There’s no question Disney is one of the nation’s (perhaps the world’s) most beloved brands. I live near Disneyland, the legendary amusement park in Orange County, California, which for years offered discounts to local residents during the off-season. But instead of continuing to thank its arguably most loyal (i.e. local) customers, the folks at Disneyland decided to slap them with price increases and end the locals-only deals.
A one-day visit to the park now costs a family of four $336 just to walk inside. If visitors want to visit both Disneyland and its neighboring California Adventure park in one day, the price for that same family jumps to nearly $500.
Yes, California Adventure just underwent a $1 billion makeover adding Cars Land, so Disney appears to be passing on those costs. And yes, the economy, both local and national, is better. But the new Cars Land boasted record attendance (to the point of madness—some friends of mine happily waited six hours in line for one ride), and Disney raised ticket, multi-day and annual pass prices (obviously targeted to locals) at that time. This makes the end of the “locals-only” discount an additional slap in the face. As one of my Twitter followers wrote: “Sorry if we were overusing the park. Buying stuff. Stimulating the local economy.”
Yes, as business owners, we understand costs go up—but if you’re looking to cement customer loyalty, you’d be better off following the advice of Disney’s Mary Poppins who advised “a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down,” rather than making your loyal fans swallow a bitter pill.