Disney World is a dream destination for many families, but most people have no idea about how much does it cost to go to Disney World. As you’ve likely guessed, it’s not cheap which is why you want to prepare yourself.
For the purpose of this article, I’m going to suggest a 5-night itinerary. This will give you time to get settled the day you arrive and one day for each of the four Disney theme parks (not counting the water park). I’m also going to assume you’re travelling as a family of four. Most people will spend additional time in Orlando, but this article is focused just on Disney World.
My how much does it cost to go to Disney World guide will include many tips on how you can save so there’s no need to freak out if you think some of the estimates seem high.
Disney World Cost for a family of four
|Car rental, gas & parking||$565|
|Disney World tickets||$2,240|
|Food and drink||$1,260|
The above estimate is based on US dollars. If you want to know what it costs in your local currency, use XE.com for the conversion.
Again, the above is just an estimate of the costs for a family visit. There are plenty of different ways to save money in Orlando, which I’ll highlight below.
I should also mention that the time of year you visit can make a difference in costs. Hotels are a bit cheaper during the low season, and that’s also when Disney ticket prices are the most affordable.
The best time to visit Disney World
- Late April / early May
- Late August / early September
- Before Mickey’s not-so-scary Halloween party begins and after it ends
- Late November and the first week of December before Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party
When figuring out how much does it cost to go to Disney World, flights can be a bit tricky since prices fluctuate based on where you live and what season you’re travelling.
The cost of airfare has gone up significantly as of late. If you’re travelling from within North America, you should budget $450 per person. That said, depending on the season you’re flying, and where you’re flying from, it’s possible to find flights for less than $300 per person.
It is possible to save money on airfare. Within the U.S., multiple discount airlines such as JetBlue typically have great prices. Canadians could take advantage of the WestJet companion voucher that comes with the WestJet RBC World Elite Mastercard or the Buddy Pass that Aeroplan has when flying on Air Canada.
If you’re travelling with kids, many families will opt to drive to Orlando as the savings on airfare and car rental can be a fair amount. Driving 12 hours+ each way may sound crazy, but if it can save $1,000+, it might be worth it. That said, think about your time since it’s valuable. Although you’ll save a lot of money, you’d probably spend 3-4 days travelling to/from Orlando.
If you’re Canadian, you may want to consider applying for one of the best travel credit cards in Canada to help offset your costs by collecting points. For example, the American Express Platinum Card gives you a generous welcome bonus that’s often worth more than $900 (potentially more if you transfer your points to Aeroplan or Marriott Bonvoy). There’s also the Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite card that has no foreign transaction fees, and it comes with airport lounge access.
The cost of hotels greatly varies on where you stay and the time you visit. I personally break down costs based on location. Cheap Disney vacations are possible, it just depends on what you’re willing to do to save money. It wouldn’t be that hard to find a hotel around $225 a night range, and they may even include free breakfast.
Disney World hotels
If you’re staying at one of the Disney World hotels on-site, such as All Star Movies Resort, you can expect to pay up to $350+ a night. This is one of the most expensive options, but it’ll put you closest to the action. Besides the easy access to parks, many guests choose Disney resorts for the themes. Animal Kingdom Lodge is one of the coolest hotels I’ve ever been in. Although I was excited for the Star Wars hotel, the price is insane.
Hotels near Disney World
The are many hotels near Disney World just a 5-10 minute drive away in the $150-$20 per night range. One popular spot is near the intersection of S. Apopka Vineland Rd. and Winter Garden Vineland Rd. as there are many value resorts, villas, restaurants and shops nearby.
Hotels near Disney World with a shuttle
Hotels near Disney World with a shuttle are incredibly convenient if you don’t want to bother with a rental car. These hotels have multiple departure times and often go to more places than just Disney, including Universal Studios. Check out my list of the best hotels near Disney World with a shuttle for some of my top picks.
You should also consider vacation homes in nearby Celebration and Kissimmee. Vacation homes are great since they come with fully equipped kitchens and come in different sizes/price ranges which will appeal to families. Celebration is less than a 10-minute drive from Disney, so don’t be afraid to expand your hotel search. Many vacation homes also offer cheap 5-night stays if you’re willing to sit through a timeshare presentation. As long as you don’t buy anything, you can get a great deal.
If you’re looking for something in the $100 – $150 a night, check around the Florida Mall, which isn’t too far from the main tourist attractions. There are plenty of motels and budget-friendly hotels in this area to help you keep your costs down. You might even find hotels in this price range near International Drive, which is close to shopping, dining, and attractions to keep you entertained.
Don’t worry, if you like to stay in style, you’ll have more than enough choices for luxury hotels. Just keep in mind that your daily price will easily cost you $400+ a night.
If you have the right credit card, you can save a fair amount of money on hotels. Americans should strongly consider the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card since you can earn up to 95,000 Marriott Bonvoy points and $300 back at U.S. restaurants as a welcome bonus.
Canadians should consider the Marriott Bonvoy American Express, which gives you up to 75,000 Marriott Bonvoy points. That’s enough points for a few free nights at some hotels, which could easily have a value of over $500.
Getting a car rental in Orlando is reasonable. If you get a compact car, it’ll cost you about $45 a day. If you need a mid-size car, SUV or mini-van, you’re looking at about $65 a day.
Luggage space may be an issue, so don’t go for a compact car just because it’s the cheapest option. Renting a car seat is about $10 per day. If you need two, that’s an additional $80 you need to factor in.
I strongly recommend booking with a car rental agency located at the Orlando International Airport (MCO). Every major car rental agency has a location there, but the cheapest ones are usually off-site.
You can save a little money by picking a vehicle that’s good on gas. For example, I once rented a Toyota Prius and only spent $4 on gas. Another time I rented a Nissan Rogue and ended up spending closer to $45. Both trips were three days in length.
When booking your flights, check the prices of adding a car rental when you book your airfare. One time I booked my flights on Expedia, and it gave me the option to rent a car for only $20 a day. That was half the price compared to had I booked the car rental separately.
You can reduce Disney trip costs by not getting a rental car at all, but then you need to stay at a hotel that offers a free shuttle, and their hours of operation may not be ideal. Alternatively, Uber and Lyft and pretty common and can get you where you need to at a reasonable price.
Disney World parking cost
All Disney World theme parks charge a standard parking fee of $20 per day. Preferred parking is available for $45-$50 a day which gives you access to the closest parking lot.
What’s nice about your Disney World parking cost is that it includes in and out privileges at all the theme parks. That means if you’re visiting multiple parks in a day, you’re only paying to park once. There is no fee to park at Disney Springs.
Also note that most hotels charge $10 – $20 a night for parking
Overall, you should estimate $565 for the cost of your car rental, gas and parking.
Disney World tickets
The cost of Disney World tickets will depend on the time of year you’re visiting and which theme park you’re headed to. The following is a quick breakdown of the various admission options to get an idea of how much you’ll need to spend.
Disney World base ticket cost
- 1-day ticket – From $109
- 2-day ticket – From $107
- 3-day ticket – From $105
- 4-day ticket – From $103
If you want to add the Park Hopper Option, which allows you to visit multiple parks a day, it’s an extra $50 – $80 per person, per day.
Buying multi-day tickets will always be the best value when buying Disney World tickets. As you can clearly see, the price drops quite a bit the longer you stay. This shouldn’t be a surprise as Disney wants you in their parks as long as possible and they know you’ll spend money when you’re there. An annual pass offers the best value, but unless you’re a local, it’s probably not worth it for your Disney World trip.
Even though those prices appear reasonable, Disney uses dynamic pricing. That means more popular days will cost you more. In reality, you should budget about $140 per day for admission. Since there are so many rides and shows in Disney World, you’ll want a 4-day ticket. That means you’ll need to budget $560 per person or $2,240 for a family of four.
Note that you must reserve your theme parks in advance. You can’t just show up at Disney World and expect to buy tickets at the counter. If you don’t have a reservation, you won’t be able to get in.
Discount Disney tickets
There are discount Disney resort tickets available, but they only come in the form of special offers. Generally speaking, the discounts are usually for multi-day tickets and meal plans. You can reduce your cost to go to Disney World by taking advantage of the promotions.
Since these deals happen once or twice a year and have a long window for you to use your tickets, it’s worth monitoring the Disney World website every so often to see what’s available.
You should never buy discount Disney tickets from eBay, Craigslist or any other online store. Even if someone is offering to sell you two days from their 7-day ticket, don’t do it, as it’s almost definitely a scam. Disney World tickets are tied to the individual via a fingerprint so it’s impossible to transfer the tickets.
Disney World Genie+
Disney recently introduced Disney Genie, which is meant to enhance the guest experience by building an itinerary based on your preferences. While there’s no denying that it’s useful, to maximize the use of Disney Genie, you need to pay for Genie+, which costs $25 per person, per day.
Once you’ve paid for the upgrade, you can reserve a virtual spot in the line at most of the park’s attractions. This is highly beneficial since it’ll allow you to skip the lines when you can snag a spot. What makes this a cash grab is that Disney used to offer a similar service for free. Now you need to pay for it.
If paying a fee for the ability to reserve a spot wasn’t bad enough, there are also the optional individual lightning lanes which you can purchase for the top rides such as Avatar Flight of Passage and Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind for $10 – $25 per person.
Even though Genie+ is optional, most people will pay for it since it allows you to reserve rides. That means a family of four will need to budget another $100 per day Purchasing individual lightning lanes is also optional, but if you’re visiting Disney for the first time, there’s a good chance you could end up buying one or two individual rides. That means you should budget another $40 per day for individual lightning lanes. That works out to $260 per day, or $1,040 for the length of your trip.
Food and drink
Disney has some incredible restaurants, but I noticed they also have some reasonably priced places to grab food for families. There are also “snacks” that you can get that are pretty much a meal (possibly for two), like the roast turkey drumsticks.
I recommend budgeting the following amount for every person.
- Breakfast – $10 (at your hotel or on the way to the parks)
- Lunch – $20
- Dinner – $30
- Snacks – $40 (per day for the entire family)
That works out to $70 a person a day while at the theme parks. You’ll spend a little less on the day you arrive and the day of departure. Overall, you’ll want to budget about $1,260 for food.
This obviously seems like an insane amount when you’re trying to figure out how much does it cost to go to Disney World, but it’s always better to overestimate when planning a trip.
Eating out three meals a day can get expensive, so I advise picking a hotel with free breakfast or grabbing food at a nearby grocery store (off-site). For cheap eats, you can grab quick service meals for under $15. Table service restaurants on-site will cost you $20 – $30 each, which is standard for a theme park.
Also note that after a long day at a theme park, you may not want a full dinner. There’s a good chance you’ll spend less than what I’ve estimated on food. In addition, you’re allowed to bring food and drink to Walt Disney World. It’s possible to not spend any money at all on food while at Disney, but I do recommend at least snacks since theme parks can be fun.
There are some Disney dining plans available that can give you some savings, but that option is usually only a good value if you’re getting it as part of a special offer.
Finally, the last thing you need to budget for is your random spending, which comes down to merchandise. This is obviously optional, but if you’re travelling with kids, they’re naturally going to want souvenirs. Trust me, Disney is a genius about their marketing, and there will be a ton of things your kids will want to buy. If your kids get into Disney pin trading, you could end up spending a small fortune.
There are also many cool things for adults, such as cookie cutters, egg moulds, and even decorations for the home. I personally love pulling out my Disney Christmas ornaments every year.
As you can imagine, you can buy merchandise everywhere when you’re inside a Disney theme park. However, the largest Disney Store is located at Disney Springs which is worth checking out since it’s a massive entertainment and dining complex that’s good for all ages. Overall, I would estimate $300 for the entire family regarding random spending.
Cost to go to Disney World
So how much does it cost to go to Disney World? I recommend a family of four budget $8,330 USD for a 5-night trip, but obviously, there are plenty of ways to reduce your costs without sacrificing the experience. You also obviously won’t go all the way to Orlando just for five days, so your trip costs will be spread out.
Is it possible to see Disney World on a budget?
If you really wanted to, you could also do Disney World on a budget. That said, it’s not like you’d be saving tons of money. Sure, you can cut down on food and hotel costs, but if you’re going all the way to Disney World, you might as well spend. I recommend saving money while you’re at home so you can spend it while you’re at Disney. Think about it. Every time you decide not to eat out at home or not to buy something, you can use that money during your Disney World vacation.
Are park hopper tickets worth it?
This is a bit subjective. Park hopper tickets are beneficial if you have a limited amount of time in Disney World but want to see as much as possible. For example, if you’ve only got two days, getting a two-day, hopper ticket will allow you to see all the parks. However, it’s impossible to go on every ride during that time. You could spend an entire day at one park and still not get on every ride (mainly due to the long lines). If it’s your first time at Disney World, spending four days (one in each park) is ideal.
What is the best Disney World park?
This is another subjective question. Magic Kingdom has Cinderella’s Castle and some of the most iconic rides and attractions. Hollywood Studios used to be a bit boring, but with the addition of Star War’s Galaxy’s Edge and Toy Story Land, it’s now one the better theme parks. I personally love Animal Kingdom for the safari ride and the Avatar Flight of Passage ride. Many Americans love Epcot as it’s sort of a tour of the world without ever having to leave America.
Should I stay at a Disney hotel?
If you’re looking for the full Disney experience, staying at one of the themed hotels can be worth it. Disney puts a lot of effort into the overall feel of the hotels so you can really get fully immersed. It’s also worth mentioning that some of the best Disney restaurants are located on the properties. That said, staying at a hotel outside of Disney isn’t bad if you’re looking to enjoy more things outside the parks.