Cinderella Castle at NIght from Main Street

How Much Does A Walt Disney World Vacation Cost?

It’s no secret that a vacation at Walt Disney World is an expensive proposition. Hotel, theme park tickets, flights, food, merchandise, all add up to a bank-breaking vacation. But just how much does it cost? I’ll run the numbers so you don’t have to.

One of the great things about a Walt DIsney World Vacation is that there are options to fit almost any budget. If money is no object for you, you can get a beautiful room at the Grand Floridian for $700-900+ a night, eat a new signature dining location each night, and buy every cute knick knack or spirit jersey you see. You can have an amazing vacation at the other end of the spectrum too; stay at a value resort for $100-200 a night, and eat reasonably priced meals at counter service restaurants. Or spend less on lodging to eat like a king. You can truly build whatever kind of vacation experience you want.

One constraint for this exercise is that I will only consider on-site lodging and dining options. When I got to Walt DIsney World I only want to stay in the Disney bubble. I think that’s pretty common among most Disney lovers and very likely for anyone planning a first time or once in a lifetime type trip. In my opinion this is one of the best things about Walt Disney World. You can spend a few days living in a fantasy world and let the stress of the real world melt away for a bit.

Not only will how you travel affect the cost of the trip, so will when you travel. Disney hotels have always followed date-based pricing, and they have started using the same model for park tickets. The peak season at Walt Disney World are generally around holidays; Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, Easter, and when schools are on break; Mid-February through April. The absolute cheapest dates are general January – Early February and late August – September when the new school years are starting (this is also the hottest time to travel, so keep that in mind!)

Trip Planning Details

I’m going to use one of the cheapest periods when running the numbers for two reasons. First, it will serve as a floor price to understand what it takes to “get in the door”. If this price seems too high to you then you needn’t consider any other dates; Disney World isn’t for you, and that’s ok! Second, there is a decent room discount running (25-30%) right now with open availability at all resorts, so it provides an opportunity to illustrate what the options look like if you can wait to travel during a discount period.

I’ll be looking at the cost of a 7 night trip arriving on August 19th, 2023. I’ll look at the spectrum of resorts; from the All-Stars to the Polynesian, and both base tickets and park hoppers. Dining is much harder to quantify as it depends heavily on individual tastes and preferences. Even so, I’ll give some ball park figures for dining based on some assumptions.

The cheapest 7 day room and ticket combo for this period comes in at $3,111, $2918 with the current room discount, for a family of 4. That’s before any food, drinks, merchandise, or various extras. That’s staying at an All-Star resort and getting 7-day base tickets. It’s worth noting that tckets get cheaper per day as the ticket duration increases. There isn’t much difference between a 5 day ($475) and 7 day ($525). Unless you know you won’t be going to a park each day, it’s better to give yourself more flexibility if you can.

If you’re having some sticker shock, I don’t blame you. Realistically, a family of 4 can expect to spend at minimum around $4,000 for a 7 night onsite stay at Walt Disney World. That’s a big chunk o’ change! I’m certainly not here to defend the prices Disney charges, but I do think some perspective is valuable. For that price you’re staying at one of the biggest tourist destinations in the world. You’re geting access to arguably 4 of the best theme parks in the world. And though it has taken several steps back in recent years, Disney service is still generally above-average at worst and still magical at best.

Ok, so if you’re comfortable with that base price for an on-site Walt Disney World Vacation, then let’s get into some numbers!

Port Orleans French Quarter Street Scene
Port Orleans French Quarter


Disney Resorts are split into 3 main categories, Value, Moderate, and Deluxe. Unsurprisingly, you can expect more amenties, comfort, and convenience at a deluxe resort vs a value or moderate. In addition, deluxe resorts are generally closer to the theme parks, many within walking distance, and thus have better transportation options. There are some exceptions – Animal Kingdom resort is quite far from all parks other than Animal Kingdom and offers only bus transportation to the parks; Pop Century, a value resort, has Skyliner transportation to EPCOT and Hollywood studios. But as a general rule, you get what you pay for.

Resorts are also where you can find the most savings opportunities. For our example period, All-Star resorts are $1,050 for 7 nights whereas Disney’s Polynesian Resort is a whopping $4,319; a difference of about $3,270. To offer further perspective, the frugal family of 4 could likely spend about the same amount for their entire stay as a family of 4 staying at the Polynesian. The barrier to entry for a Disney vacation is quite high, but once you’re in you do have some control. See my resorts page for more info.

Here’s some more sample pricing broken down by resort type with and without the discount

Value Resorts

  • All-Star Resorts – $1,050 base/$856 discounted
  • Pop Century Resort – $1,361 base/$1,111 discounted

Moderate Resorts

  • Coronado Springs Resort – $1,946 base/$1,384 discounted
  • Caribbean Beach Resort – $2,205 base/$1,685 discounted

Deluxe Resorts

  • Animal Kingdom Lodge – $3,083 base/$2,203 discounted
  • Boardwalk Inn Resort – $3,821 base/$2,729 discounted
  • Polynesian Resort – $4,319 base/$3,888 discounted

As you may have noticed, discount will generally have a bigger affect on the overall cost of a Deluxe resort than a Value. Disney usually has scaling offers such that a Value resort stay will be discount by 15 or 20% while a Deluxe resort stay may be discount by 30% or more. As you can see, this can make the next tier up a little more attainable if that speaks to you.

Spaceship Earth Lights


There’s no hiding it, theme park tickets at Walt Disney World have gotten crazy expensive. For a family of 4 staying at a value resort and sometimes even a moderate resoort, tickets are a bigger cost than the resort stay!

Thankfully, this is one place you can easily find some savings. There are completely legitimate companies that resell tickets at a discount. Undercover Tourist is my go to and the site I used for pricing tickets for this exercise. You can usually find savinsg of $30-$50 per ticket. Not huge in the grand scheme of things, but it’s so easy there is really no reason not to.

Ok, so how much do they cost? Well here is the breakdown for 5 and 7 day tickets for a trip arriving on August 19th. In Disney terms, a child is 12 and under.

5 Day Tickets

  • Base Ticket – $475 Adult/$457 Child
  • Park Hopper – $542 Adult/$524 Child

7 Day Tickets

  • Base Ticket – $525 Adult/$506 Child
  • Park Hopper- $585 Adult/$566 Child

As you can see, for a family of 4 tickets are a huge piece of the cost amounting to $2,302 for 7 day park hopper passes with the discount from the reseller!

You’ll also see that as the number of days on a ticket increases, additional days are cheaper to add. Days 6 & 7 are only $25 for a base ticket and $21.50 for a park hopper. Unless I have a compelling reason or it’s a very short trip, I will always opt for park hopper ticket for however long I’ll be at the resort. The added flexibility that comes with this approach is worth the extra cost. Buying from a reseller will offset one or two days anyway.

Beef Wellington


Dining is one area of a Walt Disney World vacation that is almost entirely up to you. Disney offers a plethora of dining options to fit any taste and budget. If you’re being really frugal you can even bring your own food into the parks!

Since it’s impossible to say how much you will spend on food with any certainty, I’ll try to summarize average costs for each type of dining available at Walt Disney World; Quick Service, Table Service, Signature Table Service. You can apply these numbers to how you approach dining on a vacation.

Quick Service

Quick Service dining at Walt Disney World refers to eateries where you order at a counter (or mobile order on the My Disney Experience App), pick up your food, and seat yourself. There is no wait staff. Not only is this the cheapest in park option, it’s also the quickest, hence the name. This best suits those who want to maximize park touring time, have picky eaters in the party, or just don’t care to spend much food.

I find that budgeting $20 per person, per meal, is a safe bet. That covers a main course and beverage at most locations. There are some pricier choices, the lobster roll at Columbia Harbor House is $16.99 for example, but $20 is still close enough for estimating.

Table Service

Table Service is the typical restaurant experience, you have a waitperson, bussers, hosts, etc. They will options in line with quick service prices, and will also have pricier options. With table service you have to factor in a tip as well. The costs of this option really depends on what you like to order. You’ll have the opportunity to order appetizers, at some locations you’ll be able to order adult beverages and other novelty drinks. That can add up quickly.

I plan for around $50 per person at locations that offer adult beverages as I enjoy a beer or cocktail when dining out. Plan for $30-40 per person without alcohol, again depending on the location and your eating preferences.

Signature Dining

Signature Dining is the creme de la creme of Walt Disney World Dining. These are the high end restaurants where you can expect top notch food and service, and prices to match! I plan for around $100-125 per person at these locations, again including a drink. These are not for budget conscious travellers, they’re for foodies or that special occassion while on property. Though expensive, I have never been disappointed by an experience at any signature location. My favorite is Flying Fish at the Boardwalk, but would also highly recommend the California Grill at the Contemporary Resort.


As difficult as food costs are to quantify, merchandise costs are even more difficult. For example, I don’t buy much merchandise. I only expect to spend around $100 a trip, and often have some money left over. But, there have been trips where something in particular catches my eye and I blow through that $100 in one purchase.

Merchandise at Disney World is predictably expensive. Spirit Jersey’s were (are?) all the rage, and would hit the floors at $70 or more. Disney Artwork, painitings, figures, crystal, scultpures, etc can be astronomically expensive. Small trinkets like Pins can be $20 or more.

My suggestion is be realistic about your spending habits for souvenirs when on vacation and then add in a buffer of 20% to account for “Disflation”.

Add Ons

Now more than ever before, there are so many options to upgrade your experience at Walt Disney World. Genie+, Individual Lightning Lanes, Parties, After Hours Events, Tours, and more. These all come with an added cost, but are completley optional. You can have a great vacation without opting in for any of these. Some like Genie+ may end up being non-neogtiable for your party though. It’s worth while to do some research into each of these options and decide if any of them are worth it to you. I won’t include them in the calculations, but here are some sample pricing for the most popular add-ons.


Genie+ is priced depending on the day. For busier periods you can expect up to $35 per person to add this option to your ticket. For quieter periods $20 is a good estimate. As you can see, this adds up very quickly. A family of 4 can expect to pay $80-140 more per day if they opt for this option.

Invidual Lightning Lane

Genie+ gives you access to Lightning Lanes at nearly every ride that has them, but each park has 1 attraction where the Lighnting Lane must be purchased a la carte. Unsurprisingly, this is generally the most popular transaction at the park. Guardians of the Galaxy at EPCOT, Seven Dwarves Mine Train at Magic Kindom, Rise of the Resistance at Hollywood Studios, and Flight of Passage at Animal Kingdom. You can expect to pay $15-20 per person if you opt to purchase expdited entry to one of these attractions. The good news is that with some advanced planning you can ride these rides without added cost or prohibitive waits. In short, plan to get to the park before official open and “rope drop” the attraction or get in line at the very end of the night are the two best options to do that.

Parties and After Hours

Parties and After Hours events are hard ticket events, meaning you have to purchase a ticket specifically for the event. The ticket will get you into the park at a certain time so you do not need to also purchase a normal park pass for that day, though you can if you wish. These events come at a hefty price and you can expect to pay $150-200+ per person to attend. These are some of the most unique experiences at Walt Disney World, buft are completely optional. In fact, I would not recommend these options to the first time vistor to Disney World. That being said, as a frequent visitor, I will almost always plan a trip around attending one of these events because the aforementioned uniqueness.

Total Cost

By now I’m sure your head is spinning and your wallet is screaming at the mere thought of paying for a Walt Disney World Vacation. Hopefully, you’ve seen that while a trip to Disney World will never be considered cheap, you can still have a once in a lifetime type trip in a way that won’t require a second mortgage.

Let’s look at two theoretical 7 night vacations to provide some figures. First, we’ll look at the family of four, 2 adults and 2 children under 12, choosing to stay at an All Star Resort, go to 1 park per day – no park hopping, eat at quick service locations 2 times a day (breakfast in the room is an easy cost cutting hack!), and with a modest souvenir budget. The cost break down for that family would look something like this:

  • Resort – $1,000
  • Tickets – $2,062
  • Dining – $1,120 ($40 per person, per day)
  • Souvenirs – $400 ($100 per person for the trip)
  • Genie+ – $250 (assumes buying G+ two days, and ILL one time)

The total cost for the above comes to $4,832, so just round up to $5,000. At this point I have to point out that this does not take into account any travel costs. The variables are too numerous for that to summarized in any meaningful way. Don’t forget to factor that into your budgeting.

Now we’ll look at the same family of four, but staying at the Polynesian, getting park hoppers, buying Genie+ every day, eating at table service every day – throwing in a couple signature experiences too of course, and spending freely on Souvenirs. That trip breaks down like this:

  • Resort – $4,319
  • Tickets – $2,302 (note that this the only comparable cost. Tickets don’t move much)
  • Dining – $2,600 (1 quick service pp/per day, 1 table service pp/5x, 2 signatures)
  • Souvenirs – $1,000
  • Genie+ – $840 (Genie+ and ILL pp/per day)
  • Add Ons – $750 (one party or after hours plus special souvenirs)

The total cost for this trip comes to $11,811, more than double the first trip!

I think these scenarios illustrate that while a Disney World Vacation wouldn’t ever be called cheap, there is a tremendous amount of flexibility in how a particular party choose to travel to the House of Mouse. If you can plan your trip around discounts you can create even more flexibility in how you vacation to Walt Disney World.

While I can’t say what’s right for how you should travel, I can make the following suggestion. For a first trip to Walt Disney World, lean more towards the first trip, modifying it as needed to match your travel preferences. A first time visitor will probably spend a lot of time in the parks enjoying attractions. That means less time at the resort, and less time sitting in restaurants. Those costs can be minimized and not have much of an impact on your overall experience. If you like nicer hotels, then by all means pay more for a moderate or deluxe, but in reality you probably won’t spend much time there.

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