Demand pricing is a staple of certain industries such as the airline and hotel business. Prices for flights and hotel rooms frequently change based on total demand. High demand naturally drives prices up, while discounts may be needed to increase demand at less popular destinations and times.
This pricing concept is now being introduced at major theme parks. Parks are attempting to spread out the flow of customers and direct traffic from the overly crowded weekends and holidays toward times with lower usage. Lower-demand times correlate closely to when most children are in school: weekdays during the school year (excluding Fridays). Weekends, summers, and holidays are typically either at regular or peak pricing.
For example, Disneyland in Anaheim, California now offers “value pricing” for off-peak days with single tickets at $104, regular pricing from $114, and a peak rate of $154. Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida, has a bit less of a spread with $109 value tickets, from $120 for regular tickets, and $143 at peak rate for several of their parks. An online calendar is available showing the pricing designation per day three to eighteen months into the future.
Demand pricing is also applied at Universal Studios Hollywood. Ticket prices range from $99 to $129 for California residents and $109 to $129 for out-of-state visitors. Online purchases for specific advance dates can save anywhere from $5 to $20. Universal Orlando also applies demand pricing, ranging from $109 to $140 for a single-day base ticket.
Other parks are inching toward demand pricing as well. Legoland in Florida offers flexible date pricing beginning at $99.99 but provides a $15 discount for purchasing tickets in advance online. The SeaWorld parks also have demand pricing across the board with tickets ranging from $45.99 to $96.99 for the selected dates. Expect any theme park with sufficient demand to explore the concept.
Taking advantage of demand pricing requires a delicate combination of advance planning and flexibility. Spur-of-the-moment deals exist, but most families cannot take advantage of them. Planning a visit in advance allows you to pick a low-demand period and plan a holiday around it, as long as you are flexible in how that holiday is arranged. With a package deal for multiple days or multiple parks, you can check weather conditions and the availability of special features closer to the time of arrival and rearrange your itinerary to maximize your enjoyment.
Package deals are almost always a great way to save, especially during high-demand times. Deals are usually available for multiple attractions, several days, or other combination options. When considering package deals at lower-demand times, look over them closely to make sure discounts for low-demand visit times are being passed through to you and not being absorbed as profit for the deal provider. Demand pricing typically does not apply to multi-day or multi-park tickets.
By using demand-pricing options wisely, you can save some money on your vacation and also have a better experience by cutting down on long waits and overcrowding (unless the price drops so low as to attract larger crowds). Lower prices and shorter lines? That is a win-win.