11 Dec How Much Does a Disney Vacation Cost?
Disney has become a household name over the last hundred years. Way back when, Walt Disney had a dream to create a place where families could go to have fun together. He and his brother Roy worked together and created many beloved and wholesome films. Those movies, among other classics, then became the inspiration for and theme the original Disney Park was based around. That’s Disneyland in Anaheim, California which opened in 1955. Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida has now been open for over fifty years since 1971. If you haven’t been to either, you surely know someone who has. But how much does a Disney vacation cost these days?
A Disney vacation can be a lot of different things. There are Disney cruises around the world and Adventures by Disney trips which tour different global destinations. For the purpose of this post we’ll be considering a Disney Parks vacation at Walt Disney World Resort specifically. It’s a very popular tourist destination in the United States of America and rightfully so. With around thirty themed resort hotels, four theme parks, two water parks and a shopping and dining district, there’s a lot to draw people in. Prices have gone up a surprising amount over the last few years especially. All magic comes with a price! Let’s take a look at the Disney vacation cost and what it entails.
How Much Does a Disney Vacation Cost?
In order to calculate a Disney vacation cost we need to break down the overall experience into all of the individual parts. You can eliminate any of these expenses that don’t apply to you. We’re including the things you may not think about like rentals and the little add ons. It can add up! You just won’t know the real cost of a Disney vacation without considering all the extras. Another important detail to note is that most items cost more at Disney than other places you might buy them. That includes everything from food to souvenirs. Below is an estimated Disney vacation expenses chart to consider with explanations of each category underneath. We’ll also go over the asterisked main areas where you can save or splurge that can greatly affect your Disney vacation cost.
For comparison purposes, we’re pricing out a stay in June of 2023 at a moderate resort for two adults, one younger child and one older child. The ages matter because there are some different offerings you can include for different ages and they are priced differently. The time of year you visit is also important in determining price.
Disney Vacation Expenses
* expenses that can be greatly impacted depending on your preferences
|Potential Expense Category||Estimated Cost|
|personal care items||$150|
|total Disney vacation cost||$8392|
For many years, Walt Disney World Resort provided complimentary transportation to and from the airport. The motor coach that provided the service was called Disney’s Magical Express. Disney discontinued the service in 2022. It’s important to note because if you vacationed at Disney in the past, this was a major convenience. Disney would even take control of your bags at the airport and deliver them straight to your room. Now airport transportation is an additional expense to consider.
There are two similar Magical Express replacements to consider alongside traditional transportation options like taxis or modern transport like Uber or Lyft. Mears Connect is operated by the same company that ran Magical Express for Disney. The standard service offered is $32.00 per adult and $27.00 per 3 to 9 year old child for roundtrip transportation. Children under three ride for free. The other company that provides this service is Sunshine Flyer which has motor coaches that are themed to trains on the exterior. Prices for round trip transportation are $32.00 per adult and $20 per child aged 3 to 12. Children under three also ride free on the Sunshine Flyer.
While we’re talking airport transportation, let’s note that fact that we’re not including airfare in this estimate. The cost of flights just varies too much depending on where you are traveling from. Another expense to consider in lieu of airport transportation is a rental car and gas. Having a car to park also adds a nightly fee to your hotel stay which we’ll cover a few points down. Basically, just remember one of the bigger expenses related to the Disney vacation cost, travel to the destination, is not considered in this overview.
This is one place you can make the budget or majorly splurge with your Disney vacation cost. Official Walt Disney World Resort hotels have three price tiers: value, moderate and deluxe. The basic idea is that value resorts are lower in price and offer fewer amenities. Moderate takes it up a step with theming and offerings at the resort. Deluxe resorts are the priciest, even more appealing and usually in great locations next to the parks. Think eye catching lobbies and nicer restaurants at your resort for the deluxe tier. Then there are unofficial resorts on and very close to Disney World property. These can be substantially lower or higher in cases like the Four Seasons. For our calculation purposes, we used the moderate resort.
For a weeklong stay from June 12th through 19th in 2023 at Disney’s Beach Club Resort, a deluxe resort, the price would be $4522.53 total. For a stay at the same time but in a moderate resort, Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort, it’s $2275.91. Lastly, a value resort stay at Disney’s All Star Sports Resort for the same length and dates would cost $1448.26.
In the last few years, Disney added per car, per night parking fees. These fees vary depending on the tier of resort you are staying in. Deluxe resort parking is $25 per night. Moderate resort parking is $20 per night. Value resort parking is $15 per night. If you are not staying at a Walt Disney World Resort, you will need to pay for theme park parking. Parking at the parks is complementary for Disney resort guests. Otherwise, it’s $25 per day. That’s $175 in theme park parking if you’re staying at a non Disney hotel. It’s these little things that can make the difference when you’re comparing staying on or off property or at an official Disney hotel or somewhere else. We included the moderate resort parking price for a week in our chart.
Ah, yes. Tickets for the parks are one of the most important, and pricey, parts of a Disney vacation. While tickets aren’t as flexible in pricing, there’s a base price and some add-ons so you do have options. The only way to save on theme park tickets is to make sure you’re avoiding surge pricing travel periods like the week after Christmas. That will likely be the priciest week of the year. Disney uses dynamic pricing for tickets which means they are priced by day and based on demand. If you’re a Florida resident you may be able to get a discount depending on the time of year. If you’re planning an extended stay or more than one in a one year period, an annual pass may present the best value.
We’ll assume you’re buying tickets to go to all four theme parks: Magic Kingdom Park, Epcot, Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Disney’s Animal Kingdom. You’ll need at least one day at each park. Probably another day at your favorite. Doing a little reading about each park before hand can help you decide where you may want to spend the most time. If you have the park hopper add on you can visit more than one park each day.
For the week we’ve been pricing out, mid June of 2023, seven day tickets for two adults and two children with the park hopper add on are $2,953.40. You can get a Disney vacation package which, at this time, just means booking your hotel and tickets together at the same time.
Disney Genie+ replaced the former complimentary FastPass system and allows guests to wait in shorter lines for attractions. Upon launch it was $15 per person, per day. As of late 2022, Genie+ also moved to a dynamic pricing model. This means the price changes daily based on demand. So you could pay $15 per person per day but it could cost up to $29. That’s the highest we’ve seen yet. This feature is paid for on the day of your park visit. We’re including Disney Genie+ at an estimated $23 per day which totals $644 for a week.
Meals are another place you can go all the way or keep it reeled in on spending. There is a wide range of options for food. Realistically you can only eat so much. After a big late breakfast you might only want one other sit down meal in the day. Every travel party is different and you know you and your people best. Whether you choose table service restaurants, quick service dining or cost friendly kiosks will drastically affect how much you spend on food. The Disney Dining Plan hasn’t returned since the 2020 closure. This part of a Disney vacation package allowed guests to prepay for meals and dine on a credit system. At this time, there is no prepaid dining.
For many special dining experiences, Disney has transitioned to a prix fixe menus. This means the price per person is set and typically each guest chooses something from an appetizer, entree and dessert course. There are also traditional buffets and family style service. Family style is where the server brings replenish-able serving platters of food to your table.
Let’s price out an average day eating at Disney. Maybe you grab a quick breakfast at your resort. Lunch consists of a classic Magic Kingdom quick service meal at Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn and Cafe. For dinner it’s over to a character meal at Chef Mickey’s. With tip included, and no alcoholic beverages considered, a Disney dining day like this would cost about $400 for this size of party.
Snacks are getting their own category for consideration because they are part of the experience. Will you be hungry after sitting down to a family style character meal? Definitely not. But you may not be able to pass up a churro when you walk by one. Eating your way around the parks is expected. Treats like Dole whip, popcorn, Mickey pretzels and carrot cake cookies are part of the memories. At $5 to $10 for most snacks, you’ll want to think about this and add it to your budget. We’re adding $300 to our total to account for our party of four’s weeklong snacking.
Personal Care Items
Sometimes you just need more sunscreen than you packed. One of your kids forgets their bathing suit. You didn’t remember your toothbrush. It pours and ponchos for everyone save the day. Whatever it may be, personal care items are a must have. Disney gift shops do a great job of selling the necessities but at an elevated price, of course. It’s always good to add a little to your budget for something unexpected in this category. It seems like $150 is a good middle ground considering this could be low or high depending on your travel party’s needs.
Disney days include lots of walking. If your kids aren’t quite ready to venture tens of thousands of steps in a day, a stroller can really enhance your trip. Strollers can also be the perfect afternoon nap time location. Rentals are available at the front of each theme park and at Disney Springs. A single stroller, recommended for children 50 pounds and under, is $15 per day or $13 per day if rented for your length of stay. Double Strollers are recommended for children 100 pounds and under and run $31 per day or $27 per day for the length of your stay.
For vacationers spending a full day at the parks, locker rentals can be a great help. Yes, there’s always your stroller to store things in if you have one. The lockers at the front of the park can really help you take a load off though. Disney allows guests to bring in their own snacks and drinks. It can also be helpful to have an outfit change or a different pair of shoes just in case. Many park goers are putting in 10,000 to 20,000 steps per day. Paying $10 per day for a small locker (12″ x 10″ x 17″) or $12 per day for a large one ( 15.5″ x 13″ x 17″) can be totally worth it. Both Epcot and Magic Kingdom have a jumbo locker (17″ x 22″ x 26″) for $15 per day.
If you’ve never been, or if it’s been a while, the cost of Disney souvenirs may come as a surprise. Sparkly mouse ear headbands are one of the most popular accessories. These littles beauties will cost you at least $34.99 these days. Fancier or designer ear headbands are more. A regular shirt might cost around $30.00. Disney has many collaborations with well know brands like Dooney and Bourke and Pandora. These top tier items are sold throughout the parks and resorts in a premium price range. Even toys can have a brow raiser on the price tag. In Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, lightsabers are $249.99 at Savi’s Workshop.
There are more budget friendly items in shops around the property. You’ll find trinkets like pens, notebooks, mugs and dish towels that are more affordable. Just expect a Mickey premium on merchandise at Disney World so your expectations are set realistically. For fun we’re considering each person in this hypothetical party of four getting two things. Perhaps you’d spend around $500 in a week on souvenirs. This is a budget area where you could spend way more or way less.
There is a lot to do at Walt Disney World Resort that isn’t going to a park, like visiting the shopping and dining district Disney Springs or enjoying activities at your resort. There are also recreation rentals like surrey bikes at the resorts. Fireworks cruises are neat way to enjoy a nighttime spectacular with your travel party. There are also two water parks, a Cirque du Soleil show and other neat add-ons, like an amphicar ride at Disney Springs restaurant The Boathouse, that you might want to include.
For younger guests ages 3 to 12, the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique is a popular booking. Inside Cinderella Castle there’s a luxe little salon where princess makeovers happen. The Castle Package includes a gown, hairstyling, makeup and some accessories for $199.95 plus tax. There is also the Harmony Barber Shop on Main Street. This is a popular place for first haircuts which start at $28. Adults have some fun add on experiences too like trips to the spa. Disney’s Grand Floridian Spa has a 50 minute signature massage for $175.
One of the most popular special experiences guests include on trips are the seasonal parties at Magic Kingdom. Starting in mid August, spooky season kicks off at Disney World with Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party. For the most recent run, tickets ranged from $109 to $199 per adult plus tax. During the holidays, Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party could cost from $149 to $199 per adult plus tax.
Just for fun, we’re saying this party of four may spend $750 on special experiences.
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