Disneyland is raising its admission prices to a staggering $87 for a simple one-day, one-park pass. This is the second price hike in less than a year (it bumped admission to $80 last June). The park has now raised ticket prices in four consecutive years, pushing the cost up by $21 a ticket over that span, and entry now costs $46 more than it did 11 years ago. The price of annual passes has also gone up, according to The Orange County Register's Eugene W. Fields and Michael Mello, with the most expensive premium pass (which includes 365-day access and parking) now costing $649. Tickets to the much-larger Disney World Resort in Orlando are already $90.53.

It's probably not a coincidence that the price hike comes a few weeks before a $450 million Cars-themed attraction opens at Disney's California Adventure park (which is also subject to the price hike.) The company is making major investments in all its theme parks, according The New York Times' Brooks Barnes, who has a big feature Monday on Disney's escalating war with Universal Studios and their rival family of parks. Since Comcast took over Universal's properties last year, they've made big investment in the Harry Potter World at Universal Orlando and will open a $100 million 3-D ride based on The Transformers franchise at its Hollywood park this week. Disney is responding with a $500 million Avatar-themed attraction (with help from James Cameron) at its Animal Kingdom.

A one-day pass at Universal Hollywood is currently $77 though a special pass that lets you "skip" to the front of the enormous lines will run you $129. (A basic pass at Universal Orlando will set you back by $85.) You would think that in these tough economic times, companies in the business of family entertainment would attempt to rein in costs, but it seems that neither rising prices nor falling incomes have hurt the theme park business. Both Universal and Disney saw big revenue increases in the last year — better in fact than the movie business the parks are supposedly built on. (The $84 million Disney lost last year on the floptastic John Carter certainly didn't help.) Folks may not be willing to shell out $12 for a movie ticket very often, but at least they know when they cough up five times that for a day of roller coasters and tea cups, they'll be getting a least one actual thrill ride.