What are the different costs of Disney World trip?

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Dec 27, 2011
3608 posts

What are the different costs of Disney World trip?

Hi everyone, I'm planning a Disney World trip (first time) and wanted to get a detailed list of all the costs involved. I am not asking for how much the different things will cost as that will vary widely based on everyone's preferences. I'm just wondering what all the normal costs are + all the extra or hidden costs that someone might quickly overlook when budgeting.

1) Park Tickets + Park Hopper
2) Food: We plan on getting a dining plan. I imagine that most people still tip even when using a meal plan, correct? I've barely visited the U.S. before, is tipping basically the same as here? I generally tip 15% on the final bill when I go to restaurants.
3) Accomodations: We plan on staying at a value resort. Are there any hidden fees (kinda like how hotels at Niagara Falls will often tack on those stupid optional fees that you need to request to take off)?
4) Transportation: Just gas to get to the airport and airport parking cost. I don't believe we will be incurring any transportation costs once we arrive in Florida as they will be getting us from the airport to DW. We also don't plan on venturing outside DW so we don't need to rent a car.
5) Souvenirs: Honestly, there's a good chance we won't get souvenirs as I generally consider them a waste and hate buying touristy stuff when I go on trips. But who knows maybe I'll see something I really like. Does anyone here know of some awesome souvenirs to get?
6) Phone: I assume many people purchase some sort of US plan, however, I'm thinking I won't need to. I read that DW offers free WiFi so I'll have the internet if I need it and I can make calls using the WiFi too. But I doubt I'd be doing much phone calling or internet browsing anyways.
7) Tipping: Aside from tipping at meals, where else do people usually tip? I can think of housekeeping and the people that take our luggage.

Anything else? I just want to be prepared and not surprised at unexpected expenses, whether big or small. Thanks!
16 replies
Deal Expert
Feb 7, 2017
23493 posts
Eastern Ontario

Definitely put some money aside for this.  Walt Disney has the cutest / awesome stuff.  Beyond the usual things that say Disney on them, there are tons of cool things that relate to Characters, Parks & Experiences (ie Rides ... Such as Pirates of the Caribbean).

Just remember that once you leave the spot... You might not see it again elsewhere.

The Disney / Park / Experience Stores throughout the Parks all carry different merchandise... And the majority of it will NEVER be found on line for example.

There are posts here on RFD (and other Travel Websites) about disappointments in not buying a particular item when seen... As well as crazy stories about folks who went back to a park on the last day of their vacation just to buy a particular item.  (I admit, our family did this once too... It was in Animal Kingdom.... Even though we had hunted thru the biggest Disney Shopping area of them all ... What is know called Disney Springs.  So back to AK we went.  No easy task, because WDW is HUGE.  Consequently that mistake cost us a lot of lost time... But it did quell the tears)

Shopping for Disney Souvenirs is so HUGE that there are even websites dedicated to it, and I don't just mean for the "collectible" trade.
As to your other Questions...

And as much as RFD is filled with great folks with good info, I highly suggest the following 2 resources for planning your trip with up to date info (tips & tricks too)

1- A bookstore.  Get yourself a copy of a WDW Guide.  They are updated annually.  This book will be a god send for learning how WDW works.

Lol, read it, study it.  Read it on the plane, carry it in your daypack in the parks.  You'll be able to hit the ground running and be way ahead of the curve over other newbies to the park.

2- On line.  Look for websites & forums designed for visitors to WDW.  There are many.  You can learn from others, and post questions of your own.

One good place to start for basic info is Tripadvisor, and their Orlando Forum ... orida.html

Several of the folks who post there regularly / answer WDW Questions, actually work for Disney

Remember tho... No one is going to be your entire Travel Planner.  You are going to have to do some of the heavy lifting of reading & note taking / itinerary building on your own.  But at the same time look at it as part of the bigger adventure / learning experience.  Come D-Day (see what I did there) you'll be the expert in your family... And at the end of it all, ya'll come home with AWESOME memories.
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Nov 11, 2011
383 posts
One thing that keeps me away from the dining plan is that it is partially restricted. You may have already researched this but there are items on menus that are not included on the dining plan and restaurants that are not included as well. I am sure you know that if you want to eat at some of the more popular places you will need to make " priority seating reservations". Not quite a reservation for a specific time but a next table available type of thing, ahead of walk up requests by other people. You may not be able to get seats at places like the "Be Our Guest" restaurant unless you make those ressies waaay ahead of time. There is lots of info on this site and menus are here

Also TONS of general info on these Disney centric boards, lots of Disney cast members and people who are experts from many trips to the world
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May 22, 2016
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Download the disney app and plan where you are going to eat. Some places need to be booked months in advance.
Get fast passes for the the most popular rides once you have your tickets.
Sr. Member
Apr 12, 2012
798 posts
The WDW Souvenirs are lovely and are often exclusive to WDW. I recommend getting the Mickey/Minnie plushes... I gave one away as souvenir and have been regretting it ever since ;)
The simplest acts of kindness are by far more powerful than a thousand heads bowing in prayer.
- Mahatma Gandhi
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Jun 8, 2008
3977 posts
I think a few of your stated 'costs' are unnecessary to be honest. We skipped the park hopper passes, just stayed in one park per day and it was fine. We don't usually bother with cell phone plans unless we're trying to plan stuff with friends or meet up with people. We don't really buy souvenirs other than a Christmas tree ornament (small, cheap, easily packable) but lots of people go nuts there. I don't remember any hidden extra charges with our accommodation. Tipping is usually 15-20% depending on service. We used this site to plan and thought it was excellent -
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Dec 27, 2009
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wirebound wrote: I think a few of your stated 'costs' are unnecessary to be honest. We skipped the park hopper passes, just stayed in one park per day and it was fine. We don't usually bother with cell phone plans unless we're trying to plan stuff with friends or meet up with people. We don't really buy souvenirs other than a Christmas tree ornament (small, cheap, easily packable) but lots of people go nuts there. I don't remember any hidden extra charges with our accommodation. Tipping is usually 15-20% depending on service. We used this site to plan and thought it was excellent -
I never park hop at Disney World. Not worth it IMO (Disneyland California is a different story and I will park hop every day there).

I rent private villas on VRBO ($100US per night gets you a 4 bedroom, 3 bath detached house with a private pool and hot tub within about 10-15 minutes drive to the parks). Bonus that you have a full kitchen and can prepare some meals.

I would not bother with the dining plan (unless you stay on resort and get it included for free during one of their promotions).
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Nov 24, 2013
6272 posts
Kingston, ON
By "value resort" are you staying on-premises at Disney or a nearby timeshare-type resort?

I'll echo that Park Hopper is probably not worth it. It can be useful on a day one park has a fireworks/night show and you want to visit a different one during the day, but for the most part I think it's best to just plan one park per day. If you are staying on resort, you can get an extra hour (morning or night, depending) at a different park each day. This is the "Extra Magic Hour" on the calendars here, ... 017-08-15/ ... day=allday

They have everything scheduled out so far in advance that you can really plan ahead and figure out what nights you want to go where.

Food at the parks can be really expensive. Most of it is cafeteria style (walk up to a counter, order, pay, take a tray) with some sit-down and buffet dinners (these are like $30+ USD per adult). Packing snack foods (granola bars, etc.) can be helpful, as can asking for free ice water instead of ~$3 pop. I don't know how much the meal plans are but it's probably a good idea to try and get the cost down somehow. Disney Springs is a nice shopping & dining area that you can go to any day or night without park admission, so heading there some nights is an option too.

If you are staying on resort, I'm pretty sure all bus transportation is completely free. Monorail too, of course, though that's only between Magic Kingdom, Epcot, and the Grand Floridian, Contemporary, and Polynesian Village resort areas.

Tipping is pretty much like Canada, 10% fair, 15% good, 20% great for sit-down dining. Tipping hotel maid service is a courtesy too, though nobody's going to fart on your pillow if you don't either.

Now that the parks have WiFi, you could probably just pull your cell's SIM (or put it in Airplane mode) or lock your phone up in a safe. It works well (at Magic Kingdom at least, haven't tried it elsewhere), and while you're there you don't necessarily need it. You can use their app to book new FastPass+ times while you're in the park if you have it with you. FastPass+ basically allows you to 'jump the line' on certain rides by pre-reserving a time window, but you can only 'book' 3 spots on a given day. After you use one, you can use the app to book a 4th one, a 5th one, etc. If you're heading to a new or refurbed ride (or Splash Mountain on a hot day) it's very handy. I wouldn't have waited 2 hours in line for the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, but it was fun to 'walk on' with a fast pass.

You'll have access to very similar souvenirs at Disney Springs as you do in the parks, so you can shop while at the parks if you enjoy it or just focus on the attractions. There's good Disney outlet stores at local outlet malls, but if you aren't renting a car, it's probably not worth the extra transportation cost just for that.

I think that's a good start on what you need to know, but feel free to ask any more questions, or use the resources others have linked above!
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Oct 27, 2004
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I have 3 tips for anyone undertaking a Disney vacation (and it *is* and undertaking!)

1) Plan, plan, plan. Map out your daily desired schedule, but be open to changes. There is so much to see and do, if you don't do your research ahead of time (disboards are great for this), you may miss out on the shows or attractions you really want to catch. I actually had a full Excel schedule with show times, trip distances, dining reservations, etc. and we still missed seeing some of the shows we wanted to see.
2) Order some groceries online for delivery to your hotel on the day you arrive. A couple cases of water (it's HOT in FLA, and water in the parks is very expensive), some portable snacks, maybe breakfast foods. It'll save you a ton of money, and you'll still be able to enjoy some of the dining experiences in the parks.
3) Make a budget. If you don't track your spending carefully, Mickey & Co will absolutely run away with your wallet. And you'll let them, with a huge smile on your face. Decide ahead of time what you're prepared to spend on eating, souvenirs, additional entertainment, etc. I gave each of my children a personal budget -- once they spent their allotment, there was no more money in their envelope.

A Disneyworld vacation is an awesome, memory-of-a-lifetime trip, but it isn't relaxing. Go in with your expectations set appropriately, and you and yours will have an amazing time.
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Nov 24, 2013
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Password wrote: 2) Order some groceries online for delivery to your hotel on the day you arrive. A couple cases of water (it's HOT in FLA, and water in the parks is very expensive), some portable snacks, maybe breakfast foods. It'll save you a ton of money, and you'll still be able to enjoy some of the dining experiences in the parks.
Paying for bottled Dasani all the time is very expensive, but thankfully any place with a pop fountain can give you ice water for free if you ask :)
Sr. Member
Dec 10, 2007
723 posts
Stay in a hotel that offers free breakfast. If you're staying a week that adds up to a lot of savings for a family of 4 let's say.
Not only that, it saves you a lot of precious holiday time in the morning as you don't need to make a stop for breakfast before you head to the parks.
If I argue with a fool, I am the fool.
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Aug 3, 2006
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Re food: From what I can tell, the meal plan doesn't really save you anything unless you purposely go to the most expensive restaurants. And you still have to tip on top of using your meal credits. Snacking is expensive like in the range of $5-7.

Re souvenirs: Shirts, toys and trinkets are always changing so you won't know if anything's worth getting until you're there. I found the t-shirts to be either plain or ugly. Stuffed toys were probably the best. Disney is huge on pins and those seem to make up the majority of items in shops.
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Nov 24, 2013
6272 posts
Kingston, ON
Oh yes, the dreaded pins!

Tip if you're going with kids or kids-at-heart. Many Cast Members (park staff) have lanyards and boards with pins on them. You can trade any one of your pins for a cast member's pin. It becomes kind of a scavenger hunt game, as there's pins for trade that you can't necessarily buy.

Do: buy some cheap pins off eBay before you go, so you have a starting point for trading. Outlet stores in Florida can also work
Don't: pay full price for pin packs just to have some to start trading. Sticker price at Disney can work out to $4, $5, $6, $7 for each goddamn pin

Source: spent $300 on pins the first time we went, incl "starter kits" with lanyards

As an RFD-type adult, it was eye-opening for me just how good Disney is at getting people to spend money. Different sets to collect (not just pins, everything), mix & match or trading items, personalizable things (just wait till the kids see things like Magic Band customization), and if the cheap made-in-China stuff isn't for you, they also have stores selling paintings, those painted porcelain characters, several-thousand-dollar Disney-themed Swarovski, and so on.
The park admission is the cheap part :P
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Jan 2, 2015
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It sounds like you have the basics covered, but Disney ALWAYS has ways for you to send mone, and unless you think about it ahead of time, those are the expensive costs. Some other additional cost as others have said, and random tips.

Snacks were huge costs for us, even though we bought outside food, we didn't feel like carrying it.
Eating meals - make sure you reserve well in advance. Many of the r I Stuart's were packed at lunch and dinner time. We ended up often not eating at a restaurant there, and either snacking (see above) or driving offsite
Transportation - do the resorts have transportation and is there a cost, or will you be driving. parking was $20 US a day for us. The only consolidation was I could store food and clothing in the car to get stuff, and go off site to eat
activities - my daughter's loved the bippity boppty boutique and character meals, we only did one, but it was really expensive. If your kids are young and love the dress up part, buy a costume and bring it with you.

Some other tips -
Bring ponchos or garbage bags for the wet rides , they again charge you an arm and leg
Buy glow sticks and flashy dollar store things for the night shows. The kids love it, and it makes it easier to find them. I was surprised at how dark it got and hard it was to see the kids. I always stock up now and being my own glow stick kits.
If you do pin trading, buy some off eBay
If you do autographs, but s book from a dollar store, and those MASSIVE pens, it makes it easier for the mascots to write
On a 'smart' device that isn't always so smart. So please forgive the autocorrects and typos. If it bothers you, then don't read my posts, but don't waste my time correcting me. If you can get past the typos, then my posts generally have some value.
Jun 19, 2017
12 posts
1 upvote
I am in Disney World right now and here is my take.
I went on supposedly the slowest time of the year and the crowd level was 1/10 according to a Disney trip planning website. Be prepared that 1/10 crowd level in Disney is the same as average day in Canada’s Wonderland (if you have been). Remember, people from all around the world travel to Disney PLUS you got Florida residents who have annual passes as well.

Full disclosure, we bought our tickets two weeks ago and was able to do a decent amount of stuff. If you think you are late in the game with regards to booking a trip, sometimes it’s all about timing and luck. What I am trying to say is that you don’t have to over plan and sweat on all the details. I think we essentially winged it and we are having a blast.

Magic Kingdom
Was able to get lunch reservations for ‘Be our guest’. Lunch was okay, but make sure to get the Masters Cupcake with the Grey Stuff. My kids loved it. The inside of the restaurant is separated into three parts, we ate at the darker room, the west wing.
No fast pass for the Seven Dwarf Mine train so I had to wait 2 hours in line while the wife and kids did character meets and rides with short lineups. Ride was worth it I think as it was fun and smooth without being too overly scary for little kids.

Animal Kingdom
I changed my itinerary a day before and was able to snag fast passes for avatar: flight of passage in animal kingdom. This is an absolute must! Wait Times for this ride is 4-5 hours and I worth the wait! One of my kids didn’t meet the height requirement so my other kid was able to go twice within a 30 min span. Lucky. It’s unreal this ride. Still wish I can go again. I lost some fast passes due to the change but I headed to the safari as soon as the park opened so we were able to cut line up time to 10 mins. The ride was 20 mins and could take up to 40 depending on pace and animals crossing. Navi river was relaxing but may not be worth the long wait times. We waited 40 mins in line, but some waited 3 hours and were disappointed with what they waited for. Pandora was beautiful both during the day and night. Africa section was a jam with the lively music. Asia section was ok. Everest ride was ok. Lion King play was fun but can get warm inside ( probably worse during summer). Finding Nemo was good if you want to take a nap or rest your feet. Dino Land is perfect for smaller kids. Really short wait for Mickey and Minnie picture opportunities in this orl. We booked the fast pass 2 mins before entering and only had to wait 5 mins. Expect to pay on average $17 per person to eat in a Disney park for Quick Service Meals. As for snacks, unless you really must try the snacks they average to $7-$8 per person. Popcorn is like $10 for a small bucket but refillable at $2 after.

Hollywood studios
Got fast passes for Toy Story Mania and Alien Saucers. This themed area was crowded even for a Thursday. Decided not to wait for slinky ride (average 140 min wait). Kids wanted to take a break from a rollercoasters. Star tours is good. Short and and very very poor man’s version of avatar.

All in all, you don’t have to break the bank while you are here. You also don’t have to lug everything to save pennies. I say create a budget and stick within it. I was comfortable to spend $100 per day including parking at the park (me, wife and 2 small kids). We didn’t buy souvenirs in the park.
We stayed in a hotel that provided free breakfast (this was a super money and time saver). We rented a car and was able to venture out to other places (cocoa beach, Kennedy space center, premium outlet etc).
We did pay for the parking which was crap but convenient. Gas is super cheap ($30 for full tank for a minivan). Be aware of tolls on highways as well. Another perk of having a car is We were able to stock up on essentials via supermarkets (water, snacks, some Disney souvenirs, etc). We also came across a good restaurant ‘susuru’ which is an izakaya/ ramen place with lots of Japanese character.

Don’t sweat it. Orlando is a beautiful and safe city. The people are beautiful and nice. The weather is gorgeous especially if you have to escape harsh Canadian winter. Just admit to yourself that no matter how you spin or plan it , the trip is expensive ( unless you get free flight or accommodation).

Expected total cost (1 week stay, 4 day Disney pass, Kennedy space center, basically all in): $7000

Would have been less but we splurged on a couple of dinners (Hemingways and Bull and Bear Steakhouse).

Will do Universal when the kids grow a little taller and can handle more thrilling rides.
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Feb 9, 2007
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No need for a cell plan - we have found the wifi at the parks are very good and at the resorts too. Make sure you use the app for wait times.
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Jr. Member
Oct 6, 2008
180 posts
A lot of good info already stated! I just got back from Disney in December and here are my thoughts on your costs:
1) Park Tickets & Park Hopper: Park Hopper is definitely not worth the extra money. We booked the free dining plan so were required to have park hopper tickets. The only time we used it was attempting to do Animal Kingdom and Hollywood studios in the same day. We started in Hollywood studios but felt rushed to finish everything early enough to get to Animal Kingdom to do anything. In the end we didn't get to AK until late afternoon at which point most lines were too long and fast passes were no longer available. There's so much to see and do in one single park it's almost impossible to do 2 in a day.
2) Dining Plan: As I mentioned, we received the dining plan for free (promo is still on I believe) and it was truly awesome. We had to book our reservations 6 months in advance but I had no trouble getting reservations at all the popular restaurants we wanted to go to. In terms of value, the food itself is not worth the price Disney charges for it but if I had to pay out of pocket or go with the dining plan, I wouldn't hesitate to get the dining plan. They give you a receipt of what your meal would have cost if you were to pay out of pocket (to help you calculate your tip) and my family of 2 adults and 1 toddler would have spent over $1k USD on meals. We also had an excess of snack credits so it was nice to be able to get whatever we wanted as a snack. Only cost to us was tipping at table service dinners. We did table service at 4 restaurants including Cinderella's palace. The dinner at Cinderella's palace included gratuities so we didn't have to tip. The 3 other restaurants worked out to about $25 - $32 tip per meal depending on what you get. I gave 18% as it was the lowest amount calculated on the receipt.
3)Accomodations: No hidden fees at the resort. The only extra charges we had on our bill was any souvenirs we charged to the room through our magic band. We also rented a car so had to pay for parking. 5 night stay with a couple souvenirs (light up wand for my daughter and t-shirt for my niece) total charges was just over $100 USD ($65 USD was for parking).
4) Transportation: We stayed at Pop Century and rented a car through air miles. It was nice having the vehicle to go to places off of disney properties but it definitely is not required. The busses and transportation are very efficient and get you where you need to go but just take a little longer than if you were to drive yourself.
5) Souvenirs: I'm like you where I generally consider souvenirs a waste. We allowed my daughter to pick out one single souvenir (light up wand) and got a t-shirt for our niece from the parks. We also ended up going to Target nearby. They had a massive section devoted to souvenirs at approximately half the cost of the parks. We ended up picking up a few plushies to give away as christmas presents. Target was $9 US each. Parks were $19+.
6) Phone: I'm on Rogers so I used the Roam Like Home Option. Wifi was good in the parks but I needed data while driving with GPS. It was $7 a day for roam like home.
7) We left $5 a day for our house keeping as suggested by websites we viewed. I really don't think they did anything special from their regular house keeping duties though so it's up to you if you want to tip. Luggage I took care of myself so I specifically didn't have to tip (I find it a waste of money).

You seem to have everything covered in terms of costs. A website I used frequently when planning is WDWPrepSchool. Lots of valuable information there for free.

Feel free to PM me if you have any other questions!