Cost For Admission To Disney World In 1971

Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom opened on October 1, 1971. The admission price for a single day pass was $3.50 for an adult (age 18+) ticket and $1.00 for a child. This was just to get in the gates -- no rides were included.

The ticket price structure for the actual rides was incredibly complex, apparently developed by a very cruel former employee of the IRS. There were five different prices for rides, each requiring a separate ticket. Rides were designated by letters A, B, C, D and E, starting at 10 cents for an A ride and going up to 90 cents for an E ride.

In order to make even math majors cry, they also offered ride ticket packages for 7, 9 or 11 rides, each package containing a hodge-podge mixture of A, B, C, D and E tickets, with the packages varying in price from $3.50 to $5.75. These ticket packages included park admission.

Price Comparison – Then vs. Now

In 2008, a single-day park pass (unlimited rides) for the Magic Kingdom cost $71.00 for an adult (age 10+) and $60.00 for a child.

Given the different ride pricing structures (unlimited vs. pay-per-ride), what is a valid method to compare prices to see how much park admission has actually increased?

Assume a very motivated park-goer who was able to go on a ride every 30 minutes for a 10 hour day, or 20 total rides. In 1971, an 11 ride package (including park admission) cost $5.75 for and adult and $4.75 for a child. Nine more ride tickets at an average of 50 cents/ticket would be an additional $4.50, for a grand total of-

$10.25 for an adult and $9.25 for a child.

The following table shows the actual park pass rate increase (with 1971 dollars adjusted for inflation into 2008 dollars):

Ticket 1971 (20 rides) 2008 (unlimited rides) Actual % increase
Adult $53.19 $71.00 34%
Child $48.00 $60.00 25%

So Walt Disney, the man, is probably not spinning in his grave, given the relatively modest increase in prices at his most famous park. Though he might be unable to spin anyhow since, rumor has it, Walt was cryogenically frozen upon his death in 1966. To find out what it would cost you to join Walt in the freezer, see What It Costs To Be Cryogenically Frozen.