By the co-author of The easy Guide to Your Walt Disney World Visit 2017, from the best-reviewed Disney World guidebook series ever. Paperback available on Amazon here. Kindle version available on Amazon here. PDF version available on Gumroad here.—Disney World Instructions for the First-Time Visitor

(Estimating Budgets for Different Trips)

By Dave Shute


The budget figures on What to Budget are valid for a family of four, with one child between three and ten, and one ten or older, who are following the Basic Itinerary and the other instructions of this site, during the fall 2014 price season.

The simplest way to define a budget for a different trip–slightly different, or very different–is to decide on the key components of your visit to Walt Disney World and then go through most of the booking process on the Walt Disney World website.

Doing so will give you the core costs of your hotel, park tickets, and dining plan. Add to this your transportation costs, and $30-50 per person per night for extras, and you will be close.


You need to have a sense of the following to set your budget:

  • When you will be going. Walt Disney World Resort Hotel price seasons vary tremendously over the year, and dining prices vary a bit. See this for help deciding when to go to Walt Disney World.
  • Your family’s size and age structure on your planned check-in date. Kids less than three years old are basically free. Kids from three up to ten are charged a little less than older folk for theme park tickets, and a lot less for the dining plan. Kids 10 or older as of the check-in date are charged the same as adults. See this for how old your kids should be if this may be their only childhood visit to Walt Disney World.
  • Where you plan to stay. Walt Disney World Resort hotel rooms are available for prices of under $100 per night to well over $500 per night. See this for where to stay at Walt Disney World.


When you have figured the above out, basically just go through the Walt Disney World booking process up until the point where you are asked to confirm your purchase. This will give you your basic ticket, dining, and hotel costs. (See the To-Do List for help.)

If your target date is after 2014 do it for the same period in 2014 and add 5% to the total per year after 2014. (Be consistent in holidays–if you plan (gulp) to go during Easter Week 2015, use Easter Week in 2014 for your pricing–don’t use the same 2014 calendar week.)

Add your transportation costs, and $30-50 per person per day for extras, and you are done!


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 Guide to Walt Disney World, see this

For the Comfortable Guide to Walt Disney World, see this


1 Danielle Bray { 04.10.12 at 10:23 pm }

first real family vacation we have a 16 nd 13 year old both girls who will bring friends..we wqnt them to remember this vacation but also want it to be a reaonably priced but something they wont forget,,need hotel and food included and snacks , breakfast etc. please we are really excited to be able to do this for our children

2 Dave { 04.11.12 at 6:14 am }

Hi Danielle! See the stuff that starts here, and get back to me with any questions:

3 Danielle G. { 09.10.12 at 10:28 am }

Hello! My fiance and I are actually considering taking a trip to Disney World for our honeymoon in Fall 2013. However, I don’t seem to be able to find much help budgeting (out there in general) for couples without children. We were looking at one Deluxe Disney hotel, for example, and simply couldn’t find rooms with less than 2 beds in them. I assume that there must be cheaper, 1-bed rooms for only couples. Am I wrong in this? Or perhaps I’m maneuvering the Disney site wrong? Sorry if it’s a silly question. Your site has been a world of help already. Thank you!

4 Dave { 09.10.12 at 1:09 pm }

Hi Danielle, and I’m glad the site has helped!

There are king-bed rooms in all the deluxe resorts, but you can’t book them specifically–only request them–and they are no cheaper than 4 person rooms…

5 casey { 10.17.12 at 7:22 pm }

Dave, Do I need a regular day ticket to a park in addition to a VMCP ticket to attend the Christmas party? I was thinking of just attending the Christmas party the night of my arrival on 11/16. What are your thoughts? Thanks.

6 Dave { 10.18.12 at 6:37 am }

Hi Casey, no you don’t, unless you want to go to the park before the party begins. The party begins officially at 7p, but traditionally they will let you in with only your MVMCP ticket starting at 4p.

7 casey { 10.18.12 at 8:49 am }

Thanks, I am really looking forward to it. My families first trip to Disney. I love your site.

8 Dave { 10.18.12 at 9:03 am }

Thanks Casey! Have a great trip–and if you have a moment, come back here when you return and let me know how it went!

9 Katherine { 08.09.13 at 11:28 pm }

I am trying to figure out how much “extra” I need in addition to the dining plan. My understanding is that tips/adult beverages are not included. How does that work, do you need to have cash on hand? Is there a way to charge this?

10 Dave { 08.10.13 at 8:11 am }

Katherine, you can tie a credit card to your hotel reservation, and then set your hotel key up with charging privileges to that card. This will let you put the tip and drinks on your credit card.

Besides drinks and tips, figure another $10-20 per day per person for food and snacks not on the dining plan…

11 LuvTink { 11.25.13 at 11:24 am }

I am planning a 7 day vacation for 2 adults and 3 kids (ages 5, 12 & 13) 5/3-5/10/14. We are renting a 3 bedroom townhome ($500/week) and a car ($200/week) and buying 5 day passes(2 days at Magic Kingdom & 1 day at each of the other parks) without the park hopper ($1,440 on undercover tourist). I hope to have breakfast at the townhouse most days and lunch and dinner in the parks. I have the following reservations for dining: Cinderella castle breakfast (I know it’s expensive but my 5 year old has never been inside the castle), Whispering Canyon Cafe dinner, Cape May breakfast, Crystal Palace dinner. My budget is $5,000 and I am estimating airfare at $1,660. Do you see anything I am missing or have any advice? Can I do it for $5,000? I’d love your input! Thanks!

12 Dave { 11.26.13 at 8:16 am }

Hey LuvTink, it’ll be tight. The expenses you note leave $1200 for parking, fuel, souvenirs, and dining. Without pricing everything out, I’d guess you are $500-$750 short. Cindy alone will cost more than $250…BTW, while breakfast are the least expensive park option, unless you book them late in the morning, they get in the way of effectively touring during the first hour the parks are open–which are their least crowded times…

13 JoAnn { 05.01.14 at 11:37 pm }

Hello Dave, I am a grandma taking my daughter, her 6 year old daughter, my son, his wife and their 12 year old son. 6 of us in all. We will stay either at Pop Century 3 in each of 2 rooms or 1 suite at Art of Animation. We will travel by Am track. My 3 questions are: of the 2 choices for staying which room choices are cheaper? for the Dinner plan can the 6 year old be treated as an adult but a child for room cost, rides and everything else? Does Disney provide transportation to and from train station or will we have to rent a van which we will not use any other time on our stay?

14 Dave { 05.02.14 at 7:02 am }

Hi JoAnn, two rooms at Pop are cheaper than a family suite. Disney has no transport anywhere except at the Orlando airport, but you can get cabs at the train station–they will be expensive–or reach out to Mears for a shuttle. And on the 6 year old as an adult on the dining plan, but not anything else, no.

15 How much will you spend at Disney World | Orlando Vacation { 10.22.14 at 9:11 pm }

[…] important to get a good idea of your options before you take off. We found a great resource for setting your budget. Take a look or see below for the best […]

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