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I’m currently planning a trip to Disney World with my mom, and DANG these prices really do just keep going up and up. Does anyone else remember the days when Mickey Ice Cream Bars were less than $3?

With little price increases happening all the time, it made me wonder what the BIG picture is. How MUCH have prices really gone up, and how much can we actually blame inflation for the changes?

Ticket prices in EPCOT

As any self-respecting nerd would do, I pulled up a spreadsheet and started crunching the numbers. I used a whole bunch of awesome historical data from our friends over at AllEars.net and plugged tons of numbers into an inflation calculator. And Y’ALL. You are gonna be SHOCKED (and probably really mad) when you see how much Disney’s prices have changed.

If you’ve been a longtime Disney World fan, price increases aren’t exactly breaking news to you. Disney ups its prices every year, pretty much all over the place. We see smaller changes at the restaurants and gift shops all the time, and about once a year we see a major overhaul where most of the ticket prices and tons of food prices go up.

Nothing is safe from these price hikes — from a 6-day Park Hopper ticket down to a Mickey-shaped Ice Cream Bar, everything gets more expensive every year.

Mickey Ice Cream Bar

So I decided to graph some of these price increases and find out how much we can blame inflation for the issue and how much prices are just straight-up being raised. I looked at prices for Disney World tickets, Annual Passes, Genie+, and Mickey Ice Cream Bars.

But we’re not just here for the doom and gloom of it all (though trust me — there is some of that coming). After we go through all of these graphs, I’m gonna go through a TON of money-saving tips to help you plan your next Disney World vacation without breaking the budget! After seeing some of these, you might start to think it’s impossible to visit The Most Magical Place on Earth on any kind of reasonable budget, but there are actually some really easy ways to save a LOT of money.

Exposing the TRUTH of Disney World Price Increases

Park Tickets

There are a lot of different ticket options for Disney World, with different tickets depending on the length of your trip and whether you want to visit one park per day or have the option to park hop. You can add on extras, like water park tickets, too. For this project, I looked at the base prices of 1-day, 1-park tickets.

Disney’s Base Ticket Prices

Can you believe that way back in 1971, a Disney World ticket only cost $3.50?? Wild. (Even accounting for the fact that attractions were pay-per-ride.) Currently, a 1-day, 1-park ticket starts at $189. That’s not including extra days, park hopper, water parks, or any other additions.

But how much can we blame inflation? If we take that initial price of $3.50 and adjust for inflation between 1971 and today, we get $27.10. That means that, if inflation were the ONLY factor affecting the price, tickets to Disney World would be just over $27. Can you imagine? You could get into the parks for about half the price of what you’ll pay for a steak at Le Cellier today.

Cinderella Castle

Demand for Disney World has certainly grown over the last several years, which of course contributes to the price increases. As people continue to tolerate the price hikes, Disney World will likely continue to get more expensive.

Learn more about Disney World tickets here.

Annual Passes

Disney World introduced an annual pass option in 1982. Since then, this pass has gone through a lot of changes, and different kinds of annual passes have been added and removed over the years. For this project, I looked at the base option for an annual pass that was/is available for anyone to buy.

A premium pass option was added in the ’90’s, and there are currently a few different options for Florida residents, but I’m focused on the regular pass that is open for anyone to buy. Today, that’s the Incredi-Pass because it’s the only one that’s not exclusive to Florida residents (though note that DVC Members can buy the Sorcerer Pass even if they’re not Florida residents).

Annual Pass Prices

When the annual pass was first introduced, it cost an even $100. WOW. After just 42 years, that pass now costs $1,449.

Annual Pass

If we only accounted for inflation, an annual pass today would cost $324.92.

Learn all about Disney World Annual Passes here.

Genie+

Genie+ is where things get a little more complicated. Genie+ was first introduced in October 2021 as a paid option to skip the line, replacing the free FastPass offering. When it first debuted in Disney World, Genie+ cost $15 per person, per day. It was the same price every day and for every park.

Disney Genie Pamphlet

Then, on October 11th, 2022, Disney introduced variable pricing (or surge pricing) based on the time of year. Now, depending on when you visited Disney World, Genie+ might cost more or less than other times. Busy seasons like summer or the winter holidays saw Genie+ increase up to $35 per person, per day.

The most recent change to Genie+ was on June 27th, 2023, when Disney introduced park-specific pricing. Now, if you want to buy Genie+ for Magic Kingdom, it will cost more than if you buy it for, say, Disney’s Animal Kingdom. We’ve seen the price get as high as $39 for the Magic Kingdom and Multi-Park options.

©Disney

Here’s a chart showing the average Genie+ price for every park in each month since that park-specific pricing began:

Genie+ Pricing

The prices clearly peak in December, which makes sense with the holiday season. Then, they peak again in April, likely due to Spring Break crowds. Overall, though, prices are higher now than they were when park-specific prices were first introduced.

Here’s an overall look at Disney World Genie+ prices from October 2022 to now (since Genie+ just cost $15 every day up until October 2022). This chart uses numbers from Thrill Data.

Genie+ Pricing

The graph starts on October 12th, 2022, which is when surge pricing first began. The red trend line shows how prices are trending up overall, even with many peaks and dips along the way, which reflect certain busy days and weeks. So in general, Genie+ prices are on the rise, though you can still get some cheaper weeks mixed in, depending on when specifically you’re going to the parks.

For example, the first week of April was much more expensive than later weeks because Spring Break crowds peaked in that first week. If you visited between April 1st and April 5th, Genie+ cost $39 for Magic Kingdom. From April 8th through the 11th, however, it was just $27 for Magic Kingdom. For Genie+, timing is everything.

Learn everything you need to know about Disney Genie+ here!

Mickey Ice Cream Bars

To represent the food price increases in Disney World, we’re taking Mickey Premium Ice Cream Bars as our example. These tasty treats are available all over the parks, and lots of fans praise them as one of the most iconic (and delicious) snacks out there.

Mickey ice cream bar

We took a pretty zoomed-in look at these bars, using data from 2009 to now.

Mickey Ice Cream Bar Prices

Just fifteen years ago, Mickey Premium Ice Cream Bars cost $2.59. LESS THAN $3, FOLKS! Now, they’re more than double that, at $6.29.

This data was especially interesting to see compared to inflation rates since it’s been such a short time since Mickey bars were less than half the cost they are now. We graphed the actual Mickey bar prices (the blue line) alongside the prices adjusted for inflation from 2009 to now (the red line) so you can see exactly how much of a price increase has happened.

Mickey Bar Prices Adjusted for Inflation

The good news is that the prices technically went down a little bit between 2020 and today when you adjust all the data for inflation. But if prices stayed the same and only increased to account for inflation, our beloved Mickey bars would be only $3.79 each instead of almost double that.

Mickey Bar

So WHAT is there to do? Should we just sit on the floor and cry? It might feel like that…but let me drop a few pretty handy tips here that might help you save big on your next vacation to hopefully combat these freakish price increases.

So What Can We Do About It?

Keep Watching for Deals

First, you should always be watching out for deals and discounts from Disney World. There are frequently limited-time and seasonal savings that you can find to save BIG money on tickets and hotel stays (we’re talking up to 35% off with some of them).

Disney’s Hollywood Studios

It can be a little bit tough to predict when new deals will drop, but that’s why you follow us! You can keep checking our Disney Deals and Discounts page to stay on top of all the latest discounts.

View ALL the current Disney World hotel and ticket discounts HERE.

Money-Saving Tips

There are a few money-saving tips that you can use all the time, though. Here’s a rapid-fire “how-to” for saving big-time in the parks:

Go to Disney World during off-peak times. If you have some flexibility in WHEN your trip will be, try to avoid busy seasons like Spring Break, summertime, and the winter holiday season. February, early May, and September tend to be good times to go when crowds are a bit lower and thus hotel and ticket prices are similarly subdued.

Main Street, U.S.A.

Don’t buy Genie+ for every day of your trip. Genie+ can be a great way to save time in the parks because you get to skip those long standby lines. But it might not be worth the cost in every park. For example, Animal Kingdom has fewer rides than Magic Kingdom, and most of the rides in Animal Kingdom usually don’t have nearly as long of waits as those Magic Kingdom rides.

When I go to Disney World with my family, we buy Genie+ for Magic Kingdom (because there are so many rides) and Hollywood Studios (because the rides in that park are super popular) and skip it for EPCOT and Animal Kingdom. Using other tricks like rope drop or staying late in the parks, we’re still able to get on all the rides we want without waiting too long, even without Genie+.

Stay in a value hotel. Disney World has three different classes of hotels on property: deluxe, moderate, and value. Deluxe hotels get up to more than $1,000 per night, but you can often find value hotels for under $200 per night. (I tend to mostly ignore those moderate hotels altogether, but that’s a whole other story. If you wanna read about my beef with moderate hotels, check out this post.)

My personal favorite value hotel is Pop Century (because it has both cheap prices and a Skyliner station), but if you’re willing to give up the Skyliner, you can get even CHEAPER rooms at Disney’s All-Star Resorts.

Pop Century

Go to quick service restaurants instead of table service restaurants. Although I love a good sit-down meal in the middle of a busy Disney World day, the prices at most table service restaurants in Disney World are much higher than you’ll find at the quick service (fast food) restaurants.

Satu’li Canteen is one of our FAVORITE Quick Service Restaurants!

Rather than blowing the budget at fancy places to eat, I might skip the sit-down and opt for quick service, especially because there are some AWESOME fast food spots in the parks, so you don’t even have to compromise much on quality.

Check out our list of the BEST quick-service restaurants in Disney World here!

Have non-park days worked into your vacation. Rather than spending money on a ticket for every single day of your trip, just have a couple of park days and then spend the other days exploring the non-park parts of Disney World.

You can check out all the hotels — I’d highly recommend doing a “Skyliner crawl” by visiting every hotel on the Skyliner’s route (maybe even grab a little snack or treat at each one), and you can do a “Monorail crawl,” too! My sister just got back from a trip with her family, and my nephews’ favorite day, hands-down, was the Skyliner day.

Walt Disney World Skyliner

You can also hop over to Disney Springs (which is free to enter) to find lots of shopping and dining options.

Disney Springs

Don’t feel like you have to spend every day in the parks — there are so many other things to do and places to explore!

Ask for Help

If planning a Disney World vacation while sticking to a budget sounds like a lot of work to you, you’re absolutely right. It’s no joke. If you want some help along the way, contact our friends over at Small World Vacations. Their travel agents have decades of experience planning Disney vacations, and they’re amazing at tracking down the best deals for your trip. Plus, their services are completely FREE. 

Our BEST tip for sticking with your budget at Disney World will forever be to plan ahead – especially for dining. When you buy our DFB Guide to Dining at Walt Disney World, you’ll get immediate access to our downloadable worksheets for planning your trip, as well as sample one-day dining itineraries, which can be a huge help when it comes to keeping to your budget.

DFB Guide

Even though all of those price increases are scary (some are just downright TERRIFYING), that might not mean you have to give up your Disney World vacations. With seasonal discounts, budgeting tips, and smart planning, you absolutely can plan a trip to The Most Magical Place on Earth while ballin’ on a budget.

Here at DFB, we keep track of ALL the park ticket, Genie+, hotel, and food price increases, so keep following the blog so that you never miss an update and know how to accurately budget for your upcoming trip!

How Much Does It REALLY Cost To Go on a Disney World Vacation? Find Out Here!

Which price increases shocked you the most? Let us know in the comments!

The post 4 Charts To Explain Disney World’s Freakish Price Increases first appeared on the disney food blog.