The priciest place on earth: Family of four hit with $8,480 tab for five-day Disney vacation

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A Disney World vacation was once seen as the tradition getaway for the American middle class family, but it is increasingly slipping out of reach.

Over the past few years, the prices of tickets for the amusement park have skyrocketed as executives continue to raise the price of food and begin catering to higher-paying clientele. 

To make matters worse, Disney executives are eliminate cost-saving features at the theme parks, like a free shuttle from the airport and free parking for those staying on the premises.

It has also done away with a free option to help people skip the ever-growing lines at certain rides – replacing it instead with a pay service.

All this is increasing squeezing budget-conscious families as the US Census shows the average family making $67,521 a year in 2020.

The cost of a one-day ticket at Disney World has increased more than 3,000 percent since it first opened in 1971

The cost of a one-day ticket at Disney World has increased more than 3,000 percent since it first opened in 1971

A family of four reported shelling out $8,480 on the trip - and when counting airfare, that number increased to over $10,000.

A family of four reported shelling out $8,480 on the trip – and when counting airfare, that number increased to over $10,000.

In February, the entertainment conglomerate raised ticket prices with a four-day standard ticket costing a minimum of $447.70, according to Disney World blog Inside the Magic. The cheapest four-day ticket used to be $434.83.

A four-day Park Hopper Ticket – which lets park goers travel from one section of the amusement park empire to another – costs a minimum of $540.89, up from $525.35. 

And a four-day Park Hopper Plus ticket – which allows Disney enthusiasts to visit every park in one day – jumped from a low of $546.65 to a low of $559.53.

On average, Inside the Magic reports, the ticket prices are about $20 or 2 to 6 percent higher than they were just the year before.

At the same time, Disney World is phasing out some of its cost-saving options, reports Frommers.

Prices at Walt Disney World are now 2 to 6 percent higher than they were just one year ago, as the theme park eliminates free parking options for those staying at its resorts

The Orlando theme park was once considered an average American vacation

The Orlando theme park was once considered an average American vacation

The free bus service from Orlando’s main airport is gone – adding about $30 to $60 per person to get to and from the resort.

Additionally parking fees that apply on the resort-owned land could add $15 to $25 per day.

Menu prices have also increased across the board – with a single cup of coffee costing $3.49 and a single churro $6.39. 

And the cheapest resorts on the premises cost more than $200 a day.

At nearby Universal Orlando, meanwhile, executives are lowering the costs of their four-day passes to Universal Studios and Universal’s Islands of Adventure.

Through September 30, it announced last week, guests could purchase a four-day ticket for $79 per person, per day – down about $40. Guests can also stay at its beach resort for about 20 percent less from June 3 to August 13, according to WPTV.

Disney’s exorbitant prices are nothing new, though. 

When Magic Kingdom first opened in 1971, the cost to enter was $3.50 for adults and $1 for children, according to Market Watch. 

When accounting for inflation, that would amount to just $24.98 for adults today, and $7.14 for children – about $100 less than an adult ticket costs today, or a more than 3,000 percent increase.

At the time, Jason Cochran, editor-in-chief of Frommers.com, explained: ‘They weren’t quite sure they were going to get people to travel to Florida at all, so general admission was quite low.’

And, he said, Walt Disney wanted it to be like Disneyland in California, where ‘he wanted everyone to be able to come in, no matter what income level you were at, and so everything was priced accordingly.’

But by the 2010s, The Wall Street Journal reports, Disney World started increasing its ticket prices at roughly double the rate of inflation as it tried to compete with Universal Studios, which opened its Wizarding World of Harry Potter in 2016.

‘Disney does not like to lose – not just lose, Disney doesn’t even like to compete,’ Robert Niles, founder of Theme Park Insider, told Insider. 

‘Disney wants to dominate its competition.’

Prices at the theme park increased across the board as parking options were limited and people have had to walk more since the theme park eliminated a parking tram that would bring guests to their cars

Prices at the theme park increased across the board as parking options were limited and people have had to walk more since the theme park eliminated a parking tram that would bring guests to their cars

A limited-edition gold-plated Mickey ears sold at the park for $1,000 last year

A limited-edition gold-plated Mickey ears sold at the park for $1,000 last year

Now, though, it seems to be courting a higher-class clientele.

‘Disney has said publicly, but very apparently privately made the decision that it wants to court guests that spend more per day than guests used to spend,’ Cochran previously told FOX Business.   

And as a result, middle-class American families are feeling priced out of the magic, with one family of four from New Jersey telling FOX News Digital that they were sticker-shocked after taking a recent trip to Disney World.

They said they spent $200 for private transportation to the park since the shuttle from the airport is gone, and they spent $2,550 for Park Hopper tickets for five days.

The four nights of lodging inside the theme park cost them another $3,780, they said, and once inside the park, they spent another $300 on Genie Plus passes – which let them skip the line at some rides – and $950 on sit-down meals.

They also spent another $700 for souvenirs – fortunately not buying the limited-edition gold-plated Mickey ears which cost $1,000 each.

All told, FOX News Digital reports, the family of four shelled out $8,480 on the trip – and when counting airfare, that number increased to over $10,000.

‘I feel like Disney is pricing people out,’ the mom, who was not named, said. ‘Can the average American family really afford this?’

‘My kids thought Disney was magical and so for me, the cost was worth it, but it’s not the same Disney it was,’ she said, noting that she had been taking trips to Disney World since she was 6 years old, and is now 39.

Some people have taken to Twitter to complain of the exorbitant prices

Some people have taken to Twitter to complain of the exorbitant prices

Others expressed their frustration on Twitter, with one woman writing that she canceled her upcoming trip to Disney World.

‘We had a great time last month, but it’s so expensive and having to buy Genie+ every day seems like just one more thing,’ Amanda Smith Methot tweeted over the weekend.

‘Going to take a break from our favorite place for a while, as sad as it makes me.’

Heidi S. Kulesh also wrote that it is not the Disney World she loved in the 1990s, saying ‘That is ruined and gone.’

She said it is now ‘too crowded, obscenely expensive, SO much work and planning just to TRY and enjoy a park day,’ adding that she ‘used to come at least once a year,’  but no longer intends to go back.

Another woman also said she misses taking vacations to Disney World ‘but when I start to think about planning a vacation, I remember how complicated and ridiculously expensive it has gotten,’ and J Danzi wrote that it isn’t worth going to anymore.

Another user simply wrote that it was so expensive and he spent ‘so much money’ on the tickets, including a GIF of a man breaking down in tears.

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