Getting out of the house for a few hours (or more) is getting pricier by the day, especially when you’re looking for something fun to do with your family or friends. What once could have been an impulsive decision to hop in the car and hit up Six Flags now takes careful planning and budgeting to pull off for many Americans.
But what gives? Why have amusement parks gotten so expensive?
First, it’s worth taking a look at the generic cost increase for a family of four to participate in a variety of activities over the last 60+ years. The Hustle explored the financial impact of a baseball game, a trip to the cinema, and an overnight trip to Disneyland. When adjusting for inflation, the increase in price for a night out at the ball park and the price for a movie and concessions were pretty comparable, each increasing by about 100% over the last 62 years.
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But a quick trip to Disneyland has increased by almost 200%. In 1960, the cost of tickets, ride passes, one night in an on-site hotel, and parking would have cost a family of four just over $36. Adjusted for inflation, that’s about $360 today. But what it actually costs now clocks in around $1,055—and that’s not including food or travel beyond parking.
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Shockingly, the biggest price difference is found in the parking—what previously cost a quarter ($2.47 adjusted) has increased over 1000% to $30—though it’s unlikely for that to be the breaker of the bank on its own. It’s unclear why they’ve priced the parking so high today when Disney leases the land from the city for just $1 a year and subsidizes the cost of the garage through government bonds, as reported by The Hustle.
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Meanwhile, an adult ticket has increased in cost by over 170%, with a child’s by over 300%. It’s worth calling out how they’ve also more than doubled their offerings since 1960, which has led to an increase in operating costs, though, they’ve also tripled their attendance in the same timeframe.
A increase in ridership also contributes to rising safety-related costs. As reported by CNBC, the amusement park safety industry is a multi-million dollar business. It takes a lot to develop safe equipment, inspect it regularly, maintain it, and train employees to operate it correctly. Though rare, when safety protocols aren’t enforced, tragedy can strike.
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