Breaking Down The Cost of a Walt Disney World Vacation

Breaking Down The Cost of a Walt Disney World Vacation

Walt Disney World Fireworks Show

Since I specialize in planning Disney vacations, I am often asked for a Disney quote and some folks feel like a Disney vacation is a little out of reach.  They mistakenly believe that staying at a Disney resort will increase the cost of a Walt Disney World vacation and believe they can do better elsewhere.  I am always saddened by that, because staying in the middle of the magic is part of what makes a Disney vacation so special and it does not increase the cost of the vacation at all.

Don’t get me wrong the cost of a Disney vacation can be a little daunting until one realizes there is a lot of value in the price of a Disney vacation package.  For instance, when you book your vacation at a Disney resort, you get free transportation, to and from the airport with Disney’s Magical Express, accommodation at a Disney resort, tickets to 4 theme parks and free transportation on the Disney property.  Families can even choose an optional meal plan for the duration of their stay.  It is much like booking a vacation at an all inclusive resort, a lot is included in the price.  Disney likes to make things easy for their guests so let’s break do the components in the cost of a Walt Disney World Vacation.


I always recommend staying in a Disney Resort because you are in the middle of everything.
On hot days you can spend the afternoon at a Disney Resort pool or letting children nap, and it is an easy bus ride back to the parks for the evening and extra magic hours.  Staying at a Disney resort allows you to take advantage of the early morning or late evening openings at the various parks.  This option is not available to those staying off site.  One thing that most people don’t realize is that the resort cost is probably the least expensive part of your Disney vacation.  Like most resorts, Disney resorts are divided into value, moderate and luxury categories, and the prices for those categories is quite comparable to other resorts in those categories in the Orlando area.  So staying at a value resort on Disney property is often the same or cheaper as staying off property and you have access to free transportation to the parks, not always available at other properties.  

Disney does partner with other resorts in the area, known as “good neighbor resorts” and there are many of the same advantages but they are generally further from the magic, and are not really less expensive.  If at all possible, I like to get my clients in the middle of the magic.

Park Tickets

By far the biggest cost of your Disney vacation will be your park tickets. Disney recently introduced date-based pricing for multi-day tickets.  This is very confusing to visitors but basically Disney’s ticket prices vary considerably based on the days of the year you’re visiting.

Your ticket price will be based on the starting date of your vacation, the number of days you plan to visit theme parks or water parks, and whether you plan to visit more than one theme park per day.  I am always asked “when is the best time to visit Walt Disney World?”, and the answer is a little more complex than in the past.  

The highest-priced tickets are generally found on dates when most children are out of school: Christmas and other holidays, Spring Break, and summer vacation. Less expensive tickets are generally available during non-holiday periods when children are in school, and during months subject to inclement weather: January and February, for example, and peak hurricane season in September.  So you can see why planning your Disney vacation well in advance and choosing the least popular times of the year can be very helpful in getting the most value for your visit.  

One-day admission to a Walt Disney World theme park costs the same, no matter which park you choose to visit. This is different from in years past, when the cost to visit Magic Kingdom was higher than the cost to visit Epcot, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, or Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

Note that Disney has not yet implemented date-based pricing for the Disneyland Resort’s theme parks in California: Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure.

Optional Costs for a Disney Vacation

Although it is not optional to eat, Disney offers optional meal plans to add to your vacation.  They vary from a quick service plan offering meals at only at self-service venues to deluxe meal plans that offer full blown sit-down venues.  If you are a foodie this is an aspect of a Disney vacation that can be very appealing. 

Transportation to Orlando


Travel to Orlando

No matter when you go to WDW the cost to get there is often not considered.  I can help find flights but very often clients have their own miles plans, or preferred airlines, so I mostly let folks determine this part of their vacation.  That said, families can now buy airline tickets through Disney.  It should be noted that there really is no price advantage, and airline tickets must be paid for at time of purchase so many families opt to look for the best prices.  

Like most vacations, a Disney vacation costs money and takes some planning.  The nice thing about a Disney vacation is that upon booking your vacation you pay a deposit and you can pay for the rest of it between booking and arrival.   How does that work?  If you book a Walt Disney World Resort vacation package at least 31 days in advance of your arrival, your balance will be due in full 30 days before the start of your vacation. Additionally, you can cancel your Walt Disney World Resort vacation without penalty up to 31 days before the start of your vacation.

If you book a Walt Disney World Resort vacation package 30 days or less before the start of your vacation, your complete balance is due immediately upon reservation. For room-only reservations, you will need to pay the first night’s room rate at the time of reservation. Once you arrive at Walt Disney World Resort and check-in to your i, you will pay off your remaining balance.

The nice thing about a Disney vacation is that if you do not have to pay your balance in full in order to start making advanced dining reservations and FastPass+ selections. You can start making your advanced dining reservations 180 before your arrival! If you have a Walt Disney World Resort theme park ticket linked to your account, you can start making FastPass+ selections 30 in advance of your vacation. If you also have a Disney Resort hotel reservation linked to your account, you can start making FastPass+ selections 60 days in advance of the most magical vacation of your life!

There is a lot involved in booking a Walt Disney World vacation, because a lot is packed into one of these vacations.  There is a lot to know.  That is where I come in.  As an Authorized Disney Vacation planner I help you navigate the magic and show you the best ways to save money, and the best ways to enjoy you vacation.  And the best part about me is that my services are FREE.  I can save you time and money and bring you the best value for your money.  

When you are ready to book your Disney Vacation, contact me I can help.  

2 thoughts on “Breaking Down The Cost of a Walt Disney World Vacation”

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