The question I’m asked most frequently about Disney Parks is how much a trip costs. Frankly, there isn’t a quick answer I can give. There are many factors to a Disney vacation that are specific to the people going on them. Where you live, how long you are traveling for, what kind of lodging you prefer and eating habits are just a few items to consider. With that out-of-the-way, I thought it was time to give a general guide to the costs of a Disney vacation. We’ve already covered the Disneyland post so today we’ll move on to Disney World before heading to Tokyo Disney Resort later this month.
I’ll be going through different portions of a Walt Disney World vacation and estimating what their final cost will be. Most of my estimates will be for the cheaper options available, as I think that is a good starting point before choosing to enhance a potential vacation.
What a vacation will cost does depend on when you are traveling. Try to have a few options when pricing out your vacations and be flexible with your time. This isn’t an option for everyone but it will save you money the more options you have. For Disney World, I would start looking at vacation packages about 9 months in advance if it is a big trip. A year in advance certainly isn’t a bad idea but may lead to a bit of over planning. Obviously, you can plan a trip less than 9 months in advance, that is just when I recommend starting to monitor prices if saving money is a big deal to you.
Orlando only has one airport (MCO) to fly into but it is quite large and has many flights landing each day. We live on the opposite corner of the country (Seattle) and routinely fly round trip airfare to Orlando for under $400 a person. As long as you live in America I think you could likely find airfare under that price, with it getting cheaper the closer you live to Orlando.
There are a few other airports within the vicinity of Orlando, the closest being Tampa. If prices to Orlando are quite what you want then flying into Tampa is a decent option and easy. Generally it isn’t much cheaper (if at all) than Orlando though. I’m not going to put a price down for airfare, as it varies so much depending on where you live. My favorite site to check airfare prices is this Google ITA Software search.
Along with airfare, there is also ground transportation. If you are just going to Disney World and staying on-site then the transportation to and from the airport is complimentary, as well as transportation once at your hotel. If there are other places in your itinerary then using Uber or renting a car will be your cheapest options. Orlando is one of the cheapest cities to rent a car in so if you’re going to Universal or some other part of the city for a few days then I recommend renting a car and then returning it at one of Disney’s rental car locations.
Hotel – $140/night
There are quite a few options for lodging at Disney World. The first option (and one that I typically recommend) is staying on-site at a Disney owned resort. On-site there are three levels of resorts – value, moderate, and deluxe. For the price above I put down as a value since it is the cheapest. Moderate resorts are right around $200/night while deluxe resorts are closer to $300/night. The prices I just put down would be for the most expensive points in the year. I just checked on a value resort today for Thanksgiving weekend and saw the lowest price at $128/night. With that in mind, I don’t think prices will get much over $140 and could drop all the way to $100/night. Moderate and deluxe resorts can also be cheaper too, if you aren’t going in the middle of summer or during a holiday weekend.
If you do choose to stay on-site there will almost always be a special discount that Disney offers. This will get you at least 10% off of your room and typically closer to 20 or 30. Be sure to check out the special offers tab on the Disney website to find what works for you.
There are also many off-site hotels that are close to Disney World. Disney Springs has a number of hotels within walking distance that offer shuttles to the parks. These hotels can be cheaper than the value resorts and just as nice. They aren’t as convenient but if saving the money is your goal, getting a hotel around this area for $100/night is doable. There are some resorts in that area that you should stay away from but if this list is definitely safe, as well as a few others.
Park Tickets – $454 for a 5-Day (Adult) Park Hopper Ticket
Like Disneyland, park tickets will be the most expensive portion of your trip. I kept it to a 5-day ticket here to try to save some money but adding more days becomes a better value. I recommend at least 5 days in the parks if you have the time (and it’s your first time) but you can get away with 4 very busy days. Along with things that you don’t necessarily need, I did include a park hopper in this as it is what I recommend. I enjoy the freedom that the park hopper offers but I don’t think it is absolutely necessary. It will save you money to go without a park hopper (about $60 less on the 5 day ticket) but I know I wouldn’t enjoy Disney World as much without it.
As for where to get the tickets, the Disney World site is the most convenient but is not the cheapest. Mousesavers directs us to Undercover Tourist as a way to get discounted tickets, which is the price I quoted above. I have used this site before and completely trust it. Once in a while, Disney will offer discounted packages that will save money but if you are just getting a hotel room discount then I recommend getting park tickets from the above site. Here’s a few more ticket price options. If you want to add more days they are typically around $7 per additional day once you get past that five-day ticket.
Food – $40 per day/person
I’m guessing that you could eat for slightly less money a day than I listed but this is eating the way I’d recommend. Kids would definitely cost less than this. But, I do recommend mainly eating in Disney Parks or hotels as opposed to driving off-property for fast food. This will save time in the parks, which you are paying for, and the cost difference is minimal for worse food. The cost above could surely go up if you have a few sit-down meals, which I recommend, but didn’t include since I’m trying to make this cheaper. My biggest piece of advice would be to allow yourself a few extra dollars to have a nicer meal. Don’t just get chicken strips and hot dogs, you will feel worse and only save a couple of dollars a meal. Even with only going to counter-service options, there are plenty of places that have somewhat unique and delicious options. One other tidbit is don’t eat counter-service breakfast. Either get a pastry for breakfast, buy granola bars and bananas at the grocery store prior to going to Disney World, or eat at a table-service restaurant. A breakfast platter with rubber eggs and bad sausage is not worth your money.
This will vary depending on how often you go and basically whatever you want to spend. We don’t spend as much on souvenirs at Disney World anymore outside of the occasional sweatshirt or special item. But if it’s a first time trip and/or you’re taking kids then the souvenir budget will be larger. We always set some sort of budget for both souvenirs and food and then borrow from one or the other depending on what we end up wanting. $50 a person seems more than reasonable but you could go without spending anything here so I didn’t put it up top.
Unlike Disneyland, I don’t necessarily recommend going outside of Disney World. Other areas of Orlando are fun, like Universal, but if you are on a budget then I don’t recommend it. Orlando is not Southern California and Disney World is far and away my favorite part of the city. Still, this is a case-by-case basis and if you love Harry Potter or want to go to the beach then you should! Universal costs roughly the same as Disney World while the beach hotels are about the same price as the lodging I listed above.
In that same vein, I don’t ultimately recommend renting a car. Even if you are going to Universal, take an Uber from your Disney World hotel on the day of (unless you are spending multiple days at Universal). It certainly doesn’t hurt to price things out and see what the cheapest option are but getting picked up and dropped off by Disney while staying on property is the cheapest and usually easiest option.
For a family of four this total comes to roughly $4,000/night for a week-long vacation to Disney World (and only Disney World). That is before airfare and is adding a few days onto the ticket option I listed above. Melissa and I have certainly done trips cheaper than this and it’s without factoring in travel rewards on credit cards and other discounts that are sometimes offered. A Disney World vacation is slightly more straight forward than a Disneyland vacation, as Orlando is the travel destination Southern California is. There are ways to make this cheaper though and room to customize it.
If you have any questions or thoughts about the cost of a Disney World trip please leave them in the comments below! If you enjoy what you’re reading please subscribe to the blog and like our social media pages which you can find on the right side of this page. Thank you for reading, we really appreciate it!
Categories: Vacation Tips