Running Disneyland for Just One Day Costs an Insane Amount of Money (Especially During a Pandemic) (2023)

Money / Business

Running Disneyland for Just One Day Costs an Insane Amount of Money (Especially During a Pandemic) (1) 9 min Read

By Gabrielle Olya

Running Disneyland for Just One Day Costs an Insane Amount of Money (Especially During a Pandemic) (2)

Disneyland Resort temporarily shut its gates in March due to the coronavirus outbreakand has yet to properly reopen. The Anaheim, California, park includes both Disneyland — which typically sees 18 million visitors a year—and California Adventure, which saw nearly 10 million visitors in 2019. Both have been shut down for more than half a year, with Disney executivesand California state legislators pleading with Gov. Gavin Newsom toissue reopening guidelines.

As the months stretch on, the question of how exactly Disney can afford to keep Disneyland in operation without making a profit looms large, especially with all of Disney’s controversies. While Disney has a lot more than the Disneyland Resort to bring in tons of money, theme parks and resorts are a substantial piece of its earnings pie: In fourth-quarter earnings in 2019, Disney’s revenue for parks and resorts came in at $6.7 billion— more than its media networks, which brought in $6.5 billion, and significantly more than studio entertainment and direct-to-consumer earnings, which were $3.3 billion and $3.4 billion, respectively. According to Statista, parks and resorts accounted for $26.23 billion of Disney’s total revenue in 2019.

(Video) How Much Does It Cost to Go to Disney World Right Now?

2020’s numbers for park revenue will surely look a lot different, and just how the park will look when it does reopen is yet to be seen, but the fact remains: Disneyland may make a killing when it’s open, but it also costs an insane amount of money to run.Discover Disney’s money secrets and how much it really costs to keep the whole thing going.

Last updated: Oct. 6, 2020

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Estimated Disneyland Daily Operating Cost: $5.49 Million

Disney owns and operates several resort properties, including the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida; the Disneyland Resort in California; Disneyland Paris; the Disney Cruise Line; the Disney Vacation Club; Adventures by Disney; and Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa in Hawaii. The company also has ownership interest in Hong Kong Disneyland Resort and Shanghai Disney Resort, as well asNational Geographic Expeditions.

Operating all of Disney’s parks and resorts cost $14.015 billion in 2019, according to the company’s annual report. If the cost to operate was split evenly per park, that would amount to around $5.49 million per park per day. Operating costs for each park include employee pay, landscaping, ride maintenance, park cleaning and more.

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Expense No. 1: Employee Pay

In late September, Disney said that it would lay off 28,000 furloughed workers in both its California and Florida parks, CBS reported.This could mean that the company, which employed a total of 223,000 peopleas of fall 2019 according to its annual report, now stands at under 200,000 employees. Some 23,000 of Disney’s workforce were “cast members—working at Disneyland alone, with about 3,000 to 6,000 working each day depending on seasonal need, according to Tom Nikl, author of Cast member jobs include attraction hosts and operators, cashiers, character performers, vacation planners, food service workers, guest relations workers, security officers, technicians, photographers, parade performers and parking attendants. Although they aren’t always making tons of money, it does cost to employ all those people.

Estimated Cost of Employee Pay Per Day: $16.92 Million

Operating labor costs for all seven of its parks exceeded $6.174 billion in 2019, according to the Disney report. Many cast members are paid hourly, clearing an average of $11 an hour according to Glassdoor— though in California, $15 became the starting minimum wage for Disneyland employees in 2019, and was due to bump up to $15.45 this past June when Disneyland was shut down. Technicians earned double, reporting they making $30 per hour. Resort manager salaries at Disney Parks can range from $66,996 to $72,215, while the average salary for a Disneyland Resort mechanical engineer in California was $94,982.

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Expense No. 2: Landscaping

The Disneyland Resort sprawls across510 acres of land in Anaheim, California.The hundreds of acres of property are landscaped by Disneyland’s horticulture team, which consists of around 200 castmembers. These employeeswork in landscape design, installation and maintenance, arboriculture, landscape irrigation, landscape design, integrated pest management and project management, according to the Disney Parks blog.

Each acre always appears to be perfectly maintained to ensure those enjoying Disneyland vacations have a truly magical experience. But how much do all those stunning landscapes cost to maintain?

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Estimated Cost of Landscaping Per Day: $1.69 Million

Based on the number of acres and Disney’s location, it costs around$1.69 million to maintain Disney’s landscaping, according to Homewyse’s Lawn Maintenance Calculator; although it’s likely a lot less due to the large parking lot and other areas that don’t need the same level of care.The horticulture team works every single day to make sure the flowers and landscapes look fresh, from the flowers in hanging pots along Main Street to the Mickey Mouse face made of flowers that greets guests as they enter the park.

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Expense No. 3: Roller Coaster Maintenance

Disneyland has 55 rides and attractions, while California Adventure touts 37. There are 12 roller coasters between the two,including Space Mountain and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, along with the Incredicoaster. Coasters are inspected daily, and the inspection process is extremely thorough and lengthy, according to the site Coaster101.

First, the tracks are inspected. Any obstructions that might have fallen onto the tracks are removed, and the tracks are visually inspected to ensure that there are no cracks and that everything looks safe. The lift hill gets its own thorough inspection to make sure all the various mechanisms that pull the car up the tracks are working properly. Then the vehicles are inspected to make sure restraints are working properly and that all the parts are intact.

Before the ride is opened for the day, it must run through a certain number of cycles to ensure it’s working properly. In addition to the daily checks, roller coaster parts have to be repaired and replaced frequently.

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Estimated Cost of Roller Coaster Maintenance Per Day: $11,520

Roller coasters can cost over $20 million to build, according to Fast Company, and they continue incurring costs to keep them in good working order. The main expense is the personnel required to maintain the roller coasters, and the number of technicians involved per coaster depends on its size and complexity. The personnel required for a single coaster could include a mechanical technician, a carpenter, an electrical technician and a fiberglass specialist, according to Coaster101.

If there are four technicians per each Disneyland Resort coaster per day, that’s 48 employees working on these rides alone, and a technician at Disneyland earns about $30 per hour, according to Glassdoor. And that’s all before the other daily costs kick in, including grease, oil, brake fluids, cleaning supplies and electricity to run the coasters.

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Expense No. 4: Park Cleaning

Keeping Disneyland clean is no small task. A crew of 600 custodians, painters, gardeners and decorators work overnight while the park is closed to make sure that everything is restored to pristine conditions, the Los Angeles Times reported.The night crew’s duties include plucking weeds, scraping chewing gum off sidewalks, repainting handrails where paint has chipped, repairing umbrellas that shade the outdoor dining tables and diving below the surface on water rides to pick up trash.

Estimated Cost of Park Cleaning Per Day: $67,776

Disneyland spends most of its upkeep budget on the night shift, the Los Angeles Times reported. A Disneyland Resort custodial worker typically makes $14.12 per hour, according Indeed. Additional surprising costs related to cleaning include the costs of supplies: enough to clean all 41 of its restrooms.

Expense No. 5: Fireworks Display

Disneyland puts on a 16-minute fireworks show nightly. The theme of the spectacle depends on the time of year and occasion, but one of its most famous shows is “Remember… Dreams Come True” — a tribute to timeless Disney stories and characters, including Tinker Bell.

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Estimated Cost of Fireworks Display Per Day: $50,000

The fireworks show is one of the most memorable parts of a visit to Disneyland, but it costs the park a lot to put it on each night.Thedaily cost of the fireworks display is about $50,000, according to former Disney employee Ben Suarez.

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Expense No. 6: Hotel Operating Costs

The Disneyland Resort is home to three hotels and vacation club facilities with approximately 2,400 rooms and 50 Disneyland vacation club units. The costs of operating a hotel include labor, cleaning supplies, amenities, laundry, utilities and refurbishments, as well as reservation fees, marketing royalties and commission paid to third parties. The costs to operate a hotel vary, but budget lodgings are much cheaper to run than world-class resorts. The three Disneyland hotels — Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa, Disneyland Hotel and Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel — are all 3.5- to 4.5-star hotels, so their operating costs are likely on the higher end.

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Estimated Cost of Hotel Operating Costs Per Day: $147,000

The cost to operate a hotel ranges from $12 per room per night for a budget hotel to over $75 per room per night for a premium hotel, Lodging Magazine reported. Since the Disneyland hotels are at about a 4-star level, operating costs are likely around $60 per room per night. With 2,450 rooms to service, that would mean if the hotels were always at capacity, it would cost $147,000 per day to operate them.

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Expense No. 7: Material Costs

There are also a lot of material items needed to run Disneyland. These include costumes for the cast members, food and beverages for all the restaurants and dining carts, apparel and gifts to stock the carts and shops, and other costs such as utilities, water, flowers and other decorative items. Although Disney no doubt makes a large profit margin on food, beverage, apparel and gift sales, the company still has to pay to keep these items in stock.

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Estimated Cost of Material Costs Per Day: $356,200

Disneyland likely spends about 5% to 8% of its daily operating costs to cover the costs of materials, according to business strategist Al Jones. If the daily operating cost for Disneyland is $5.48 million, that would mean about $356,200 goes toward buying materials such as Dole Whip ingredients and Mickey Mouse ear headbands.

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Nicole Spector contributed to the reporting of this article.

About the Author

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Gabrielle Olya

Gabrielle joined GOBankingRates in 2017 and brings with her a decade of experience in the journalism industry. Before joining the team, she was a staff writer-reporter for People Magazine and Her work has also appeared on E! Online, Us Weekly, Patch, Sweety High and Discover Los Angeles, and she has been featured on “Good Morning America” as a celebrity news expert.

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What are Disneyland running costs? ›

Disney annual operating expenses for 2022 were $76.189B, a 18.28% increase from 2021. Disney annual operating expenses for 2021 were $64.413B, a 4.33% decline from 2020.

Is there a jail under Disneyland? ›

Disneyland jail is a security office. Depending on where you are in the parks, you'll be taken to a different one – with the largest one being behind Main Street. There are no bars, no costumed characters…just security guards.

How much money does Disneyland make a day 2022? ›

Add in Epcot, Hollywood Studios, and Animal Kingdom at Walt Disney World and revenues are around $25 million each and every day. Given operating costs are about 25% of revenues, this means that Walt Disney World earns approximately $20 million per day.

How much does Disneyland spend on fireworks a day? ›

How much does Disney spend on fireworks per day? Disney Parks doesn't disclose the cost of all their firework shows, but just the nightly 'Disney Enchantment' fireworks show at the Magic Kingdom costs about $25,000 a night.

How much does it cost to run Disneyland one day? ›

On average, it costs Disney about 11 billion (yep, with a b) to run all six of their parks each day. With the assumption that all six parks generate an identical cost, the estimated cost to run Disneyland for a day is just under 5 million.

How much does Disneyland cost for one day? ›

Disneyland Park Tickets. Park tickets are by far the most expensive part of any Disneyland visit. A 1-Day One Park Per Day Ticket costs $104 on select days. Prices can increase depending on the day and time of year that you go on, so you can expect to pay anywhere from $119, $134, $159, or $164 for a 1-Day ticket.

What celebrity went to Disney jail? ›

In a 2009 appearance on David Letterman's show, Blake Lively admitted that she and her family ended up in “Disney Jail” after trying to sneak in without paying. “My brother thought it was a really good idea for us to go to Disneyland,” she told Letterman.

What was the last death at Disneyland? ›

The fire was out in about 30 minutes. Only one car was damaged. On December 3, 2022, a 51-year-old elementary school principal jumped from the top floor of the Mickey & Friends parking structure at approximately 9:00 p.m. PST. He was pronounced dead at the scene and his death was ruled a suicide.

Can you cuss at Disneyland? ›

Please show common courtesy to fellow Guests and our Cast Members by not using profanity or engaging in unsafe, illegal, disruptive or offensive behavior, jumping lines or saving places in lines for others. For your safety and the safety of others, please refrain from running.

Do Disneyland workers get paid good? ›

Disney World pays its employees an average of $18.88 an hour. Hourly pay at Disney World ranges from an average of $12.85 to $37.99 an hour.

How much does a Disneyland employee make? ›

How much does a Disneyland Cast Member make in California? As of Feb 2, 2023, the average annual pay for the Disneyland Cast Member jobs category in California is $30,064 a year. Just in case you need a simple salary calculator, that works out to be approximately $14.45 an hour.

Do Disneyland employees get paid weekly? ›

Cast members are paid on a weekly basis. Direct Deposit is an available option.

How much does tinkerbell get paid to fly? ›

The pay is awesome.

It's rumored that Tink gets paid around $500 per flight across the Magic Kingdom's sky, which isn't bad for 30 seconds of work, if you ask us.

How much is Disney's water bill? ›

What is Disneyland's water bill? Disneyland charges $5.50 plus tax for a large bottle of Smartwater and $3.50 plus tax for a smaller bottle of Dasani. Both Disneyland and Walt Disney World Resorts are located in some of the hottest parts of the country: Southern California and Central Florida.

How much does a pyrotechnician make at Disneyland? ›

$40,071. The estimated total pay for a Pyrotechnician at Disney Parks is $40,071 per year. This number represents the median, which is the midpoint of the ranges from our proprietary Total Pay Estimate model and based on salaries collected from our users. The estimated base pay is $40,071 per year.

Can you do just one day at Disneyland? ›

Sometimes one magical day at the theme parks is all you need! The best way to purchase a one day ticket to the theme parks is by visiting the official Disneyland webpage for theme park tickets. Did you know that park hopper tickets give you access to both theme parks on the same day? Double the fun!

Can someone rent Disneyland for a day? ›

Can You Rent Out Disneyland Or Disney World? Unfortunately, renting out the entire Disneyland or Disney World is impossible. You can't even rent one Disney park, let alone all of them. If you have the financial means, you might want to have Disneyland or Disney World all to yourself for your friends and family.

How much is it to rent out Disneyland for a wedding? ›

Weddings at Disneyland Resort start at $15,000 and are held to an event minimum. Your Ceremony Venue Fee plus any or all of the following Disney Weddings Service elements can be used towards your event minimum.

How much does it cost to go to Disneyland in 2022? ›

A ticket for visiting both Disneyland Park and adjacent Disney California Adventure Park will cost $224. Those prices will take effect in March 2022. Additionally, tickets in most lower tiers will be pricier. Adult tickets for Tier 1, for Disneyland's slowest days, are the only ones to retain the same price, at $104.

What age is free to go to Disneyland? ›

Children under the age of 3 are considered "Guests of Mickey" and do not require a theme park ticket. At this time, Disney doesn't require children to carry ID in order to enter the parks.

How much does Disneyland cost for 2 days? ›

Park Hopper (visit both parks each day):
Ticket TypeAges 10+Ages 3-9
1-Day Park Hopper Ticket (Variable Prices)$164-$239$158-$229
2-Day Park Hopper Ticket$345$330
3-Day Park Hopper Ticket$420$400
4-Day Park Hopper Ticket$455$430
1 more row
Oct 11, 2022

What celebrity shut down Disneyland? ›

It's unclear when the alleged ride shutdown took place, however, both MGK and the Transformers actress are known regulars at Disneyland. The "Bloody Valentine" rapper and the actress are hardly the first celebrities to shut down a Disneyland ride.

What celebrity was banned from Disney? ›

Blake Lively was banned from Disneyland after some behaviour that wouldn't leave Mickey Mouse too impressed. The American actor, 35, has played countless badass characters over the years - including wild-child Serena van der Woodsen in Gossip Girl- but it turns out that the naughty behaviour doesn't stop there.

What is the oldest living thing in Disneyland? ›

Twenty-two topiary animals and characters call the Disneyland Resort home. The oldest living tree at the Disneyland Resort is a two-foot-tall Mugho Pine, which is more than 150 years old. Guests can find this tree during a cruise on the Storybook Land Canal Boats in Fantasyland.

How many kids go missing at Disneyland? ›

However, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) estimates that around 2,000 children disappear from amusement parks each year. This number includes both Disneyland and Walt Disney World. While the vast majority of these cases are resolved quickly, some remain unsolved mysteries.

What three words are Disney employees not allowed to say? ›

What three words can't Disney employees say? The three words that Disney employees are trained not to say are “I don't know.” “If a guest asks you a question, you always have to have an answer, no exceptions,” an anonymous former Cast Member shared online. “If you don't know it, find out, but don't say you don't know.

Why can't adults dress up at Disneyland? ›

Wear a Costume as an Adult

Why? Well, a lot of costumes can make you look a whole lot like a character when you're exploring the parks, and Disney doesn't want guests and kids to confuse the real Disney characters in the parks with guests who are dressed up.

Do they do the kiss goodnight at Disneyland? ›

Karee, the Kiss Goodnight is a special little moment that occurs around 30 minutes after park closing for Magic Kingdom Park where Cinderella Castle gets a touch of sparkle and music as Guests are gently invited to begin to exit and start making their way back "home." Unfortunately, this happens only in Walt Disney ...

How much does it cost to run 5k at Disney? ›

With a course through Epcot highlighted by Disney characters, this 3.1 mile jog is run in the wee hours of the Thursday of Marathon Weekend. For the 2021 5k it costs $95, and for that price you also get a t-shirt and a special finisher medallion.

What is the profit margin for Disneyland? ›

Current and historical gross margin, operating margin and net profit margin for Disney (DIS) over the last 10 years. Profit margin can be defined as the percentage of revenue that a company retains as income after the deduction of expenses. Disney net profit margin as of September 30, 2022 is 3.8%.

What is Disney's operating income? ›

In the fiscal year 2022, The Walt Disney Company's total segment operating income amounted to over 12.1 billion U.S. dollars, of which more than 7.9 billion (or 65 percent) came from its parks, experiences, and products division.

What is Disneyland's water bill? ›

Disneyland charges $5.50 plus tax for a large bottle of Smartwater and $3.50 plus tax for a smaller bottle of Dasani. Both Disneyland and Walt Disney World Resorts are located in some of the hottest parts of the country: Southern California and Central Florida.

Can you walk a Disney 10K? ›

Is this race walker-friendly? Yes, walkers are welcome in a runDisney event. Just be sure to maintain the minimum-pacing requirement for the race you're participating in when walking. If you fall short, no worries!

How many miles do you walk a day at Disney? ›

The average Walt Disney World guest walks 7-10 miles PER DAY during their vacation. For some guests, this is great – you want to get those steps in as your form of vacation exercise (gotta work off all those cupcake and turkey leg calories).

How much does it cost to run the Disney Princess Half Marathon? ›

June 21, 2022 - December 20, 2022 : $229.19. December 21, 2022 - February 15, 2023: $239.85.

Is Disney losing its magic? ›

Disney World fans say the Orlando, Fla. -based theme park has “lost its magic” due to soaring ticket prices, according to a new study. The majority of respondents from a survey, which was conducted by gambling website Time2play, griped that a Disney World vacation is too expensive for families.

What is the average salary for a Disneyland cast member? ›

How much does a Disneyland Cast Member make in California? As of Jan 22, 2023, the average annual pay for the Disneyland Cast Member jobs category in California is $29,968 a year. Just in case you need a simple salary calculator, that works out to be approximately $14.41 an hour.

Is Disney doing well financially? ›

BURBANK, Calif. –The Walt Disney Company (NYSE: DIS) today reported earnings for its fourth quarter and fiscal year ended October 1, 2022. Revenues for the quarter and year grew 9% and 23%, respectively.

Does Disney pay a livable wage? ›

The current minimum wage of $15 at Disney World is below the $18.19 living wage as calculated by MIT. Simply put, Disney World Cast Members can't afford to live in Central Florida, falling roughly $530 short each month on average, for food, rent, and car expenses.

Can the average family afford Disney? ›

The overwhelming majority of our readers said that yes, Disney World is too expensive for the average family, with one reader going so far as to ask the rhetorical question: “Does milk come from cows?” Another said “I understand the rising costs but I think it's gone way beyond what an average family can afford.”

Is Disney losing Mickey Mouse? ›

The mascot of Disney and one of the most recognisable characters in pop culture, Mickey Mouse, will be out of its owner's grasp next year. As per the New York Times, 'Steamboat Willie', the short animated film that introduced the character in 1928 is out of copyright.

How much are the diapers at Disneyland? ›

Alternatively, you may be able to find diapering supplies in regular bathrooms too. Select bathrooms in the Disney parks sell diaper-changing kits in wall-mounted vending machines for about $1.50.

Can you get free cups of water at Disney? ›

You can ask for a free cup of water at any quick-service and table-service restaurant. This is also a tip we use to save some money while dining at Disney. For all quick-service restaurants, you can ask for a cup of water even when you're not dining there.

Why are so many guests getting dress coded at Disney? ›

One of the major reasons for turning away certain types of clothing is for safety, both of the Guest wearing the item and others around them.


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