I just got back from my family’s favorite place in the world: Orlando, Florida. And after visiting both of the major theme parks in the area, I took home some great lessons in pricing.

Lesson 1: Selective pricing encourages people to spend more.
Both Disney and Universal Studios offer customizable ticketing options, so you can pick and choose the features you want based on your goals and budget. Both parks offer sizable discounts for multi-day admission tickets, and you can add features to your ticket like park hopping, no expiration dates or bonus attractions if you want.

This pricing strategy is a great way to get people to purchase more expensive admission tickets in order to “save” on the cost of each day’s admission. Think about how this might apply to your business. Could you offer a lower “per transaction” fee to clients that commit to purchasing a larger number of temporary staffing hours or direct hire services? The key to selective pricing is to give people a strong incentive to “save money” by pre-purchasing a larger volume of your services.

Lesson 2: Make up sell opportunities easy and irresistible.
Once you walk in the front gate of any Disney or Universal park, up sell opportunities abound. Everywhere you turn, you see opportunities to purchase meal deals, drink deals, and upgrade your ticket to a multi-day or annual pass. And given the huge number of people taking advantage of the meal and drink deals, these up sells work—extremely well!

So what up sells can you offer? Drug testing? Background checks? Behavioral assessments? How about a discounted rate for training time or an assignment extension? The key to making up sells work is to find extras your clients would really like and then make it easy and a great deal to purchase these options.

Lesson 3: Up selling is good, price gouging is not.
At Universal, they offer an up sell called an Express Plus pass. It’s an all day, skip the lines option. And given the 45-minute plus waits at many attractions, this seemed like a great idea to me. Then I checked on the price.

On the day we visited, the Express Plus pass was $39.99 per person for one day (it can vary from $20 to $60 per day depending on when you go). Well, an extra $200 for my family for one day of line-skipping was a deal breaker.

Worse than that, the high price of the upgrade left me feeling very negatively about the experience of going to Universal. While we loved The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, I will definitely think twice before going back.

Contrast Universal’s pricing with Disney. At Disney, they offer a Fast Pass system that is included with admission. While the Fast Pass is not as good as the Express Plus (Fast Passes are only for one ride at a time and you’re limited as to how often you can get one), their inclusive pricing seems likes a better value.

So the lesson here is that when you create up sells, don’t strip out services that should be core to what you provide (people get angry at having to pay extra for something they think should be included, even if your starting price is lower), and price your up sells at a point where they look like a great value.

0 thoughts on “Disney vs Universal: Three lessons in pricing

  1. Hey – you were supposed to be on vacation, not working David! Just kidding – nice post.

    One thing that I am always amazed at when we go to Disney World is that we part with A LOT of money there, but we are always HAPPY to do so. A pleasurable experience, excellent service, high value, and great quality are always worth the expense.

  2. I find it incredibly interesting that Universal charges guests for Express Pass. Particularly since the reason Disney first developed and implemented FastPass (Universal picked up on FastPass’ success and developed Express Pass several years later) was to keep Guests out of queues and in shops and restaurants spending money (less time waiting in line = more time to shop….oh so very true, in my case!).

    Looking at it that way, Universal’s gouging is even more offensive (at least to this Orlando travel maven).

    It could almost be a Lesson 3a of sorts (from a PR standpoint): Acknowledge when a service or program both improves service for the customer and helps your bottom line. Consumers appreciate transparency (it doesn’t have to be blatant, only apparent), and I think it would be quite rare for someone to begrudge a service that adds convenience or value to their experience.

  3. I believe Disney has a no wait express pass as well which I believe they call it their VIP pass (not something they advertise). It is for front of the line escorts, ahead of fast pass customers too, and it is far more expensive then $39 pp.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.