Post Updated February 2016
You might think a Disney World vacation is completely unrealistic; that it is just too expensive.
Sure, you could pay a small fortune if you flew here first class, stayed at a deluxe resort like the Grand Floridian, ate all meals at the park paying out of pocket, and buying every souvenir that strikes your children's fancy.
But for the rest of us that are more budget minded, Disney is not that expensive!
Here are three Disney World Cost analysis for your family to consider based on your family needs, size, and comfort levels.
Cheap Disney World Vacation (Best for Families with 3+ kids)If you are trying to do Disney for as cheap as possible why not camp at Disney World. You can drive here, saving a lot of money on airfare and stay at the lovely, well cared for Campsites at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort (from $49/night).
A 7 day / 6 night package including park tickets for 2 adults and 2 children in September would cost you only $1752. You can bring all your food from home to take picnic style lunches in the park and cook dinner on your campsite grill.
Hint: This is a fantastic option for larger families! If you have 2 adults and 5 kids (say ages 2,4,6,8, and 10) this option for 7 days and 6 nights would only cost you $2447.
So are you sacrificing the magic for money? Not at all! The campsites are a great budget alternative with a large site, picnic table, grill, electrical, pets allowed, and up to 10 guests per site at no extra cost! Other amenities at the resort include a fort-themed water play area, complete with their own toddler-friendly slides. whirlpools, playground, Archery, horseback riding canoeing, convenience store, complimentary transportation to all Disney World Parks, movie under the starts, nightly campfire with Chip and Dale (free), and more!
And if you are like most families, you will spend most of your time at the theme parks and very little back “in your room” anyway.
Hint: At Christmas time people go all out and decorate their tents & RV's with Christmas lights!
My Pick: Pay the little extra for a preferred spot for less walking to the bust stop! Also consider the time of year as campsites do not offer the comfort of air conditioning or heat at night.
Thrifty Disney World Vacation (Best for Families with 2 kids)If you want to visit Disney World for as little money as possible, but you aren’t really the camping type you will love Disney’s budget hotels (from $85/night).
If you time it right, chances are you can snag a 7 day / 6 night package for 2 adults and 2 children in September with a FREE Basic Dining Plan for just $2044.
If you can’t vacation at off peak times this is still a fantastic budget option and you will likely be able to still snag 15% off the above rate. For those who didn't get the free dining plan, consider bringing cereal / granola bars for breakfast and sack lunches. Then you can get one warm meal at the park a day so that you still eat well and enjoy the magic, but without going broke paying for every meal.
Although you will probably spend most of your days enjoying the parks, your hotel will have fun theming, several themed pools, air conditioned rooms with cable televisions, free Disney world transportation, movies by the pool, a playground and resort activities.
Hint: We actually prefer staying at Budget Hotels as they are smaller in size which makes the buses less crazy than the larger resorts. And if you like, you can pay a small upgrade fee to get the regular dining plan which includes character meals.
My Pick: All Star Movies Resort (great theming for kids) or Pop Century (kids splash pool and fantastic food court)
Balanced Disney (Best for Families with 3 kids who want more comforts)If you are willing to pay for a nice Disney vacation, but are still trying to keep it reasonable, a moderate hotel may be just the ticket (from $162/night).
Moderate hotels have larger room (314 sq feet versus 260 sq feet in a value) and therefore can fit up to 5 in a room. The resorts themselves are larger, offer more elaborate theming throughout the resort including amazing pools with waterslides.
Again, planning is key. You can save 25% off rooms most times of the year or get a FREE Dining Plan if you visit in the fall. So assume your family of 2 adults and 2 children visited for 7 days / 6 nights during September you could get FREE Dining Plan and pay just $2660.
Hint: Want to really WOW your kids? Stay at a Pirates of the Caribbean themed room at the Caribbean Beach Resort or a Royal Guest Room at Port Orleans for only a little more.
My Pick: Port Orleans (for all around food, pool, theming, and ease of use), Caribbean Beach Resort (for the amazing pool) and then Coronado (for the fantastic food court and neat water slide).
Dream Disney World Vacation (For Couples & Families with 3 children or less)If you are just looking to live it up on your Disney vacation, consider staying at a Deluxe Hotel (from $284/month). You can stay on the monorail for ease of getting to the Magic Kingdom and Epcot. Or live it up by staying at the Animal Kingdom Lodge where the giraffes and other animals will roam right outside your window.
Rooms are offered at up to 30% discount throughout the year and FREE Dining Plan is usually offered in the fall. These rooms will run a family of 2 adults and 2 children for 7 days / 6 nights with FREE Dining Plan $3329 for the Animal Kingdom Lodge to $4320 for the Polynesian Resort.
Rooms in these Deluxe resorts are stunning and about 344 sq feet. Public areas are immaculately maintained and richly themed. These upscale resorts contain elaborate pools with waterslides and hot tubs. Many are conveniently located on the monorail and the Animal Kingdom Lodge offers educational programs and live animal exhibits.
My Pick: Polynesian Resort (for overall theming, Volcano themed pool, on the monorail, and Dole Whips on site) or Animal Kingdom Lodge (for overall theming and animals roaming the ‘backyard’)
SummaryNo matter where you stay, remember that you have the same great Disney service and attention to detail. Plus you are going to be spending most of your time in the parks. So stay in budget, and have fun!
Our family likes to mix it up and stay at different resorts each time. They are all so special and FUN in different ways!
Disney World Planning
- 8 Reasons to Stay at a Disney World Hotel
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- The BEST age to take kids to Disney World
- 15 Ways to RUIN a trip to Disney World
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