A guide to Disney World's magically complicated price hike

A one-day ticket to Disney can now cost up to $159

ORLANDO, Fla. – As Universal Orlando announced full details of its new Hagrid's Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure, Walt Disney World's financial wizards quietly conjured up price hikes all over the resort's ticketing website.

While many insiders have been expecting a round of price hikes for weeks, these went into effect with no notice. Most of the time, Disney at least alerts everyone the day before, according to News 6 theme park expert Ken Pilcher.

Pilcher spent time wading through the new pricing options.

Budgeting for a Disney trip can take a lot of planning. With prices that now vary by day or week due to anticipated demand, here's his guide to understanding Walt Disney World's latest (and magical) price hike:

According to Disney's website, from Christmas to New Year's, a one-day, one-park "peak period" ticket is now $159 plus tax, a $30 increase.

From there it gets so complicated that somewhere, locked in a cubicle in Team Disney, a Disney accountaneer is beaming with pride.
Disney officials promised last year its new "date-based pricing" would bring more "flexibility" in pricing to "help manage crowds" and "encourage people to visit at less-busy times."
It's really, really "flexible" now, said Pilcher.

One-day, multiday passes
With no time more busy than from Christmas to New Year's, the $30 a day increase is the steepest price hike. For other insanely busy times, including Easter, Memorial Day and from mid-December to Christmas Eve the new $139 price is a $10 increase. From Nov. 4 to Nov. 7 the same ticket is $125, up from $114. From Dec. 2 to Dec. 5, a one-day, one-park pass runs $117, a $3 increase.
A one-day, one-park price remains unchanged at $109 during what Disney calls the "value season" from late January to early February and late August and September.

Disney put out a video in October to help explain how  you can use variable pricing to find the best prices for anyone who has flexibility in their vacation dates.

Across the board: Park-hopping add on cost for all tickets anytime of year went up $5.
A one-day park hopper add-on is now $60, two and three-day add-ons are $65 and four to 10-days are $80.
Multiday tickets went up around $9 per day. It varies depending on the week but that's the average.
Standard parking costs are unchanged at $25. That price went up in October.
Preferred parking is $45 most of the year. It's actually a $5 drop back to pre-October prices. 
Preferred parking stays at $50 for peak season. Again, that price was set in October.

Annual passes
Theme Park annual passes have not changed since a $20 to $40 hike in October. 

A water park annual pass also increase $9, from $130 to $139.

Those are the highlights.

A Disney spokesperson stresses the need to help manage crowds:  

"As we invest in our parks and expand our offerings, we will continue to look for ways to manage high demand and spread attendance while preserving and enhancing the guest experience."

There may be other changes ahead.

"I wouldn't be surprised to see more price changes as Disney approaches the opening of 'Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge' in August," he said.

About the Author:

Ken Pilcher is a lifelong Floridian with more than 30 years in journalism experience. He joined News 6 in 2003 and has covered Central Florida attractions and theme parks since 1988. He currently produces News 6 at 7 p.m.