Disney made headlines last week when it raised ticket prices for its Orlando, Florida-based theme park.
Visitors planning an extended trip to Walt Disney World Resort will pay between 2% and 6% more if they spend more than four days at the parks. Four-day multiday passes used to range from $435 to $597, depending on if the ticket was for a child or an adult, CNBC reported. Now, those passes cost between $447 and $597.
It's a far cry from the price of admission when the Magic Kingdom first opened its gates in 1971, charging $3.50 a day for adults and $1 for children. Adjusted for inflation, those ticket prices would be around $24 and just under $7 in 2022, respectively.
Of course, the Disney of 2022 is unrecognizable from its past incarnation. The corporation doesn't only own Pixar and ESPN, but in 2017 shelled out $52 billion for 21st Century Fox's assets which gave it ownership of Fox's movie studios as well as National Geographic, FX and Hulu. Its parks, meanwhile, now include entire areas for its "Star Wars" and "Marvel" properties, as well as the film "Avatar."
Disney's 2009 acquisition of Marvel Entertainment and 2012 purchase of George Lucas' Lucasfilm and "Star Wars" helped transform the company into a juggernaut at the movie theater. Of the top-10 highest-grossing films of all time, six have come from Disney.
It's a level of growth that has rewarded the company not only at the box office — the films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe have grossed more than $25 billion since 2008's "Iron Man" — but in the stock market as well.
Though the stock is down about 23% since last February, Disney has proven to be a solid investment over the decades.
If you had put $1,000 into Disney five years ago on Feb. 25, 2017 when shares were trading at $110, your investment would have grown 38% and be worth $1,381 as of Thursday, according to CNBC calculations. Over the same time period, however, the S&P 500 index increased in value by 81.3%.
Go back a few more years and your return would be in the triple digits. A $1,000 investment in Disney a full decade ago on Feb. 25, 2012 — the same year that "The Avengers" grossed more than $1.5 billion at the box office — would have brought a 282% return and be worth $3,825. That outpaces the S&P, which grew 214.3% since 2012.
Investors who put $1,000 into Disney 25 years ago in February 1997, mere months before the animated hit "Hercules" hit theaters, would have seen a 541% return and an investment that would be worth $6,412 today. Over the same time frame, the S&P is up 428.6%.
But this doesn't mean that the S&P is a worse investment. In fact, most experts, including legendary investor Warren Buffett, say index funds that track the large-cap index are the best place for most people to put their money because they hold every stock in the index — including Disney — making it automatically diversified.
Instead of trying to beat the market, index funds allow you to keep up with it. And because the stock market has historically increased in value over time, these low-cost funds are considered relatively safe, reliable investments.