Since we’ve been taking Disney World vacations the last few years, I’ve been asked the same question several times. It usually comes prefaced by a very kind, “If you don’t mind saying…” or something like that, but then is finally followed by “How much does a Disney World vacation cost?”
Often this is asked because people tell me that they are considering a trip and want to know what to expect. Here’s the best answer: it really varies.
I know, that’s not helpful, right? But, it’s true. You can do lots of money saving things to try to bring down the cost, or you can go all out and spend a fortune. Also, of course, it depends on where you want to stay, how long you’ll be there, how many people you’re paying for, and other variables like that.
Disney World Budgeting: Where to Start
One of the first places I refer people to look is the official Walt Disney World website, especially if they’re considering staying at a Walt Disney World hotel. The fun thing about that is that you can price out a vacation on it without committing to anything. I like that this allows you to play around with variables. You can try different dates to see price differences, as well as options like more and less expensive resorts, dining plans, adding (or not) the park hopper option to your tickets, and more.
Of course, this might be just enough to make you say, “I still want to go to Disney World, but staying at one of their resorts might not be for us.” Don’t discount the idea of taking the trip just because the resorts might be out of your budget. There are many, many off site options in all kinds of price ranges.
Now, I would be remiss if I didn’t say that I’ve done Disney World off site and on site, and I wouldn’t go and stay off site again. I like the experience and convenience of staying in a Disney World resort. Plus, it’s important to note that they really do have some resorts that come at a smaller price tag, such as the All Star resorts. Even my favorite that we’ve stayed at, Port Orleans – Riverside, is pretty reasonable by Disney standards.
Other Places to be Sure to Look
When I’m planning a trip to Disney World, and even once I have one booked, I continue to check the Special Offers section of the Disney World site. As long as your trip is more than 45 days away, you can have them make adjustments on the trip if a deal comes up that will save you money. (Less than 45 days will mean that you’ll pay a fee to have that kind of change made.)
One of my favorite deals that we had during our first two trips with the kids was Free Dining. There are disagreements online whether Free Dining is actually a good deal. But, with two kids that are considered “adults” by Disney standards, one child, and then two actual adults, free dining is a good deal for us and usually trumps any room only discounts.
On our most recent trip, we had a deal where our room was regular price, but our park tickets and dining were all at the “child” prices (for all five of us, even though only one of us qualifies for that price). This wasn’t as good as free dining, but it was a large savings.
Another site that I really like checking out is MouseSavers.com. They also have an email newsletter that I recommend subscribing to, if you are considering taking a Disney World trip. Not only can they keep you updated on upcoming deals and specials, but they also offer many discounts for area hotels and other services.
If you would like to stay on site at one of the pricier resorts, another option for saving money is to rent Disney Vacation Club points from a DVC member. David’s Vacation Club Rentals is a very reputable place to do this.
Make Priorities in Your Disney World Budget Planning
The best thing I can recommend when trying to plan a Disney World trip is to come up with what your budget is and then play around with the variables to make it work. If your heart is set on staying on the Monorail line, for example, you might opt for fewer days on your vacation to make that happen. If your goal is to maximize your days, you might decide that you are willing to stay at a less expensive resort (or an area hotel) to make that work in your budget.
For us, we have prioritized that we like a longer trip and we want to make sure that we have a dining plan. We also like having a park hopper option on our tickets so we can visit more than one park in the same day. To make all of this work, we have had to be flexible about vacation dates to get the best deals. We don’t go at the most popular times because that would break our budget. It’s all about your own personal Disney World priorities.
Just give me a flight on the Peter Pan ride, the option to pay for all of our dining upfront (or get it free!) so I don’t have to stress about it throughout the trip, and a resort that makes it reasonable to stay longer, and I’m a pretty happy girl.
If you’ve gone to Disney World or another Disney park, what are your most important priorities when planning to stay within your budget?