How Date-Based Ticket Pricing May Impact Crowds

One December 28 at 6:00am I found myself in a long line outside the Magic Kingdom, waiting to enter the park. I asked the family of five behind me about their decision to visit Walt Disney World during the busiest week of the year. Mario, the dad, said this:

If we want to do Disney World as a family, this is the only week of the year when I am off work and the kids are not in school. It’s this week or never.

The busiest week of the year is the busiest week of the year for a reason. Most guests do not have a lot of flexibility to choose which week they visit Walt Disney World. The average family might have two or three weeks to choose from that minimize the impact on their work and the kids’ school. Now, date-based ticket pricing is one more factor that guests will have to consider before making their choice.

So let’s say that a proportion of families do have flexibility to choose but that proportion is small. Those families are already more likely to select dates with lower crowds (January, August, September). These are also the times of the year when the new date-based pricing will offer cheaper tickets so there really is no net effect.

There may be some ways that savvy guests can exploit the new pricing structure to save a few dollars – we are crunching the numbers now to see. However, early glances show that the impact of the date-based pricing is minimal if you plan to purchase several days. Averaging the price over your travel days minimizes the variance.

It is unlikely that date-based ticket pricing will impact crowds for the foreseeable future. But, of course, we will be watching closely.

Fred Hazelton

Fred Hazelton maintains the crowd calendar, theme park wait time models and does hotel rate analysis for the Unofficial Guides. He's also done the models for the new mobile wait times product Lines. Fred Hazelton is a professional statistician living in Ontario, Canada. His email address is fred@touringplans.com. You can also follow him on Twitter: @DisneyStatsWhiz.