How Much Does A Disney Vacation Cost
Someone somewhere is sitting at home wondering if a Disney vacation is within their reach based on the question, how much does a Disney vacation cost? Well, I’m here to tell you that it is. Seriously. In order to help you get a better idea of the costs of a Disney vacation, here’s my breakdown for the price of a 7 day, 6-night trip, for a family of 4.
Often you’ll hear exclamations of how expensive a Disney trip is, but with good budgeting and planning, it is manageable. While I lay out my price estimate below, you can watch the video to see me walk through the steps I take to figure out a Disney vacation budget. We will go through each part of the vacation, how much you can estimate, and why. I break the vacation down into six categories: Getting to Walt Disney World, Accommodations, Getting Around Walt Disney World, Food, Disney World Tickets, and Etc.
To start off, think about how much a domestic vacation with your family usually costs. I don’t mean visiting Aunt Helga up in Vermont, where the only money you can plan on spending is a few groceries, ski rentals, and some hot chocolate. Think of a full-blown vacation, how much you’d approximately spend, and write that number down.
In my case, we are only two people and can spend about $3000 on a full-fledged vacation. Follow me as I walk through the average costs of every category and help you get a grasp of how much that ideal Disney vacation will cost. Your first quote should exceed what the eventual total is. The idea for my readers is to then go back through and find ways to cut costs in each category. It’s a lot easier than you think. You can follow along with me in the video at the bottom of this post!
Getting to Walt Disney World
The first thing you need to consider is how you’re going to get to Walt Disney World. Are you going to fly, or drive? If you live in the US, then driving is always a possibility, but it can be a very long trip. Driving from the New York/New Jersey area can be up to a 16-hour drive, which can be hard to manage no matter who you’re traveling with.
You have to also factor in money for gas, stops for food, and whether you’d need to stop overnight somewhere, which would add fees for a hotel. A trip from the Northeast would cost around $200 with gas fees and all other things considered. I recommend using the AAA gas calculator to help you figure out how much gas will cost round-trip. It asks where you are going and your type of car, and bases the calculation on that.
On the other hand, you might have to take a plane to Disney World. An example trip from the NYC area to Orlando is usually between $200-$325 round-trip, per person. If you plan ahead and keep an eye on flight prices, you can usually get a good price, so I’m going to estimate flight pricing as $250 per person, roundtrip.
Walt Disney World Accommodations
There are six options for accommodations when visiting Walt Disney World. These are staying at a hotel off-site, staying at one of the Disney Springs area hotels, meaning they are not Disney-owned but are on Disney-property, stay on-site at one of Disney’s resorts, rent Disney Vacation Club points, or stay at a rental home in the Orlando area.
One easy way to find affordable accommodation is by staying off Disney World property. Nearby options like the Clarion Inn Lake Buena Vista and Wingate by Wyndham Kissimmee, which will normally be priced around $70-$90 a night, are both within a 15 minute drive from Walt Disney World but at much lower prices than on-site. There are plenty of great options here, and you don’t even need to rent a car. With Uber, it’s just as easy to get to the parks, and you don’t have to pay for parking.
Disney Springs Area Hotels
At the beginning of 2019, Disney added two hotels, the Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek and the Waldorf Astoria Orlando, to this category. That means that these hotels are designated as Official Walt Disney World Hotels, and therefore can take advantage of Disney’s Extra Magic Hours. In most cases, you can also use the 60-day advance FastPass+ privileges.
The other hotels are:
- Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Walt Disney World
- Best Western Lake Buena Vista Resort Hotel
- B Resort and Spa
- Hilton Orlando Buena Vista Palace
- Hilton Orlando Lake Buena Vista
- DoubleTree Suites by Hilton Orlando – Lake Buena Vista
- Holiday Inn Orlando Disney Springs
- Wyndham Garden Lake Buena Vista
- Wyndham Lake Buena Vista Disney Springs Resort Area
- Shades of Green at Walt Disney World Resort
- Walt Disney World Swan & Dolphin Resort
A few, including the Hilton Orlando Lake Buena Vista and the Swan & Dolphin Resort, also offer character dining options. Two of the resorts on this list with the best value, Best Western Lake Buena Vista – Disney Springs Area and B Resort and Spa have a general price range between $60-$250 a night, depending on time of year and other factors. You can also save money by taking advantage of services like Priceline Express Deals.
Staying at one of these Disney Springs Area Official WDW Hotels is the perfect way to get a better rate while still being able to take advantage of things like Extra Magic Hours and FastPass+, and is definitely worth looking into if you want the best of both worlds!
It’s a wonderful experience when you can stay at one of the Walt Disney World Resorts. In their Value category are all three All-Star Resorts, the Art of Animation Resort, and the Pop Century Resort. With a good deal, you can stay here for as low as $80 a night, though you really need to look and keep an eye out for these opportunities.
Renting DVC Points
The Disney Vacation Club is Disney’s timeshare program. But even if you aren’t a member, you can rent points to allow you to stay at one of these deluxe resorts. Pricing has gone up over the years for these points, so as of now, you will generally be paying at least $225 a night to stay here. Though it is possible to pay as low as $150, if you look for deals. But even at the higher price, this is definitely worth your money. You would be staying at one of the top resorts at Walt Disney World. A few options are the Animal Kingdom Villas, Bay Lake Tower at the Contemporary Resort, and the Beach Club Villas. If you are interested to learn more about the Disney Vacation Club, you can check out my guide here.
You can rent someone’s home in the area for around $80 a night, whether it’s a townhouse, apartment, or full house. This can be a great way to get that more homey feel while on vacation. There are many great companies who can broker a deal for you, and it’s as easy as a quick google search. The company I listed in the video, All Star Vacation Homes, has since closed up shop. A great alternative is Airbnb, where you can find a stylish, comfortable place to stay for as low as $68 a night, maybe even lower.
If you want to know more about accommodations around Walt Disney World and Orlando, check out my post about staying at Disney on a budget.
Getting Around Walt Disney World
There are many different ways to get around Walt Disney World. You could rent a car, but that’s only really a good option for people who intend to travel off-site a lot. For a 7-day, 6-night stay, a rental car would typically cost $150-$200 for the whole trip. But you also have to think about buying gas, tolls, and especially parking fees, which are usually about $20 a day off-site.
This is where staying on property can be a huge benefit. Disney’s free transportation system is amazing, and connects you to all the parks and resorts by bus, boat, monorail, or gondola. Along with that, if you must rent a car, you can park it for free at the resort where you are staying. So for this estimation, I’d use the Disney transportation system, and for any off-site travel, there’s Uber. The cost of this for the whole trip would be around $40.
Dining is surprisingly the most expensive part of the vacation. This is because of things like meal plans, restaurants, and just having food for everyone throughout the trip. But there are many easy ways to limit your spending on food! First thing I’d suggest is to buy some groceries when you first arrive, and try to have breakfast at your accommodations.
At the parks, you also might find yourself wanting to buy a treat, whether it’s a Mickey ice cream bar, popcorn, or something like that. These items can be very expensive, but you can’t help it when you get hungry during the day. One way to help this is to pack some snacks, and plan your meals ahead of time. Also, meals at the restaurants around Disney tend to have large portions, so if you have a fridge at your accommodations, then you can eat leftovers later on. As for costs, I’d say that for a family of 4, you’d spend around $60 a day for lunch (so $15 per person), and $150 a day for dinner.
Disney World Tickets
Since I made the original video, the pricing for tickets has gradually gone up over the years. I still recommend the 3-day ticket, which allows you to go to one of the parks three days over a 5-day period, which means you don’t have to visit the parks for three consecutive days. Pricing right now depends on when you visit, and will most likely be between $350 to $450 for the full 3-day ticket, per person. Youth tickets are slightly cheaper, and that’s without any park hopper or water park add-on.
For this category, I’m considering the items you’ll want to buy during your visit. Generally, this would be souvenirs, experiences, and other treats. You know you’re going to want to buy those Mickey ears for a great picture in front of the castle. You should set a per person limit for this, which can really help you minimize costs.
One thing you can do to set a limit is by buying Disney gift cards for specific amounts. It works really well when you are traveling with kids to easily keep track of how much they’ve used. Also, you can buy Disney merchandise through other avenues like Walmart or JCPenney for way lower prices, and bring them with you to surprise the kids each day.
Budgeting for this category is super important because this is definitely where your spending can get away from you. I start my estimation for this category for a family of 4 at $1000, meaning each person gets $250 to spend.
Totaling up the numbers listed above, we have:
$250 flight per person = $1000
Getting around WDW = $40
$80 per night accommodations = $560
$350 per person park tickets = $1400
Food = $1200
Etc = $1000
Total = $5200
Goal = $2000 – $3000
Given I estimated $3000 for a family of 2, this final estimate for a family of 4 is great, and prices can be cut lower in other ways like really minimizing the, etc category-budget to $200 total, or finding an amazing deal on flights or accommodation. Also, if you find a place to stay through Airbnb, the cost of accommodations could be as low as $400.
If you’d like more help with budgeting your Disney trip, you can take a look at my ebook. The video mentions the 2016 version, but I have an updated 2021 version of the ebook on my site, and you can find it here! The video below outlines what I’ve talked about above, but has pricing from 2016, so bear that in mind. This article is up to date on pricing, so trust the figures written above over the ones in the video. Other than that, I hope this has helped you out in estimating and planning your vacation!
How Much Does A Disney Vacation Cost: The Video
Sunday 9th of October 2016
I have always been curious about this! I'd love to take my kids someday but the cost seems so intimidating! -Erin at www.stayathomeyogi.com
Karlaroundtheworld | Karla
Friday 7th of October 2016
It's nice to incorporate a budget method to enjoy Disney at its fullest. Everybody deserves to have a nice stay at those places.
Lisa Henry O'Driscoll
Wednesday 5th of October 2016
Great info! This is a terrific resource for anyone planning a Disney trip!
Thursday 6th of October 2016
Jamie @ Medium Sized Family
Wednesday 5th of October 2016
We keep going back and forth on whether or not to try to go to Disney some day. But our family is almost double the size of your typical family of 4, so I'm just not sure about the cost.
Tuesday 27th of September 2016
My son wants to spend his birthday to Disney, we definitely need to start saving from now. It looks like you had fun!