Disney Admits A Major Problem With Their Theme Parks

Disney CEO Bob Iger says the company was "too aggressive" in its theme park pricing.

By Chris Snellgrove | Published


While Disney has made a number of shocking decisions in recent years, including having no real outline or game plan for the Star Wars sequel trilogy, the most shocking decision was bringing Bob Iger back to once again serve as the company’s CEO. When that announcement first broke, many fans assumed that Iger was being brought on board to make some big changes and generally give Disney the public prestige it once had (you know, before it started sinking like a malfunctioning Pirates of the Caribbean ship). Now, as Deadline reports, Iger spoke very bluntly about the company getting greedy with its famous theme park Disney World: “in our zeal to grow profits, we may have been a little bit too aggressive about some of our pricing.”

It may seem like a simple observation, but this kind of insight from Iger shows how shortsighted Disney has been regarding its theme parks. They raised prices across the board in the clear hopes that corporate profits would soar. But that only happens if the same amount of people keep coming to the parks and shelling out for the higher price, and the bad word-of-mouth generated by these unwanted changes has likely led to a decrease in ticket sales, cutting into potential profit even as it damages the entire brand.

Of course, it’s not like Bob Iger is turning his back on the possibility of Disney boosting profits. He went on to say, “there is a way to continue to grow our business but be smarter about how we price so that we maintain that brand value of accessibility.” In other words, pretty much everyone who falls in love with a Disney movie or TV show at a young age dreams of visiting Disneyland or Disneyworld, but constantly hiking prices up means the company is pricing out people that would otherwise check these parks out.

On top of that, removing some of the perks that annual pass holders enjoy was causing many of them to stop coming to the parks, so Disney’s greed was keeping out many who could no longer afford to come even as the company alienated the annual pass holder loyalists that often come to the parks several times per year (and we can only imagine the Ron DeSantis drama hasn’t helped profits).

Disneyland magic happens

What has Iger been doing, though, to right the ship since he became CEO again in November? Under his guidance, Disney has begun lowering certain prices and ushering in certain perks for park visitors. This includes offering expanded park-hopping hours to Disneyland tickets, removing some of the reservation restrictions for annual pass holders, adding free photo downloads for anyone using the Genie+ service, and restoring complimentary parking to those staying at Disney resorts (no amnesty for Rebel Wilson, though).

Park visitors have generally been supportive of the changes, but the fact that Disney got so greedy that it made people paying to stay at expensive resort hotels pay extra to park shows just how greedy the House of Mouse really was. Fortunately, Iger seems to understand the need for everyone to see the value in a theme park ticket, so he spoke about adding “new capacity and new attractions” (in other words, more room for more visitors and more things for everyone to do). Unfortunately, Iger has mostly focused on the greed surrounding the theme parks rather than the studio, so that means we won’t see the end of those awful live-action adaptations of famous Disney cartoons like The Little Mermaid anytime soon.