e. What to Budget for Walt Disney World

By Dave Shute

OVERVIEW

What to Budget for Walt Disney World from yourfirstvisit.netFor the Basic Itinerary this site recommends, during the fall 2014 price season,  assuming you are a family of 4 with one child younger than 10 and one older, budget if you can

Add to this budget the costs of getting your family to and from Orlando, and some funds for contingencies and souvenirs.

OTHER OPTIONS

WHAT THIS INCLUDES

The budget figures include Walt Disney World Resort hotel accommodations, food, park tickets, and several separately priced meals and special events:

  • Eight days of park tickets, at about $1400 after tax

  • Eight nights of the Disney Dining Plan, for about $1800 after taxes and tips, and another $200 to cover breakfasts in your room and extra snacks beyond what the plan covers

  • Approximately $700 after tax for a number of additional special tickets, events, and meals outside of the Dining Plan–including Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, the Gospel Brunch at the Downtown Disney House of Blues, etc.

  • Lodging costs: $4300 after tax for 8 nights at the Polynesian, or $1125 after tax for eight nights at Art of Animation

Transportation between your Walt Disney World Resort Hotel and other Disney World destinations is free.

If you are flying into Orlando International Airport (MCO), transportation back and forth between your Disney resort and the airport is also free on Disney’s Magical Express, although you must sign up for it. Signing up is included in your To-Do List.

LINKS FOR WHAT TO BUDGET FOR WALT DISNEY WORLD

For the basic December trip recommended by this site

For help getting to much lower budget numbers,

For Walt Disney World price seasons,

  • See this for resort price seasons
  • See this for Disney Dining Plan price seasons
  • See this for Walt Disney World theme park admission tickets

For the Tightwad’s Guideto Walt Disney World, see this

For the Comfortable Guide to Walt Disney World, see this

 



48 comments

1 Mommy02 { 03.24.08 at 12:39 pm }

We just got back from a week-long trip. We stayed at the Animal Kingdom Lodge from Sat pm – Sun am. We already had annual passes, so park admission was not included in our stay. My girl are 9 and 10 and my husband and I were there. For the 4 of us at this hotel with food but WITHOUT park admission was about $4375.

2 Tom { 12.15.10 at 9:11 pm }

We are going Aug 23-Sep 2, 2011, Port Orleans Riverside, 1o day park pass with water park fun and more package , our girls are 14,18… we are wondering if we should also add the park hopper option ?? is it worth it or even needed being we will be thay 10 days ..thankyou

3 Dave { 12.16.10 at 8:35 am }

Tom, you are right–given the number of days you have to see everything, you won’t need the hopper–though it does add a degree of flexibility. Have a great trip!!!

4 Mike { 02.05.11 at 6:03 pm }

I have found your website to be a treasure of information and recommendations. Our vacation will be May 1 – May 7, there are 2 adults and our 5 year old son, we are leaning toward the Wilderness Resort and have found a 30% off offer. We are following your advice on the meal ticket. My question is whether or not to purchase the Magic Your Way Package, Park Hopper Option, and Water Park Fun and More Option? Thanks again for a great website!!!

5 Dave { 02.05.11 at 6:27 pm }

Hi Mike!

I would skip the hopper and the water park and more options.

You can add these to your tickets at WDW for no extra charge if in fact you want or need them…but your 5 year old should be perfectly happy with the hotel pool rather than the waterparks and likely won’t have enough energy for two parks a day!

The nice thing is that if this turns out to be wrong, you can add them to your tix for no extra costs. But if you buy them now, you’ll never get that money back…so skip! (Note that extra days work the same way–you can add them to your ticket for no more than you’d pay today.)

Hope this helps–Dave

PS thanks for the kind words about the site, tell all your friends about it, like it on FaceBook!

6 Anthony { 04.07.11 at 2:14 am }

hey Dave i was looking at your budgeting for the trip we plan on staying at the all stars movie resort and our budget is 4400.00 is that enough and also were going there the first week of march how are the crowds and is it warm enough to swim at that time!!!!!! thanks this sight rocks and im gonna look for you on facebook and tell everyone about it lol!!!

7 Dave { 04.07.11 at 9:52 am }
8 Nick { 06.11.11 at 5:48 pm }

love your site,
my second question for ya:
we are going late october-early november. When is the best time to buy tickets for the parks? we are thinking of a 5 day pass, do the prices fluctuate between online, disney stores, front gate, when you purchase, etc? or does it not matter, they will be the same price for those days no matter what? we are just wondering if it would save money to buy them early or at a certain place.

Thanks
Nick

9 Dave { 06.11.11 at 7:15 pm }

Hi Nick…well ticket prices literally went up today…so the right answer is yesterday! Ticket prices often go up in August–which is why today’s move was a surprise–but in general unless some special deal comes out of the blue it doesn’t matter where and when you buy.

10 Shikia { 08.08.11 at 5:46 pm }

Hello, Thanks for the info on this site it is great! Even with all this extensive info I am asking for some help on planning my trip for 2012. I want to pick a week thats not too expensive so I think a week in August first choice, October second choice, then November. My daughter bday is in Nov but she also has school (5 yrs old) thats why i was aiming for Aug. Also I want to do 5 days and stay at Animal Kingdom Lodge. Its my daughters first time. I’ve been once to Disney and then to Universal so this is my second trip to Disney but first time on property. I want to make this trip as cost effective as possible and we will also be arriving by plane. So im looking for the best dates and a itenerary suitable for a 6yrs old girl and I want to budget $4000.00 including my airfair if I can. It will be the two of us and her godmom but the budget is for the two of us. Can you lead me in the right direction to make my budget work to get what I want done or do I need to budget some more funds?

11 Dave { 08.08.11 at 6:23 pm }

Hi Shikia! Of your choices, August will be the cheapest. You can do five nights in a savannah-view room then for a little less than $2000. If it’s just the two of you, then tickets and food should add another $1000 or so, leaving $1,000 for your airfare. I think you can do this!

The later in the month you go, the less crowded it will be.

For nightly costs at AKL, see this: http://www.mousesavers.com/animalkingdomlodge2012.html

I don’t have itineraries for 6 year olds, but check out TouringPlans.com. For a small fee (~10) you can access all kinds of itineraries.

12 Shikia { 08.10.11 at 10:19 am }

Thanks very much! this info is very very helpful! I will continue to do mroe reserach and I will have more questions for you later! Your a great help! I am so glad to have found this website!

13 Dave { 08.10.11 at 10:57 am }

You’re welcome!

14 Chris { 12.16.11 at 12:01 pm }

Dave,
Your site it great and by far the best iIhave found for Disney info. I have and will continue to tell everyone about your great site. We are looking at going on your basic trip at the end of November- 1st week of December 2012. It is only my wife, our 6 year old, and I that will make the trip and we will not be doing anything on the last Sunday. How will this affect your recomended budget.

Thanks!

15 Dave { 12.16.11 at 3:26 pm }

Hi Chris–you’ll lose a hotel night, a night of the dining plan, and the costs of the Gospel Brunch–all in, given your family size and that as you noted you’ll be staying at Pop, around a $400 savings.

You’ll also save by having just one kid on the rest of the trip, rather than the two, one older and one younger than 10, that’s built into the budget. This will save you on tickets and the dining plan–about another $600 compared to what’s noted on this page.

Hope this helps, and thanks for the kind words about the site! Dave

16 Shanna { 04.19.12 at 9:17 pm }

Dave,
I had another question..should we get regular park tickets or park hopper tickets? What about the water park tickets? Did I read correctly that you could add these on at no extra cost when you get to the parks?

17 Dave { 04.20.12 at 7:24 am }

Shanna, You should be able to get away with non-hopper tickets. If you decide you need them, you can add them onsite at no more cost than if you bought them in advance.

18 Zena { 07.28.12 at 11:36 am }

We are planning our first family visit (group of 20, 13 adults and 7 children). Our dates are 1/18/13 to 1/21/13. After reading your advise concerning MLK weekend, how bad will this be? This is the most convenient time for the kids and our work schedule. I am stressed after reading your advice that we should change our dates. Any suggestions on how to make this weakend work?

19 Dave { 07.28.12 at 2:37 pm }

Hi Zena, you should be OK. Later weekends in January will be better, but MLK weekend will be OK…

20 Mike { 09.25.12 at 6:18 am }

What a site! amazing. I am booked with my wife and 2 daughters (6,4) from 1- 6 Jan 2013. We have 4 full days (2,3,4,5)+ evening on 1st. I had some points on hilton so booked the buena vista Hilton (has magic hours, shuttle) from 3-6 Jan and the AOA resort from 1-3 Jan Including magical express). As a result, had to book the tickets separately for the 5 days (undercovertourist, got 1 day free with 4 days purchase).
Questions
1. Since I wanted to use the hilton points for those 3 nights, i couldnt book the entire package with Disney so no dining plan or return drop to airport. Any comments?
2. Character meal i booked on 2nd Jan the cinderella royal table lunch
3. We plan 1.5 days at magic kingdom, 1 day at animal kingdom, 1 day epcot + 1 day seaworld (havent booked for this). Should we drop SW?
2. What

21 Dave { 09.25.12 at 8:30 am }

Hey Mike, thanks for the kind words about the site!

Given your deal, no worries on the dining plan or the need for a taxi out to the airport–you still saved a lot!

On yuor itinerary, given the ages of your kids and how crowded the parks will be through the 5th I’d skip Epcot entirely, and plan another day at MK…

22 Amy { 12.05.12 at 1:34 pm }

We just got back from our trip and I want to thank you for all the information you provided. We had an AMAZING time. Right after thanksgiving was definitely the time to go as far as crowds. We literally walked right on nearly every ride, including space mountain and expedition everest. The food was fantastic and the atmosphere of the restaurants was beyond what I could imagine. The fireworks at Magic Kingdom were simply magical! I’ve told several people about this site. We cant wait to plan our next trip.

23 Dave { 12.06.12 at 7:15 am }

Amy that’s wonderful! I’m so glad you had a great trip, and thanks for telling people about the site!

24 Michelle Garry { 02.15.13 at 10:50 am }

Hello!

any tips on going with a large group? (15) We are going with 7 adults (3 couples and the grandmother) and 8 children, children will be: almost 9 , 6, 5, 5, 3, 18 mnths, and 2 babies. (the trip of FOR the older kids, we’ll go again someday when the littles are older) just wondering how to attack this! We are thinking the animation resort (thanks for that rec) any other tips for a huge family???

25 Michelle Garry { 02.15.13 at 10:50 am }

oh- and we are thinking first week of february 2014 – as of now.

26 Dave { 02.16.13 at 6:49 am }
27 Michelle G. { 02.16.13 at 8:20 am }

do you think thats a good week with such small kids? no crowds is our biggest concern…

28 Dave { 02.16.13 at 9:54 am }

Michelle, that’s a great week! I have it among the lowest crowd weeks of the year–see this: http://yourfirstvisit.net/2012/10/07/disney-world-crowds-2014/

29 Ron { 02.16.13 at 12:21 pm }

Dave is there any way you could send my info to Amy, post 22 on this thread to see if she wouldn’t mind talking about her recent trip? I have some questions I’d like to ask her since I’m planning on going at the same time of year that she just went.
Thanks!

30 Dave { 02.17.13 at 9:02 am }

Ron, this site has hundreds of thousands of readers a month…so instead of me reaching out to Amy to put you tow in touch, which I’m a little uncomfortable doing (although honestly I’m not sure why I’m uncomfortable…it just seems a little beyond what people expect when they comment) why don’t you put your questions here, and I’ll figure out a way–like highlighting them in a post–to get attention paid to them?

I’ll also then email Amy and note the questions to her–that way it’s just between the two of us…and you get both Amy’s attention, if she chooses, and also the comments of other readers…and the whole thing happens here, so that other people can benefit from the discussion too…

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31 Robbin { 04.05.13 at 12:24 am }

OH MY GOSH…LOVE your site…planning a Dec 2014 trip for 11 (maybe 12) of us for 6 its a first trip, plus some MAJOR birthdays and anniversaries so should ROCK…the Gospel Brunch at HoB, do they take dining plan?? We are doing the deluxe plan (with Hoo Dee Doo, Norway breakfast and such gotta, LOL!) For our crowd we are thinking 2 AoA suites and one king room (we have one couple with no kids) , even though those arent right near each other I am hoping I can ask to get booked in one of the suite buildings near a room building (like #6) and two suites next door…still trying to figure out if I can do this or need a travel agent…

32 Dave { 04.05.13 at 6:59 am }

Hi Robbin and thanks! HOB is not on the dining plan, so if you do that it would be cash…And yes, you can request buildings that would put you closer together…though you may not get them. But frankly, when you do stuff together, you’ll be meeting at a central point (pool, bus stop, food court, bar) anyway…

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33 Gretchen { 04.18.13 at 4:21 pm }

Can you add the tip for dinner onto your hotel bill? Can you use a Disney gift card to pay a tip? I am not sure how much cash to bring. I have plenty of gift cards. Also is there wifi in the park?

34 Dave { 04.19.13 at 7:40 am }

Well, Gretchen, the answer to the wifi quesiton is yes, although there’s not always enough bandwidth for good responsiveness. On the first, I’m 90% sure the answer is yes–if you set up your room keys for charging privileges first. And on the gift card, I’m not sure. You might just want to call Disney’s dining peeps–1 407 WDW Dine–and ask them both of those…

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35 SingleMom { 04.25.13 at 9:55 pm }

Hi Dave,
Thank you for the fabulous site you have so painstakingly put together. What a gift!

I am a single mom of a 5 year old boy who can only travel during one of the busiest times; July 13 – 19th of this year. I want to stay at the Polynesian to minimize our travel time and think I will purchase the 7-day ticket. My son has never been so I think one park per day will be fine. I have read your itineraries based on the time of year and days but I must have missed why you would not arrive on a Saturday. Would you please let me know if I am making a big mistake or any advice you have to make this a great summer/birthday trip for my son?

He normally goes to sleep between 7 and 7:30pm. He can stay up probably till 8:30 but I don’t want to spend our days with him cranky. Any advice on some must sees for early to bed, early to rise people? (We can be flexible but I need to be reasonable or he grows two heads. OK, so do I!)
Thank you again for your help and wonderful information. I will definitely recommend you to all the moms I know!

36 Dave { 04.26.13 at 1:01 pm }

Hi! I don’t quite understand your question as all my core itineraries have a Saturday arrival?

More broadly, all my stuff is for kids 8 and older, and there are profound differences between what they like and can do and what younger ones like and can do. See this http://yourfirstvisit.net/planning-your-first-family-trip/how-oldtall-your-children-should-be/ and also this: http://yourfirstvisit.net/2011/03/09/the-comprehensive-guide-to-walt-disney-world-rides-and-attractions/

For kids that age for that long a visit, I’d suggest three mornings, an evening, and an afternoon at the Magic Kingdom, and a morning each at the Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios.

For age-appropriate itineraries, see this http://touringplans.com/magic-kingdom/touring-plans?utm_campaign=referral&utm_medium=website&utm_source=yourfirstvisit&utm_content=r1&property_id=1 and/or this: http://www.leaveittogenie.com/

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37 Kelly { 10.02.13 at 9:17 am }

Hello! I love your website and I am starting to use it to plan our vacation for the Fall 2015. Can you give me an idea of the typical rate increases seen at Disney on an annual basis? I am trying to project how much money I need to save and was wondering if there is a trend seen on average increases for hotel costs and ticket prices. I am thinking of going for a week with a family of 4 and staying at one of your suggested hotels like The Art of Animation. Your information is great. Thank you!

38 Dave { 10.03.13 at 7:43 am }

Hi Kelly, and I’m glad the site is helping! I’d forecast using 5% increases in room rates and tickets, and a little more than that on the dining plan.

Was this even remotely helpful?

Well then mosey on over to the home page, and like it on Facebook or pin it on Pinterest!

39 Jason { 10.12.13 at 11:24 am }

We just got back from a week at Disney although we stayed off Disney property this time and only went to the parks (3) times. I would estimate our budget was around $3500.

http://www.budget4disney.com

40 Dave { 10.13.13 at 11:28 am }

Cool, Jason, thanks for the feedback!

41 Michelle { 01.10.14 at 5:10 pm }

Hi dave – I paid 2,600 for 7 nights for a family of 4 at POFQ with the DDP. Flights are all set. Wondering how much more you think i should plan on spending WHILE there? I am planning on paying for atleast 1 additional table meal (150.00) and doing the BBB with my daughter (60). I figure i should plan about 200.00 for souveneirs (no idea why i picked this amount) ….. anything else you can think of? Your site has helped me so much, thanks alot.

42 Dave { 01.11.14 at 9:05 am }

Hi Michelle and thanks!!

Assuming you also have the Magical Express covering your airport transport, I’d add a coupla things:

Tips. You should tip your table service meals the normal 18-20%. So I’d budget ~$5 per person per table service credit for this.

Appetizers and snorts. DDP includes at table service desert but not appetizers, and doesn’t include alcohol at all. No idea what to suggest for this, as everyone is different.

An “emergency reserve.” This could be for anything from packing errors (not enough sweatshirts, need to do laundry for $15) to irresistible souvenirs beyond your $200 budget (whihc sounds fine to me but I am cheap!). I’d put another $200 here…

43 Keith { 02.17.14 at 3:22 pm }

Great site!
We are a family of 3, our daughter is 8 yrs old and it will be her first disney vacation. My budget was $2500 (excluding travel) for 7 nights but taking your advice we’ve changed plans to stay 8 nights. Sept. 7-15, 2014. I can stretch the budget to $3000 if it means our daughter getting a lot more from this disney experience. I’m into getting as much value as possible, but the most our of this trip. Since during this time there may be free dining but the mermaid rooms at AOA that my daughter will love, seems like won’t be included I was thinking of doing 4 nights at POP and pay the extra for DDP and do all the more expensive dining then (character meals) and the last 4 nights at AOA and pay cash for food. Does this sound practical and any advice would be greatly appreciated. I will use the travel agency you work with so you get something from your great advice and website. Thanks again.

44 Keith { 02.17.14 at 3:37 pm }

Forgot to mention, we are not foodies. What matters most for the dining is the experience for our daughter and that its eatable. LOL

45 Dave { 02.18.14 at 3:57 pm }

Hi Keith and thanks!!

this is very clever and can work though it the budget will be very, very tight. You’ll spend about a thousand on each of hotels and tickets, leaving the rest for food, souvenirs, tips, etc. One note is that if you do get free dining at Pop, it’ll be free “quick service”–with no table service credits. You can pay the difference to upgrade to the table service, which will cost you another ~$40 day (total, not each)…

46 Keith { 02.24.14 at 11:44 am }

After looking at the prices for weekend vs weekday we’ve decided to do eight nights starting Monday sept. 8 through tuesday 16th. How would we adjust our itinerary?
thank you

47 Luis { 04.09.14 at 7:46 pm }

Our family is made up of 3 adults and a 5 year old kid. What do you suggest we do for our hotel? Are there rooms with 3 beds? can we ask for a sofa-bed?

Thanks.

48 Dave { 04.10.14 at 11:26 am }

Luis, most of the deluxe resorts can hold 5 on two queens and a couch-bed. (Wilderness Lodge and Animal Kingdom lodge are exceptions.)

Among the moderates, only the Alligator Bayou section at Port Orleans has a third bed–see this: http://yourfirstvisit.net/2012/11/19/review-port-orleans-riverside-alligator-bayou-rooms/

No standard rooms at the values have 3 beds, but family suites at Art of Animation and All-Star Music do–see this: http://yourfirstvisit.net/2012/09/05/review-the-family-suites-disneys-all-star-music-resort/

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