Disney World Planning Pt 3: Setting a Budget for Disney

Hey, Hey! Thanks for coming by to check out Week 3 of the Disney Planning Series! This week I’m helping you determine the optimal Disney Vacation Budget. Keep reading below to find out how much a Disney Vacation costs, how much cash to budget on your trip, and some popular tactics to make it a bit more affordable. In case you missed the first part of the series, be sure to check out the links below. And don’t forget to grab your FREE budget worksheet by clicking below!

Disney Vacation Planning Pt 1: When to Visit

Disney Vacation Planning Pt 2: How Long to Stay at Disney

So, How Much Does it Cost to Go to Disney World?

It’s really not quite as much as you might think! It just depends on what you want to include in your trip, and in part how you are traveling to Orlando. And there are quite a few ways to cut costs and pay over time, to make the sting to your wallet a bit more bareable!

Park Tickets

In 2017 Disney World introduced seasonal ticket pricing, which raises prices during traditionally busy times of the year and drops them during slower days. An adult single day ticket ranges from $100 and $120 dollars, as of this writing. You can save a significant amount, if you’ve chosen to travel during the off season. (Grab a copy of the 2018 Crowd Index Calendar HERE)
The price also drops when you purchase multi-day tickets, and can be as low as $45 per day when you purchase 10 or more days!


Something that may come as a surprise if you’ve never been to Disney World is it’s enormous size. Disney World is actually 4 theme parks, 2 water parks, and 20-ish hotels. Later in this series we’ll go over the accommodations in great detail, including tons of reviews). For today’s purposes though, we’re just going to look at the prices. Accommodations appear to be the largest portion of your budget, but keep in mind this is the total for your group whereas tickets and food is per person. Also, please note this is base pricing and the busier seasons will be more expensive.


Disney World offers a dining package when booking a multi-day vacation, which can be at the least an effective tool for budgeting your trip. Later in this series we’ll discuss the dining plan in more detail, including a cost analysis, but for now we are going to assume that the dining package will be added to your vacation. There are 3 tiers of dining plans; Quick Service, Standard, and Deluxe. The main difference between the 3 tiers is the type of dining you are planning. The Quick Service is good only at select Quick Service Restaurants (think Fast Food), Deluxe is good for Table Service Restaurants (Such as a Chili’s or Applebees), and the Standard includes a mix.

Here is the pricing for the 2018 dining plan. *The dining plan is only available for stays 2 days or longer, however the daily price is included here for transparency.

Average Cost

So with all this information about booking a trip, we can start to do some math – ugh. Don’t worry! I did most of the work. To determine an average cost, I’m going to use a family of 4 staying for 5 days at a value resort with the Quick Service Dining plan. Your group may be larger, your trip longer, or maybe you just want to go deluxe! In that case, you can grab a FREE copy of my budget worksheet HERE.

Travel Costs

Please note that this does not take travel expense into account. Unfortunately, there are far too many variables for this blogger to confidently find you pricing. However, I can tell you that I recently purchased a round trip flight from Las Vegas to Kentucky during the Christmas season for $400. I probably could have gotten it a lot cheaper, but due to some fun aspects of our lives (like never knowing what the military is or isn’t going to let us do….) we had to wait until the last minute. So, with the exception of Alaska and Hawaii, you should be able to find flights anywhere in the US for less than $400 round trip. Again, planning your trip during an off season will almost certainly save you money.

How Much Cash Should You Bring?

Another important part of your budget is the amount of money to bring with you, or set aside, to spend while you are in the parks. While most of your trip will be paid for by the time you are packing, you will want to set a spending budget for a few reasons.


You will absolutely need souvenirs to help you relive your amazing Disney World trip! Maybe it’s a hoodie, a coffee cup, or a pair of ears (trust me, you can never have too many) – you’re bound to find something that you cannot live without. I’m going to set the budget a little high here, because it’s better to have more set aside you don’t use than to go over your budget.

[bctt tweet=”Whoa! This is the PERFECT guide to budgeting your Disney Trip!” username=”mysocalstyle”]

On average a souvenir will cost between $20 and $50 dollars, and we’ll assume everyone in your group will be buying at least 5 souvenirs on the trip. So this would come out to $175 per person. If you’re staying for more than 7 days, I would and $17 per person, per day. If you are planning to buy souvenirs for specific people, add $35 per souvenir you are planning. Like I said, this may seem really high but I’m of the “better safe than broke” state of mind. Feel free to adjust accordingly.

Treats and Tipping

Under the assumption that you are using the dining plan most of your meals will be paid for. However, you never know when you will need a Starbucks or treat. The dining plans include 2-3 meals and 1-2 snack credits per day, which may or may not be enough for your family. To be safe, I always recommend setting aside $20 per person, per day just to be on the safe side. Even if you stick strictly to your dining plan, you’ll want to include this amount so that you can tip waiters and housecleaning appropriately.

Everything Else

You can certainly call it quits here and have a fantastic vacation, but there are also tons of great add on’s you can enjoy. I won’t go into them all in this post, but if you are interested in tours, makeovers, spa days, etc – be sure to do a little bit of research on the cost. As a general rule, budget 10% of your combined souvenir and treat/tipping budgets for this category.

So, How Much Cash Should I Bring?

Like before, there’s a worksheet for that! (If you haven’t grabbed it yet, click HERE). I’ve also done some of the math for you below, using our same family of 4.

Holy Cow That’s Too Much Money!

If you are following along with our family of 4, the cost so far is just over $5k BEFORE cost of travel. Assuming the worst, we’ll add another $1,600 for flights. Now consider, tough, that this amount should cover everything from the time you step on the plane until the time you get home after a week in Disney World with your family. If that still seems like a lot of money for you, I’ve got a few tricks.

Use a Travel Agent

Travel agents get a bad wrap now a days, everyone is so keen on doing it themselves. But, here’s the thing – Disney vacations are a Disney Travel Agent’s job. It’s what they know! And they especially know how to get a good deal. Using a travel agent guarantees that they will be looking out for any applicable discounts they can find to help you out.

Special Promotions and Discounts

Speaking of….. There are all kinds of promotions and specials that Disney runs throughout the year. My personal favorite is free dining, which usually occurs during the Fall. If you can plan your vacation with this perk, it will save our family of 4 over $1,300! Keep an eye out or, get a travel agent.

The Disney Gift Card Trick

One tried and true trick that will save you about 5% on your trip is paying with gift cards. Many retailers, like Target and Costco, offer Disney Gift Cards at a discount. The Target Red Card gives you 5% off of your purchase online or in store. You can go a step further by synching your Target RedCard to your Target.com account and purchasing discounted Target Gift Card. Here’s how it works:

[bctt tweet=”Looking to save on your next Disney Trip? Check out this great budgeting article from SoCal Style!” username=”mysocalstyle”]

Sign-up at Raise.com and search for Target Gift cards. You’ll be able to purchase these for a discounted amount (Raise.com is a platform that let’s you buy and sell un wanted giftcards, there should be a ton available following Christmas). Once you receive the virtual gift card, load it into your Target.com account. Now you can purchase your Disney Giftcards with the additional 5% off. Unfortunately, Target has add some measures to prevent this but as long as you purchase at least 1 real item and your total is greater than your Target GC balance it should work.

Do you have more great money saving tricks? Let us know all about it in the comments!
Ready to learn more? Sign-up below to receive the next installment in the Disney Vacation Planning Series, and join #DisFanChat on Facebook (CLICK HERE) where you can get expert trip planning advice from some serious Disney Bloggers (like me!)

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