• Travel and Fanfare

Will Disneyland Increase Ticket Prices in 2021?


Disneyland ticket prices have risen as steadily as the lift hill on Big Thunder Mountain over the past six decades regardless of boom times, economic recessions or inflation rates — but the Anaheim theme park has never faced a pandemic.

Disneyland price hikes have become an annual tradition with admission skyrocketing more than 5,000% since the park opened in 1955. But will 2021 be different?

Disneyland and other California theme parks remain closed and are unlikely to return to full operation until spring or summer under COVID-19 health and safety reopening guidelines issued by the state.

Disneyland has steadily increased ticket prices annually in January or February over the past few years. Will the pandemic force Disneyland to forgo a price hike in 2021? Or will Disneyland raise admission costs before Disney’s Anaheim theme parks reopen?

Disneyland ticket prices have soared since 1955 when visitors paid $2.50 for admission. The price for a “Jumbo 15” ticket book — which included admission to the park and 15 attractions — jumped to $4.75 in 1959 with the introduction of the Matterhorn Bobsleds, Submarine Voyage and Disneyland Monorail, according to a Disneyland ticket history compiled by the Jan’s World fansite.

In the 1960s, Disneyland ticket prices rose 5 to 50 cents per year — reaching $5.75 in 1969. Disneyland admission remained flat over several years in the 1970s — rising to $8.50 by 1979.

In the 1980s, Michael Eisner took over as Disney CEO and Disneyland moved to an all-inclusive ticket with unlimited access to the theme park’s attractions. The result: Disneyland ticket prices tripled to $25.50 by 1989. The ‘90s saw Disneyland ticket prices rise $1 to $2 per year — climbing to $39 in 1999.

The 2001 debut of Disney California Adventure brought a new parkhopper ticket to the Disneyland resort. The Bob Iger era as Disney CEO saw Disneyland ticket prices rise 175% — from $56 in 2005 to $154 in 2020.

Starting in 2016, Disneyland switched to a demand-based pricing system with tickets divided into “value,” “regular” and “peak” days. A new 5-tier system in 2020 was designed to spread visitorship throughout the year — away from busier days during the peak season to slower days in the off season.

Annual price increases have accelerated during the past five years. Disneyland tickets broke through the $100 threshold in 2016. In 2017, “peak” tickets jumped to $124.

Since 2000, the price of admission to Disneyland has more than tripled from $43 to $154, the single-day ticket price on the park’s busiest days in 2020. That’s an annual average increase of 6.5%.

Data analysis of historical Disneyland ticket prices found that the cost of daily admission is projected to increase nearly 10-fold by 2055 when the Anaheim theme park celebrates its 100th anniversary. Disneyland ticket prices are projected to be nearly $1,500 by the park’s centennial.

How do you project what a Disneyland ticket will cost in 10, 20 or even 35 years? Disneyland’s annual average price increases over the past 20 years were used as a benchmark. The Anaheim theme has raised prices nearly every year over the past two decades, sometimes hiking admissions twice in a year. The percentage increases have changed from year to year, but over time the rate hikes have remained surprisingly consistent.

What do the projections show?

The cost of the highest-priced one-day, one-park $154 Tier 5 ticket is projected to rise to $164 in 2021 and continue increasing $10 to $12 a year until the park’s 70th anniversary in 2025 when the top-tier ticket is projected to surpass $200.

By Disneyland’s 75th anniversary celebration in 2030 the price is projected to be just under $300. Five years later, the projections show Disneyland tickets topping $400. By 2040, Disneyland tickets could be in the mid-$500 range for a day at the park, according to the projections.

From there, the pace quickens with daily tickets projected to climb approximately $40 a year until 2050. That’s when Disneyland ticket prices are projected to reach $1,000 — on the park’s 95th anniversary. That would be 400 times the cost of admission in 1955.

Then the real pricing pain begins. Price hikes averaging $80 a year are projected to follow until Disneyland’s 100th anniversary in 2055 when the cost of admission is projected to reach nearly $1,500.

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