How Much Does A Disney Vacation Cost [Updated 2020]

how much spending money for disney

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. 

Staying Off-Site 

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!

Staying On-Site

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

Rental Home/Airbnb

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. 

Food

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. 

Etc

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. 

Total Estimation

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 2020 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


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How Much Does A Disney Vacation Cost

42 thoughts on “How Much Does A Disney Vacation Cost [Updated 2020]

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    This so awesome. I never thought of breaking down everything like this when we go on trips but it is something that I will try to incorporate into our lives. Thanks for this great resource.

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    My kids would LOVE to go to Disney.. and yes, I do think it is out of my reach. We live in TX, which is smack dab between Cali and Florida- and that means FLYING. And our airport is ridiculously expensive to fly to a larger one. But maybe one day I can figure out something so that they can have one magical time at Disney? Who knows 🙂

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    Thanks for the article! It is on our family to do list to go to disney at some point!

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    Disney is so fun so I need to start saving for a trip again. There are ways to save on things like hotels and food.

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    This is great! I do want to try a Disney family vacation at some point. Making it fit the budget would be important.

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    This was so useful! I was just thinking about this yesterday, and I have only been from Argentina…so no clue how much it would be from inside the US! Thanks!
    xoxo,

    Ileana

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    I’m planning my next vacations in Disney and this info helps me a lot. Thank you so much!

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      You’re very welcome. Let me know if you have any questions!

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    We have been to Disney World and Disneyland. The kids loved them both and it was well worth the cost <3

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    We’ve been to Disney and this kinda post is really helpful. I like this post, will share it!

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      Thanks Karlyn! I try to be as helpful as possible.

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    Oh, I am planning of going to a Disney park by next year. This is a nice guide, will take notes of these points.

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    I haven’t been to Disney and so as my children. How I wish I can bring them there.

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      Rose you can get there I promise you. Let me know if you have any questions!

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    This is really helpful, I think people perceive Disney to be expensive but there are ways to save money x

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    You know I think it honestly depends on exactly what you want. You can like we did in high school and pay for just your tickets and stay in a motel 6, or you can get the best of the bests with Character dining, meet and greets and more. It really is endless on how you can customize your experience.

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    This is an awesome breakdown! I have always wondered and since we are a family of 4, this is really helpful!

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    We live close enough to drive back and forth so that cuts down on expenses a lot if we dont want to stay in a hotel. We also get the resident discounts which make me very happy! 🙂

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    Very helprful post! Thanks! I haven’t took my son to Disney yet.

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    Thanks for the heads up. I am planning of going on a trip t Disney next year.

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    Oh, this is a nice post. Going to Disney on a budget is really nice.

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    Oh, I think hotel expenses really are huge! I want to go to Disney soon, hope I can save money for the trip.

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    It’s my children’s dream to go to Disney but they are all grown up now. I will asked them about it.

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    Need to save up for this vacation trip that my kids are wanting for years now. Though we plan to go this summer in an Asian country we might go here instead.

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    As much as we all love taking our kids to Disney as often as we can, there’s no doubt that it can be quite expensive if you’re not living nearby. I think it’s good to have everything calculated though so you know how much you need to save.

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    I would love to go to Disney!! Thanks for the tips!!!

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    Disney can turn into an expensive affair if not planned properly. This video is a good way to plan the the trip. Thanks for sharing

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    It would be a great holiday for everyone! Thanks for breaking it down, very handy information!

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    wow thats a lot of thinking for me haha im planning to have a family vacation next yr for my daughter’s 10 yrs old bday. it is stressfull haha i’ll to watch your video again to rethink everything hehe

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      Glad you found this helpful! I hope that vacation comes out superb.

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    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.

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