At What Point is Disney World Actually TOO Expensive?

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.

Disney’s Hollywood Studios

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.

Park Tickets

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.

Buzz Lightyear in Disney’s Hollywood Studios

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.

Main Street, U.S.A.

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.

Click here to see more about the ticket prices in 2022.

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.

Grand Floridian Resort

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.

Lobby area

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.

Grand Floridian lobby

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.

All-Star Movies World Premiere Food Court

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.

Pop Century Resort

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).

Woody’s Lunch Box Kids’ Breakfast

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.

Triple Suns Breakfast Wrap is a great way to start the day at Disney’s Hollywood Studios!

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.

Time to Fly

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.

Magic Kingdom Entrance

How could you save some money on your Disney World trip? Well you could:

Click here to see different ways you could save money on your Disney World trip!

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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12 Replies to “At What Point is Disney World Actually TOO Expensive?”

  1. This is a reasonable analysis but omits an important criteria: Was your median income before or after taxes? If before, then actual take home pay would be significantly lower. Thus, paying for the trip with actual dollars from pocket would be much higher as a % of your take home income.

    Disney began to lose us as regualr visitors when they stopped selling non-expiring tickets. Have completely lost us with the drift towards having to plan everything. I do not go to a park to be tethered to a cell phone.

  2. One of the things that stood out for me in the past is if you made the time and financial commitment to invest in a DVC timeshare , like we did, there were benefits to doing so. You could make restaurant and fast pass reservations earlier. You got extra time in the parks. The discounts on meals and shopping were nice, but not nearly as important as the other things. All on top of the perks of staying on Disney property (the DME and luggage service just to name two). All that is gone now. I think Disney has calculated that they have enough DVC members now. They don’t need to lure more people with extras. You pay for the points and they have you trapped. Are you going to pay the Association fees every year and not use those points? Not likely. So they don’t have to lift a finger to get you to come there. And they are clearly saying they won’t. I remember meeting a couple by the pool at the Boardwalk a few years ago. They said they go to Disney every year. But never go into the parks. It’s a get away for them. Time away from the cold. R and R time. I suspect we will do much the same. And as we get closer to 2042, watch the perks all come back as all these memeberships end and they need to convince people to reup their membership. We won’t be one of them.

  3. My husband & I honeymooned at WDW way back in July 1975. We stayed at the Polynesian for $49/night! Ticket booklets were cheap back then. We have continued our trips to our happy place for the past 46 years with children & grandchildren but mostly just the two of us since our youngest left home back in 2001. Over the years we mostly stayed at the value & moderate resorts then in 2005 we finally took the plunge & bought into DVC. It has worked out for us very well & helped us to stay in deluxe accommodations. Now we are both retired & still love our Disney & go several times a year including a stay at Disney’s Vero Beach resort. We started camping a few years back & love it. Now we stretch our annual passes by camping off property which saves us big time. Plus we can bring our 2 pooches along saving boarding fees for them. We have found driving in from the campground takes about the same amount of time as waiting on Disney transportation to the parks. We don’t do many sit down meal reservations anymore. We can’t justify the cost when there are so many great counter service places now. Besides, we have done so many restaurants over the past 46 years. Been there, done that. So all this to say that we have found ways to cut the budget but things have definitely gone up in price all over the world.

  4. Once they started charging me to park my car at there resort, that was beginning to seek other alternatives. Nickel and dime for everything, and the experience I get was not the same as early 2000s, Disney world has just changed, they are so far from what it was suppose to be.

  5. Right now, I would say. The thing is–Is it really worth it? Someone on here commented that they save up a few years….Is this really worth it? Maybe for some. The inflation of prices with the degradation of perks etc—A trip is really costing you far more than ever before. My 9 day tickets (waterpark and park hopper) cost $1300 for 4 in 2010. These same tickets are in the $3000 range now—I really think this is ridiculous and I did not even add the “Genie” or line skipping costs. So, my thought is, Disney is still a trip to make but maybe once or twice. I’ll take my kids to Europe or the South Pacific….for the same price! Think about it….Disney is living in our childhood memories, and that is nice….but maybe if we all started not paying the ridiculous prices—things will return to what Walt wanted—a family experience for all! I love all things Disney but enough is enough!

  6. It is much too expensive. I would recommend going a handful of times with children then spending money much more wisely.

  7. Staying off property was the best thing we ever did on our trip the week of Oct 11th. Enjoyed it so much more and the cost was better and didn’t have to worry about masks and we had our own transportation which worked out great to do things.
    For 20 yrs we stayed on WDW property but decided to stay off this year because of Disney pricing us out and it worked out for the best.

  8. Our personal line is $200 for a single day ticket, $150 for lightning lanes per day, and riviera prices now (hotel prices are now at our top with riviera opening). Of course, that’s all in today’s money so we still have a bit of flex with ticket prices and a mountain of room for shorter lines. It’ll take a long time for tickets to exceed our tolerance, and will just reallocate those vacation funds toward other vacations if and when we do top out.

  9. We generally save up for 2 or 3 years to come. I often thought that it would be cheaper to live in the Orlando area and have an annual pass. While we are saving for 2 to 3 years up in the Mid-Atlantic, we can’t do anything else. No 3 day weekends to Williamsburg, VA or Lancaster, PA. Our next vacation is going to be $8000 plus cost of food ($1800-$1900). A moderate probably would have run me $2k less. It’s expensive (won’t lie) but it hurts more when the price goes up and the perks are gone. What are we getting for the money?