It’s no secret that a Disney World vacation can be pretty pricey for the average family.
And, between price increases on parking, tickets, food, and more, a Disney World vacation has become even more costly than it was before. So, we’re breaking down the price piece-by-piece for ya and sharing ways that you can still make your trip a bit more affordable the next time you visit!
How Much Does Your Hotel Stay Cost?
One of the first decisions that you’ll make when planning your Disney World vacation is where to stay. And, if you’re choosing to stay at a Disney-owned hotel then you’ll have three pricing ranges to choose from — Disney Value Resorts, which can cost between $150-$300 per night, Disney Moderate Resorts, which tend to cost between $250-$400 per night, and Disney Deluxe Resorts, which often cost between $400-$600+ per night (with some rooms going well above $2,000 per night). Plus, those looking for rooms with more space can opt for a Disney Vacation Club Resort which can cost anywhere from $400 to $5,000 per night.
So, why are people choosing to stay at a Disney-owned hotel? Well, it comes with quite a few perks like complimentary Disney transportation, close proximity to the parks, early access to Individual Lightning Lane selections, and extra time in the parks. And, of course, you’ll be staying in the “Disney bubble” and can expect the standard of service that comes with that.
How to Save
But, you certainly don’t have to shell out the money to stay at a Disney World hotel if you’re hoping to have a great vacation. There are many off-site hotels that are still close to the parks but offer more amenities (with some even offering theme park transportation) and space for the money that you’re paying. And, you can usually find a nearby hotel that is much cheaper than even the Disney Value Resorts.
There are also some resorts that are not owned by Disney but are located on Disney property, including the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin. This hotel is near Disney’s BoardWalk making it only a short walk or boat ride to both EPCOT and Disney’s Hollywood Studios. So, you’ll have access to Disney Deluxe Resort amenities feel like you’re in the “bubble”, but you won’t be paying the deluxe price or resort fees. Plus, you can use your Marriott Bonvoy Rewards or find discounts for teachers and nurses from time to time.
If you’re looking for a place to stay that has more space for a large family (similar to the Disney Vacation Club rooms), you can look into house rentals in the area. You’ll often find more space and sometimes even a private pool for a much cheaper price tag. But, keep in mind that you’ll want to look at reviews and research management companies before committing to the rental.
But, if staying at a Disney World Resort is a must for you, you can often find a variety of hotel discounts throughout the year. Keep an eye out for the best times to book with a discount and be sure that you’ve added any affinity groups to your My Disney Experience account that might score you a discount (like Florida residency, Annual Passholder, Disney Vacation Club, or military).
And, for larger groups or those who would like more space in their room, you can always look into renting Disney Vacation Club points, which is the best way we’ve found to save on a DVC resort stay! You can do this through third-party services like David’s Vacation Club Rentals, where you can “rent” points from members who aren’t planning to use them.
So, there are still a lot of ways to save on your Disney hotel choice, it just may require some flexibility in dates and location!
How Much Do Park Tickets Cost?
Once you know where you’re staying, you’re probably looking to get those coveted Disney Park Tickets next and, of course, they’re going to cost ya a pretty penny, too. Right now, single-day park tickets cost $109 per day, per person at the LEAST, and park hoppers start at $174 per day, per person — so depending on how many parks you want to visit and how many days you’re vacationing, your ticket cost will fluctuate.
Keep in mind that Disney does date-based ticketing, so the time of year that you’re going can really impact the cost of your vacation. You’ll find the cheapest tickets during the off-season and the most expensive tickets during peak times when the parks are more crowded.
How to Save
With date-based ticketing, it can be really beneficial to plan your trip during non-peak times of the year if you’re hoping to save. This would mean that you’re planning your vacation for late August/September, late January/early February, or the end of April/beginning of May.
And, if you’re planning on traveling for an extended period of time, it can be beneficial to look into Disney World Annual Passes (though Disney is only selling one specific Florida Resident annual pass right now for new passholders). This membership gives you access to discounts on hotel rooms, merchandise, and PhotoPass downloads, depending on what level ticket you purchase, and the savings can add up to be pretty significant. Plus, only one member of the whole party needs to have a pass to get the discount.
How Much Does Food Cost?
Once you’re at Disney World, you’ll be eating all of your meals there and, if there’s one thing for sure, it’s costly. Disney has over 400 restaurants to choose from and there’s a pretty big variety of options and costs.
For the average family planning to dine at a Table Service restaurant and a Quick Service restaurant, plus tack on some snacks and drinks throughout the day, you’re looking at roughly $85 per day PER PERSON for just the food. So, meals are definitely something to plan ahead for in the budget.
How to Save
One thing that a lot of park-goers forget is that you can actually bring your own food into the parks — it’s true! So, if you’re staying at a hotel with a kitchen, you can make your meals there are bring them into the park with you. Plus, you don’t even have to leave your room to do the grocery shopping — Disney allows guests to order groceries to be delivered to the resort.
And, if you’re planning on eating in the parks, you can often save some cash by choosing to split your Quick Service meals. The portions are pretty large (even for some snacks) making them easy to share between at least two people. Just keep in mind that this may not be an option if you’re dining at a Table Service restaurant.
For those who want a meal all to themselves, adults usually can order off the kids’ menu at Quick Service restaurants, which gives you a slightly smaller portion for a much cheaper cost. Again, though, at Table Service restaurants this likely won’t be an option.
Of course, when Disney brings it back, you can always opt to add the Disney Dining Plan to your trip, though it won’t necessarily save you money on food. Instead, it can help you budget for your meals in advance.
And, if you’re still looking for ways to add the cost of food into your Disney travel budget, we’ve got a tool to help you out! We include a Disney Food Budgeting Worksheet in our DFB Guide, along with other travel tips and tricks. So, you can weigh the cost of meals for your stay with or without the Dining Plan.
What Are the Additional Costs?
Other costs to consider when planning your Disney World trip are things like special ticketed events, extra activities (like mini-golf), dining experiences, Disney Genie+, and VIP tours.
These things can give you more time in the parks with lower crowds, add some variety to your trip, and help you tackle more rides, but they will certainly cost ya. In fact, tickets for special events and special dining experiences or tours can be over $100 per person, with holiday events like Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party (which gives guests an extra 3 hours in Magic Kingdom) priced at $109-$199, depending on the date you go.
And, even if you’re just planning to hit up the parks during regular hours and pass on any extra experiences, you’ll likely be considering whether or not you should purchase Disney Genie+ or Individual Attraction Selections. These are Disney World’s new ways to “skip the line” at some of the most popular attractions but, unlike the former FastPass+ service, you’re going to have to cough up some cash for the perk.
Genie+ costs $15 per person, per day, and Individual Attraction Selections range from anywhere between $7-$15 per person, per ride depending on when you’re visiting and what rides you’re looking to skip the line at. Multiply that by 4 people over a 5-day vacation and you could find yourself seriously eating into your Disney World budget.
How to Save
Now, if you’re really looking to save money and cut down on the budget, it may be best to skip these extras. You can still have a great time in Disney World without adding on special events and activities, plus, the standby line is still available at every attraction so you don’t need to purchase Genie+ to ride. Or, you can always cut costs elsewhere on your trip and build them into the budget ahead of time.
Of course, some affinity groups do get discounts on the ticketed events and activities, so be sure you’ve got your Annual Pass, Disney Vacation Club, or other discount groups linked to your My Disney Experience account before purchasing tickets.
Consider if these things make sense for your family. For example, things like After Hours events can be preferable for groups that are visiting for a short time, because you get access to the parks with limited crowds enabling you to ride the popular attractions quickly. Plus, you’ll get select free snacks and beverages during the event. And, with Genie+, you can opt to purchase the service for only select days of your trip when you know that you’ll be visiting a busier park or if you have a ton of rides that you want to tackle in a short period of time in one day (just keep in mind that you’ll need to purchase it the day of in that case).
How Much Are Hidden Fees?
So, what other costs are there to a Disney World trip? Well, if you’re planning on driving your car to Disney and staying at a Disney World resort, then you’ll stumble upon a Resort Parking Fee of $15 per night at value resorts, $20 at moderate resorts, and $25 at deluxe resorts. But, keep in mind that will also cover the cost of parking at the theme parks if you choose to take your car.
Speaking of staying at a Disney World hotel, there are also some extra costs to staying in a room with an upgraded view or location. Some of these upgrades can definitely be worth the cost for a better view and shorter walk to transportation, but it really depends.
Tips for your resort staff members and restaurant servers are another thing you should take into account when budgeting. The amount you will need to budget will vary depending on how much table-service dining you plan to do during your trip.
And, if you want to have access to all of the on-ride photos and photos taken by Disney PhotoPass Cast Members, you’ll also have to pay for the PhotoPass+ Memory Maker which costs $169 for the trip if you purchase the package in advance.
How to Save
So, how do you avoid some of these up-charges? Well, you can skip the Resort Parking Fee if you opt not to bring a car with you. Of course, if you are flying into Orlando, you will need to pay for airport transportation, so you will have to weigh the cost of that versus the cost of driving and parking.
When it comes to hotel upgrades, think about how much time you actually plan to spend in your hotel room. If you’ll be in the parks most of the time, it may be worth skipping the extra cost if you don’t mind logging some extra steps to get to and from the bus stop and your room.
And, you can ask your PhotoPass Cast Member to snap a picture on your phone and avoid the cost of the Memory Maker.
How Much Does Airfare Cost?
We couldn’t talk about the cost of a Disney vacation without mentioning airfare. Not all Disney-goers will choose to fly in for their trip, but if you do, then you’ll be adding $200-$500+ per person round trip, plus the cost of gas and other travel costs.
How to Save
The Orlando International Airport is pretty big, so you’ll probably have a few options for flights depending on when and where you’re flying from. It can be beneficial to plan ahead for when you’re booking — the prices of airline tickets can really fluctuate depending on how far in advance you’re purchasing. You don’t want to be buying too far in advance, but also not too close to your trip.
You’ll also tend to find the better prices on early morning and late-night flights, because — well, they’re just not all that desirable!
And, if you can’t find a flight at the right price, be willing to travel to other airports in your area that might have a flight to Orlando at a better cost.
So, yes a Disney World vacation is pricey and that’s probably not going to change much anytime soon. But, there are still ways to make it more affordable for your family if you’re hoping to spend some time in the “most magical place on earth.”