There’s a reason there are so many websites, books, and podcasts about all things Disney. It’s one of the most popular vacation destination for families! But if you’re dreaming of booking your next family vacation to visit the Mouse, there’s something you should know: it costs money. Just how much does it cost for a Disney World vacation? We’ve detailed all the areas you need to budget for when planning your Disney vacation, plus we’re including a free printable Disney vacation cost worksheet.
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What Does it Cost for a Disney World Vacation?
If your family has been humming the imperial march song, or perhaps you just can’t get the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse theme song out of your head, you might be ready for a family vacation to Disney. Our own family has taken some vacations to enjoy both Disneyland and Walt Disney World, and there is something that we’ve learned along the way. A Disney vacation can cost a good amount of money, so it’s best to be prepared in advance for what you’ll face and how you can splurge and save at Disney World. Based on our TravelingMom “been there, done that” experience, we’ll help you figure how much it will cost you. We even created a free printable Disney cost worksheet for you to get started planning and saving for your own trip to visit Mickey.
How Much does it Cost to Get to Walt Disney World?
There are a few variables to look at when figuring your transportation costs. First, let’s look at the costs if you’re flying. One of my favorite tips for buying plane tickets is to set up price alerts on your flight route. You’ll be able to see where the costs are currently and hopefully hop onto any deals. We recently flew from Seattle to Orlando nonstop for $330 each, one of the best deals we’ve ever scored. Flying also means you need to budget if you’re parking your car at the airport and if you’re checking any bags for the flight (unless you’re flying Southwest where bags fly free).
Next, if you’re flying, you should consider transportation costs once you land. If you’re staying on-site at Walt Disney World, you can take advantage of the complimentary Magical Express bus transportation to and from the airport. If you’re renting a car,do your research and plan for that expense. Be sure to get a car that will fit your family AND luggage! I like to use Priceline, Costco Travel, and AAA Travel to find the best rental car deal for our trip.
If you are renting a car, be sure to plan for parking costs as well. At the Disney parks, parking will cost you $20 for the day. If you’re staying at a Disney World property you can park for free at the resort and the theme parks. Disney Springs and the water parks have complimentary parking. If you’re not renting a car or using Disney transportation, be sure to consider how you’re going to get around Walt Disney World. It’s pretty spread out and multiple uber or taxi rides will cost you.
If you’re driving to Walt Disney World, be sure to consider the maintenance expenses to ready your car for the trip. Then figure your fuel costs for the drive as well as any hotel nights you’ll need if it’s a long drive.
How Much Does It Cost to Stay at Walt Disney World?
When you’re planning the cost for a Disney World vacation, this is one area where you’re going to have to research and really consider what your priorities are for your Disney vacation hotel. Make sure you realize that your hotel stay will have a tax added on of around 12.5%. You’ll need to decide if you want to stay onsite at a Walt Disney World Resort which offers certain Disney park benefits, or offsite at a resort that might allow you to save some money on your room or with free breakfasts.
Staying onsite at Walt Disney World offers you a good range of finance options. You can stay at the Value Resorts which will offer you motel style rooms with the onsite benefits and range around $100-$200 a night for a standard room depending on which resort you pick and when you’re traveling (value vs. high season; 2016 rate sheet prices). For a step up, you’re looking at the Moderate Resorts which will range around $190-$290 for a standard room. Then to really jump all in on features and location, you might want to look at the Deluxe Resorts, such as the gorgeous Grand Floridian, which are often the closest resorts to the parks and can sometimes offer more transportation options to/from the Magic Kingdom and Epcot. Deluxe resorts vary widely in rates based on the property and their amenities. You can expect to see a range of around $400-$800 for standard deluxe rooms, but again this price widely varies based on the property and travel dates. Disney will offer sales and promotions on room rates, so be on the lookout for those.
A secret for saving money on your Disney World hotel costs is to consider a vacation rental. The website Vacatia offers you the chance to book resort rental homes directly for over 289 resorts in 12 destinations, including Orlando, Florida! If you’re planning early enough, they even have Disney Vacation Club resorts, so you can score a fabulous deal on a studio, one bedroom, or two bedroom onsite at Walt Disney World. Plus they have some great properties offsite that will allow you more space for less money. This is a great option for families who need more space than a traditional hotel room offers. You can even find look for an Amazing Vacatia Value rating which means you’re saving over 50% from the comparable average hotel room prices.
If you love the nightlife and want to stay offsite and still keep in touch with the Disney feel, check out Wyndham Lake Buena Vista, an Official Walt Disney World partner hotel that is right across the street from Disney Springs. This means you’re in the heart of the dining and entertainment center for Walt Disney World, and you’ll have access to Disney transportation for the parks, all at a great offsite price point. Rooms at the Wyndham Garden Lake Buena Vista are great for families on a budget, offering rooms as low as $79 a night. Tower rooms at the Wyndham start from $109; you can even book Disney view rooms.
How Much Do Tickets Cost for a Disney World Vacation?
This is the area where you should make sure you’re aware of the costs and plan accordingly. You’re going to have some choices to make when choosing your ticket type and the number of days. First, you need to decide how many days you want to visit. The cost per day goes down as each additional day gets added on, so the price difference between a 4-day or a 5-day ticket isn’t that much ($394 vs $409). Then, you need to decide whether you want to add on the park hopper option to your tickets. This will mean that you can visit more than one park in a day. Remember that the parks are pretty spread out, so hopping from park to park will take time.
You can also decide if you want to add the Water Park and More option to your tickets, a better deal on park hoppers, which allows you to visit the water parks and more the same number of times as your ticket days. So a 4-day park hopper ticket can add on the water parks and more option for only an additional $26 a ticket and get four visits to water parks, golf courses, or the ESPN sports complex. Our family used this recently and went to the water park in the morning, then hopped over to the Magic Kingdom after lunch. You could feasibly use this to have eight days worth of activities, four park days and four visits to the water parks and more options.
The next thing to consider for tickets is whether you’ll want to add on any special event/attraction tickets. There many opportunities here to really go beyond the typical Disney World vacation. First, there are a lot of tour options with Disney, like the VIP tour that can get you express line ride access, or even behind the scenes tours for certain areas or interests. You can also book special dessert parties for some of the nighttime spectaculars. The new Symphony in the Stars: A Galactic Spectacular Dessert Party at Disney’s Hollywood Studios will cost $69 for adults and $39 for kids. And recently Walt Disney World started offering guests the opportunity to add on early admission into Fantasyland ($69 adults, $49 children), and for a limited time this spring, they offered After Hours tickets for $149.
Another add-on for your tickets that might be of interest is the MemoryMaker PhotoPass program. You can purchase this in advance for $149 and it gives you digital download access to all your photos taken on rides and by PhotoPass photographers in the parks. This can be convenient, but if you like to take your own photos, consider packing along the Panasonic Lumix ZS60, which lets you record 4k video and gives you 30x zoom, all in a small, compact point and shoot camera. Great for getting close in on those special ride shots like this one of my hubby and daughter enjoying Kali River Rapids!
How Much Does It Cost to Eat at Walt Disney World?
Another tricky item to put a price on when calculating the cost for a Disney World vacation is food. The best advice I have is to look at the restaurants that are near the parks you’re visiting and plan for your dining based on the prices Disney lists on their site. You can also do google searches for the menus at certain restaurants to help plan your food budget. Typically quick service/counter restaurants will cost $15 and under ($) per person, basic table service restaurants will range from $15 to $35 ($$), and deluxe table service restaurants will range from $35 to over $60 ($$$, $$$$). And don’t forget to add on for snacks. Who can resist those Dole whips? They’ll cost you $4.19 each.
If you’re staying on site, you might want to add a dining plan onto your Disney vacation, which is a convenient way to advance purchase a certain number of meals and snacks for your trip. These vary based on the type of restaurants in which you choose to dine, and when you’re purchasing. Disney also sometimes offers a free dining promotion that can really help families looking for a deal.
How Much Does It Cost to Shop at Walt Disney World?
Shopping, the hidden expense for many a Disney fan. Let me just say that Walt Disney World has gadget and gizmos aplenty that will tempt even the stingiest of Scrooges to pick up a few things for the home or little ones. You can quickly find unique Disney items that you never knew you needed, and your vacation budget can quickly spiral off point. That’s why it’s a good idea to have a plan for how much you want to spend on souvenirs and plan how you can save on souvenir shopping. Our biggest tip for helping control our kids’ spending money was to give them Disney gift cards which they could use on whatever they wanted. We would often tell them to wait until we were headed out of the parks to get whatever special gift they wanted, and if they really wanted it, they’d remember to come back for it.
There are a few areas to plan for in regards to shopping. You might want to get your little princess a makeover at the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique, which can cost you around $60 to $200 depending on your package. Or your pirate or mermaid can get “decked out” at the Pirates League for around $35-$75. And beware of what evenings in the park can cost you: those light up toys are always a hit with the kids. A light up Mickey balloon will cost $15.
One other aspect that you might want to shop for and consider is whether you need any trip insurance for your vacation. Perhaps you need a bit of insurance if your trip plans get cancelled, or you might even need medical care while on your trip. Take your family’s needs into consideration and be sure to add it to your budget if needed..
Now it’s time for you to start work on calculating the cost for a Disney World vacation for your family. We’ve created this helpful printable worksheet for you to record your budget plans for your trip, plus you can bring it along to record your actual costs and see how close you are to budget.
Please comment below and let me know your favorite way to save or splurge on a Disney World vacation!
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