Disney World is a magical family vacation. But figuring out how much it actually costs for a Disney vacation can be anything but magical. There are so many factors to consider — where to stay, whether to rent a car, food costs in the parks, even choosing between one-day-one-park tickets and a park hopper. Nothing is simple. This comprehensive guide will tell you everything you need to know to figure out your total Disney vacation cost.
Disclosure: This post was sponsored by PixieVacations.com.
How Much Does It Cost to Go to Disney World?
Are you ready to book a Disney trip? Ticket prices are rising, the Disney Dining Plan has changed, and there are on-site parking fees. But that’s not all you need to consider in your Disney trip cost! TravelingMom breaks down your Disney vacation costs to include tickets, food, transportation, hotel stay, and extra expenses that factor into answering the question: How much does it REALLY cost to go to Disney?
Editor’s note: All ticket prices mentioned in this post were accurate for April 2019. They provide an idea of how much a Disney vacation costs. Disney pricing is complicated and changes regularly. The prices you actually pay will depend on when and how you travel.
Park Ticket Costs
First, and probably most obviously, planning a Disney vacation can’t happen without park tickets. In Walt Disney World, there are four theme parks: Animal Kingdom, Magic Kingdom, Epcot, and Hollywood Studios. In the past, the cost of a single day park ticket to the Magic Kingdom was higher than a single day ticket to the three other parks. However, park admission prices now are tiered– the cost of a park ticket is based on which day you visit.
Tickets cost more for park visits on the weekend and during higher-demand times, such as holidays and summertime. In April 2019, the price for a one day ticket to any theme park ranged from $117 to $139.
Consider working with a travel agent to find the best time for your family to travel. Peak travel times, such as Spring Break or Christmas, will mean higher ticket prices and hotel costs.
Park Ticket Choices
In addition, think about whether you want to park hop. Park hopper tickets are good at all four theme parks. If you’re really ambitious, that means you can spend the morning at, say, Animal Kingdom, the afternoon at Hollywood Studios, have dinner at Epcot, then head to Magic Kingdom for the late night fireworks.
Park hopper ticket pricing can be complicated, too. It changes based on how many days you’re buying. For example, in April 2019, a one day park hopper ticket started at $169 for anyone ages 10 and up. If you’re lucky enough to spend 10 days at the Most Magical Place on Earth, park hopper ticket prices started at just $55 per day per person, or $550/person for the entire 10 days.
You may not want to actually park hop, however. Why? Because it takes time to move from one park to another. It is easy to hop from Epcot to Hollywood Studios because they are located right next to one another. But it takes much longer to hop from the Magic Kingdom to Animal Kingdom. A trip on board the free Disney transportation can take 45 minutes or longer. That’s 45 minutes less time you’ll have in the parks.
Finally, don’t forget about the Disney water parks! My family loves the water parks, but, again, is a visit to the parks worth a day ticket or the added expense of the “Park Hopper Plus” option ($20 for the one-day ticket)? Consider this extra cost wisely before fully committing to those Disney World tickets!
Unless you are a local with an annual pass, you’re going to need a hotel room for your Disney World trip. Will it be on Disney property? Will it be at a “Good Neighbor” hotel? Staying off Disney property doesn’t automatically mean a cost savings, especially if you factor in the time and cost of transportation to and from the park every day.
The Disney World has three categories of “on property” hotels: value, moderate and deluxe. Each resort has pros and cons. For example, deluxe resorts are the most expensive (from $345/night in April 2019), but they are often the closest to the parks, and they have some of the best pools. Value resorts offer a significant savings (starting around $110/per night in April 2019), but the rooms are smaller, and transportation to the parks takes longer.
Read More: Should You Stay On Property at Disney World?
Disney Springs area hotels are another great option for saving on initial cost, but they are not as conveniently located to the parks. Work with your travel agent and/or family to decide what is most important to you: location or cost savings?
Next, let’s talk about getting there. If you’re a Disney regular, you’re already covered. Annual passes come with parking included. If you’re flying in and staying at a Disney hotel, you’re covered, too. Just add the free Disney Magical Express bus service to your travel plan and you can save the cost of a rental car or ride share, and get dropped off right at the front door of your resort.
Read More: Don’t Make This $80 Mistake at Disney World
If you drive, plan to pay nightly self-parking fees at Disney hotels and off property “Good Neighbor” hotels. The cost will be added to your room charges when you check out. As of April 2019, standard overnight parking rates at Disney hotels ranged from $13 per night at Disney value resorts to $24 per night at the deluxe resorts.
Another transportation cost you’ll want to consider is time. It takes time to traverse the 47-square-mile Disney World property, whether you’re in a rental car, a Disney bus, boat or monorail. It can take even longer when there are special events such as holiday celebrations, runDisney races, cheer/dance competitions, and even Major League Baseball spring training! I believe that time equals money on my Disney parks vacation, so I’m always thinking about the pros and cons of transportation to and from my hotel and the parks.
Food Costs at Disney World
Everyone has to eat, even on vacation! You’ll need to account for food costs in your Disney vacation cost budget. At Disney World, even dining can be complicated. Which dining plan should you choose? Should you even choose a dining plan? This absolutely depends on your family or traveling party.
The cost of the Disney Dining Plan has changed significantly in the last year. All plans, not just plans that include table service, now come with the option to have a non-alcoholic specialty beverage or, for adults age 21 or older, one beer, wine, or cocktail with each meal. This option applies to quick service plans, Disney Dining plan (includes one quick service and one table service meal per person per day), and the Disney Deluxe plan (includes three meals per person per day).
Pricing varies widely, depending on the level of dining plan, time of year and package deals. It can be as cheap as free! For the last few years, Disney has offered a short-term promotion that includes the Disney Dining Plan for free when families book hotel packages. Ask your travel agent when the promotion will be available each year. It’s the best way to save a few dollars and get to try the dining plan!
Dining plan meal offerings are very generous in size. Sometimes even a quick service meal keeps me full for most of the day — and that was before they gave us the option to get a milkshake with our meal!
If you want to save on food costs at Disney, book a hotel room with a small kitchen and plan to eat in a few times during your trip.
Consider Extra Expenses
Speaking of “extra fun,” don’t forget to factor in extras to your total cost. These extras can include anything from specialty food at one of the many Epcot festivals to souvenirs for the kiddos to a trip to the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique or Pirate’s League! Adults may want to take advantage of in-room babysitting for a night out or a day on the links or a Character Couture makeover. There are so many ways to have fun outside the theme parks!
My family loves the benefit of having a Disney Visa credit card. Our credit card saves us 10% on purchases of $50 or more at most Disney stores. We also earn points on every purchase that we make, Disney or not, that we can then turn into a redemption card that can be used at any Disney Parks resort, restaurant, or store!