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How Much Did Disneyland Cost When It Opened Compared With Today?

B. People Have More Disposable Income

Based on the most recent US Census Bureau statistics:

YearMedian Household IncomeIn 2020 Dollars
1955$4,400$42,629
2018$63,179$65,637

Between Disneyland’s opening and today, the average American family has experienced an earning increase of about $23,000 per year. While other household expenses have certainly increased as well, a chunk of this excess certainly qualifies as disposable income. Income that makes is easier for more people to visit Disneyland more often.

C. Disneyland Has More To Do Now

We concluded that the park had 38 attractions in 1955. Today it has over 60, not to mention a sister park (Disney California Adventure) sitting next door and a recently opened Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge.

And not only have the number of rides and shows increased, many are superior to anything that existed in Disneyland’s first year (I can hear the outrage that last sentence will cause). There was no Rise of the Resistance, Pirates of the Caribbean, Haunted Mansion, Space Mountain, Splash Mountain, Matterhorn, Star Tours, or Audio-Animatronics of any kind in 1955.

Better rides = Higher value = Increased price.

I talk about these issues a lot more in my article 5 Reasons Disneyland Doesn’t Want More Annual Passholders, so check it out and let me know what you think. Also, take a look at the tables at the bottom of this page for the specifics on 1955 attractions and ticket-levels.

Conclusion

It certainly does cost more to visit Disneyland today, but not as much as you’d think. And these numbers are not entirely complete. For example, they don’t include the increased cost of parking or food. They also cover a very finite period in the history of the park.

Nor do they take into account multiple visits to the same attraction on the same day, like today’s all-inclusive tickets allow. If you were to do everything we discussed above and ride the Jungle Cruise three more times the same day, it would cost an extra $.90, or $8.72 in 2020 dollars, bringing the modern total to $81.38!

Can you imagine some Skipper with his hand out every time you wanted to go for a trip?

What do you think about the difference in 1955 Disneyland prices compared with today? Which “park” would you rather visit? Let me know in a comment below. Thanks for reading and we’ll see ya’ real soon!

By Alex Blasingame

I'm a professional pilot and entrepreneur. I love Disney, TaleSpin, Eeyore, maps, details, etc.

8 replies on “How Much Did Disneyland Cost When It Opened Compared With Today?”

Very interesting article!

If I could go to Disneyland and visit 38 attractions in one day (let alone 60!), it would be a miracle. We rush in the morning to try to get fast passes, and are lucky if we can get two before they are filled for the day. We then prepare to stand in line for most of the day, and feel fortunate if we get to 8 attractions (no, walking through sleeping beauty’s castle doesn’t count!)
At the price of $69 for 38 attractions, that gives $1.80 per attraction (2018 prices).
If we’re able to get to 8 attractions, at about $100 (one-day, one-park passes), we’re up to $12.50 per attraction. Add on $18 for parking, and with no souvenirs or food (we bring food from home), it’s $14.75 per attraction. What a value! 🙁

Hello! I’m trying to cite your article, but can’t find the publisher/sponsors used for this. Would you mind helping me out? Loved this article btw!

I really enjoyed your insight and breakdown between then & now… There is one issue I have with it is that since this park does cater to really little ones, it would be nice to have a pay as you go option as well. And in this day in age, there would be no tickets. Prepaid tickets would be on the card you have to swipe anyway before going on the attraction. Last couple of times we did 10 attractions total in our family. Extremely expensive. Moreover, there is no way anyone can experience even 30 attractions in any given day with all the lines etc…I think Walt Disney is turning in his grave!!!

Thanks for the comment, Ivy.

The pay-as-you-go idea certainly has merit. I know there have been times where my family has only gone a few rides in a single trip, but this was more due to having a small kid than long lines.

Your comparison to current ticket prices isn’t really valid as you didn’t take into account the change in attractions. There are new attractions and more of them now. If you create a list of all of the attractions currently in the park and use the same A-E scale (D & E from 1959 of course), and run the math then you get a 1 day value of $11.05 (no $1 admission, just purely rides). After inflation, that works out to $98.26, just 72 cents shy of the actual 1 day 1 park ticket price.

Thanks for the comment, Adam. The comparison I did in this article is from 1955 looking forward. The numbers you have are from today looking back and they look great, but are outside the scope of what I was looking to do. If you’d like to write up an article from the perspective you used, I’d be happy to publish it.

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