Thursday, September 23, 2010

Point of Diminishing Returns for Disney?

The USA Today recently published an article (read it here) announcing the latest winners of the “Golden Ticket Award.” This award is handed out by Amusement Park Today. This trade publication surveys “experienced” travelers and amusement park fans across the country and then hands out the awards for the “best overall amusement park” as well as a variety of other categories; categories such as the best water park or the best new ride/attraction etc.

The Golden Ticket for the best overall amusement park was Cedar Point in Sandusky Ohio. Cedar Point is known for having some of the tallest and most thrilling roller coasters in all the world.

But what I want to ask is, “where is Disney?” If you look at the 18+ categories listed in the article, only one Disney park appears as a winner. Illuminations, the pyrotechnic and fireworks extravaganza in Epcot is the only Disney-related event to win and it was in the category of “Best outdoor night show.”

Categories such as the “friendliest staff” or the “cleanest park” or the “best dark ride” all went to other US theme/amusement parks. Even Disney’s nemesis, Universal Orlando, came away with more Golden Tickets.

This prompted me to do some pondering and reflect upon something learned back during the good old college days. Has Disney reached the point of diminishing returns? Has their increases in ticket prices started to outweigh the perceived value and benefits of the American consumer? The cost of a one day ticket to Walt Disney World has eclipsed the $80 (plus tax) mark compared to Cedar Point which has a one day ticket cost of $45.99 (at the time of this writing).

If last minute dining availability is an indicator, I will venture to say that turnstiles are clicking less at the 4 WDW parks compared to the same time in previous years. At some point, the continual increase in ticket costs will negatively effect the overall attendance if it has not already, in my opinion.

So what are your thoughts or experiences? Have you noticed a difference in crowds during recent visits? Have you considered vacationing to one of the many other amusement parks simply due to budgeting and things being tight due to the economy? Have you felt that the value is not as high as it once was during a recent WDW or Disneyland visit?