Let’s be honest — a trip to Disney World might be magical, incredible, life-changing, etc. — but it can also be EXPENSIVE.
Between the hotel stay, park tickets, and food, you could end up spending thousands of dollars, particularly if you’re traveling with a large group. But, at what point does Disney World become TOO expensive? We crunched some numbers to find out.
Median Household Income
Before we talk about Disney World prices, we’ve got to put them in context. That’s why we want to take a look at the average household income to see just how much of a year’s income a family could spend at the Most Magical Place on Earth.
According to the US census data, the median household income in 2019 was $68,703. This was actually a 6.8% increase from the median household income of 2018, which was $64,324. We’re still waiting on figures from 2020, so we’ll use the 2019 figures for now. Also, keep in mind this is the median figure, so some families will have an income that is lower or higher than this.
Alright, now that we’ve got our median household income, let’s take a look at some of the costs that family would be facing during a trip to Disney World.
Just 6 years ago, ticket prices were pretty different than they are now! Back in 2015, a ticket to Magic Kingdom would set you back $105, while the other parks were only $97. Things have substantially changed since then since ticket prices now vary by date, making more “in demand” days more expensive.
Right now, there are a few different options when it comes to theme park tickets, including Annual Passes.
In 2021, 1-day-1-park tickets start as low as $109, but go up in price depending on the day. The tickets go up as high as $159 in 2021 for 1 day at 1 park. As a reminder, Disney World theme park tickets vary in price for each day in the calendar year.
For 2022, ticket prices did not go up. But, several days in the 2022 ticket calendar now fall within a higher tier, making the tickets more expensive on those days. So, your average trip in 2022 might (and likely will) be MORE expensive than a trip for those same days in 2021.
Hotel and Ticket Packages
Over the years, hotel prices have increased too. For purposes of our experiment about when Disney World becomes “too” expensive, we’ll price out a trip for a family of 4 — 2 adults and 2 kids (both under the age of 9) for February of 2022.
We’ll look at 3 different lengths for their trip to see how that affects things. Specifically, we’ll look at a 3 night trip from February 17th-20th, 2022; a 5 night trip from February 15th-20th, 2022; and a 7 night trip from February 13th through the 20th.
For our hotel, we’ll look at the least expensive option (except for Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground’s actual campsites) and the most expensive option. The most expensive options will just be based off of what we see on Disney’s main search screen — but if you click into each hotel you could likely find more expensive suites and other options, so just know that the most expensive option could be MUCH more than what we’re showing below. And we’ll look at ticket packages that have been added onto the hotel stay.
3 Night Trip (February 17th-20th, 2022)
First, we priced out our 3 night trip. Here are the numbers we found:
Cheapest hotel: Disney’s All-Star Music Resort — $198.33 per night for a standard room
- Package with 3-day tickets (1-park-per-day): $2,305.96
- Package with 3-day tickets (park hoppers): $2,625.46
- Package with 4-day tickets (1-park-per-day): $2,700.12
- Package with 4-day tickets (park hoppers): $3,062.22
Without food, airfare, merchandise, or any of that, just getting the 3 nights at the hotel plus a 4-day ticket with park hoppers is $3,062.22.That’s about 4.46% of the median household income for the entire year (based on the 2019 numbers). That might not seem like a lot, but keep in mind it doesn’t yet factor in travel expenses, food, and other costs.
Most expensive hotel: Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa — $3,531 per night for a 2 bedroom suite with club level acess
- Package with 3-day tickets (1-park-per-day): $13,550
- Package with 3-day tickets (park hoppers): $13,869.50
- Package with 4-day tickets (1-park-per-day): $13,944.16
- Package with 4-day tickets (park hoppers): $14,306.26
Getting a stay at the Grand plus the 4-day park hoppers alone would constitute nearly 21% of the median household income for the year — that’s a LOT.
Of course, keep in mind what we looked at were the least and most expensive options in Disney with park hopper tickets for 4 days. You could make this trip MUCH less expensive by picking cheaper hotels outside of Disney, not getting tickets for that many days, not getting park hopper tickets, or by doing a number of other things.
5 Night Trip — February 15th-20th, 2022
Next, let’s price out the 5-day trip:
Cheapest hotel: Disney’s All-Star Music or Movies Resort — $178.20 per night for a standard room
- Package with 5-day tickets (1-park-per-day): $3,179.64
- Package with 5-day tickets (park hoppers): $3,541.72
- Package with 6-day tickets (1-park-per-day): $3,254.06
- Package with 6-day tickets (park hoppers): $3,616.16
For the most expensive option — the hotel with the 6-day park hopper tickets, you’re looking at a trip that costs 5.26% of the median household income for the year, again without any travel expenses or food expenses factored in.
Most expensive hotel: Disney’s Riviera Resort — $1,183.60 per night for a 1-bedroom villa preferred view
- Package with 5-day tickets (1-park-per-day): $8,826.10
- Package with 5-day tickets (park hoppers): $9,188.18
- Package with 6-day tickets (1-park-per-day): $8,900.52
- Package with 6-day tickets (park hoppers): $9,262.62
The room for this example happened to be cheaper than what we found for the 3-day trip, but still the hotel room plus the 6-day park hopper tickets comes out to about 13.5% of the median household income for a year. That’s not exactly cheap.
7 Night Trip — February 13th-20th, 2022
Lastly, we’ll price out our 7-night trip:
Cheapest hotel: Disney’s Pop Century Resort — $222 per night for a standard room
- Package with 7-day tickets (1-park-per-day): $4,092.22
- Package with 7-day tickets (park hoppers): $4,454.32
- Package with 8-day tickets (1-park-per-day): $4,184.70
- Package with 8-day tickets (park hoppers): $4,546.82
The 8-day park hoppers plus the hotel here come out to about 6.62% of the median household income.
Most expensive hotel: Disney’s Riviera Resort — $1,178.14 per night for a 1-bedroom villa with preferred view
- Package with 7-day tickets (1-park-per-day): $11,621.84
- Package with 7-day tickets (park hoppers): $11,983.94
- Package with 8-day tickets (1-park-per-day): $11,714.32
- Package with 8-day tickets (park hoppers): $12,076.44
In this case, the hotel plus the 8-day park hopper tickets ends up being 17.58% of the median household income. And again, remember this is without food or transportation costs factored into it.
Now, let’s talk about food. Food costs can be very high in Disney World. But, food costs can also vary greatly depending on how much you eat and where you eat.
Let’s say you eat only at quick service spots throughout your entire trip. On average, you’re looking at about about $12-15 per adult portion (sometimes less, sometimes more), and about $7-9 per kids’ meal (again, sometimes more or less, it just depends).
Even if you stick to something like $14 per meal per adult ($28 per meal for 2 adults) and $8 per meal per kid ($16 per meal for 2 kids), for a family of 4 that’s around $44 per meal.
Multiply that by 3 meals a day and that’s $132 per day, not including snacks or extras like coffee. Multiply that across multiple days and you could be looking at some serious cash. For the 3-night trip, if you eat in the park for a full 3 days, that’s $396. For 5 days, it’s $660; and for 7 days it’s $924. And it could be more if you spend an additional day in the parks or the resort.
And remember that’s just sticking to quick service meals. If you add on table service meals of any kind, character meals, buffets, etc., those expenses will increase.
Of course, there are ways to reduce food costs too. You could bring snacks and even full meals into the parks to help you save on food. You can also split items, or eat a big meal for one of the mealtimes and then just eat a small (read: cheaper) snack instead of getting another meal. You can also look for discounts, like Disney Visa Discounts, at select restaurants. It all depends on what your budget is and what you want to do.
While our sample trips above included hotel and ticket costs, and we already discussed food expenses, there are MORE expenses you’ll need to factor into a trip.
Most importantly, there’s transportation — likely flights and/or perhaps a rental car. Flights alone can cost you a pretty penny, and even gas costs or rental car costs can send your budget soaring (but not the kind with the music and view of the Taj Mahal.
Other costs you’ll want to think about are merchandise costs, tips (for food service but also housekeeping and room service), and the cost of tickets for special events or extras you might be considering (like the Very Merriest After Hours event and others).
Adding all of that in could make a trip cost a significant percentage of the median household income.
But, Things Don’t Have to Be THAT Expensive
Keep in mind that the prices were got were for some sample trips. There are lots of ways a trip to Disney World could be more expensive and lots of ways it could be cheaper.
How could you save some money on your Disney World trip? Well you could:
- Look for hotel and/or ticket discounts
- You could consider a stay off-property, depending on how things are priced and whether this would be a better value for you
- You could spend less days in the parks and instead enjoy free activities at the hotel or Disney Springs
- You could skip paying the extra expense to get a park hopper ticket
- You could stick to the value and moderate Disney World resorts
- You could pack snacks and/or full meals to save on food
- You could try to visit Disney World on the days the tickets are the cheapest during the year
- And much more!
We’re constantly working to find discounts and other tricks that you could use to help you save on your next Disney World trip to make that magic possible on your budget. Be sure to check back with us for more updates!
How much do you usually budget for your Disney World vacation? Tell us in the comments!
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