By the co-author of The easy Guide to Your Walt Disney World Visit 2020, the best-reviewed Disney World guidebook series ever.

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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, The easy Guide to Your Walt Disney World Visit–the best reviewed Disney World guide book ever published.


“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.)


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.


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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1 Chris { 12.16.11 at 12:01 pm }

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.

2 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?

3 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…

4 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).
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

5 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…

6 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.

7 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!

8 Michelle Garry { 02.15.13 at 10:50 am }


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???

9 Dave { 02.16.13 at 6:49 am }
10 Michelle Garry { 02.15.13 at 10:50 am }

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

11 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…

12 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:

13 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.

14 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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15 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…

16 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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17 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?

18 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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19 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!

20 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 and also this:

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 and/or this:

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21 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!

22 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!

23 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.

24 Dave { 10.13.13 at 11:28 am }

Cool, Jason, thanks for the feedback!

25 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.

26 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…

27 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.

28 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)…

29 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

30 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

31 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?


32 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:

No standard rooms at the values have 3 beds, but family suites at Art of Animation and All-Star Music do–see this:

33 Jessica { 04.24.14 at 10:38 pm }

Hey this site is great! I was wondering if military get discounts at the delux resorts and also at the parks. My husband is active duty and has never been to Disney so I’m trying to plan our first trip together there!


34 Dave { 04.25.14 at 8:26 am }

Hi Jessica and thanks! Yes there are huge discounts available to military folk, although the current set requires an arrival date by late September. See this:

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