Orlando and Disney – WOW!

I spend an afternoon with Travis, an employee of Visit Orlando last week. I was there to check out a possible venue for PIE2024 and the city was kind enough to have Travis show me the sights. We visited Disney Springs (formerly Downtown Disney) and had lunch overlooking one of the many lakes in the area. I was most impressed by the numbers.

Travis told me that over 76 million folks visit the Orlando area each year. They fill nearly 140,000 hotel rooms and divide their time between three Disney theme parks plus Epcot and other water based attractions, two at Universal, and various others including Sea World.

I haven’t visited the Magic Kingdom for a number of years, but I do remember when Disneyland opened in Anaheim in 1955. The price of admission was a buck for adults and fifty cents for kids. Plus you had to pay to go on individual rides, which varied between 25 cents and 50 cents. (Remember those ticket books with A thru E tickets?) Time has marched on.

One day ticket for an adult varies between $125 and $175 depending on the date, and whether you are visiting one or more of the ‘world’s’ theme parks. I defy anyone to look at the Disney web site and tell me how much it will cost, but let’s go with $150 a day. For a family of four that’s $600 a day and assuming you are staying for a week, (five days) that means you will drop $3000 just for entry into Disney world. As Travis was quick to point out, that doesn’t include food, theme purchases (T shirts, etc) or your airfare or hotel. Figure another two grand for food (assuming you eat at inexpensive spots) and two grand for hotels and another thousand for Mickey and Minnie ears, you are at eight thousand and you haven’t bought a plane ticket, rented a car, or shudder, paid for parking.

Prices have gone up. Even taking inflation into consideration, it now costs 30 times what it cost in 1955 to spend a day in the Magic Kingdom.

A week at Disney World could easily cost a family of four $10,000. And people line up to pay it. Oh, by the way, you can’t just walk up and buy a ticket to get into the park, you have to reserve your spot in advance. I’m told that these days it sells out fast.

The Newest experience at Disney World is the Star Wars Hotel. Think of it as a cruise ship on land. Prices start at about $1200 per night per person double occupancy and an average ‘cruise’ lasts four nights. You do the math. My guess is that it is selling out too.

Disney bought 48 square miles of territory in Orlando (using straw man purchasers) and is using only a portion of that land today.  In addition to the theme parks, there are 25 hotels owned by Disney, plus myriad others surrounding the park.

There is a reason folks spend all this money to visit Disney World. It is truly the happiest place on earth.


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