According to Joshua L. Harris, a Disney Designer, Historian & Futurist, the Walt Disney Company – specifically the Magic Kingdom Park at Walt Disney World has been steadily reducing the amount of time Guests enjoy attractions.
A decade ago, he was walking around the Magic Kingdom Park and felt that the once magical atmosphere had changed from how he remembered it. But he questioned whether or not his feelings were due to nostalgia over visiting the Park when he was younger or if something had actually changed. As such, he decided to do some research, and his findings were shocking.
He built a timeline displaying every attraction that ever exited at the Magic Kingdom Park from its opening day in 1971 through 2021 – its 50th-anniversary celebration. Once compiled, he added the time a Guest spends enjoying a show, ride, or attraction. What was the result? If you entered the theme Park in 1972, you would have spent 4 hours and 48 minutes on rides and attractions (if you enjoyed every single attraction once). If you visited in the Summer of 1992 – you would have spent 6 hours and 45 minutes on rides and attractions – again, if you enjoyed each attraction once. This metric is surprising because it shows that over the first 20 years of Walt Disney World Resort, there was a 41% rise in the number of things to do in the theme Park – making price increases justifiable throughout the 70s, 80s, and even 90s.
Magic in the New Millennium
But something happened in the 2000s. If you visited the Park in October of 2021, you would have only spent 3 hours and 28 minutes enjoying attractions – a nearly 50% drop from the value of attraction time since 1992. To be fair, this figure pre-dates the addition of Tron Lightcycle Run. But even including it, it’s only about a one-minute ride – bringing that figure to 3 hours and 29 minutes – still far less than 6 hours, 45 minutes.
But what exactly happened? The Magic Kingdom didn’t see a 50% decrease in its attractions. If anything, the number of attractions increased with additions such as the Fantasyland Expansion.
Year over year, Disney began to systematically chip away at the time Guests would enjoy existing attractions. For example, in 1992, the Country Bear Jamboree was 16 minutes long – today, it’s 11 minutes. Similarly, the Enchanted Tiki Room was shortened as well. In addition, there were former attractions such as American Journeys, which was a 19-minute-long show, and in it’s place today is Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor, which produces a 10 minute long show. Likewise, there was The Walt Disney Story at Magic Kingdom (a 22-minute film about Walt Disney), now a meet-and-greet location with Mickey Mouse. And even though there have been additions such as Tron Lightcycle Run or the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train roller coaster, the Park no longer has Mission to Mars (or the subsequent Alien Encounter/Stitch’s Great Escape) or the Snow White dark ride.
Presumably, many of these changes were to accommodate higher volumes of people in shorter time frames and allow Guests more time to shop, eat, and spend money within the Park. But whatever the reason, it’s something to remember as the price of a one-day ticket goes up at a rate ten times that of inflation. And you still may have to purchase Individual Lighting Lanes or Genie+ to enjoy all the attractions in a single day.
Price Per Hour
These infographics also show another interesting metric – the price you pay per hour to enjoy the attractions. That is to say, the cost of admission is divided by the time required to enjoy the attractions. In 1992, this figure was about $10 per hour. Today, after adjusting for inflation, you’re looking at about $46 (these numbers do not include the price of parking, Genie+, or Lightning Lanes).
So maybe if Walt Disney World Resort is struggling to keep their Park attendance up year after year – they may want to begin by investing more into their theme parks and increasing the value they provide. Otherwise…tomorrow may not be as great, big, and beautiful as Disney hopes.