As fears of COVID-19 grip the globe, many of us who follow theme parks have a lot of questions on our minds. When will the parks reopen? What does social distancing look like in a theme park? Will a visit to a theme park ever be the same? Perhaps one I have heard more than any other: will Disney tickets be cheaper once the parks reopen?
While Disney does have their own resident crystal ball on hand, unfortunately, Madame Leota doesn’t seem to have the answers to any of those questions. How long all this lasts, what kind of new cleaning procedures they will need to take once the park opens and more? We just don’t know. However, when it comes to Disney park tickets being cheaper, we think we have a pretty good answer for that.
Without question, we are entering a global recession. How long it lasts and what the long term impacts of this are anyone’s guess. Disney has been in the theme park business for around 65 years, this is not their first recession rodeo. In the past, slashing the gate prices of their tickets has never happened. Instead, they have employed other options to get people through the turnstiles. Let’s take a stroll down memory lane!
Believe it or not, the Magic Kingdom street party that has lasted over ten years was designed to be a temporary offering. The “Move It! Shake It! Celebrate It!” street party was a promotional tie into a new program. In 2009, Disney introduced a free ticket on your birthday initiative.
Anyone who brought proper identification to prove it, would be issued a one-day base ticket for the person celebrating their birthday. The thought is, everyone has a birthday, thus everyone had access to a free ticket. Keep in mind, 2009 was when the United States was dealing with fallout from the housing crisis and families were canceling vacations in favor of “staycations”. This was Disney’s way of getting people back in their parks.
If you had already purchased a multi-day ticket or had an annual pass, you were eligible to receive a “Birthday Fun Card“. This was basically a gift card that allowed guests to take the amount that would have been applied toward a one day ticket and use it for merchandise instead. No matter how you sliced it, you were getting something on your birthday for free.
The following year, in 2010, Disney Parks launched its “Give A Day, Get A Disney Day” program. Again, the country was still rebounding from an economic recession and Disney was looking to fill the parks with at least some free tickets. This time, they chose to reward people for volunteering with local and national charities.
In coordination with the HandsOn Network, guests could sign up with a local organization that they had already been working with. Once you signed up for a shift, you would bring a form to be filled out so you could bring it to a Disney Park in order to exchange it for a free ticket. It was a little more work than just showing up on your birthday, but a free ticket nonetheless.
According to Disney, one million free tickets were given out during the year long celebration. It was a win-win for everyone from local organizations that need volunteers to those looking to save a little dough on Disney vacations.
Here is why we think Disney will repeat programs like the free ticket promotions they have used in the past. Walt Disney World recently sent out an email for those guests who’s vacations had to be canceled because of the COVID-19 closure. In the email, it gave guests an option of receiving a free Disney Dining Plan for those that rescheduled their vacation by September 30, 2020.
Again, they are not reducing the price of the Disney Dining Plan but offering it for free with guests who vacation during the summer. A tactic that has been used in the past to shoulder the slow season at Walt Disney World. Thus, we have a feeling we will see more deals like these that offer part of your vacation for free in order to entice guests to come back during an economic recession.
That said, assuming reducing ticket prices are off the table, how would you handle this? What kind of creative marketing would you use in order to entice guests back to a Disney park? Would love to hear your creative ideas in the comment section.
Editor’s Note: We can do an entire article about why Disney shouldn’t permanently lower prices in a separate article. We felt this was a little too “inside baseball” to talk about those kinds of economic issues, but we’d be more than happy to discuss that in a future article. Again, let us know in the comment section if you’d like to see that covered!
Make sure to follow Theme Park University on Instagram, on Twitter, subscribe to YouTube and like our Facebook page! Want to support Theme Park University? Donate via Paypal! Doing any online shopping? Click on any Amazon link on this page and it helps TPU pay the bills and costs you nothing extra!