With more than 50 million visitors a year, Orlando is one of the most popular destinations in the world. If it’s on your bucket list, you’re likely wondering how much does it cost to go to Orlando? Unfortunately, the rumours you’ve heard are true, visiting Orlando is expensive.
For the purpose of this article, I’m going to suggest 10 days and 10 nights. I’m also going to recommend 4 days at Disney Parks, 2 days at Universal Orlando Resort and one day at SeaWorld. That may seem like a lot of time spent at theme parks, but that’s what most people do when they visit Orlando. The remaining days are up to you, but I’m going to provide a few suggestions throughout the guide.
In this how much does it cost to go to Orlando guide, I’ll assume you’re travelling as a family of 4, so just add and subtract costs based on the number of people in your party. I’ll also be sharing tips on how you can save money and stretch your budget.
Orlando Trip Cost
|Car rental, gas & parking||$1,000|
|Food and drink||$2,100|
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.
Remember, I’m estimating things on a family of four travelling, so if there’s just two of you, your costs would be about half as much. Some people will spend even more than what I’ve estimated, while others will spend less.
Although it won’t make a major difference when it comes to costs, choosing certain times when the theme parks have smaller crowds can be beneficial to you. The following are some of the best times to visit Orlando:
- Late April / early May
- After the U.S. Spring Break
- Late August / early September
- Before and Halloween celebrations begin and after it ends
- Early November before any Christmas celebrations begin
The price of airfare to Orlando will vary quite a bit depending on where you’re flying from. For this how much does it cost to go to Orlando guide, I’m assuming you’re flying within the U.S. so flights will cost you about $300 per person or $1,200 for a family of 4. That said, there are many discount airlines within the U.S. so it wouldn’t be too hard to find airfare for under $200 a person if you’re flexible.
If you’re flying from Canada, you’ll likely need to budget $400-$450 per person. That said, you could take advantage of the WestJet companion voucher that comes with the WestJet RBC World Elite Mastercard.
Some families will opt to drive to Orlando as the savings on airfare can be significant. Depending on where you live, this isn’t a bad idea. You just need to decide what your time is worth. Spending 15+ hours in a car that saves you more than $1,000 is something worth considering. However, if you’re going to do that, you need to budget in extra days before and after your trip, as well as the cost of gas and hotels.
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 Gold Rewards Card gives you a signup bonus of up to 30,000 American Express Membership Rewards points which have a minimum value of $300 (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, a sign up bonus worth $250 and it comes with airport lounge access.
How much you spend on accommodations in Orlando is a personal preference. There are so many options that you won’t have a problem finding something that fits within your budget. I personally recommend choosing a type of property that’s best suited for your needs. A budget of $150 a day is a good estimate so that’s $1,500 for a 10 night trip. Here are the different types of hotels you should consider.
Theme park hotels – Both Disney and Universal Orlando Resort have on-site hotels which are appealing to guests who are looking for the full experience. Disney owned hotels have specific themes so you’ll feel like you’re part of the Disney Magic. For example, Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge has rooms with views of the animals. Disney hotels are typically expensive ($300+ a night), but I find Universal Orlando Resort hotels to have reasonable nightly rates ($100-150).
Brand name hotels – While most hotels in Orlando are owned by major chains, there are a few that stand out due to the quality of the resort. If you don’t mind spending a little more, these hotels can be worth it since they typically offer better amenities. You’re looking at about the $150-$200 range for one of these hotels
Hotels with shuttles – Many hotels offer free shuttle service to the major theme parks. This is convenient if you don’t have access to a car, but you’re at the mercy of the shuttle service times. To make things more flexible, some families will take an Uber one way if times don’t work out. Generally speaking, you shouldn’t have a problem finding a hotel with shuttles in the $150 per night range.
Vacation homes – There are plenty of vacation homes available in Orlando, 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. You may not need a vacation home for a family of four, but if you’re doing a multi-generation trip or travelling with another family, they can be a good solution.
International Drive hotels – For those on a budget, you’ll want to look for a hotel near International Drive. It shouldn’t be too hard to find a hotel here in the $100 per night range and you’ll still be within a 15-minute drive to all the major theme parks. Plus, there’s plenty of grocery stores and restaurants nearby.
If you have the right credit card, you can save a fair amount of money on hotels. For example, Canadians should consider the BMO World Elite Mastercard since it typically has a sign up bonus of $250 when you charge $3,000 to your card in the first three months of card membership. This card does have an annual fee of $150 but it’s normally waived for the first year so you’re getting $250 for free. There’s also the Marriott Bonvoy American Express which gives you 51,000 Marriott Bonvoy points when you charge $3,000 to your card in the first three months. That’s enough points for up to five free nights at some hotels which could easily have a value of over $650.
Car rental, gas & parking
Unless you’re driving down on your own or relying on shuttles/Uber, you’re going to need a car rental in Orlando. Fortunately, car rentals can be pretty reasonable. A compact car can be as low as $35 a day, but if you want something bigger such as a mid-size car, SUV or mini-van, you’re looking at about $45-$55 a day.
It may be tempting to go for the compact option, but they have very limited luggage space which can be a pain if you have multiple bags and strollers. Note that you can rent 2 seat strollers in Orlando that are delivered right to your hotel.
Adding a car seat rental is $10 a day for each one you need, so if both your kids need them, you’re looking at $200 just in car seat rentals.
You can save a little bit of money by choosing a vehicle that’s good on gas such as a Toyota Prius. Another way to save money is to book your flight, hotel, and car rental through the same website. Expedia often has packages, but you can also add on the car rental later and still get the discounted price.
Generally speaking, parking is $25 a day at theme parks and many hotels will charge you anywhere from $15 – $30 a day. You’ll likely only need to fill up gas once during your trip. There are also road tolls to factor in which will run you about $10 total. Overall, you could spend close to $1,000 on your car rental, gas, and parking.
If you’ve yet to research attraction tickets in Orlando, I’ve got news for you, they’re going to cost you a small fortune. The amount you’ll spend on admission could pay for another vacation, but that’s the price you pay if you plan on visiting multiple theme parks while in Orlando. Here’s a quick breakdown of what the costs are for all the major parks.
Disney World tickets
- 4-day ticket – $412 ($103 per day)
Universal Orlando Resort tickets
- 2-Day – 2 park ticket (1 park per day) – $234.99
- Single-Day Ticket – $107.99
For reference, tickets for children (between 3-9) are typically only $10 cheaper than adults, per day.
Both Disney World and Universal Orlando Resort have special offers from time to time which are targeted by region. For example, there are a lot of Disney dining packages available to residents of the U.K., while Universal Orlando Resort has buy 2-day – 2 park tickets and get 2 days free for Canadians. SeaWorld occasionally has actual cash discounts on the price of admission so it’s worth monitoring their sites if you plan on heading to Florida.
The above accounts for 7 days of your trip, there will be 3 other days you need to fill. Some people use these days to shop or to enjoy their hotel amenities. Others may decide to check out some other Orlando attractions such as The Wheel at ICON Park, downtown Orlando, Disney Springs, Gatorland, LEGOLAND, The Crayola Experience, and more.
When you add all of that up, your Orlando trip cost for attractions alone is going to run you about $3,400 for a family of 4. That’s insane when you think about it, but that’s what you’ll need to pay if you plan on doing all of the theme parks.
Food and drink
Although you need to pay theme park prices for food and drinks, the quality and portion sizes are quite good. Depending on how much your family eats, you may be able to get away with just buying three meals to share among 4 people. You’ll also likely buy snacks throughout the day so you may not be that hungry later. Here’s what I recommend you budget for food every day.
- Breakfast – $8 (at your hotel or on the way to the parks)
- Lunch – $20
- Snacks – $15
- Dinner – $15 (after departing)
In my experience, I find quick service restaurants at the theme parks to be the best value. Quite often the meals come with a main and sides so you’re getting a lot of food at a reasonable price. If you were to go to those quick stands found throughout the parks, you’ll likely spend more money as you’ll need to buy more food.
Based on my estimate, you’ll spend $58 a day, per person (or $232 for the family), which may seem like a lot, because it is. Remember, I like to estimate high, but I do believe you’ll spend less overall. Quite often people skip or have a light dinner because they’ve had snacks throughout the day. I would still recommend budgeting $2,300 for food and drink during your 10-day trip so you have the money set aside.
One thing that many people don’t realize is that the theme parks allow you to bring in your own food. They have a few rules for security reasons such as no glass containers or hard coolers, but you could easily pack all or some of your meals to greatly reduce your food costs.
Even though I’ve factored in all your major expenses above, there’s still going to be additional expenses that come up. The most obvious thing being shopping. Orlando has two major outlet malls and two really good shopping malls. You could easily spend a few hundred dollars here depending on how much you like to shop.
You’ll also likely end up buying souvenirs for your kids. At the theme parks, you can’t go more than 20 meters without being prompted to buy something. Trust me, some of the merchandise you’ll see is pretty cool. You may also opt to buy a photo package or even more snacks since there is so much food available.
This is the one area you could probably easily cut back on your spending, but considering the overall cost of your trip, what difference will a few hundred dollars really make? Budget $800 for your random spending.
So how much does it cost to go to Orlando? I recommended budgeting USD $10,000 for a family of 4. Remember, I purposely have estimated high and have included quite a few days at the major theme parks. You can easily reduce your costs if you cut back on attractions and spend time just enjoying your hotel amenities or other sites around the city. Check out my detailed cost guides on Disney World and Universal Orlando Resort for more details.