expect, holidays and popular dates are generally priced higher than a random Tuesday in September. For example, a 1-day, 1-park ticket (as of right now) will cost you $159 on Christmas Day 2022, but only $134 on November 16th, 2022. (Prices 1-day, 1-park ticket prices will be changing soon though — more on that below.)
But it goes beyond just the holidays. Weekends can also be more expensive in Disney World, so that’s something you’ll want to watch out for. As of right now, ticket prices for February of 2023 range from $134 to $154. Only 6 dates during that month are priced at $150 or above, 4 of them fall on a Friday, Saturday, or Sunday (and another falls on February 20th — President’s Day).
Another good example is September. In September of 2023, ticket prices currently range from $109 to $149. Nine dates are priced at $140 or above that month, 8 of which fall on a Friday or Saturday. None of the weekends are priced at $109 or $129.
Now, keep in mind that this can vary. Ticket prices vary by date. So while we didn’t find any weekends at $109 or $129 in September of 2023, we did find some Fridays priced at $109 and $129 in August of 2023. It all depends.
What can you do about it? When planning your trip, be sure to see how much you could save if you opted for a trip during the week, as opposed to one during the weekend.
Also, try to see if you could shift your trip to a historically “cheaper” time of year, rather than dates around holidays or special events. You can click here to see our list of the most expensive dates to visit Disney World in 2023, and see our list of the cheapest dates to visit in 2023. That should give you an idea of the best and worst times to visit (from a pure price perspective).
But keep in mind that some things will be changing a bit soon — which brings us to our next point…
Ticket Surge Pricing by Park
Disney has announced that starting December 8th, 2022, park-specific pricing will be introduced for 1-day, 1-park tickets.
Disney World tickets will not only vary in cost depending on when you visit, but they’ll also vary in cost depending on what park you want to visit on any given day.
So, a ticket to Magic Kingdom may be more expensive than a ticket to EPCOT for the very same date.
Here’s a breakdown of the 1-day, 1-park ticket price ranges under this new system (which, again, begins on December 8th, 2022):
- Disney’s Animal Kingdom — $109-$159 (prices are staying the same as current costs)
- Disney’s Hollywood Studios — $124-$179
- EPCOT — $114-$179
- Magic Kingdom — $124-$189
When you’re booking your trip, you’ll soon have to look not just at what dates are cheapest, but also at what parks are cheapest during the dates you want to visit. Let’s say you book a trip in September and stick to a weekday to try to keep prices lower. If you’ll be buying a 1-day, 1-park ticket during that time, you’ll then also need to look at what the prices look like for each individual park on the specific day you’ll be visiting.
Keep in mind, this park-specific pricing is only going to be introduced (for now) with 1-day, 1-park tickets. If you’ll be buying any other ticket type (like multi-day tickets), this won’t affect those tickets (again, for now).
What can you do? If you want to avoid the park-specific ticket pricing entirely, purchase your park tickets NOW and lock in the current rates (before the December 8th changes are made).
If that’s not possible, just keep this pricing in mind and look carefully when purchasing 1-day, 1-park tickets to make sure you’re getting the best deal. If you’re not tied to visiting one park specifically, you may find that you’ll be better off visiting EPCOT on a given day, instead of Magic Kingdom.
Park Hopper Surge Pricing
Along with park-specific ticket pricing, Disney is also going to be introducing surge pricing when it comes to ticket add-ons, like Park Hopper and Park Hopper Plus.
Starting December 8th, 2022, prices for some add-ons (like Park Hopper and Park Hopper Plus) will vary by date. That means getting a Park Hopper ticket around Christmastime will likely cost you more than the additional cost of a Park Hopper for a slow day in August.
What can you do? Like the situation with park-specific pricing above, if you already know your trip dates, you can buy your tickets NOW and lock in the current prices so as to avoid the surge pricing that will be implemented once December 8th arrives.
If you can’t book your tickets this far in advance, just be mindful of the change. Play around with your potential travel dates and see how much cheaper it would be to add on a Park Hopper option for dates during the week vs. the weekend, or for a slower time vs. around a holiday.
Genie+ and Individual Lightning Lane Surge Pricing
Beyond park tickets, surge pricing can impact your trip in a big way when it comes to Genie+, the paid replacement for FastPass+. With Genie+, you pay a certain price to access the Lightning Lanes for rides in Disney World. You can make one Lightning Lane reservation at a time (generally). When your Lightning Lane return time arrives, you’ll get to skip the standby line for that ride. Then you can make another Lightning Lane reservation, and so on.
Genie+ used to be a flat $15 per person per day in Disney World, but now surge pricing has impacted that too.
Though it doesn’t always match up perfectly, you can generally expect Genie+ prices to be higher on peak ticket days — holidays, popular dates, and weekends. For example, on October 12th, 2022 (Wednesday), Genie+ was priced at $20. It bumped up to $22 on Saturday, October 15th. It was $18 on Thursday, October 20th, but $22 again on Saturday, October 22nd.
Again, it’s not always a perfect match, so you might find a weekday at a higher price, and Sundays may be priced much cheaper. But you can typically expect to see at least some of the higher prices on days that usually have higher ticket prices or are expected to be more popular.
On top of the standard Genie+ price, Disney’s Individual Lightning Lane service is subject to surge pricing. You see, not all Disney rides are available through the standard Genie+ service. Some of the most popular rides are available through Individual Lightning Lane, where you have to pay individually to use the Lightning Lane and skip the standby lanes at these rides.
Individual Lightning Lane costs can vary depending on the park, date, and ride, but again, you can expect prices to typically be a bit more expensive on peak days and weekends.
On Tuesday, November 1st, the Individual Lightning Lane prices were as follows: Seven Dwarfs Mine Train ($10), Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind ($14), Rise of the Resistance ($18), and Avatar Flight of Passage ($13). On Friday, November 4th, they were $11, $15, $20, and $14 (respectively).
Again, it might not match up perfectly with peak ticket pricing on all dates, but it’s a good way to gauge expected pricing. If you go on a day when ticket prices are cheaper, you generally give yourself a better chance of getting some cheaper Genie+ and Individual Lightning Lane prices.
So what can you do? Try to visit during the slower seasons (as noted above). Also, determine whether Genie+ is something that you really need or if you can use strategies like Early Theme Park Entry and Extended Evening Hours (if you qualify) to get on rides with lower lines and no additional cost.
Finally, pricing can vary on Disney World hotels too. Generally, you’ll find more expensive hotel prices during “peak” busy times (like holidays and weekends) and cheaper prices during slow times.
A 1-night stay on November 16th, 2023, for 2 people was priced at $160 for a stay at All-Star Movies Resort, while a 1-night stay for that Saturday (November 18th, 2023) was $199 at All-Star Movies. Change that date to Thanksgiving (2023) and again you’re looking at a $199 price at All-Star Movies.
What can you do? Try to go during slower periods (avoid major holidays, runDisney race times, and weekends if possible). Search for prices WAY ahead of time so you can adjust dates around to get the best deal. And don’t forget to look for discounts and deals that Disney regularly offers to Annual Passholders, Florida Residents, general guests, and sometimes even Disney+ subscribers!
Surge pricing can affect a LOT of things when it comes to your Disney World trip. And attempting to avoid surge pricing can require a lot more planning than perhaps you were hoping to do when it comes to your trip.
But if you put in the effort, your time can pay off with some substantial savings.
It might mean visiting in August instead of December, as you had originally hoped, or shifting your trip to take place more during a week than a weekend. But little changes can sometimes make a BIG difference in terms of cost.
The key here is that planning pays off. How has surge pricing CHANGED the way you vacation at Disney World? Tell us in the comments.
And stay tuned for more news.
How has surge pricing CHANGED the way you vacation at Disney World? Tell us in the comments.