A full-priced visit to the Magic Kingdom will set you back an additional $2 beginning today: An adult Disneyland ticket was raised to $41, and the price for children 3 to 11 went to $31.
It is the park's eighth straight annual increase despite three straight years of declining attendance. Visits to Disneyland fell by 5% last year, to 13.4 million, according to estimates by Amusement Business, a trade publication. Attendance peaked at 15 million in 1996.
Disneyland always has been the price leader in Southern California, and competitors typically follow suit, industry experts said. But Six Flags Magic Mountain near Valencia and Sea World in San Diego already have raised prices, Magic Mountain on annual passes and Sea World on daily admissions.
"A lot of the price changes depend on the marketplace and the direction the industry is headed in," Magic Mountain spokesman Andy Gallardo said.
Universal Studios-Hollywood, which has traditionally hiked its prices after Disneyland raises its rates, has no plans yet for an increase.
"I'm sure pricing will be taken under consideration," said Eliot Sekuler, Universal's public relations director. "We will evaluate the state of the market before we make any decision."
Disneyland's increase helps position parent company Walt Disney Co. to open its second Anaheim park, California Adventure, next year, said Michael King of Leisure Entertainment Development & Operations, a Newport Beach consulting firm.
He said the new park will draw millions more visitors willing to pay the higher price, many of whom will go to both parks while they are in town.
As in years past, Disneyland buffered the higher price with a "resident salute"--a temporary discount for Californians from Santa Barbara to San Diego.
Adults with identification showing that they live in ZIP Codes 90000 to 93599 will be admitted for the child's price of $31 through mid-May, a guest relations worker at the park said.
For now, she said, the price of multi-day tickets to the park will remain the same: $72 per adult and $54 per child for three days, and $99 and $75 for five days.
Disney's smashing of the $40 ticket barrier "certainly is a first for Southern California, although the precedent has been set in Orlando," Knott's Berry Farm spokesman Bob Ochsner said.
Each of the four Walt Disney World theme parks in Florida charge $44 for an adult day pass, and a local admissions tax brings the total to $46.62. Children 3 to 9 pay $35, or $37.10 with tax.
Knott's intends to keep its prices the same, for now, in an effort to be perceived as a good value, Ochsner said. It charges $38 for adults and $28 for children.
The Buena Park attraction also has a Southern California resident promotion in place: $29 for adults and $14 for children. In addition, during a "Peanuts"-themed promotion from Saturday through Feb. 27, each child will be admitted for $2 when accompanied by an adult paying $29.
Theme parks typically have a variety of discount pricing plans, angling to get more people through the turnstiles and then profit on food, apparel and souvenir sales.
Disney has fewer such promotions than its competitors. But it encourages multiple visits from locals with annual passes available for as little as $79 for one good on 205 days a year.
Magic Mountain rang in the new year by raising the price of its annual season passes from $70 to $80. The park had increased its single-day admission price from $36 to $39 last spring. The price for children under the height of 48 inches is half the cost of an adult ticket.
There are no current plans to raise the single-day admission price again, Gallardo said. Guests can get annual passes at a discount if they renew them early or buy a combination pass for adjacent Hurricane Harbor, a 22-acre water park. Beginning Feb. 28, annual passes can be purchased at Rite Aid stores for $47.99.
Sea World raised its prices last September by $1 to $39 for adults, $35 for senior citizens and $30 for children. The prices for a 12-month pass were unchanged at $74.95 for adults and $59.95 for senior citizens and children.
Beginning Feb. 1, Sea World will offer $10 off admission for Southern California residents. That promotion will run through May 14.
Universal last upped the price of admission a year ago by $1 across the board. The current prices are $39 for adults, $34 for senior citizens and $29 for children. Annual passes cost $75 for adults, $65 for seniors and $55 for kids.
Meanwhile, Legoland in Carlsbad, which opened last March, has not changed its prices, which remain $32 for adults and $25 for senior citizens and children between the ages of 3 and 16.
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Price of Amusement
Disneyland's new admission prices makes it the most expensive of the major Southern California amusement parks. Admission prices have more than tripled since 1982 for adults and children. Price trend:
Adult Child* June 1982 $12.00 $9.00 Oct. 1983 13.00 9.00 May 1984 14.00 9.00 Jan. 1985 15.00 10.00 May 1985 16.50 10.50 March 1986 17.95 10.95 Oct. 1986 19.00 12.95 Jan. 1987 20.00 15.00 Sept. 1987 21.50 16.50 Dec. 1988 23.50 16.50 Dec. 1989 25.50 20.50 Nov. 1990 27.50 22.50 June 1992 28.75 23.00 May 1993 30.00 24.00 May 1994 31.00 25.00 Jan. 1995 33.00 25.00 Jan. 1996 34.00 26.00 March 1997 36.00 26.00 Jan. 1998 38.00 28.00 Jan. 1999 39.00 29.00 Jan. 2000 41.00 31.00
* Ages 3-11
Adult Child Disneyland $41.00 $31.00 Sea World 39.00 30.00 Universal Studios-Hollywood 39.00 29.00 Knott's Berry Farm 38.00 28.00 Legoland California 32.00 25.00
Note: Six Flags Magic Mountain admission is determined by height; $39 if taller than 48 inches, $19.50 if shorter.
Sources: Disneyland, Times reports, individual amusement parks; Researched by JANICE JONES DODDS/Los Angeles Times