How to Budget for a Disney World Trip in 2022 (Best Cost Tips)


Disney World is the perfect place for family, friends, and loved ones. But a Disney vacation doesn’t come cheap. But are there ways to save money or cut costs? Let’s look at all my best tips for budgeting for Disney World.

To prepare for a trip to Disney World, budget $320-$350 per day per person for tickets, lodging, and food. Avoid character dining, eat breakfast before entering the park, and buy souvenirs in nearby non-Disney stores. Staying in accommodations off the Disney World premises will cut costs significantly.

What is a trip to Disney World without tickets and good food?

The current ticket prices cost $109 for children, 10 upwards per day, tax exclusive. However, the cost of adding additional days to the same visit drops costs. Your food budget should be around $15 per meal for quick-service restaurants and approximately $60 for meals at high-end restaurants.

Read on to make the perfect budget for a trip to Disney World without breaking the bank.

How much money do you need for a week in Disney World?

Here’s a handy chart showing average prices for a variety of family sizes. These prices do not include airfare since that can vary wildly across the US and the globe.

It also doesn’t factor in things like character dining, which is expensive, or add-ons like the park hopper, which allows you to visit more than 1 park in the same day. While Disneyland only has 2 parks, Disney World has 4 parks (not counting water parks), so the park hopper option can be a nice add-on.

2 Adults 1 Adult/1 Child Family of 3 Family of 4 Family of 5 Family of 6
Total Cost $3,276 $3,276 $4,277 $5,250 $6,223 $7,287
Disney Tickets $1,526 $1,526 $2,289 $3,052 $3,815 $4,578
Hotel (off premises) $1,302 $1,302 $1,302 $1,302 $1,302 $1,393
Food $448 $448 $686 $896 $1,106 $1,316

The prices above may change with time, meaning that depending on whether it is an off-peak period or a peak period, prices may change. Other exceptions may be discounts allowed at hotels.

For entry tickets, the prices above are the exact cost you will incur per day. However, you get a reduction in price for every day you renew. Other exceptions may be if you are taking a child less than 3.

The cost of food is the amount incurred for two meals per day at a fast-food restaurant, assuming you are on a budget. This cost analysis assumes that the first two parties are adults and the rest are children 10+.

How much should I budget per day at Disney World?

Your total budget per person should be around $320-$350 per day, depending on the number of meals you buy and the hotel plans you pick.

Your total budget per day would include the cost of food, shuttles, accommodation, tickets, and other miscellaneous expenses like buying toys and engaging in other activities. However, your budget solely depends on the number of people that will be going on the trip.

For food, it’s better to bring your food to the park.

You can set it up somewhere and have lunch a few hours after your arrival at the park. Proper meals at Disney World from a quick service restaurant will cost around $12 for kids and $15-$20 for adults, whether you are ordering breakfast or lunch.

But Disney allows you to bring in food and non-alcoholic beverages as long as they aren’t in glass containers and don’t require reheating or refrigeration.

If you do not mind the cost of buying snacks, you should budget $6-$8 per snack. A Dole Whip Float or Nutella Waffle sandwich will do. Since you are allowed to bring snacks, you can get snacks at a local store at cheaper prices.

Hotels outside the Disney World resorts would give you a nice place to stay at prices that are FAR better than staying at a Disney property.

For non-Disney places, you should budget around $190 for a standard room that can accommodate two. If you have 2-4 kids with you, you can get a standard bedroom with two beds for $195. Depending on the season, hotels normally offer discounts on accommodation.

Currently, Disney World tickets cost $109 minus tax per day for children 10+.

This offers 1 park per day or park hopper options. To save costs on tickets, you do not necessarily have to go to the park every day. Outside the walls of Disney World, there are other exciting things to do.

How much does a family of 4 spend on food at Disney World?

You will spend around $15-$20 per person for a fast food meal, which amounts to over $60 per day on just one meal for a family of 4. Some fast food restaurants also provide meal plans, which include two meals and two snacks each day.

Food for a family of four in Disney World could easily total over $1,200 for a week if you ate all 3 meals in the park. 

You can either decide to buy food from one of the many places to eat at Disney World or buy meals and snacks outside the premises. You have many options to choose from, but your best bet is the quick service restaurants because they are economical.

This costs around $55 for people 10 years and older, but for kids younger, it ranges from $26-$30. The quick service plans vary, but they might be your best bet. The total will amount to about $180 per day.

You have different options to choose from based on your budget. Table service restaurants are more expensive. A table service restaurant can either be a high-end restaurant or not. A high-end restaurant would cost you $65 per head for adults and $37 for younger kids.

Table service dining may give you access to character meals, where you get to meet up with Disney characters. But that will be expensive.

Buying snacks could supplement a meal and save costs. You can visit a grocery store outside Disney World and skip long lines trying to get snacks.

However, snacks at Disney World range from $6-$8 per snack and up to $10 depending on the time of year. For water, you should come with your water bottle and fill them up or buy some water from a grocery store.

I get more into how to bring food into Disney World, what you can and can’t bring, and what the restrictions and limitations are, further down in this article.

Are you wondering how you can budget money on a low income? 

In a recent article of mine, I shared effective tips to help you budget on a low income. With the right tips and strategies, even a low-budget family can still work on the occasional Disney vacation.

Click the link to read the article on my site.

What’s the cheapest month to go to Disney World?

The cheapest month to go to Disney World is January. Disney World uses a unique ticket pricing system, which means that theme park tickets are normally cheaper at slower times, or months with no peak period.

Off-peak times fall during January, February, Late August, September, and early November.

During this period, day tickets become cheaper, and you have easy access to the theme parks without long lines. Annual passes may also reduce in price, and if you are renewing your annual pass, you may get up to 15% off.

Disney World is open all year round, literally 365 days a year, and there are peak periods. To save costs and work with any budget you might have in mind, there are obvious reasons to decide when to go, to get a great deal for tickets, food, snacks, hotel reservations, and transportation.

Travel agents offer great deals during off-peak periods. A Disney World trip will be cheaper.

However, in months like December, Disney World resorts offer close to 20% off from around December 11- December 25. This also depends on the room type and resort.

To sum up, the cheapest time to go for a Disney World vacation is in January, up until the president’s weekend in February. If it is not convenient for you, you can try a Disney trip in August, or late August, to be precise. Prices appear to be low around that time of the year.

Are you a lover of Disney World, and have been hearing of the term “rope drop” at Disney World?  

I wrote in a recent article about rope drop at Disney World. It’s essentially a way to get into the park early before opening and get to your favorite rides before the big crowds.

Just click that link to read all the details on my site.

How can I go to Disney on a budget?

A Walt Disney World vacation on a budget requires a lot of planning and research. For a family of four, the average cost of a trip to Disney World will likely total close to $10,000.

So if you want to go 10 months from now and don’t want to charge it to a credit card, that means setting aside about $1,000/month starting now leading up to the time of the trip.

To have a great time at Disney World, the best idea is to not spend all the days of your vacation at the park. To save cost, there are other fun activities to do outside the walls of Disney World. You can substitute going to the park with going to a table-service restaurant for lunch.

If you stay in a hotel on Disney property, you should consider spending time by the pool because you still get the full experience of being in the Disney World environs. The pools are themed, and they are quite big.

On a tight budget, the best thing to do is to avoid the parker hopper option, which costs more than your regular tickets.

It might appear to you as a good deal and more fun to visit all four parks with the park hopper tickets, but you’re better off purchasing regular tickets per day and renewing each day which would lead to a reduction in price every additional day.

And it’s not like Disneyland where you can walk from one park to the other.

Disney World has 4 parks (not counting the water parks) and you have to drive, boat, bus, or monorail to get from one to the other, adding time and hassle.

However, if you are going for just a few days and you do not mind the stress of going from the park on the same day, you can visit the magic kingdom on one of your days there and do the park hopper tickets on another day to experience the Disney magic.

Getting Disney gift cards at discounts can help you save money. These gift cards can be used on Disney property to buy tickets, buy food, and can be used at Disney hotels.

Bringing in food or making your food on some days will reduce your Disney World cost. Food items at Disney World resorts cost a fortune. Meanwhile, you do not want your Disney World budget to be too high, so the best idea is to bring your food on some days.

Try to stick to your food budget because you may get tempted by the sight of some meals.

How many days do you need for Disney World?

To get the full experience of Disney World on a budget, a three-day trip should do. Three days may seem small, but you can have the best time ever in that short amount of time.

Your three-day itinerary should be to touchdown either three, or all four, of the parks according to preference or whichever ones are popping. There are four theme parks at Disney World: The Magic Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, The Animal Kingdom, and Epcot.

Your three-day itinerary can go as such;

  • A full day at Magic Kingdom
  • Morning at Hollywood studios, afternoon at Epcot, or spend the rest of the day at your hotel pool
  • The Animal Kingdom in the morning, Epcot or Hollywood studios in the afternoon

With this itinerary plan, you can have three days of fun without park hopper tickets and skip one park or buy park hopper tickets and visit all four parks. If you decide to skip a park, you should go for the Animal Kingdom or Epcot. They both may be fun, but there’s a lot of renovating and upgrading to do at the Animal Kingdom.

Asides from visiting the theme parks, other fun activities are going on. You can visit any of the water parks, like Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon, on days when you are not at the theme parks all day. Disney Springs is also a nice place to add to your three-day itinerary.

Universal Studios, which isn’t part of Disney World, would be a good idea to go to for your visits off the premises. But I wouldn’t try and do that if you only have 3 days.

During these three days, the best way to save costs is to subscribe to a Disney dining plan, and if you want to control your cost by reducing and substituting meals, you can do quick service meals or bring your own food.

And if money is no object, I would personally recommend between 5 and 7 days for a Disney World trip. Animal Kingdom really only warrants 1 day, as does Epcot. But Hollywood Studios (where Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge is located) and The Magic Kingdom each warrant at least 2 days, if not more.

Disney World is currently replacing the old FastPass system with the Genie+ system.

In a recent article, I give you all the details on the Genie+ system, how it differs from FastPass and what stayed the same. But I also shared 1 key trick for maximizing your visit.

Just click that link to read it on my site.

Can you bring food to Disney?

Yes, you can bring your food to Disney World, but there are some restrictions to this policy.

Guests are allowed to bring in food items such as snacks or food that does not require being heated up or require refrigeration. So if you are wondering whether little snacks like chocolate bars, granola bars, or chips can be brought in, you have your answer.

Disney World has a very amazing policy when it comes to food, and this makes it easier for people on a tight budget to enjoy their stay at Disney World without being burdened with the need to buy food at the park. It also caters to individuals that may be on a diet or individuals with allergies.

There are also restrictions on bringing suitcases, bags, coolers, or knapsacks larger than 24″ long x 15″ wide x 18″ high (61cm x 38cm x 46cm). These are not allowed in any theme park or water park. If your coolers are a little smaller than this size, you are good to go, as long as there’s no glass.

Any form of glass isn’t allowed at the theme parks, as well as dry ice in any container. The alternative for ice would be to use reusable ice packs to chill your drinks.

Another thing to take note of is alcohol. All sorts of liquor or alcohol are prohibited in theme parks and water parks. However, you can take them to your hotel room to consume.

Any food that doesn’t have a foul smell and is brought in for self-consumption can be brought into Disney World premises.

For budget reasons, bringing food like sandwiches, snacks, and non-alcoholic beverages will help save money and time. It’ll save time because you won’t have to stay in long lines for food, so you can spend more time doing fun activities.

Disney World often gets filled up during holidays. But if they sell out, do they stop letting people in?

If you’re wondering whether they get sold out or not, I wrote about it in a recent article. I get into what the capacity is for each park. What months see attendance close to the limits, and what happens if they hit the limit.

Click on the link to read the full article on my site and find out.

Is water free at Disney World?

Disney World is a place where you need to be hydrated, especially if you are moving from park to park and switching between activities. Even when you come fully loaded with water in your water bottle, you may run out of water if you are a heavy sipper.

However, if you have run out of water and don’t have extra cash to buy yourself water, well, I have good news for you. Most quick-service restaurants and table-service restaurants give out a cup of water for free. For more clarity, I would mention a few places that give you a cup of free water at each themed park.

Magic Kingdom

  • Joffrey’s Coffee
  • Casey’s Corner in Main Street, U.S.A.
  • Cosmic Ray in Tomorrowland
  • Pinocchio Village Haus in Fantasyland
  • Columbia Harbor House in Liberty Square

Disney’s Hollywood Studios 

  • The Trolley Car Cafe
  • Joffrey’s Coffee
  • ABC Commissary
  • Backlot Express
  • Docking Bay 7 in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge

Disney’s Animal Kingdom

  • Creature Comforts (Starbucks location)
  • Joffrey’s Coffee
  • Restaurantosaurus

EPCOT

  • Joffrey’s Coffee
  • Connections Cafe & Eatery
  • La Cantina de San Angel in Mexico
  • Refreshment Outpost

Some of these places might be nice enough to give you more than one cup of water. Moreover, if you need to fill up your water bottles to last you the rest of your adventure, there are filling stations where you can get water for free.

The refill stations are often located between restrooms. All you need to do is to place your water bottle by the tap and let its sensor do the magic.

Some places where you can find filing stations are Inside Cosmic Rays, near Slinky Dog Dash, the Marketplace restroom in Star Wars: Galaxy Edge, restrooms between the Refreshment Port and Port of Entry Shop, and near the standby queue for Flight of Passage.

Finally, if you are not interested in free water or getting your water bottles filled, you can buy a bottle of water for $3.50.

There are 4 themed parks at Disney World, and if you’re on a budget, you might be wondering which ones to skip. 

I wrote in a recent article of mine if Hollywood Studios are worth going to. While that is where all the new Star Wars stuff is, what about the rest of the park? And is it true that Twilight Zone Tower of Terror is closed?

Click that link to read it on my site.

Is Disney World more expensive than Disneyland?

Generally, Disney World is slightly more expensive than Disneyland. Also, because it’s much larger and has 4 parks instead of 2, people go to Disney World more than Disneyland.

And Disneyland gets crowded on holidays. Both resorts cost a fortune to be there, however, Disney World tickets are a bit higher than Disneyland tickets.

Disney World regular tickets per day cost about $109 per person, while single-day tickets per person at Disneyland cost $104. The usual reduction in ticket prices as you renew for each day applies to Disneyland as well. Annual passes at Disney World cost 1299.000, however, only Florida residents are allowed to purchase the top-tier credit pass.

Aside from tickets, we also need to consider the general costs of staying in both resorts.

For transportation, both resorts are equal. If you booked a room at the Disney resort hotel, you could use the Disney Magical Express to take you from Orlando International Airport to your hotel for free. As for Disneyland, you get free rides mostly when moving between parks.

Disneyland has just two parks, namely Disneyland Park and Disney California Park. Because of the short distance between parks, you can easily take a stroll from one park to another.

When considering hotels and accommodations in both resorts, it is cheaper for you to stay outside the Disney resorts for both Disney World and Disney land. For a family of 4 spending four nights at Disney World, you should budget $571 for a hotel outside Disney World and $1396 for a Disney World resort hotel.

While for Disneyland, you may spend $645 for a non-Disney hotel and $2128 for a Disneyland resort hotel. This puts Disney World above Disneyland in terms of cheaper accommodation.

Snacks and meals are also more affordable at Disney World than snacks in Disneyland.

So, it is cheaper to spend your spring break or any break at Disney World than Disneyland. Ranging from accommodation to transportation and the cost of meals, Disney World has an edge when it comes to expenses and budgeting.

I Planned the CHEAPEST Disney World Trip in History

Conclusion

During short or long holidays, the best place to spend time and have fun with friends and family would be Disney World. However, the prices may sound too much, especially when you go there without doing proper research.

In this article, I went through the expenses you might incur and added a few tips to help you save more, even with a budget. Disneyworld is a wonderful place to be, and you can make the most of your trip and have so much fun with a proper budget.


Image by stinne24 from Pixabay

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