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Disneyland raises ticket prices, breaking the $200-a-day mark

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Months after Disneyland opened the biggest expansion in its history, the Anaheim theme park raised ticket prices Tuesday, pushing the cost of some one-day passes above $200 for the first time. Prices of annual passes and the digital MaxPass climbed too.

Under a new five-tier pricing scheme that charges more for days when demand is highest, one-day ticket prices rose as much as 5%. For the lowest-demand days — such as Tuesdays and Wednesdays in March — a one-day ticket to visit either Disneyland or Disney's neighboring California Adventure Park stayed unchanged at $104. For peak days, such as most Saturdays and Sundays, the price of such a ticket rose to $154 from $149. There are also three middle-priced tiers.

One-day park-hopper tickets, which let a person visit both Disneyland and California Adventure, rose to $159 from $154 for lowest-demand days and to $209 from $199 for highest-demand days.

The MaxPass, which enables a park visitor to digitally book reservations for rides and attractions instead of waiting in line, increased to $20 from $15. Disney representatives point out that two rides — Autopia and Monsters Inc. — were recently added in the MaxPass reservation system, bringing the total to about 20 rides and attractions.

Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run, one of two rides in the Star Wars land, is expected to be added to the MaxPass system soon, Disney officials announced Tuesday.

Parking stayed flat at $25 a day.

"A visit to our parks is the best value in entertainment bar none, and we offer flexible choices to enable families to choose what's best for them," Disneyland spokeswoman Liz Jaeger said in a statement.

John Gerner, a theme park consultant and managing director at Leisure Business Advisors, says the new pricing system's extra tiers give Disney more flexibility to avoid pushing prices so high that guests stay away but still enable the parks to charge enough to be profitable.

If a one-day price above $200 causes too many people to balk, Gerner said, Disney is likely to know very soon.

"They will begin to see it in customer surveys," he said. "That is going to be a sign that they've gone too far — if they've gone too far."

The price of the least expensive annual pass, the Select Pass, which blocks out holidays and peak-demand days, rose 5% to $419 from $399. The most expensive annual pass, the Premier Pass, which gives guests access to Disney parks in Anaheim and Orlando, Fla., without blocking any dates, jumped 13% to $2,199 from $1,949.

Ticket prices were last raised 13 months ago, just before the park opened its $1-billion Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge expansion, a 14-acre land designed to resemble an alien spaceport for smugglers and resistance fighters. The price of a one-day ticket rose as much as 7% last year, following an increase in 2018 of up to 18%.

Months after the Star Wars land opened, Walt Disney Co. reported a 3% decline in attendance. Disney representatives attributed the drop to park efforts to control crowding at Disneyland, among other reasons.

But in the latest earnings report for the Burbank-based entertainment giant, Disney reported an 8% increase in revenue from the division that included parks in the three months ending in December, with a 2% increase in attendance.

Disney is not finished investing in its resort. This summer, it plans to open a new land in the California Adventure Park featuring the superheroes of Marvel comics and films. A new parade called Magic Happens, the first daytime parade in nine years, is scheduled to make its debut this month.

The response to the increases on social media sites ranged from anger to acceptance, especially from longtime Disney fans who are accustomed to prices increasing annually.

Despite annual price hikes, attendance at the Anaheim resort has been growing steadily. A Los Angeles Times analysis in 2017 showed that higher prices did not shorten wait times at attractions.

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