Thursday, June 06, 2013
The High Cost of Disney Living
Thinking back to my last post about the cost of admission to a Disney theme park and the decision by Disney to spend more than $1 billion on a marketing system to track guests (rather than on, you know, attractions and improvements), I started wondering exactly how much the cost of Disney has increased relative to other items in our expensive world.
I discovered that the median American salary in 2012 was $50,413, and back in 1982 -- the year that's most important to readers of EPCOT Central -- it was $18,641, for an increase in 30 years of 175%.
The cost of a gallon of gas in 1982 was 91¢. Last year, it was $3.63, for an increase of 299%. Not looking pretty for Average Joe American, is it?
The car you put that gas in cost, on average, $7,983 in 1982. In 2012, it had risen 279% to $30,303. Ulp!
The average price of a new house was $79,900 in 1982, and by 2008 -- the height of the real-estate bubble -- it had ballooned 281% to $301,000, though by last year had declined considerably to $152,000, which would still be a 90% increase versus 1982.
If those prices were out of your league, you could have just gone to a movie: In 1982, the average movie ticket would set you back $2.92. By 2012, the average ticket price had risen 175% to $8.02.
The cost of a Disney vacation?
Hm. Well, this is where things get interesting.
In 1982, a "World Vacation" offered by the Magic Kingdom Club offered five nights' accommodations in the Contemporary Resort Tower, six days' admission and unlimited use of all Magic Kingdom attractions and all Walt Disney World recreational activities and facilities (golfing, swimming, water skiing, etc.) EPCOT Center wasn't open when these prices were established, but according to the Summer 1982 issue of Disney News I have, the prices were valid through Dec. 31, 1982.
It also included breakfast lunch and dinner at any Walt Disney World restaurant or dinner show. Yes, that's right -- any restaurant you wanted, any dinner show you preferred to see. There weren't tiers of restaurants and classes of service, and you didn't have to save up meal coupons from one meal to use at another. Just, simply, whatever you wanted wherever you wanted. (Except room service and, interestingly, "fast-food locations" -- what? Disney wanted to push its high rollers toward its better restaurants?)
The cost: $568 per person, or $1,136 for two people.
There's no equivalent option today, but for unrestricted breakfast, lunch and dinner each day (which does place limits on dinner shows), you'd have to upgrade to the pricey Magic Your Way Premium Package. Factoring in five nights at the Contemporary Resort with a Tower room (Bay Lake view) and a six-day park-hopper ticket, the total price: $5,111.84.
That's an increase of 350%, rising far faster than the other categories.
A simple one-day ticket to the Magic Kingdom? That has risen by 616% since 1982 -- from $13.25 (as the general public price) to $95 as of this week.
As Disney executives might say: Good thing we're all so rich.