How Much Does a Walt Disney World Vacation Cost?

How Much Does a Walt Disney World Vacation Cost?

Planning a Walt Disney World vacation is both an art and a science. Planning can be fun; planning can be frustrating. There are a lot of variables that can affect the total cost of the trip. We will talk you through the big cost categories you need to consider while planning your vacation.

This budget planning methodology is exactly what we start with here at Big Castle Travel. If you feel in over your head at any point, click the Facebook Messenger button in the bottom right of this page to chat with us, or Get a Quote for your Walt Disney World vacation.

What You Need to Calculate

In each of the sections below we will talk through a specific type of cost. If you see two sections side by side, like Airfare and Car Rental & Gas, those are seen as choices within the larger section.

We will also discuss three different levels of value within each section. These levels allow you to understand the types of Walt Disney World vacation options that fit into your budget. And to keep it consistent across the levels we will plan this as a 5-night stay with 4 days in the parks for a family of 2 adults and 2 children (ages 3-9).

Lastly, you should consider your travel days into the cost. Most families need a full travel day before and after your stay. Here’s a basic itinerary:

calculator calculate how much disney costs

Value Levels:

Low Cost

We are not building the cheapest Disney Vacation ever, but this will be affordable for Disney visitors.

dollar sign low cost
Mid-Range

This can be considered a median cost for the average Walt Disney World visitor.

  • Flying to Disney
  • Moderate Resort Hotels
  • Park Hopper Tickets
  • Disney Dining Plan
  • Additional Costs: 5%
double dollar sign mid-range cost
Luxury

This trip is the one you brag about for the next few years. Disney can cost more, but not by much.

  • Flying to Disney
  • Deluxe Resort Hotels
  • Park Hopper Tickets
  • Specific Restaurants
  • Additional Costs: 10%
triple dollar sign luxury cost

Getting There

Airfare

Most families will end up flying to Walt Disney World. You will want to price tickets from your airport to Orlando International Airport (MCO). Orlando is a focus airport for Frontier and Southwest, so be sure to check them out for lower cost flights.

This will be entirely location-dependent, but expect to pay $150-$400 per ticket, or $600-$1200 for our family of four.

Walt Disney World Resort guests flying into Orlando can enjoy free use of Disney’s Magical Express. This bus service will deliver you and your bags directly to your resort hotel, free of charge!

Car Rental & Gas

For those of us in the U.S. Southeast, it can be more cost-effective to drive our own vehicles or rent a car. We recommend renting a car due to the risk of damaging your daily driver on a long road trip. A minivan is a great option to travel in comfort and with extra space!

Most people will drive a max of 10 hours per day, for a maximum distance of around 650 miles. That means you can drive to Walt Disney World from cities like New Orleans, LA, Jackson, MS, Nashville, TN, and Raleigh, NC, in a single day.

A minivan gets around 19 mpg, and gas is around $2.60 per gallon right now. That equates to $0.14 per mile. A 10-hour, 650 mile trip is $91, or $182 in gas for the round-trip cost.

Renting a minivan will cost between $350-$400 for a full-week rental. In our example above, be sure to return it on Saturday so you’re not rushing home on Friday. 

Resort Hotel and Accommodations

Walt Disney World Resort Hotel pricing is the most variable portion of this entire equation. Price is affected by when you go, where you stay, how long you stay, package deals like tickets and dining, and other discount offers. We refer to the price as the Rack Rate below to indicate the price before any offers or package deals. When we planned our first trip, we used MouseSaver’s Room Rates & Season Dates list to understand the seasonal cost variations.

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Park Tickets

Recently Disney eliminated the Magic Your Way ticket pricing structure in favor of a more flexible ticketing scheme. Similar to the seasonal pricing for resort hotel rooms, the ticket pricing is now variable based on both your arrival date and the number of park days you want. As an example, a 1-day base ticket in September 2019 might start at $109, but a 5-day ticket would average out to only $83 per day.

The other difference is choosing a base ticket where you can visit 1 Park Per Day, or a Park Hopper ticket where you can visit multiple parks in a single day. More Disney World Ticket options are available, but these are the two common choices.

  • Low Cost
    • Base Tickets
    • Adult: $405.75/4-day ticket
    • Child: $388.13/4-day
    • Tax: $103.22
    • Total: $1690.98
  • Mid-Range
    • Park Hopper Tickets
    • Adult: $485.75/4-day ticket
    • Child: $468.13/4-day ticket
    • Tax: $124.02
    • Total: $2031.78
  • Luxury
    • Park Hopper Tickets
    • Adult: $485.75/4-day ticket
    • Child: $468.13/4-day ticket
    • Tax: $124.02
    • Total: $2031.78

Additional Events and Tickets

There are a number of Extra Ticketed Events that take place in the parks, as well as additional events and experiences that are not included in the cost of your park tickets. These can include:

Food and Drink

Disney Dining Plan

The Disney Dining Plan is a set of three simple dining plan choices that take a complicated amount of calculations to get right. We will have many articles on this in the future. For now, we will make it easy by following the Dining Plan credits:

  • Low Cost
    • 2 Travel Days: Packed Food
    • Quick Service Dining Plan: $762.80
      • 2 Quick Service Meals per day, per person
      • 2 snack items per day, per person
      • 1 refillable mug each
    • Tip: $152.56
    • Total: $915.36
  • Mid-Range
    • 2 Travel Days: $150
    • Disney Dining Plan: $1034.70
      • 1 Quick Service Meal per day, per person
      • 1 Table Service Meal per day, per person
      • 2 snack items per day, per person
      • 1 refillable mug each
    • Tip: $236.94
    • Total: $1421.64

No Dining Plan

Walt Disney World visitors decide not to choose the dining plan for one of three reasons:

  1. They don’t know about it
  2. They expect to eat inexpensively by bringing food to the parks and eating in their room
  3. They expect to eat only at expensive restaurants, and therefore would not get enough value out of the Dining Plans

A Low Cost trip can be made cheaper by following #2, but I almost always encourage the Quick Service Dining Plan to budget-conscious travelers.

For this scenario I will only focus on #3 for our Luxury trip. We will plan for 3 meals a day for a total of 18 meals for a family of 4. This includes 3 Character Dining experiences, breakfast at Cinderella’s Royal Table (CRT), and a visit to Spirit of Aloha (SoA)

  • Luxury
    • 2 Travel Days: $290
    • CRT: $196
    • SoA Tier 1: $248
    • 3 Character Dining: $330
    • 7 other meals: $640
    • Tip: $340
    • Total: $2044

Additional Costs

Walt Disney World PhotoPass memory maker

Disney PhotoPass Memory Maker

Disney’s PhotoPass Memory Maker is a product that allows you to download all of the digital photos captured by Disney PhotoPass photographers and automated ride photo systems at Walt Disney World. I recommend that everyone get this if you are going to Disney World with your family. This is worth every penny of the $169 advanced purchase price.

souvenirs Walt Disney World

Souvenirs

Last but not least, you need to account for souvenirs, clothes, stuffies, and tchotchkes. They will hold memories that will last a life time. I personally love to get holiday ornaments each trip from  Disney’s Days of Christmas store in Disney Springs. Travelers should budget an extra 5%-10% of their total trip cost for trip souvenirs and other additional costs.

So how does all of that stack up? Remember, this is the cost of a 5-night stay with 4 days in the parks for a family of 2 adults and 2 children (ages 3-9).

Sample Cost Table

*Both Resort Hotel costs and Park Ticket costs are regularly discounted by as much as 30% through Walt Disney World packages and special offers. 

Last Words

It is clear that there is no single way to do a Walt Disney World vacation. We have listed 7 high level components of a Disney trip, and each section had multiple variables and subcomponents to the final price.  Mixing and matching the options on this page will likely result in a cost that is right for you.

If you need help determining the cost of YOUR Walt Disney World vacations, click the Get a Quote Buttons, chat with us on Facebook Messenger, or leave a note in the comments below!

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