A trip to Disney World or Disneyland seems like a fantastic idea for a family vacation. However, once you start looking at the cost, you may wonder if a Disney vacation is actually affordable. Many families don’t realize how much they’ll have to spend until they start exploring, and a bit of sticker shock is usually part of the equation. If you’re wondering, “Can families still afford a trip to Disney?” here’s what you need to know.
What Impacts the Cost of a Trip to Disney
The price of a Disney vacation varies based on a few factors. First, whether you go to Disneyland or Disney World makes a difference, as the cost of flights and accommodations depends on distance and location. Additionally, Disneyland and Disney World ticket prices in 2023 went up by as much as 8.9 percent in October and now cost as much as $194 per day pretax. Even the cheapest tickets are spendy, usually running $104 per day pretax.
Exactly how much you’ll pay for tickets varies based on the days you plan on visiting, the type of ticket you select, and whether you choose one-day or multi-day ticket options. Further, features like park-hopping and line-skipping increase the price.
Plus, you have to figure out how much you’ll spend on food. Dining in Disney parks can get expensive fast, and while you can offset this by bringing outside food and drinks with you, you’d have to haul everything.
Finally, there’s a good chance you’ll want some souvenirs, and those aren’t usually cheap. Again, the precise price depends on what you select, but it’s wise to determine how much you’d likely want to spend on mementos.
How to Estimate the Cost of a Disney Vacation
In many cases, the only way to know for certain how much a trip to Disney will cost your family is to run the numbers. Begin by exploring park ticket prices on the days you’d want to visit. Determine how many days you want to enter the park, as well as the type of tickets you’re open to using. If you need to keep the costs down, keep the tickets as basic as possible, skipping options like park hopping to get a better deal.
Also, check out travel and accommodation costs by using various websites. Many sites are excellent for finding low-cost airplane tickets, so leverage those when possible. For accommodations, it’s usually cheaper to forgo Disney resorts and select something offsite. Check out hotels, motels, and vacation rentals near the park. Just be aware some types of accommodations may come with a shuttle to the parks, so they may help you avoid expenses like taxis, rideshares, or rental cars.
Then, factor in the cost of meals. This part is tricky, as costs can vary wildly. One way to standardize it is to check out Disney dining plans, which are prepaid options. During 2023, quick-service dining plans run between $24 and $60 per person per day, while the standard dining plan is closer to $30 to $95 per person per day. Generally, those get you two meals with drinks and one snack with a drink each day.
Finally, factor in souvenirs. Often, what’s best here is to determine the maximum amount you’d like to spend per person and use that as a limit. Once you do that, add everything together, and you should have a solid estimate.
Can Families Still Afford a Trip to Disney?
Whether a trip to Disney is affordable depends on an individual family’s financial situation. However, by using the process above, you can figure out if a Disney vacation works with your budget. For some, it may be too expensive or might require saving over a period. For others, it may be doable. But even if it’s manageable, most would agree that a trip to Disney is expensive.
Do you think that the Disneyland and Disney World ticket prices in 2023 mean most families can’t afford the trip? Do you have any tips that can help families make visiting Disney more affordable or manageable? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
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Tamila McDonald is a U.S. Army veteran with 20 years of service, including five years as a military financial advisor. After retiring from the Army, she spent eight years as an AFCPE-certified personal financial advisor for wounded warriors and their families. Now she writes about personal finance and benefits programs for numerous financial websites.