Before we get started with today’s article, can we just take a moment to appreciate the good fortune we have to be participating in a dialogue such as this? We’re going to be discussing rising costs of food expected in theme parks, and you’re likely reading this on an electronic device that accepts information invisibly through the air, as if by magic. So while this article isn’t necessarily positive, it’s a wondrous thing that our conversation today isn’t about starvation, famine, or malnutrition… it’s about increasing theme park prices. We’ve got it made, and it’s good to take note when gratitude is appropriate.
On with the article:
Food prices across America are on a steep climb as inflationary concerns continue. In the past year, The Washington Post reports that beef is up 3.3% since last year, and pork has risen almost 5%. In May, a continuing poultry shortage also has led to increasing chicken costs amid a weakened supply, per USA Today. Likewise, worldwide food inflationary costs are hitting marks not seen in more than a decade. Take a look at this food inflation chart from Bloomberg:
All of this is to say, there’s likely a reason you’re not yet hearing from The Walt Disney Company about a rollout of their very popular Disney Dining Plan.
Dining Plans Are Currently Unavailable. We’re sorry, but dining plans cannot be modified or added to Resort reservations at this time. — Walt Disney World Resort Website
While most theme parks have locked-in contracts with steady food pricing, an issue upcoming is that those same theme park companies are about to go into new contract terms, as well as sign up for new contracts based on new demand. We reported recently that Disney is likely preparing to open more Quick Service Restaurants over the summer. Part of doing so is acquiring the food materials necessary for those operations.
Essentially, all theme parks in the United States are about to incur a significant increase in food supply costs… and they’re almost certainly going to pass that onto the customer. Whether it’s a greedy calculation or a response to other inflationary forces in non-food materials, we’ve already seen Disney cut back significantly on their offerings while charging more for after-hours events.
So what should potential visitors of theme parks expect for their next big trip?
In all likelihood, the sooner you go to a theme park, the less chance you have of finding food prices that have increased. However, as we look at late 2021 or 2022, don’t be surprised if you need to budget 10% more for food expenditures on your trip. That might be a small amount if you are planning to eat cheap, but it also could be a major adjustment if culinary offerings are a big part of your vacationing.
The Disney Tourist Blog has a recap on the last time Walt Disney World Resort food prices saw an increase… and that was back in 2019. There’s little doubt we’re on borrowed time until Disney raises prices again. Food costs have increased substantially from 2019 until today. Here’s what we saw (as an example) back in the fall before the pandemic:
Regular soda: $3.99 – up from $3.29
Large soda: $4.49 – up from $3.49
Coffee: $3.29 – up from $2.79
Orange Juice: $4.99 – up from $4.29
Bottled soda: $4.50 – up from $4
Bottled water: $3.50 – up from $3
Powerade: $4.50 – up from $3.50
Mickey Pretzel: $7 – up from $6
Mickey Ice Cream: $5.75 – up from $5
Will we soon see Mickey Ice Cream topping six bucks? Likely. But more importantly, those main meals you get at Disney (and other theme parks) are almost certainly going up in the near future. Anything with animal protein seems like a surety. For a family of six planning to visit Ohana next year, you might want to plan on that experience potentially costing $60-$70 more. Will that dissuade you from going to a theme park or a nice vacation meal? We hope not, but if you’re planning a trip for next year, we also want you to be aware that you probably need to budget a wee bit more. Whether that’s for Disney World, Dollywood, Universal, Sea World, Hersheypark, or anywhere else, keep this article in mind when estimating costs.
Let us know what you think about food prices for theme park fare down in the comments below!
Pirates & Princesses (PNP) is an independent, opinionated fan-powered news blog that covers Disney and Universal Theme Parks, Themed Entertainment and related Pop Culture from a consumer's point of view. Opinions expressed by our contributors do not necessarily reflect the views of PNP, its editors, affiliates, sponsors or advertisers. PNP is an unofficial news source and has no connection to The Walt Disney Company, NBCUniversal or any other company that we may cover.