Wednesday, December 8, 2021

How Far Your Money Will Go At Walt Disney World


Today we’re going to talk about a topic that’s near and dear to my heart – money.  Specifically, we’re going to discuss how much money a vacation to Walt Disney World might cost under a few hypothetical conditions. This is kind of a broad overview to help you see what you’re getting in for, before you get into it (and before you tell your kids, only to realize that you need to save a bit more).


There are going to be a few – okay a LOT – of assumptions in this post.  I considered whether to write it at all, considering how many variables there are for a trip like this.  As I’ve said before, everyone does Disney differently.  If you have already been, and you know what works for you, this might not be so helpful.  But if you’re looking for a general idea of how much things cost in 2022, take a look and hopefully this will be useful in your planning.


First things first – one major expense that I’m not including here is travel.  That’s because the cost of travel varies wildly depending on where you’re coming from.  If you live in Georgia, driving seems like a more realistic option that if you lived in Oregon.  Airfare has been particularly volatile lately (he says as he frantically tries to secure airfare for a trip next year) and there’s just no way to quantify that in a post like this.  I’m also leaving out things like incidentals – souvenirs (only you know how much you’ll spend on something like that!) or even ride share services or car rentals.  Most of the assumptions below deal with staying on property and as such, within the “bubble”, I’ll assume you’ll use Disney transportation as much as possible.


This post is structured as the cost for a family of four – obviously if this is not your personal situation, you can adjust accordingly.  But it IS my situation and I think largely this is the demographic Disney is catering to.  I’m also pricing everything as six nights in a hotel, and five days of tickets to the parks (as I’ve mentioned before, this is what I would consider the minimum to get as much done as possible – one day at each park, and two at Magic Kingdom).


We’ll touch on each of the other three large expenses that we’ve talked about before – hotels, tickets and food.  I’d recommend reading each of those posts for more examples and options, but in a general sense, these will be your heaviest expenses. 


In order to talk about how far your money will go, we also have to talk about the time of year that you’re taking your trip.  I worked up three examples here for the following weeks in 2022 – January 23-29, July 10-16 and December 25-31.  There are (obviously) other times you can go, but I wanted to show how much different it is to travel in different “seasons” (value, summer and holiday, in Disney terms) as it makes a big difference in the total cost.


We’ll start with the hotel.  For a family of four, I’m showing prices for a standard view studio room.  There are upgrades to this, of course, but that type of room is your typical hotel room and will be suitable for most family needs.  There are too many variables beyond that if you change room types, so I’m sticking with an apples to apples comparison for the sake of this post.


I looked at offsite hotels, and again, there are a lot of options, including Air B&B and VRBO, but for these purposes I picked a nice off site hotel that’s within ten miles of Magic Kingdom and closer to Disney Springs.  I also looked at on property resorts – value (Art of Animation), moderate (Port Orleans French Quarter) and deluxe (Boardwalk).  A side note here – I looked at a DVC rental for Animal Kingdom Lodge as well and the pricing came out very similar to the moderate resort (which backs up what I said in that post) so I didn’t include it here. These are rack rates, meaning that discounts could ultimately apply, though Disney has been less inclined to offer discounts recently for a variety of reasons.  In any case, this is the chart:


Offsite (Sheraton Orlando)




Value (AofA)




Moderate (POFQ)




Deluxe (BW)





The first price is for those January dates mentioned above and it goes sequentially from there.  A couple of takeaways – it’s clearly more expensive to visit during the holidays (which should go without saying) and the price difference from your average moderate to deluxe is pretty steep (hence why DVC rental is a good option).  One other note – these examples are done for a family of four, as I said.  If you’re, say, two adults traveling without kids, both the ticket and food options will be cheaper but the hotel will be the same (one room). 


Next we’ll talk about tickets.  Unless you’re an annual passholder, chances are you’ll need to purchase daily tickets.  I broke down a few options here, though there are others.  Again, this example is about five days, so I have pricing for five day base tickets, five day tickets with park hopper and five day tickets with park hopper AND Genie+ (something I would currently NOT recommend, but for the sake of comparison, I’m putting it here).  Note – all of these prices are based on Undercover Tourist prices, as they are an authorized Disney reseller.  These will be cheaper than if you buy through Disney directly.  However, if you are purchasing a package (hotel and tickets) there is a possibility that a discount would apply.  I told you there were a lot of variables!


5 day base




5 day hopper




5 day hopper & G+





And lastly, before we get to any analysis, we’ll talk about dining options.  Assuming you want to eat three meals of some kind a day (but you do you), I estimated some prices.  One thing we do is to purchase groceries from Amazon or a similar source, and have them delivered to our hotel.  That saves us from having to purchase three meals a day.  I estimated $50 total for this.  For a quick service meal for a family of four, I find it averages around $60 total and for a table service meal, probably double that or $120.  There are variables here too, like character dining, whether you are purchasing alcohol, etc, but I’m just trying to roughly estimate what an average meal would cost. 


I also factored in about $50 per day for snacks and water – your mileage may vary on this, but it’s easy to stop and drop $25 on candy or a Mickey pretzel. Trust me.  Since food cost largely doesn’t change depending on the time of year (at least not yet! Maybe I shouldn’t give them ideas), there is only one column.  Also, if you want more information on the definition of quick service (QS) or table service (TS), see my earlier post on dining.


Groceries + 2QS




Groceries +1QS +1TS


2QS + 1TS


1QS + 2TS



As you might guess, eating more table service meals costs more (in both money and time).  But for some people, dining is a major part of their trip, so I can’t rule it out in my analysis.


So how far does your money get you at Walt Disney World?  Based on ALL of that stuff I said above, let’s look at a few hypotheticals.  Obviously this won’t cover everything, but it should give you some idea of where you can spend (or save) your money.


How far can you get on $4,000?

The cheapest option listed above would be to travel in January, stay offsite, buy only base tickets and eat only quick service meals with groceries.  To upgrade that experience, you could move to Art of Animation and get the on property experience for just under $4,000.  If you went on those July dates, you would need to stay off property to get the same value.  There’s basically no way to do the December dates at that price point.


How far can you get on $6,000?

What if you really loved the holiday season and wanted to stay on property?  In that case, you could stay at Port Orleans, purchase hoppers and use groceries to offset some of the cost of your table service meal.  Not terrible for that time of year.  If you went in July instead, you could stay at that same resort, but upgrade your tickets to include Genie+ and feast on two table service meals, which would be perfect for beating the heat at that time of year.


How far can you get on $8,000?

If you travel in July, you can stay in luxury at the Boardwalk, get hopper tickets with Genie+ and eat three meals in the parks as long as two of them were quick service.  You could do the same for January, except upgrade to those two table service meals and still come in under the $8,000 threshold.


How far can you get on $10,000?

Are you still reading this far?  Okay, big spender, this one is for you – stay at the Boardwalk and get the best ticket and meal options for the above.  You’d be hard pressed to spend that $10,000 on these three things at any other time of year.


To reiterate, there are other costs associated with this trip, so if you’re making a budget, consider those as well.  But given how wildly different the hotel, ticket and food options are, you can choose where to go big and where to cut corners.  It just depends on what’s most important to you and your party.




No comments:

Post a Comment