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Disney World Introduces a Slew of Consumer-Unfriendly Changes

At this point, complaining that Disney World is a money pit is a little like complaining Las Vegas has dice. We know, we know.

But as long as vacation sellers come up with new ways for vacationers to roll snake eyes and lose, we’ll keep reporting them.

Walt Disney World in Orlando, home of the world’s most popular theme park (Magic Kingdom) and a lot more, has set its new list of prices and policies for 2025.

First, and perhaps most predictably, Disney World raised rates at its four theme parks. Generally speaking, ticket prices went up by at least another $10. For example, a summer visit to Magic Kingdom that costs $129–$184 in 2024 will zoom to $144–$189 in 2025, depending on the day you go. That’s for tickets through October 31, 2025, which is as far ahead as the bookable ticket calendar reaches right now.

The highest price for a single day at a Disney theme park in Florida will be $189, not including 6.5% in tax and any add-ons such as the much-hated Lightning Lane or Genie+, which can easily add $35 or more per person. The Park Hopper option, which grants permission to visit more than one theme park in a day, also rose $5–$10, depending on the date.

Nine years ago, Frommer’s lamented that ticket prices at Disney had broken the once-taboo $100 barrier. “The tourism industry is cashing in on the divide between rich and poor by increasingly catering to the wealthy and leaving those without deep resources out of the fun,” I wrote at the time.

Today, people broadly accept that ugly class divide in our leisure. Every single one-day ticket for every Disney park in the United States currently bears a three-digit price tag. In 2025, the cheapest ticket at the cheapest Disney park in Orlando, Animal Kingdom, costs $119 on the most undesirable days.

The cheapest days to visit Disney in 2025 will be in the dog days of Florida’s brutal summers: August 19–22 and 25–28, and September 2–4, 9–11, 15–18, and 23–25.

But here’s another policy change that most people probably missed. For room reservations at Disney resorts in 2025, the deadline to cancel a reservation is 8 days before arrival, a full week earlier than the industry standard of 1–2 days ahead. (Currently, would-be Disney hotel guests have 5 days to cancel penalty-free).

If you miss that unforgiving 8-day deadline, your penalty will be the cost of a full night. At Disney’s signature Contemporary Resort, to take one example, a single night typically costs around $700—and that’s with no view.

Covid-19 is still swirling around society, and so most segments of the travel industry are still being considerate about last-minute cancellation needs. But at Disney, thoughtful cancellation policies are apparently no longer in vogue. If you come down with Covid just before your Disney vacation, you will have to decide whether to go anyway or get stuck with a bill that will easily be $500 or more at many Disney resorts.

And that’s just for vacationers who only reserve a room. If you packaged that room with park tickets, as many visitors do, your deadline to cancel without a penalty (of $200) is a full month: 30 days

Rates at the Disney-run hotels will also rise slightly during the slowest periods, reducing vacationers’ ability to travel during the off-season to save money.

Disney is introducing one new perk to hotel bookings for 2025: The right to use one of its water parks for free. But as I wrote earlier this week, there are major strings attached that will prevent most people from being able to use that perk for more than a couple of hours, if at all.

Of less concern to most people, valet parking at the Disney hotels where it’s offered jumped 18% in price, from $33 to $39 effective immediately. (At the Swan, Dolphin, and Swan Reserve hotels, the price is $44.)

Parking a car at the theme parks costs $30 for a standard car or motorcycle. That price went up last October, and because Disney tends to jack up prices on an annual basis, we can expect the parking fee to go up before 2025 as well.

All of these prices and policies will be in effect at the moment when Disney’s fiercest competitor, Universal Orlando, cuts the ribbon on Epic Universe, the most lavish new theme park the United States has seen in 25 years. 

Jason Cochran is the author of the award-winning Frommer’s Disney World, Universal & Orlando guidebook

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