Want to know how much a Disney World or Disneyland vacation costs? Outside the basic transportation, tickets and hotel room, what are the additional expenses to figure in when budgeting for a Disney trip? Keep reading for tips on planning out a realistic cost estimate for travel and get the free printable budget worksheet.
How Much Does a Disney World or Disneyland Vacation Cost?
Most anyone can take a Disney vacation without going into crazy debt. There are a few factors, including planning ahead, researching details and estimating the cost before you make the reservations!
Planning a Disneyland or Disney World vacation is more than just deciding between visiting Tomorrowland or Adventureland first. Before you book the hotel and buy any tickets, you’ll want to figure out the grand total of your Disney vacation.
There are many elements to consider before planning your trip. First you’ll need to decide on the time of year to visit. Costs can vary dramatically depending on the season of travel. Then, you’ll need to calendar out the length of your vacation and determine how many days you’ll visit the Parks. Add in transportation, where you’ll stay, what meals you’ll be eating and there’s a lot more to keep track of!
Keep reading for all the Walt Disney World and Disneyland vacation cost tips. I’ve included budget-friendly suggestions on cutting costs and a free printable worksheet for tracking expenses.
Do the Research
With the internet at your fingertips, it’s easy to do pre-vacation research to get a rough idea on Disney vacation costs. Throughout this article, I’ve included the list of things that you’ll need to consider when travel planning. At the bottom of the post, there is a free printable Disney Vacation Budget worksheet printable.
Print and jot down the cost estimates as you do your research. Having a rough idea on what to expect will help you prepare expenses up front. Throughout this article, I’ve also included hidden costs you might not have considered!
What’s Your Travel Style?
We all have a personal travel style. Is your style on the frugal side, choosing the cheapest hotel and packing in all meals and snacks? Or do you prefer to splurge on vacation by staying at a 4-star hotel and booking special dining packages and tours?
I think most of us probably fall a little in between. Maybe you splurge on some things, like character dining meals but then pack in all snacks. Perhaps you book the cheapest hotel which allows you to purchase extra Park day tickets.
Choose a Reputable Travel Agent
Did you know that using the services of a travel agent costs no extra? In fact, a travel agent often offers additional incentives and specials when you book a full package vacation through them. Choose an agency that specializes in Disney travel, like Get Away Today.
Get Away Today is educated on all things Disney and can work out a package that fits within your budget. They even have special offers like free days or extra hotel nights when you book a vacation package. Get Away Today also offers the only refundable Disneyland tickets, when purchased with the Peace of Mind insurance package.
For vacationers that are planning well in advance, a layaway plan can be invaluable. For just $175 down, Get Away Today will lock in the current rates on your chosen vacation package. You’ll be able to pay it over time without any interest rates. And if prices decrease for any reason, Get Away Today will refund the difference!
Paying Upfront or Using Credit?
If you plan on paying for your vacation in cash, take a close look at your budget and estimate where you can cut back in small ways to save. Once you know roughly how much you’ll be spending on the trip, you can plot out the date of your vacation. From there, determine how much you’ll need to save each month to meet your goal.
If you plan on using your credit card, certainly consider using a card that offers rewards. The Disney Visa is a good option for Disney travel, as it offers discounts within the theme parks. Southwest airlines is another good charge card, if you’re needing airline miles.
Pay close attention to interest rates because you don’t want to pay more than necessary. Work that amount into your budget if you aren’t going to pay off the debt right away.
Making theme park reservations is one of the newer things to know about Disney travel. Now that Disney park reservations are required for entry, buying tickets and making reservations needs to be one of the first steps in the planning process. Before you purchase tickets, check the Disneyland or Walt Disney World website reservation calendars.
Be sure to look at the calendar for the specific ticket type and tier you’ll be using. Those with Magic Key annual passes, tiered single day tickets and multi-day tickets may have different reservation calendars. For more details, read about everything you need to know about Disneyland tickets.
Bottom line to know when pricing out tickets: the cost per day is lower the longer your stay. That means single day theme park tickets have the worst value (ie: are the highest priced). Multi-day tickets have the lowest per-day pricing. Adding a Park Hopper option adds additional cost.
I’ve included a few questions to ask yourself when deciding which Disney tickets to buy. Keep in mind that babies going to Disney don’t need a ticket. Any child that has not reached their third birthday will receive complimentary admission to any Disney park.
Ticket Options to Consider:
- Number of days
- Number of tickets
- Would it be cheaper to purchase an Annual Pass?
- Park Hopper or not?
Discounted Disneyland Tickets
My travel partners at Get Away Today offer both discounted Disneyland tickets and Anaheim-area hotels to fit any budget! Many hotels include exclusive discounts like free parking, complimentary breakfast or even free nights, just for booking through Get Away Today.
Disneyland tickets purchased now are good through January 12th, 2024. Purchase your multi-day tickets through Get Away Today now.
When you’re ready to book your Disneyland vacation, my friends at Get Away Today are ready to help! Mention code REWRITTEN to receive an extra discount off your SoCal vacation package of two or more days.
How are you going to get there? For my family, Disneyland is just a 90-minute drive away. Gasoline is really our only expense. But a vacation to Disney World requires a cross-country flight. If you’re heading to a Disney park from farther away, the travel expenses are often the most costly part of your vacation.
Air travel is best booked as soon as possible for the best pricing. Be sure to calculate the charges for transportation to and from the hotel, if you aren’t renting a car.
If a long drive is part of your travel plans, you’ll want to ensure your vehicle is in excellent driving condition. Add in the cost of a pre-trip vehicle inspection to your budget.
Travel Expenses to Consider:
- Shuttle cost to get your family to the airport
- Airline Baggage fees
- Transportation to the hotel
- Rental car
- Overnight hotel stay if you are driving long distance
- Cost of meals/snacks on the road
- Kid’s entertainment for the drive/plane trip
Choosing the Right Hotel
Accommodations are a must-have for extended Disney trips. Fortunately both Disney World and Disneyland offer lots to choose from including on-property resorts, off-site hotels, AirBnB or even renting Disney Vacation Club points.
I’ll cover both Disney World and Disneyland separately, as the choices for accommodations can vary between the two locations.
Disney World Hotels
When staying in the Orlando area for a Disney World vacation, choosing on-site offers the closest hotels to the park entrances. The network of resort buses and transportation options make staying at a WDW hotel a great choice. The Luxury, Moderate and Value priced locations ensure there’s at least one spot that will work within your budget.
For larger families or those looking for additional amenities, take a look at “off-site” locations. These hotels may include kitchens, additional bedrooms and still be close to the parks. Some places offer their own transit system in the way of shuttles.
The great debate when figuring Disneyland vacation cost – On-site or off-site? Lots of consider here, including amenities, luxury or budget, walkable distance to the Parks and overall cost.
Disneyland only has three “on-property” resort hotels – Grand Californian, Disneyland Hotel and Paradise Pier. All three fall within the luxury category when it comes to cost. Close proximity, on-site perks and the amazing Disney pools might be reasons for staying at a Disneyland resort hotel.
The Disneyland Resort is in the center of the city. Therefore it’s very easy to find a reasonably priced and well-appointed hotel within walking distance of the Parks. Many locations that are farther away may offer shuttle transport to the Parks.
Hotel Options to Consider:
- Cost per night
- Hotel rating and safe location
- Location – Is it within walking distance or will you need to drive to the Parks each day?
- Is complimentary breakfast available?
- Parking or “resort” fees
- Sales tax
- Is there transportation available to the parks? Is it complimentary or is there a fee?
READ MORE: Tips for Planning a First Disneyland Vacation
Budgeting for Disney Dining
Food and snacks are a big part of enjoying a day at Disney! Everyone wants to indulge in churros, Dole Whips and other iconic Disney foods but the cost can be prohibitive. Here are a few thoughts on dining at Disney parks, along with cost-saving ideas you don’t want to miss.
Most menu items are priced and can be found on the Disneyland or Disney World website or app. This makes planning out the actual cost of breakfast, lunch and dinner a little easier. Peruse the websites/apps to see average prices of meals.
Special dining packages and character dining locations don’t always show the cost, but instead display a range. Generally, expect that the lower cost is for breakfast meals and the higher cost is for dinner.
Character dining is one of the highest priced full service meals. Yes, there is the entertainment factor that comes along with it. If money is a concern, aim for just one character meal during the entire trip. Save special dining for a non-park day so you aren’t using up valuable park time.
In the Disneyland area, there are many establishments in the walkable area just outside the Park gates. You’ll find chain restaurants and fast food dining along Harbor Blvd. The Downtown Disney shopping district also offers meals including Mexican, pizza and sandwiches.
Dining Options to Consider:
- Breakfast (eat at hotel or in the Park?)
- Number of meals eaten in the Park
- Number of meals purchased outside the Park
- Snacks purchased in the Park
- Snacks pre-bought and brought into the Park
- Character dining meals
- Dining packages
Saving Money on Food on a Disney Vacation
Meals, snacks and beverages can be a very big expense when determining your Disney World or Disneyland vacation cost. However there are ways of budgeting while still enjoying the best Disney dining and treats! Here are a few money-savers you need to know about when planning your trip.
- When choosing character buffet meals, dine for breakfast or lunch instead of dinner (the higher priced option).
- Quick service meals offer lower priced food and don’t need Advance Dining Reservations. In fact, some restaurants offer such large platters, they can often be shared between two family members.
- Purchase grocery essentials and pack in meals when on a very tight budget. Sandwiches, chips, fruit and bottled water are all easy to bring into the parks.
- Seek out hotels that offer complimentary breakfast.
- Bring snacks with you into the parks to help with costs. Request free ice water at any quick service restaurant to avoid having to buy drinks.
- Book a hotel with a kitchen. Many of the Disneyland-area hotels offer the convenience of full kitchens including the new Element by Westin.
- Skip the “special event” dining options that offer reserved space for parades or shows. Instead save the cost difference and stake out your own viewing location.
Disney Genie+ is the new FASTPASS and Maxpass replacement that should be budgeted into your WDW or Disneyland vacation cost if you want to “skip the lines”.
Bottom line: Use of the short cut line (formerly called FASTPASS) is no longer included in a Disney park ticket. Expect to spend $20 per person per day for the use of Disney Genie+ at Disneyland.
Not all high profile attractions will be available on Genie+. To use the quick queue lines on rides like Rise of the Resistance, each guest must purchase an “Individual Lightning Lane”. To access those attraction short-cuts, the cost per person will be between $7-20 each. Read more about how Disney Genie+ works at Trips With Tykes.
Throughout the year, Disney parks offers special events and tours as an “add-on” to your Park ticket. This might include Oogie Boogie Bash or Disney’s Merriest Nights Christmas Party at Disneyland. At Disney World, find Disney Very Merriest After Hours and Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party.
There are also dozens of special tours, some that are offered year-round and others seasonally. Check the Disney websites to verify cost and availability of these tours as they are required to be reserved ahead of your trip.
Naturally, you’ll want something special to take home as a memento of your magical vacation. Work the cost of souvenirs into your budget to help resist overspending.
Consider purchasing Disney gift cards up front for family members so that only a specified amount is spent per person on souvenirs.
Decide if you want to pre-purchase the Disney PhotoPass or snap photos on your own camera. Keep in mind that PhotoPass will capture on-ride photos that your camera won’t get! Also, it can be beneficial to purchase PhotoPass so that all family members can appear in pictures.
To truly save on the cost of souvenirs, purchase ahead and bring items with you. These are the best Disney souvenirs to buy ahead of a trip.
Souvenir Money to Set Aside:
- Souvenir budget or purchased gift cards
- Disney PhotoPass (if not purchased through Disney Genie+, available at Disneyland only)
- Silhouette Studio
- Pressed Penny machines
- Trading Pins
Other Extras to Keep in the Budget
Here are a few extra items to add in when figuring out your Disney World and Disneyland vacation costs. I’ve included suggestions on how to save a little money when adding these to your trip.
Stroller rental – Strollers are a must-have, even for kids that don’t usually use one. Consider renting instead of buying and packing. I recommend Kingdom Strollers at Disney World for their excellent customer service and clean products.
Clothing and accessories – Kid’s t-shirts regularly cost $25+ inside the park gates. Avoid purchasing premium-priced outfits and accessories at the theme park. Buy ahead and save money using the tips on this article about the best Disney outfits for kids.
Mouse Dining – If scoring advance dining reservations is high priority, try MouseDining. For most guests, their free program is adequate. Upgrading to a paid account is reasonably priced. This offers additional features, including text alerts when preferred ADR open up. It’s a small price to pay towards your Disney World or Disneyland vacation cost, that can help save you time!
Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique (makeovers not currently available) – This head-to-toe shop features everything needed to dress up like a favorite princess. Budget for the pricey boutique looks or consider your own DIY Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique and save hundreds!
More Disney Costs to Calculate
Walt Disney World Water Parks – Want to spend a day at Blizzard Beach or Typhoon Lagoon? Factor in that additional cost by purchasing a Park Hopper Plus ticket. Read more about taking kids to Disney World water parks.
MagicBand – While not a necessity, having a MagicBand is truly convenient. It eliminates the need to constantly be pulling up the parks app to redeem entrance tickets and Disney Genie+ ride reservations.
Purchase ahead of time at shopDisney for solid-colored, limited edition versions or Magic Band Slap Bracelets to plus-up your Disney World vacation! My friend Jessica at The Happiest Blog on Earth discusses MagicBand + coming soon to Disneyland parks.
Disney World & Disneyland Vacation Cost Worksheet
This Disney vacation cost worksheet printable offers fields for you to keep track of expenses during your budget researching process. Complete and tally, then add to the estimated total at the top. Knowing your spending plan will help you make the most of a magical vacation, without any surprise costs!