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By the co-author of The easy Guide to Your Walt Disney World Visit 2018, the best-reviewed Disney World guidebook series ever.

Available on Amazon here.





The Basics: What to Budget for Walt Disney World

By Dave Shute

This page includes both general guidance on figuring out your Walt Disney World budget, and specific guidance on what to budget for the Basic December Itinerary that I recommend.

The general material is based on the book I co-author with Josh of easyWDW.com, The easy Guide to Your Walt Disney World Visit–the best reviewed Disney World guide book ever published.

WHAT TO BUDGET FOR WALT DISNEY WORLD

“What should we budget for Disney World?” is the hardest simple question to answer.

This is because smaller families, families whose kids are younger, families staying at a less expensive hotel, families going during a less expensive week, and families on shorter trips will pay less. Larger families, families where everyone is over nine, families staying at a more expensive hotel, families going during a more expensive week, and families on longer trips will pay more.

  • A parent and one younger child, with three days of tickets and three nights in a value resort during one of the less expensive price seasons, could spend as little as $1,400 in Orlando.
  • Add another parent and another younger child and this trip jumps to $2,400.
  • Stretch the visit out to the 8 nights and 9 days we recommend for “only visits” and the in-Orlando price exceeds $4,400.
  • Stay this long in one of the more expensive deluxe resorts instead, and the price is more than $7,800.
  • Shift to the most expensive times to visit at this deluxe resort and add $2,300 more.

(All the figures are before transportation costs and souvenirs.)

ESTIMATING BUDGETS

Consider the following variables:

Dates of the visit. Walt Disney World price seasons for hotel rooms vary tremendously over the year.

  • Group size and age structure at planned check-in date. Kids less than three years old don’t require theme park admission and aren’t charged at buffets. Kids from three to nine are charged a little less than older folk for theme park tickets,and a lot less for kids’ meals and kids’ buffets. Kids ten and older as of the check-in date are charged the same as adults for theme park tickets and the Dining Plan. With the exception of the Disney Vacation Club rooms and the Fort Wilderness campground, Disney includes two guests age 18 or older in the room at the base price. Additional guests over the age of 18 will be charged $10–$35 per night extra, depending on the resort level.
  • Number of days in the parks and nights in your hotel. See “How Long to Stay”
  • Targeted hotel. Walt Disney World hotel rooms are available for prices just south of $100 per night to well over $800 per night.
  • Transportation costs. These vary greatly depending on mode and length of travel.
  • Tips, snacks, souvenirs, and other extras. Add about $25 per person, per night.

Now that we have an idea about when and for how long we want to visit, let’s input our information and get an idea of how much it’s all going to cost. Visit your My Disney Experience account (don’t have an yet?—see this) and sign in.

Click “Places to Stay” (top center)…

…and when the next screen opens, input your check-in date, check-out date, and party size.

On the next screen click Package (red) then scroll down and select your hotel (gold).

On the next page select the number of days for your tickets at the top..

…then scroll down and add any park-hop options you might want.

On the next page click the Disney Dining Plan then skip the next page and get your total offer.

Note the cost, then do the same thing all over but this time as room only, and without the dining plan. While I don’t recommend the Dining Plan in all situations, it can save a ton for families with kids between 3 and 9 planning a lot of character meals, and checking with and without will give a general idea about what it will cost to eat one quick service and one table service meal per day, in addition to a snack or two.

BUDGETS FOR THE BASIC ITINERARY

For the Basic Itinerary this site recommends, during the fall 2018 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.

This budget includes Walt Disney World Resort hotel accommodations, food, park tickets, and several separately priced meals and special events (all after-tax):

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.

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40 comments

1 Derek { 01.14.15 at 12:22 pm }

Hi Dave,

This is a great site and I’ve been recommending it to everyone (even to people who have been to Disney and offer me advice on booking a trip).

Some questions for you (with some background info first)- We’re planning a 2015 trip and are basing it around your recommended weeks. Our preference would be Nov 29-Dec 5, but we’re flexible and open to anything in the Oct-Dec timeframe. 6 adults and 2 children under 10. Looking at 6 nights, at Art of Animation, with 5 days in the parks (M-F, no park hopper) and the Disney Dining Plan (there are three offered and this is the middle one).

For my info, I tried booking this on the Disney site. In order to get the Art of Animation basic room, I had to break the group up into 4 and 4 (4 adults and then 2 adults plus 2 kids under 10). When I totaled the quoted cost of the 2 groups and divided by 8 heads it came to ~$857 per person.

My question (s) – Are there any savings associated with trying to book as a group of 8 vs 2 groups of 4 like I did on the Disney site? Ie: volume discounts on park passes? What about booking one larger room/suite for the whole group? I read about that a bit on here and it seemed like getting 2 rooms would make more sense considering that we’re first-timers. Also, the Dining Plan accounts for ~$2500 of the overall cost. Given that we’re flexible on dates, and looking at low crowd dates, does it make more sense to wait to see if they offer free dining before we book?

Thanks!
Derek

2 Dave { 01.14.15 at 1:55 pm }

Hi Derek and thanks!! First, no volume discounts or deals for larger families. There’s several 6 person options, but they will be more expensive than two rooms at AofA. See this: https://yourfirstvisit.net/2014/07/02/review-the-family-suites-at-disneys-all-star-music-resort/

The dining plan is unlikely to save you money, but can be a comfort as a way to pre-pay your food expenses. See the second half of this: https://yourfirstvisit.net/2014/04/16/the-best-ever-free-dining-faq-in-the-history-of-the-world/

Note also that the 4 person little mermaid rooms have been excluded from Disney deals since they opened…

3 Edward { 12.29.15 at 3:12 pm }

Hi Dave,

I want to have to the best experience at Disney… 2-3weeks. What do you recommend as far as a red carpet kind of experience. From accommodation to entertainment and options. The sky is the limit on my budget. I may bring someone… not really sure about that yet. Thanks for your website, very helpful.

4 Dave { 12.30.15 at 9:18 am }

Edward, what an interesting question. The parks aren’t the variable–it’s where you stay and where you eat that really set a trip off. Take a look at the material that begins here.

5 Stephanie { 07.24.16 at 4:12 am }

Hi Dave,
My husband and I just recently got married and he knows how much I love Disneyland so we decided to plan a trip to Disney world for our honeymoon. I’ve never been to Disney world so I’m not sure how long we should stay out there. I was thinking about going in May or June of 2017 and probably going for 10-13 days. We will be flying out there from Phoenix.. I don’t know if we should get a rental car or not or if it would even be worth it? We’re always not sure how much it would cost to fly or how much money we should take for the food. How much do you think we should save for this trip with everything included? Thanks for your website it’s so helpful!

6 Dave { 07.25.16 at 11:28 am }

Stephanie, I can’t comment on flight costs–I don’t track them by market. For a trip that long a rental car would be handy for doing things outside of the parks. Your budget will be governed more by where you stay than by anything else. See this for some of the price differences.

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