One of the joyous aspects of a Disney theme park visit has always been that it’s egalitarian. Everyone is treated the same at the Happiest Place on Earth. The Walt Disney Company is a business, though. In recent years, they’ve walked that tightrope between maximizing profit and satisfying all customers. A pair of recent changes may have tipped that scale forever. Let’s examine a crucial Turning Point, the instances when Disney sneakily introduced paid FastPasses at their theme parks.
Several years ago, I wrote a Theme Park Tourist article about Disney’s ongoing attempts to improve theme park wait-times. FastPass+ was still a relatively new technology at the time, one that Disney spent more than a billion dollars creating and implementing. When Magic Bands first arrived, the company had grand ambitions about the way that they would improve the theme park experience.
During the years that followed, Disney became even more powerful thanks to the ascension of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, clever expansion of the Star Wars brand, and increased profit at the parks. Those theme park revenues partially come from Disney’s recent emphasis on upsells. The company’s stated goal is to employ price hikes as a method of maintaining a steady flow of traffic throughout the year.