Paying for a Walt Disney World Trip: A Breakdown of Cost to Help You Plan

Are you thinking of planning a trip to Walt Disney World?  Curious to know how to plan for Walt Disney World trip cost for your vacation? There are several factors to consider, including transportation to the resorts, accommodations, tickets, transportation while at the resorts, and meals. Here is everything you need to know about paying for a Walt Disney World Trip.

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Walt Disney World Trip Cost: Transportation to the Resorts

Disney plane in the air

Unless you live in Florida or a nearby state, you will most likely be flying to the resorts.  The Orlando International Airport is the closest airport to Disney World and is approximately 17 miles away.  The further out you book your airfare, the cheaper it will generally cost.  Direct flights tend to cost more than those with a layover.  You can also expect to pay more for a flight that is around holidays.  Guests can save money by purchasing a package that includes airfare, transportation, and accommodations which can help you cut back on your Walt Disney World trip cost.

Once you arrive at the airport, Disney offers the Disney's Magical Express. This complimentary motor coach provides transportation to and from Orlando International Airport and select Walt Disney World Resort hotels, with complimentary luggage delivery. Check out our full guide to Walt Disney World transportation here.

The cost of your flight will vary on the airline you chose. If you're looking for budget options, Frontier and Southwest often have the cheapest tickets. The price of airfare will be different for each individual visiting Walt Disney World but you can expect to pay a couple hundred per person on average.

Hotel Accommodations at the Walt Disney World Resort

There are few options for accommodations.  Guests can stay at one of several Disney World resort hotels, stay at Walt Disney World Good Neighbor Hotels, or rent a condo or home through AirB&B, VRBO etc. Here is some helpful information on Disney Resort Hotels and Walt Disney World Good Neighbor Hotels.

Disney Resort Hotels

Disney World's Animal Kingdom Hotel and Resort

There are over 25 Disney Resort Hotels to choose from.  Disney has resort hotels by Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, Disney’s Animal Kingdom, ESPN Wide World of Sports, and Disney Springs.  Guests can visit the Disney World website for a listing of the hotels and their features.  The resorts can be sorted into different categories, which include deluxe villas, deluxe resort hotels, moderate resort hotels, value resort hotels, other select deluxe hotels.

The deluxe villas start at $337 per night excluding tax.  Some notable deluxe villas resorts include Disney's Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa, The Villas at Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, and Disney's Animal Kingdom Villas, and Copper Creek Villas & Cabins at Disney's Wilderness Lodge as well as several others.

The deluxe resort hotels start at $345 per night excluding tax.  These hotels include Disney's Polynesian Village Resort, Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge, Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, and Disney's BoardWalk Inn along with a few others.

Disney World's Caribbean Beach Resort

There are a few hotels in the moderate resort hotel category, including Disney's Caribbean Beach Resort, Disney's Port Orleans Resort, Disney's Coronado Springs Resort, and the Cabins at Disney's Fort Wilderness Resort. Prices for these hotels start at $172 per night excluding tax.

Disney's All-Star Music Resort

The value resort hotels will be the most economical rooms.  These rooms start at $99 per night excluding tax, and include Disney's Pop Century Resort, Disney's All-Star Music Resort, Disney's All-Star Movies Resort, Disney's All-Star Sports Resort, and Disney's Art of Animation Resort. There are also campsites available at The Campsites at Disney's Fort Wilderness Resort.

So for example, I priced a vacation for two people to one of the value resort hotels (Disney's All-Star Movies Resort) along with six-day 1-park per day tickets and the total package for hotel + tickets was around $1900. That gives you a general idea of cost there but obviously this will vary on the season along with the number of people in your group.

See our full planning guide to the Walt Disney World hotels here to help plan for Walt Disney World cost. Looking for a hotel that helps your budget? Check out our list of the top cheapest Walt Disney World Hotels here.

Walt Disney World Good Neighbor Hotels

There are many other hotels near the resorts that are not Disney resort hotels. Check out this link provided by the Walt Disney World website for a list of hotels.  The hotels are categorized as premium, standard, and suites. We recommend using a Walt Disney World hotel though due to the perks you get- there are a variety of budget friendly options!

Walt Disney World Discount Tickets

Walt Disney World fireworks

The first questions people ask when figuring out Walt Disney World trip cost: how much are tickets? Guests can purchase theme park tickets to the Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and Disney’s Animal Kingdom Park online – but be sure to check out our Walt Disney World discount ticket page to make sure you are getting the best deal for your visit. There are three options when purchasing tickets. Guests can purchase one park per day tickets, Park Hopper tickets, or an annual pass.

A park per day ticket purchased online starts at around $109 per person per day for guests ages 10 and up.  Guests can currently save $20 per ticket when they purchase 3-day or longer tickets online as compared to the price at the ticket window.  Tickets are kids ages 3 to 9, are a few dollars cheaper and start at $104.  The price per ticket will depend on the day you visit. Weekends and holidays cost more per day than midweek.  Guests can only enter the park for the ticket they have purchased for that day.

Clip art images of the Walt Disney World resort

Guests can also purchase the Park Hopper option. This adds $55 to the price of a one park per day ticket and allows guests in and out privileges to the Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and Disney’s Animal Kingdom Park. Guests can visit multiple theme parks each day of their ticket.

An annual pass allows guests to enjoy a year of magic as a Walt Disney World Passholder and get discounts on dining, merchandise, recreation and tours.  Annual passes currently range from $894 to $994 per year, depending on which option. The Disney Platinum Plus Pass is the most expensive option and includes admission for a year to all four theme parks, the two Disney water parks, ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, and Disney’s Oak Trail Golf Course. Guests can visit all 4 theme parks on the same day.

There are two water parks in the resort area, Disney’s Blizzard Beach Water Park and Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon Water Park. A one-day water park tickets starts are $65 a day for guests age 10 and older, and $59 for kids between the ages of 3 and 9.

Making a decision on tickets is a crucial step in the Walt Disney World trip cost plan! This will help you decide the length of the stay which will determine your hotel cost.

Transportation While at the Resorts

Walt Disney World cost: Monorail in front of Epcot

The Resort Monorail transports guests throughout the Walt Disney World resort and makes the following stops:

  • Magic Kingdom park
  • Disney’s Contemporary Resort
  • Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa
  • Disney's Polynesian Village Resort
  • Transportation and Ticket Center (TTC)

The Walt Disney World Monorail System operates from 30 minutes prior to earliest park opening until one hour after latest park closing. There are convenient and well-marked pickup points throughout Walt Disney World Resort.  Disney’s Contemporary Resort, Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa and Disney's Polynesian Village Resort offer convenient access to all monorail lines.

Close up of Minnie vans

Disney World now offers Minnie Van Service, which is a new, whimsical personal ride service. The Minnie Van Service transports guests within the Walt Disney World Resort and the Orlando International Airport. Guests can use their smartphone to schedule a ride, can see the total cost and pay for the service conveniently through the Lyft app. The Minnie Van vehicles are roomy, comfortable and playfully themed with a style inspired by Minnie Mouse. This service can be costly as opposed to taking advantage of the free bus service for Walt Disney World resort guests but it also has its advantages- its direct, faster, and more comfortable. You can expect to pay on average $25 a ride depending on how far you're going.

Guests can also use the resort’s complimentary bus transportation to and from all four theme parks, the two water parks, Disney Resort hotels and the Disney Springs Area. Taking advantage of the complimentary transportation helps cut back on that Walt Disney World trip cost.

The Walt Disney World Water Transportation allows guests to enjoy a leisurely cruise on a water launch or ferryboat. Water taxis and ferries sail to and from Magic Kingdom park, Epcot, Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Disney Springs. Most routes run on 15- to 30-minute intervals.  Guests should keep in mind that certain destinations are not direct, and they may be required to take a connecting mode of transportation to reach their destination.

Check out our full guide to Walt Disney World transportation here.

Planning the Cost of Walt Disney World Meals

Another major decision to plan for on the Walt Disney World trip cost list is the cost of food. Every park and resort offer multiples dining experiences, including quick service restaurants, lounges, table service and character dining.  Quick service restaurants include counter service, fast casual, and food trucks, and prices are typically less than $14.99 per meal. Buffet or family-style restaurants range from $15 to $59.99 per person. Character dining and fine/signature dining experiences range from $35 to $59.99, but some are over $60 per person.

For reservations, guests can book online, visit Guest Relations, or call (407) WDW-DINE. Guests under 18 years of age must have parent or guardian permission to call.

Be sure to check out the following dining articles:

Guests can purchase dining plans and enjoy pre-paid meals. Dining plan options include the Disney Quick-Service Dining Plan, Disney Dining Plan, and the Disney Deluxe Dining Plan.  The Disney Quick-Service Dining Plan offers guests two Quick-Service Meals and two Snacks and allows guests to choose from meals at Quick-Service locations.  This dining plan needs to be booked with a room and ticket package and increases the price by approximately $36 per person per day.

The Disney Dining Plan offers guests the option of eating at fifty Table-Service restaurants. Each guest receives one Quick-Service Meal, one Table-Service Meal, and two Snacks. The Disney Deluxe Dining Plan offers guests three meals and two snacks at a variety of restaurants.  Check out our full guide here to see if any of the Disney Dining Plans is a good choice for you. For some families and groups, purchasing a dining plan can cut down on Walt Disney World trip cost.

Walt Disney World Trip Cost: Average Cost of Park Souvenirs

Blue WDW spirit jersey and ears

One way to get an idea of a souvenir budget is to first decide how much you are willing to spend and what your must haves are. Two common items that park guests want to buy are the coveted Minnie/Mickey ears and the Spirit Jerseys. The Mickey/Minnie ears average around $25-30 while the Spirit Jerseys run around $60 depending on design. Another common item guests purchase is an ornament for a Christmas tree which cost anywhere from $17-30 depending on the cost. Autograph books for characters can go anywhere from $10-15 depending on if you want a place for photo inserts too. Aside from these staples, you will find plenty of places to shop all around the parks with so many cool things to see and buy! It's a good idea to set aside some funds for souvenirs.

Making a list of the things you know you want to buy in advance can give you a good idea of how much to budget for souvenirs. If you want to cut back on souvenir cost, make sure you show up prepared and with everything packed that you will need in the parks to avoid spontaneous purchases to help with things like rain or heat.

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