Have you seen the recent television commercial aimed at families thinking about going to Walt Disney World?
You know, the mom is at her computer and calls to her husband with, “Honey? Look at this!”
Dad comes over and looks at the screen and asks, “For all of us?”
Then the rest of us are informed that these two were looking at a screen that had information about a vacation package for a Walt Disney World family vacation for (US) $1696….not $1700. but $1696.
Now before you pick up the phone and make that call let’s take a closer look at exactly what this $1696 really means.
According to the WDW site this package includes the following:
“¢ 7 days and 6 nights at a Walt Disney World Value Resort
“¢ The price ($1696) is based on a traveling party made up of two (2) adults, one (1) junior, and one (1) child.
“¢ The quoted price includes a standard room.
“¢ The offer is good between Jan. 11th and Feb 12th, April 19th and May 21st, and Aug. 9th and Dec 17th…all in 2009.
“¢ According to the site the package also includes “Theme park admission to one Park per day.”
For a family who has always dreamed of going to Walt Disney World but never has due to the thought of it being too costly, this does sound appealing and if anything, at least it gets them to say to themselves, “Hmmm, this may be doable.”
So I decided to look at this offer and think about what those first time families need to realize before taking that leap..
Well, we know that you are limited to going only certain times of the year and depending upon the school year (and of course how you feel about taking your children out of school ) you may have even more limitations as to when you can go.
Keep in mind that this package includes a Value resort (All-Stars and Pop Century) and that means different type amenities than you would experience at a Moderate or Deluxe resort.
Then again, if you’ve never been to Walt Disney World or have never stayed at a Walt Disney World resort this may be a moot point.
One key point I’d like to address is the admission media included with the package. The tickets that come with this package offer each person in the travel party the ability to visit one (1) theme park per day. That means if you go to The Magic Kingdom today then that is your theme park for the day. It does not mean you can visit The Magic Kingdom in the morning and then visit Epcot later on to watch Illuminations.
So, if you want the park-hopper option then the price of this package would then go up approximately another $212 dollars.
We are now at $1908…and we have more to cover.
Let’s not forget that not included in this package is the cost of meals for the family. It’s always difficult for me to suggest to those who ask what they may expect to spend on meals at Walt Disney World. Eating habits vary from individual to individual and family to family.
Let’s assume that each member of this four person traveling party enjoys one quick-service meal, one table service meal and one snack per day as defined by the basic Disney Dining Plan.
To try and be as realistic as possible I’m going to attach a price range to each particular meal.
For the quick-service meal I’m thinking about an entree, a beverage, and a dessert and I am assuming the cost would range from $12 to $15 a person. So for the whole traveling party that would amount to between $50 and $60 per day…just for one quick service meal.
Table service meals are quite tricky and the price range can be very wide. I may be under pricing but my estimate would be that for a table service meal the range would be from $25 to $40 per person. This amounts to a range of $100 – $160 per day for one table service meal.
Snacks can also vary. I will apply a range of $2.50 – $5.00 for snacks. This translates to between $10 and $20 per day for snacks.
Let’s add these all up.
We are looking at a range of between $160 and $240 per day for meals for this family of four. For the sake of argument let’s hit a “midpoint” and says the average daily food expense is $200.
Now, in the interest of trying to be as fair as possible let’s say this family replaced their one table-service meal with a second quick-service meal.
Now the daily range falls between $60 and $140 per day or an average of $100 per day.
Now let’s take the two averages…add them together and then divide by two (2) to come up with an “average” average for the cost of feeding a family of four per day at WDW.
The number I come up with is $150.
Now I realize there may be many of you who are looking at this and are saying, “Mike, that is still too high.” Or even some of you that see it as too low. Keep in mind this is an average daily cost and it amounts to about $38 a person. Ironically, that’s about the cost of the Basic Disney Dining Plan. Go figure.
Let’s see…we already added $212 for the park hopper option and now $150 per day for seven (7) days…$900.
So we’ve added $1112 to the original $1696 and we are now at $2808…again…an estimate.
Let’s assume the family is using the free Magical Express benefit. That eliminates rental car/limo costs.
What about souvenirs? Another tough line item to budget. Is $25 per person for souvenirs too little or too much? It’s a toughie ain’t it?
It’s even tougher when you think this is someone’s first WDW vacation. So for the sake of argument let’s say this family agrees to spend somewhere in the range of $100-$200 for souvenirs…that gives each person a shot at a piece of clothing and a trinket. Let’s add $150 to our sub-total….we need to add something.
We are now looking at $2958.
Do I dare even attempt to look at airfare? Nope…not going there. The cost range is too widespread.
Okay…so we are looking at a grand total of $2958 for this family of four to spend 7-days and 6-nights at Walt Disney World in a value resort with park-hopper admission, eating, and of course getting that WDW souvenir.
The only other cost which is not included is the cost of getting there.
My point in all this?
I’m not here to make any snide remarks towards this marketing campaign and say it’s misleading…because it really isn’t.
The Walt Disney World resort is in fact doing whatever it can to let everyone know that there are affordable packages out there. The $1696 deal is a base that they are offering potential guests. It is that portion of the vacation which they are controlling and doing their best to let you know how affordable the vacation is.
What they cannot control is your particular needs for park-hopping, dining, and (souvenir) shopping.
It would not be wise for the resort to make assumptions in this area.
So I guess I want to say to those out there who criticize these commercials and say they are misleading…it’s quite the contrary…they are not misleading you.
This commercial gives the bottom line as to an “affordable” base for a WDW vacation. These are the costs they can control to help you get there.
The commercial is saying….here is a basic package we can offer a family of four for a certain amount of time….this includes the basic room and admission.
If you want more it’s in your control.
That’s what this is all about….a vacation plan is a partnership between WDW and you…they can control some costs but for those they cannot they try to empower you to make the decisions that best suits you and your family.
It’s as simple as that.
Now you know where the “Your Way” fits in when you hear or see the phrase “Magic Your Way.”