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A Spirited 15 Rounds ...

ParentsOf4

Well-Known Member
The median income for a household (not individuals) in the U.S. is $53,000. [link]

The mean for those in the 40-60 percentile is $53,400.
The mean for those in the 20-40 percentile is $31,400.

While the elite offerings and multiple visits in one year may only be able to be afforded by a minority at the top of the ladder, the idea that the majority can no longer afford a Disney vacation is odd to say the least. Do people think that the middle class, while not making gains, are currently all below the poverty line?

Just want to point out that mean of the bottom 20 percentile is only $12,000. I say that just because some lunatic once claimed that anyone... anyone... can afford a Disney vacation if they just save enough. As if making less than $10,000 a year enabled one to save for a Disney trip.
Please keep in mind that in any given year, less than 3% of the U.S. population visits WDW.

For most, the desire vs. cost eliminates WDW as an option. WDW is not particularly interesting to them and, given the cost, they'd prefer to spend their money elsewhere.

For others, it's a matter of saving for years.

For others still, it's a matter of taking on credit card debt. (When I was very young, credit cards were rare. Only business people had them. Certainly no one would pay for a vacation using a credit card.)

The point of the chart is not to show that people can no longer afford a WDW vacation, only that, year-by-year, it's getting increasingly difficult to do so.

As with any price bubble, something's got to give eventually. It's already happen once at WDW in the early 2000s, when Disney offered incredible discounts and an entirely new ticket price structure to make WDW more affordable. It's happening a bit this year as Disney offers ticket discounts to some of its more frequent visitors. (For example, DVC members are being offered a discounted Annual Pass at 2006 prices.) It will happen again.
 

NearTheEars

Well-Known Member
The median income for a household (not individuals) in the U.S. is $53,000. [link]

The mean for those in the 40-60 percentile is $53,400.
The mean for those in the 20-40 percentile is $31,400.

While the elite offerings and multiple visits in one year may only be able to be afforded by a minority at the top of the ladder, the idea that the majority can no longer afford a Disney vacation is odd to say the least. Do people think that the middle class, while not making gains, are currently all below the poverty line?

Just want to point out that mean of the bottom 20 percentile is only $12,000. I say that just because some lunatic once claimed that anyone... anyone... can afford a Disney vacation if they just save enough. As if making less than $10,000 a year enabled one to save for a Disney trip.

I think there's still plenty of families that can afford the trip. It's just getting to the the point where many can no longer justify it. If I wasn't a local, there's no way we'd be visiting. Especially not an on-property stay.
 

RSoxNo1

Well-Known Member
I get ya on the whole predictable/unpredictable thing...
however, when we rode, every member of every car was clapping to the music and laughing along with all the other members of every car while being whipped around.
You visit a park, walk around with people who are like minded to a degree in that you all love being at Disney, but you never have a chance to play all together like this ride allows for.
Kind of a group dance with 30 of disney friends that you don't really know.
We had fun. We would only do it once a trip, but would ride again next visit. I think it serves it's purpose in the land well.
I will certainly say that it's a better attraction than what it replaced, but it will fall into the category of B-ticket rides that I don't need to do (which is most of them) for me. Aquatopia isn't in that category.
 

ford91exploder

Resident Curmudgeon
I think there's still plenty of families that can afford the trip. It's just getting to the the point where many can no longer justify it. If I wasn't a local, there's no way we'd be visiting. Especially not an on-property stay.

This is the biggest danger to Disney's parks. Those of us who can afford to go to Disney but no longer see the value in visiting the Disney parks.

The current 'value engineered' state of the WDW experience is no longer attractive.
 

GoofGoof

Premium Member
I think there's still plenty of families that can afford the trip. It's just getting to the the point where many can no longer justify it. If I wasn't a local, there's no way we'd be visiting. Especially not an on-property stay.
Agreed. It's not an exact science to say who can and can't afford WDW. There certainly are people who just flat out cannot afford it and some who can easily afford it. For a lot of the population it's about prioritizing spending. Like @lentesta pointed out most people have a budget or an amount in mind that they want to spend on a vacation annually. For the typical family that amount is going to be less than the cost of WDW. This is why the average guest is not visiting every year. They either save up or they charge it on a credit card. Most of the people on these boards are not the average guest. WDW isn't just a vacation for them it's a hobby. They forgo other purchases and spend a disproportionate amount of their budget on the mouse. The main people who are being priced out are the frequent or every year visitors (represented heavily here). The once in a lifetime and infrequent visitors aren't as directly impacted because it's a one time expense instead or a recurring one. That's also why Disney is less focused on updating outdated shows and why they keep adding more upcharge events. These things aren't focused on regular visitors but rather on the once in a while or once in a lifetime visitor.
 

GoofGoof

Premium Member
This is the biggest danger to Disney's parks. Those of us who can afford to go to Disney but no longer see the value in visiting the Disney parks.

The current 'value engineered' state of the WDW experience is no longer attractive.
I don't know if it's really as big a danger as you think. I think the business model at WDW focuses primarily on less frequent visitors.
 

the.dreamfinder

Well-Known Member
It's not likely the majority of families look at the parks in such a way as you do.
Anecdotally, families with young children increasingly view the parks as one and done. These are folks who make really good money and know what their vacation dollars can get them elsewhere.

It's harder to get hooked because it's not as magical, regardless of frame of reference.
 

WDWFigment

Well-Known Member
Please keep in mind that in any given year, less than 3% of the U.S. population visits WDW.

For most, the desire vs. cost eliminates WDW as an option. WDW is not particularly interesting to them and, given the cost, they'd prefer to spend their money elsewhere.

For others, it's a matter of saving for years.

For others still, it's a matter of taking on credit card debt. (When I was very young, credit cards were rare. Only business people had them. Certainly no one would pay for a vacation using a credit card.)

The point of the chart is not to show that people can no longer afford a WDW vacation, only that, year-by-year, it's getting increasingly difficult to do so.

As with any price bubble, something's got to give eventually. It's already happen once at WDW in the early 2000s, when Disney offered incredible discounts and an entirely new ticket price structure to make WDW more affordable. It's happening a bit this year as Disney offers ticket discounts to some of its more frequent visitors. (For example, DVC members are being offered a discounted Annual Pass at 2006 prices.) It will happen again.

I think the point about credit cards is a good one when it comes to this conversation, but perhaps in a different way than @ParentsOf4 is suggesting.

Currently, U.S. consumer credit card debt is at an all-time high, above $1 trillion. I would argue that this helps explain the otherwise paradoxical affordability issue: Disney expects people to pay more for their vacations via a willingness to take on debt--not to be priced out of them.

In other words, I would posit that it's flawed reasoning to look only at household income and cost of the vacation, deducing from there who is statistically priced-out. There are more variables at play, and for plenty of Americans, vacationing is not a strict numbers game. Maybe not for the majority of Americans, but for enough to keep Disney's business booming.

There are a surplus of think pieces written about 'Disney pricing out the middle class,' but I suspect the middle class is still Disney's primary demographic. Disney simply expects the middle class to spend a greater percentage of household income on vacations. People either don't budget, or treat finances as an emotional decision--if they decide they aren't priced out, they aren't, numbers be damned.

Recent offerings at WDW suggest a willingness to target the upper classes, but those demos are a necessarily smaller pool of potential guests. They are also a more difficult demo to satisfy (if you're used to Park Hyatt, Grand Floridian is a joke) that probably doesn't account for much repeat business.

I do agree with you that something has to give. To compound this problem, Disney is not the only business to adopt this kind of strategy. Myriad other businesses are increasing prices--and many of those are likewise reliant on the middle class. All the while, the middle class' purchasing power is shrinking. With the word 'bubble' starting to be tossed around when it comes to credit card debt, student loan debt, auto loan debt, etc., it seems like only a matter of time before something does give.

I wonder to what extent Disney has given this consideration before starting on the gondola and resort expansion/renovation plans. It seems doubtful to me that the inevitable plans to bump up price-points at CBR, Pop, CSR, etc. will be viable if middle class consumers are facing economic crises.
 

bcoachable

Well-Known Member
I think the point about credit cards is a good one when it comes to this conversation, but perhaps in a different way than @ParentsOf4 is suggesting.

Currently, U.S. consumer credit card debt is at an all-time high, above $1 trillion. I would argue that this helps explain the otherwise paradoxical affordability issue: Disney expects people to pay more for their vacations via a willingness to take on debt--not to be priced out of them.

In other words, I would posit that it's flawed reasoning to look only at household income and cost of the vacation, deducing from there who is statistically priced-out. There are more variables at play, and for plenty of Americans, vacationing is not a strict numbers game. Maybe not for the majority of Americans, but for enough to keep Disney's business booming.

There are a surplus of think pieces written about 'Disney pricing out the middle class,' but I suspect the middle class is still Disney's primary demographic. Disney simply expects the middle class to spend a greater percentage of household income on vacations. People either don't budget, or treat finances as an emotional decision--if they decide they aren't priced out, they aren't, numbers be damned.

Recent offerings at WDW suggest a willingness to target the upper classes, but those demos are a necessarily smaller pool of potential guests. They are also a more difficult demo to satisfy (if you're used to Park Hyatt, Grand Floridian is a joke) that probably doesn't account for much repeat business.

I do agree with you that something has to give. To compound this problem, Disney is not the only business to adopt this kind of strategy. Myriad other businesses are increasing prices--and many of those are likewise reliant on the middle class. All the while, the middle class' purchasing power is shrinking. With the word 'bubble' starting to be tossed around when it comes to credit card debt, student loan debt, auto loan debt, etc., it seems like only a matter of time before something does give.

I wonder to what extent Disney has given this consideration before starting on the gondola and resort expansion/renovation plans. It seems doubtful to me that the inevitable plans to bump up price-points at CBR, Pop, CSR, etc. will be viable if middle class consumers are facing economic crises.

Super well thought out and stated....
So, not only do you take amazing pictures, make recommendations for oversea Disney trips, but you can plan a financial portfolio?? Truly a renaissance man!
 

seabreezept813

Well-Known Member
I would consider my family to be middle class and we live within our means. It takes me about two years to save for a Disney trip. And I do it by taking on side jobs like coaching or extracurriculars. That way the amount I'm taking from my salary is minimum and I'm using it more responsibly. Because we love Disney, its worth it to me. But it also means we have summers where we just do day trips or mooch off relatives who live by the beach. We could choose to do a beach vacation every year, or do a big vacation every couple years.
I just think it's more and more rare that people wait to do things until they've saved the money. For many people credit cards are the I only live once excuse to spend money they don't have. I was lucky to have parents who taught me that a credit card is just to gain credit, and only spend what you can pay off within a week or so. One main issue is that many people lack a financial education and don't know better before they've gotten themselves into trouble.
 

ParentsOf4

Well-Known Member
Anecdotally, families with young children increasingly view the parks as one and done. These are folks who make really good money and know what their vacation dollars can get them elsewhere.

It's harder to get hooked because it's not as magical, regardless of frame of reference.
I wonder about this.

It's not merely the higher prices; it's the increased crowds. It's one thing to pay a lot for a vacation and be treated well. It's quite another to wait in long lines time and time again.

Today there are parents taking their kids because the parents went when they were young. To the parents, going to WDW is a rite of passage. However, with crowds growing and Disney not adding corresponding capacity, the WDW experience has been downgraded.

From 2002 to 2016, Disney reported a cumulative attendance increase of 49% at its domestic theme parks. Theme park capacity has nowhere near kept pace with that increase. (Just imagine 49% more rides in 2016 than 2002!) The adults going today are having a radically different experience than they did a generation ago when they were children.

Are today's children going to remember WDW with the same fondness that their parents did when the parks were one-third less crowded? What affect will this have on WDW's long-term financial success?
 
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Mike S

Well-Known Member
I would consider my family to be middle class and we live within our means. It takes me about two years to save for a Disney trip. And I do it by taking on side jobs like coaching or extracurriculars. That way the amount I'm taking from my salary is minimum and I'm using it more responsibly. Because we love Disney, its worth it to me. But it also means we have summers where we just do day trips or mooch off relatives who live by the beach. We could choose to do a beach vacation every year, or do a big vacation every couple years.
I just think it's more and more rare that people wait to do things until they've saved the money. For many people credit cards are the I only live once excuse to spend money they don't have. I was lucky to have parents who taught me that a credit card is just to gain credit, and only spend what you can pay off within a week or so. One main issue is that many people lack a financial education and don't know better before they've gotten themselves into trouble.
I'm sorry but people who go into debt like that are beyond stupid.
 

tirian

Well-Known Member
Frankly, Disney itself doesn't seem to know who its demographic actually is. It's certainly not the wealthy, elite guests Burbank imagines.

If someone can afford a vacation to Europe or a private island, why bother with Disney's overpriced hotels and increasingly stressful trip planning? Years ago, guests dreaded busy summer days at the MK. Now Disney has extended the stress with the 180-day dining window, the FP+ reservation window, and the obscenely complicated and badly designed My Disney Experience planning app. People go on vacation to escape their overscheduled daily lives, not to decide what they'll eat 180 days in advance.




I think the point about credit cards is a good one when it comes to this conversation, but perhaps in a different way than @ParentsOf4 is suggesting.

Currently, U.S. consumer credit card debt is at an all-time high, above $1 trillion. I would argue that this helps explain the otherwise paradoxical affordability issue: Disney expects people to pay more for their vacations via a willingness to take on debt--not to be priced out of them.

In other words, I would posit that it's flawed reasoning to look only at household income and cost of the vacation, deducing from there who is statistically priced-out. There are more variables at play, and for plenty of Americans, vacationing is not a strict numbers game. Maybe not for the majority of Americans, but for enough to keep Disney's business booming.

There are a surplus of think pieces written about 'Disney pricing out the middle class,' but I suspect the middle class is still Disney's primary demographic. Disney simply expects the middle class to spend a greater percentage of household income on vacations. People either don't budget, or treat finances as an emotional decision--if they decide they aren't priced out, they aren't, numbers be damned.

Recent offerings at WDW suggest a willingness to target the upper classes, but those demos are a necessarily smaller pool of potential guests. They are also a more difficult demo to satisfy (if you're used to Park Hyatt, Grand Floridian is a joke) that probably doesn't account for much repeat business.

I do agree with you that something has to give. To compound this problem, Disney is not the only business to adopt this kind of strategy. Myriad other businesses are increasing prices--and many of those are likewise reliant on the middle class. All the while, the middle class' purchasing power is shrinking. With the word 'bubble' starting to be tossed around when it comes to credit card debt, student loan debt, auto loan debt, etc., it seems like only a matter of time before something does give.

I wonder to what extent Disney has given this consideration before starting on the gondola and resort expansion/renovation plans. It seems doubtful to me that the inevitable plans to bump up price-points at CBR, Pop, CSR, etc. will be viable if middle class consumers are facing economic crises.
 

ford91exploder

Resident Curmudgeon
I wonder about this.

It's not merely the higher prices; it's the increased crowds. It's one thing to pay a lot for a vacation and be treated well. It's quite another to wait in long lines time and time again.

Today there are parents taking their kids because the parents went when they were young. To the parents, going to WDW is a right of passage. However, with crowds growing and Disney not adding corresponding capacity, the WDW experience has been downgraded.

From 2002 to 2016, Disney reported a cumulative attendance increase of 49% at its domestic theme parks. Theme park capacity has nowhere near kept pace with that increase. (Just imagine 49% more rides in 2016 than 2002!) The adults going today are having a radically different experience than they did a generation ago when they were children.

Are today's children going to remember WDW with the same fondness that their parents did when the parks were one-third less crowded? What effect will this have on WDW's long-term financial success?

Likely not a good one, When I was a kid yes we stood in line but the line MOVED this of course was pre_FP. But the waits were not crazy and you could walk up to any restaurant INCLUDING 'King Stefans Royal Banquet Hall'. Now known as CRT In short the experience was indeed 'Magical' in all senses of the word. Nowadays not so much.
 

ford91exploder

Resident Curmudgeon
Frankly, Disney itself doesn't seem to know who its demographic actually is. It's certainly not the wealthy, elite guests Burbank imagines.

If someone can afford a vacation to Europe or a private island, why bother with Disney's overpriced hotels and increasingly stressful trip planning? Years ago, guests dreaded busy summer days at the MK. Now Disney has extended the stress with the 180-day dining window, the FP+ reservation window, and the obscenely complicated and badly designed My Disney Experience planning app. People go on vacation to escape their overscheduled daily lives, not to decide what they'll eat 180 days in advance.

Precisely - WDW used to be a place to check OUT from the rat race. Not an opportunity to ramp up the rat race x10
 

njDizFan

Well-Known Member
In 2008, 80% of US households spent less than $900 per year on vacations (excluding transportation). (Cite).

Combine that with the price increases since 2008 and stagnating incomes, and I think it's safe to say a WDW vacation is not in the budget for the vast majority of US households. Maybe not 95%, but that 80% number seems like a solid floor.
Do you have any number that show how many unique individuals attend WDW annually? If not, out of the 80 million clicks what would you estimate would be unique. Also at @ParentsOf4
 

GoofGoof

Premium Member
Frankly, Disney itself doesn't seem to know who its demographic actually is. It's certainly not the wealthy, elite guests Burbank imagines.
IMHO the high end stuff is not targeted at actual wealthy, elite guests but the faux ones. It's the same demographic that Lexus or BMW markets to. Pretty much everyone now knows that Disney is a super expensive vacation (even staying at value resorts and eating at CS restaurants) but there are a whole lot of people who want to believe they can actually afford it and/or want their peers to see that they can afford it. It's not a matter of marketing to the people who can afford things but attempting to get some people who cannot to stretch themselves and buy anyway (credit cards help a lot too). DVC has been doing this for years. Most people will say it's only worth doing if you stay mostly at the deluxe resorts but a whole lot of members who have bought in did not always or in some cases ever stay at the deluxe resorts and they offer ways to finance as well.
 

DisneyDaver

Well-Known Member
This is the biggest danger to Disney's parks. Those of us who can afford to go to Disney but no longer see the value in visiting the Disney parks.

The current 'value engineered' state of the WDW experience is no longer attractive.

Are there enough that feel like you to make a difference? I confess I spent less time in WDW and more in Universal my last 3 visits for this reason, but those were pre-kids. However, now that I have 2 year old, my wife and I plan to make annual visits to WDW. And many of our friends with kids plan on the same. I have not heard anyone (other than folks on these boards) complain about the "value engineering".
 

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