Disney CEO Bob Iger Says What Everybody Already Thinks About Disney Theme Park Pricing

Disney's newly-returned CEO Bob Iger admitted fans had a right to be irritated when ticket prices screeched higher under the former regime and said it wouldn't be the best option for the management of the brand in the long run. "I always believed that Disney was a brand that needs to be accessible," he said at a Morgan Stanley media conference Thursday, per Deadline. "And I think that in our zeal to grow profits, we may have been a little bit too aggressive about some of our pricing. And I think there is a way to continue to grow our business but be smarter about how we price so that we maintain that brand value of accessibility." By January, Iger made a decision to lower some costs and add some perks to Disneyland and Walt Disney WorldDeadline reported. That included, at WDE in Orlando, resuming complimentary self-parking at resort hotels, relaxing reservation requirements for annual pass holders, and offering free photo downloads with Genie+ service. 

He also extended park-hopping hours at Disneyland and added more day tickets at the lowest possible price. He also added complimentary photos to the park. The changes "have resonated extremely well with consumers, and Iger said, "we will not only continue to listen to consumers, but we will continue to adjust." Iger took over in November after former CEO Bob Chapek stepped down in a sudden move that was followed by a slew of changes at the company. While noting the continuing challenge of trying to improve the guest experience by reducing crowding, he still maintained a caveat: the move to reduce crowding can end up "actually end up increasing the price, or putting features into your pricing that are viewed by consumers as being a little too aggressive."

His comments also hinted at further expansion, including "new capacity and new attractions" including in California, and focusing on Disney's IP, such as the recent announcement of another Avatar experience coming to Disneyland, similar to the popular Pandora The World of Avatar at Disney World. Disney's parks are a significant business for the company, and they have recovered quickly from the Covid closure, even though international visitation hasn't returned to normal levels. There is a history of parks being resilient, according to Iger, citing periods of hardship during the recession of 2008-09 and the terrorist attacks of 2001.