40 Years of Disney World Ticket Prices – A Cost Comparison

Updated Dec 2018 – Children dream of experiencing the magic of Disney. A visit to Disney will ensure smiles all round, enjoying interactions with live Disney characters, thrilling rides, live entertainment, fireworks and so much more. The amount of fun is endless, as this is the place is where dreams come true. But as adults we all know taking a family to Disney is an expensive proposition. Has that always been the case? Over the past 40 years the price of everything has increased but are things really more expensive? We thought it would be an interesting exercise to review how the cost of prices for Disney tickets has changed over the years compared with the price of gas. As well, we will also take into account inflation so we can accurately compare year over year to see if things really are more expensive now than 40 years ago.

Comparison of Disney World Ticket Prices and Gas Prices
Adjusted for Inflation

Comparison of Disney World Ticket Prices vs. Gas prices adjusted for inflation

The magic all started in 1971 with the opening of one theme park, Magic Kingdom. Disney  quickly became a worldwide sensation drawing visitors from around the world. These were the days of books of tickets, day passes had not yet been introduced. The cost of a 7 ride book was $4.75 and an 8 ride book was $5.40 or $.68 a ride. The average price of gas was $.36 a gallon. Those were the good old days. What a deal! Or was it? Taking into account inflation, current day prices for the same 7 ride book would be $29.56, an 8 ride book would be $33.61 and gas $2.24/gallon. Considering a 2018 one day pass is $109 and gas is $2.50 a gallon, yes it seems those were the good old days. Things really did cost less!

The ‘80s were about growth and investment in the Park. The additions included the opening of Epcot, Walt Disney World Village, MGM Studios (presently known as Hollywood Studios), Pleasure Island and Typhoon Lagoon Water Park. Over 100 million visitors passed through the gates of Walt Disney World. In 1981 a one day pass was introduced for $13.25 and increased in priced over the decade to a high of $29 in 1989. Average gas prices were $1.25 in 1981 and $1.02 in 1989. Remember the recession of the early ’80s that sent gas prices soaring? Adjusted for inflation the current value for a one day pass would be $36.74 (1981 ticket) and $58.94 (1989 ticket). Effectively the price of a one-day ticket almost doubled in less than 10 years. While the price of gas decreased over that time from $3.47 to $2.07 a gallon.

The ‘90s was known as theDisney Decade” and by the mid ’90s over 500 million guests had visited the Park. Disney invested heavily into the development of the Brand with the addition of Animal Kingdom, a variety of new and exciting rides at all of the theme parks, golf courses, the Disney Institute, Disney Cruise Line and Blizzard Beach Water Park. A one day pass to Disney in 1991 was $33 and had increased to $44 by 1999. While the average price of gas stayed pretty consistent at $1.14 in 1991 and $1.16 in 1999. Taking into account inflation, 2018 current day prices for  a one-day pass would be $61.07 for a 1991 ticket and $66.56 for a 1999 ticket while gas would cost $2.11 and $1.75.

The new Millennium was celebrated with a year-long Millennium Celebration as well as the addition of several new rides and resorts. 2001 marked the 100th anniversary of Walt Disney’s birth and featured events throughout the Park. In 2001 a one-day pass was $48 and by 2009 the same pass was $79. Average gas prices were $1.43 in 2001 and jumped to $2.48 in 2009. Factoring inflation the current value for the same one-day pass would be $68.35 for a 2001 pass and $92.81 for a 2009 pass and gas would be $2.04 and $2.93 respectively. In less than 10 years Disney’s one-day pass increased almost $25, a 41% increase, while gas increased $.89 a gallon, a 49% increase.

Based on our analysis it does appear that Disney is getting more expensive. Disney prices have increased from $5.40 in 1971 to $79 in 2009 and $109 in 2018. Adjusted for inflation, the current values would be $33.61 for an 8 ride 1971 ticket and $92.81 for a 2009 day pass. Granted Disney has grown substantially in those years offering much more than just the Magic Kingdom. The good news is that Disney prices have stabilized over the past 3 years as a 2012 one-day pass is $85. But based on historical trends we can expect the cost of Disney to continue to rise and these increases will not always be in line with inflation. Are you considering a family holiday in the next 5 years? You may want to hedge the cost of your holiday and consider purchasing your tickets now, locking into a known price and pay the extra premium for tickets with no expiration.

What is the future of Disney? With such amazing advancements in technology, the future of Disney seems limitless. In fact, Walt Disney is joining forces with James Cameron and Fox Films to bring the magic of Avatar to life at Disney. Walt’s vision of combining the fantastical to real life experiences is only going to get better. Avatar is one example of this. Disney really is the place where dreams come true.

Planning a trip to Disney World? Check out Owner Direct’s Disney World Travel Guide to assist with all things Disney. Consider staying near the park and rent your own condo rental or vacation home. Owner Direct offers a variety of rental accommodations to suit a multitude of budgets and sizes. Check out Owner Direct Vacation Rentals in  Kissimmee, Orlando, Clermont or Davenport. Vacation rentals provide all of the comforts of home and can often be more cost effective than staying in a hotel.


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  1. Why don’t you compare average wage instead of gas prices (which were way out of wack in the 70’s due to the oil crisis. The average wage in 1972 was 7,133. In 2016 the average wage was 48,642 (according to ssa.gov). The average wage has increased about 7 times , while the Disney prices have increased close to 20 times. Disney is overpriced, but as long as they get good crowds and have to keep the stock price up, they will increase prices.

  2. Years are not possessive nor are they contractions. Thus, they don’t require an apostrophe. 1980s and 1990s is correct. If you wish to omit the 19, that’s fine, but then it does become a contraction and now an apostrophe IS used, but in place of the 19.

    Correct: The 1980s were about growth and investment in the Park.
    Correct: The ’80s were about growth and investment in the Park.

    Correct: The 1990s was known as the “Disney Decade” and by the mid 1990s over 500 million guests had visited the Park.
    Correct: The ’90s was known as the “Disney Decade” and by the mid ’90s over 500 million guests had visited the Park.

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