This is obviously an important question parents need to know when they are considering taking their family on a Disney World Vacation. How do you know if a Disney World vacation is affordable?
This is a very tricky question to answer. It's not because we're trying to be shady or elusive. It's because there are SO MANY variables that all effect the ultimate price that you will pay for a Disney World trip. Variables like time of travel, number of people traveling, ages of your children, transportation costs, length of stay and level of hotel amenities will all effect the final price you pay.
The good news is that Disney World Vacation is definitely not a "one size fits all" vacation. It's actually mind boggling the amount of vacation choices that are available. A Disney World vacation can be tailor made to custom fit the exact needs of your family and budget.
If there is any bad news to a Disney World Vacation, it is that by comparison, you can expect to pay more for this type of a family vacation compared to say a cruise or typical resort stay. The reason for this, as you will see, is the cost of your park admission tickets. At Disney World, park tickets are expensive but you need to consider the amount of entertainment and fun your family will be enjoying for this additional expense. There really is NO place like Disney when it comes to family fun and memories!
So to get back to our original question, How much can you expect to pay for an average Disney World Vacation?...Let's work thru some of these variables to come up with a ball park price you can use to figure out a budget for your own family vacation.
For the purpose of this discussion, Let's use the example of a family of 4 - 2 adults with 2 kids ages 9 & 7....
Timing - We'll pick summer vacation. The kids are out of school so it's a popular time of year for many families to visit. It's not the cheapest time of the year like September or say early December where you might expect to save 30%. It's also not one of the most expensive weeks like the December holidays or Spring break which can cost 50-70% more. This should help get us closer to our middle of the road average price.
Hotel - There is always the debate of whether families should stay "in Disney World" or outside of Disney World. There are both cheaper and more expensive resorts found outside of Disney World. One would also need to take into consideration the additional travel time to get to the park each day, rental car fees, gas, parking fees and convenience in order to make an informed, calculated and intelligent decision. Let's face it, park tickets are costly so most families want to get as much bang for their vacation buck as possible and this means staying close to all the Disney parks.
For the purpose of our basic discussion here, we are going to examine the cost of staying IN Disney World for our family of 4.
Disney World offers families accommodation choices from tree houses to campgrounds and everything in between. To help sort thru all of these choices, Disney categorizes their 25 different resorts located on property into four categories....Deluxe Villa, Deluxe, Moderate and Value. For an average price, we'll choose a basic room at Port Orleans which is in Disney's Moderate hotel category. Just purchasing the hotel alone would run about $1,716 for 6 nights/7 days during the summer. Remember, this is a middle of the road hotel cost. Disney World resorts offer rooms starting around $125 per night all the way up to specialty suites and villas costing hundreds per night. We're trying to get an average price here.
Park Tickets - Disney World considers "children" to be between the ages of 3-9 years old. Any person OVER the age of 10 needs to pay "adult" ticket prices. A single day adult base ticket is $107 before tax -- tickets alone for our family of four for 6 days will cost just under $1800. This means you can visit just one park each day. Disney World ticket prices are pro-rated. The average daily rate is discounted almost 50% when you buy a 7 day pass versus a 1 day pass...so the longer you stay, the more you save on admission.
There is a park hopper pass which, as the name implies, allows you can "hop" between any park any day. The park hopper option upgrade varies with the number of park days -- regardless of when you add it, it applies to the length of your ticket. For a six day ticket, it averages $10.65 per day per person, so for our family, it would add $255.60. It is also a very popular option with most families.
There are also add ons for the water parks, Disney Quest and Wide world of sports. Parents can also choose to add on a no expiration policy for their tickets. For the purpose of our discussion, 6 days of park hopper tickets for our family of four totals $2117. This is what we mean when we say a Disney World Vacation costs more than other family vacations...your park tickets costs more than your hotel for the week. Then again, your family will have unlimited daily access to all of Disney's attractions and shows.
Food - Many parents don't calculate eating into their vacation budgets. Parents tell us - "we have to eat whether we're at home or on vacation so what's the difference"? Food in Disney World Parks (and the local tourist areas of Orlando) is significantly more expensive than what you'll spend eat week at your local supermarket. A cheeseburger, fries and a coke will set you back $15 a person. A typical character meal will cost this family of four $160 (before tip). If your family is staying in the park, you can opt for a Disney Dining plan. Disney does offer several dining plan options but for our purposes here, we'll choose the middle of the road, Disney dining which offers 2 snacks (can be used for breakfast), 1 counter or self service meal and 1 table or waiter service meal. This plan will cost your family approximately $207 per day.
To answer our original question of how much should our average family of four budget for a 6 night/7 day vacation to Disney World for hotel, park passes and food..
Our total comes to about $5075.
divided by 4 = $1268 per person for a 6 night/7 day stay.
To break this down just a bit further, divide $1268 by 6 nights and we get an average daily rate of $211 per person/day for a Disney World Hotel, Park Hopper passes and food.
Disney requires a $200 deposit to confirm your Disney package including hotel and park admission. At Vacationkids, we offer Free Disney Vacation Layaway plan. By making small monthly credit card payments, you could save hundreds on credit card interest.
Like we said earlier, Disney offers vacation package that are less expensive. Your travel agent can make recommendations based on your own family's needs and budgets. Sometimes a promotion is offered that can save you up to 30% on the cost of your room or sometimes on a package.
One very important point that we did not include here is....
Transportation - Some parents choose a road trip to Disney World while others fly. Again we have a ton of variables to consider here. That is why it's almost impossible to figure an "average" cost. One would need to consider...departure city, Time of year you're traveling, how far out you buy your airline tickets...etc.
A good rule of thumb is that if you live more than 500 miles away, it would probably be cheaper to fly. If possible, buy your airline tickets 9 months in advance for the best pricing.
If a road trip makes more sense, be sure to calculate the cost of gas, a hotel en route and meals along the way to get a more accurate total cost.
Planning affordable Disney Vacations is complicated. Having an experienced travel agent on your side is invaluable. A good travel agent is not out to spend your money. On the contrary, our goal is to help you find affordable solutions so that you CAN get more out of your vacation experience. An experienced Disney agent can offer professional advice to help you sort thru all the conflicting information and focus in on the most affordable options for your family.
Remember those 30% sales we mentioned? Of course everyone wants to score one of those! At Vacationkids, we will monitor and watch sale prices for you. If Disney announces a sale, our agents will work with Disney and if the sale can be applied to your package, you can benefit from saving even more money. We also help with daily park itinerary plans, dining reservations and plenty of advice to insure that your family enjoys the most fun and value per dollar.