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Magic Kingdom adopts surge pricing for visitors

Spending a day at the self-described "happiest place on earth" just got more expensive, at least for two-thirds of the year.

Taking a page from airlines, hotels and ride-hailing services like Uber, Walt Disney (DIS) has changed the policy at its U.S. theme parks, as of Sunday making the cost of admission lower on less crowded days and higher at more popular times.

A one-day ticket that had cost $99 will now be priced at $95 on days designated as a "value" one, or off season, like mid-week in September. A "regular" day will cost $105 and those deemed to be "peak" times command $119.

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By Disney's figuring, 30 percent of the days in a given 12-month period will be "value" days, 44 percent will be "regular" days and 26 percent will be "peak" days.

Disney billed its seasonal pricing as a means of crowd control. "We continue to look for ways to help spread out visitation," the theme park division's social media director, Thomas Smith, wrote in Disney Parks' blog. "It's an approach that you are probably familiar with from many other areas, including sports, entertainment and travel.

The entertainment and media company, which has been contemplating the move for months, was pre-empted by Universal Studios Hollywood, which unveiled its own variable pricing earlier this month, ahead of the April opening of its Wizarding World of Harry Potter attraction.

Universal, however, didn't hike the cost of admission. It instead is maintaining its $95 price tag for "peak" days, while offering tickets for as much as $20 less on low-demand days.

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