The Walt Disney Co. under new boss Robert Iger is scrapping some price hikes at Disney theme parks that were put in place by his ousted predecessor, according to a report.
Josh D’Amaro, Disney’s theme parks chairman, sent a letter to employees announcing that the company would reinstate free services that were introduced during Iger’s first go-around as CEO before he was replaced by Bob Chapek in 2020.
Visitors to Disney theme parks in Orlando and Anaheim, Calif., will no longer be charged to download photos of themselves on rides, the memo said. They will still have to pay for the pictures if they want them printed.
Chapek had scrapped the free service in 2021, charging Disney World annual pass holders to download photos snapped during rides and meet-and-greets with Disney characters.
D’Amaro also said the company — which is celebrating the 100th anniversary of Disney Studios — will “significantly” increase the number of days that tickets to Disneyland sell for their lowest price of $104.
On most dates with the highest demand, Disney charges $179 for adults. But now the company says it will increase the number of days that $104 tickets will be available to two months out of the year, according to The New York Times.
Iger also scrapped the parking fees he instituted for guests at Disney-run hotels who drive to the theme parks. Disney angered visitors in 2018 when it started charging between $15 and $25 per vehicle, per night.
The price to enter Disney World, where the most expensive ticket costing $159 was raised to $189 last month, will remain in place. Disney also raised the prices of its passes and its Genie Plus line-skipping add-on at Disneyland last year.
In fiscal year 2022, Disney theme parks generated $28.7 billion in revenue and $7.9 billion in profit — topping its pre-pandemic performance from 2019 ($26.2 billion in revenue, $6.8 billion in profit).
But in late November, Disney stunned the corporate world when it announced it was ousting Chapek, 62, after just two years at the helm and that he would be replaced by the man who tapped him as his successor — the 71-year-old Iger.
During Chapek’s reign, Iger reportedly was critical of many of his moves, including the controversial decision to hike ticket prices at the Mouse House’s theme parks.
Iger told confidantes that Chapek was “killing the soul of the company” by shifting Disney’s focus away from its traditional bread-and-butter units such as theme parks and television and more toward streaming, according to a Wall Street Journal report.
Decades ago, a middle-class family of four could comfortably afford to travel to Disney theme parks and splurge on accommodations, amenities, rides, food, and beverage.
But fans now complain that the experience has become too pricey and out of reach for many ordinary Americans.
A recent study by the website LendingTree.com found that 18% of those who visited the parks in either Florida or California borrowed money to visit the parks.
The survey of more than 1,500 respondents found that of the 87% of Americans who have visited a theme park, nearly three in four (74%) have been to a Disney-run venue.
In the past 50 years, Disney theme park tickets have climbed more than 3,871%, according to data tracking firm SJ Data Visualizations.
The steep increase far outpaces visitors’ wages as well as the cost of rent and gas.