This breaks down Walt Disney World vacation prices for park tickets, hotels, dining, transportation & more in 2023. It answers the question of how much visiting WDW costs to help you avoid overspending & plan within your budget. Fair warning up front: prices have increased by thousands of dollars in the last two years, so be prepared for sticker shock. (Updated December 26, 2022.)
This is a tough topic to tackle. Even with hypotheticals it’s impossible to pin down the actual cost for every set of circumstances. Beyond the basics covered in our breakdown, there are a lot of variables that are beyond the scope of this post: Lightning Lanes & Genie+ v. standby only? Rental car & paid parking v. Mears Connect airport shuttle? Travel insurance v. discounted non-refundable reservations?
Instead of tackling every possible scenario and ending up with a War & Peace length treatise, we’ll look at price ranges for key aspects of visiting Walt Disney World, come up with totals based on those, and let you extrapolate for your own conclusions based upon that information. Given that the thing most readers report surprise over to us via comments and emails is cost, this is a topic worth addressing, even if we can’t give any hard numbers for every possible scenario…
As a blunt preface: a Walt Disney World vacation is an expensive proposition. It’s undeniable that Walt Disney World vacation costs have skyrocketed in the last decade, and that trend doesn’t seem likely to reverse itself anytime soon. To the contrary, pent-up demand, staffing shortages, inflation, and a lack of discounts mean visiting Walt Disney World is more expensive than ever.
This has been evident in the last year, as Walt Disney World has been hit by price increase after price increase. Former CEO Bob Chapek’s attitude was Disney would continue upping costs until there was a pullback in demand. For his part, returning CEO has said that he was “alarmed” by the number of increases, but he has yet to undo the damage. And he probably won’t–the best we can hope for is likely a slowdown in the frequency and amount of increases, or more and better discounts to offset them.
It’s not just tickets. Most menu prices also increased twice this year, as did souvenirs and more. If you look at 2023 Walt Disney World Resort Price Analysis, you’ll also notice that room rates are up around 3-4% across the board. That’s actually one of the smaller price increases in the grand scheme of things–certain park tickets are up by 20% or so.
Walt Disney World has seen a significant imbalance of supply and demand for the last year-plus, which has played a significant role in driving up prices at a faster-than-normal rate. Many Americans have been making up for lost time traveling, and Walt Disney World has not been operating at 100% due to staffing shortages.
As a result of that supply-demand mismatch, Walt Disney World did not need to offer aggressive discounts for much of the last two years. There’s no need to entice people to visit due to pent-up demand, and there are few unsold rooms to fill because the company cannot fill every room in the first place.
The tides have been starting to turn on this, with increased discounting already for the first half of 2023 and more likely for summer and fall. In addition to that, there are broader macroeconomic factors that could impact Disney and pricing on the horizon. Data suggests that household savings is dwindling, consumer debt is on the rise, and equities markets are trending downward. All of this could have the effect of reducing consumer spending and pushing more people back into the workplace.
This is something we’ve been discussing quite a bit, most recently in What Does Walt Disney World Do During A Recession?The odds aren’t in your favor that Disney will drop prices with all else being equal. However, it’s entirely possible that actual prices won’t be up 5% in 2023 as compared to this year due to the increased likelihood of discounts and more. (If you factor in astronomical costs of airfare this year, that’s doubly true.)
Regardless of where pricing goes in 2023, visiting Walt Disney World costs a lot of money. It’s undeniably priced as a premium vacation destination and one of the more expensive family destinations in the United Stares.
Of course, travel costs are all relative. You could travel to one of the U.S. National Parks and pay a $20 entry fee for your entire vehicle for a week, camp on-site for $35/night, and cook food by campfire for $40/day for a party of 4.
As avid National Park enthusiasts, we’ve done exactly that many times and highly recommend it–one of the best vacations you can take that’s incredibly relaxing and allows you to disconnect, recharge, and see America’s Best Idea. It’s also very different–also incomparable–to Walt Disney World.
You could also travel to New York and spend more than the cost of theme park tickets seeing shows and visiting points of interest, pay $250/night for adequate accommodations, $75/night for parking, and an exorbitant amount eating at some of America’s best restaurants.
Although equally chaotic, that too would be very different from a Walt Disney World vacation. Not necessarily better or worse–different. The point is that great trips can be had at a variety of price points; even though it’s easy to compare them quantitatively, doing so on a qualitative basis is a different story entirely. Even trips to other theme parks aren’t apples to apples comparisons with Walt Disney World.
This post assumes a 5-night Walt Disney World vacation for a family of 4 (2 adults and 2 kids) that is not within driving distance to Walt Disney World, with no rental car unless otherwise specified. Airfare is not included. Unfortunately, flight prices vary so widely based upon origin city that there’s really nothing meaningful to say–just know that it’s another cost that’ll probably add another $250-600 per person to your trip.
In the last year, airfare prices have been all over the place, but higher across the board. We travel a lot between the Orange Counties (Florida and California) and we’ve paid anywhere from $250 to almost $600 per round trip just this year. Thankfully, prices are starting to fall again for early 2023. Hopefully that’s the start of a return to normal, rather than a short-lived thing for the off-season.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at the range of costs you should expect to incur for each element of your Walt Disney World vacation…
After precipitous increases for several years that have seen the cost of a 1-day Walt Disney World ticket for the Magic Kingdom nearly triple in price since 2004, expectations v. reality for park ticket prices can differ dramatically. This is no surprise, especially among infrequent visitors who last went when tickets were more affordable. Note that all groups are following our Tips for Saving Money on Walt Disney World Tickets, so we aren’t going by gate prices.
Frugal: For this tier (we’ll call it ‘frugal’ since that has a more positive connotation than ‘budget’), we’re opting for 3-day base tickets without the Park Hopper option. The other 2 days of the vacation, the family will enjoy some of the free offerings around Walt Disney World, such as Disney Springs and visiting the Boardwalk, among other things. Total cost: $1,634.
Value: At this tier, we are getting base tickets for all 5 days, meaning the family can spend every day in the parks. Note that the difference here isn’t as large as you might have expected because the incremental cost of park tickets decrease for longer duration visits. Total cost: $2,197.
Moderate: This steps up to 5-day Park Hopper tickets, so the family can leverage park operating hours to their advantage (for example, heading to Magic Kingdom and staying until park closing on a day started out at Animal Kingdom when that park closes early). Total cost: $2,492.
Deluxe: This levels up to the Cadillac of park tickets: the 5-Day Park Hopper Plus. This is a good ticket option for a 7-10 day trip, but for a 5-day visit, there’s more than enough to do in the 4 theme parks and other areas of Walt Disney World without adding the “Plus” option. Nevertheless, for those who like to make it rain, Disney-style, this is an option for a 5-day trip. Total cost: $2,855.18.
Many of you were probably a bit taken aback when you saw the cost of the ‘frugal’ option, shocked that it was so high. Perhaps you were also surprised that the longer duration tickets were comparatively lower in price per day. That’s the thing about Walt Disney World tickets: the per day cost decreases the longer you stay. (Of course, accommodations, dining, transportation and overall costs increase with a longer trip, so they get you one way or another!)
For example, the total cost of a 10-day base ticket for this family would be $2,337.56, which is right on par with the moderate option and less than the deluxe option above. The cost of tickets will probably be the most surprising aspect of your vacation, especially if you’re going for only a few days. This makes the relative ‘value’ of a 7-10 day Walt Disney World vacation better than a 3 day trip.
The cost of your hotel is the single biggest variable in a Walt Disney World vacation, with prices ranging from $30/night for an off-site hotel on I-Drive to over $1,000 for luxury accommodations that are on-site and near the Walt Disney World theme parks. Let’s take a look at the different options…
Frugal: Staying off-site is the only true budget option, and fortunately, the Orlando area has a surplus of hotels, which drives down cost. In reviewing Hotwire’s Hot Rate option for a variety of dates, there are often 3.5 star and above hotels in the Lake Buena Vista or Disney Springs areas for around $75/night.
There are cheaper hotels elsewhere with lower ratings or farther from the parks, but I think this is a good compromise in quality and location. There are some shady hotels in the Orlando area–Florida Project is more reality than it is fiction–so unless you want experiencing the mean streets of O-Town as part of your vacation experience, splurge a bit. Total cost: $559.03 after taxes & fees.
The caveat with the frugal option here is that only some third party or off-site hotels offer free shuttles to the parks. This means staying in the frugal option will almost certainly incur additional transportation costs above and beyond the higher tiers, whether that be for a rental car and parking, or for twice-daily Uber or Lyft expenses. This is not insignificant, and could add $40 to $100 on top of accommodations costs, depending upon when you visit. The only reason we’re not accounting for it here is because it’s highly variable.
Value: For anyone looking to get the true “resort” experience at Walt Disney World, this is your lowest entry-point. Depending upon when you travel, rack rates for the Value Resorts at Walt Disney World range from $118 to $307 per night for most of the year (excluding peak season dates). The more popular your travel time, the more expensive the rates. Total cost: $1,184.50 after taxes and fees.
Moderate: Same idea as the Value Resorts above, except for the middle tier of on-site Disney hotels. Rack rates for these hotels will range from around $248 to $324 per night for most of the year (excluding peak season dates). Again, the more popular your travel time, the more expensive the rates. Total cost: $1,537.75 after taxes and fees.
Deluxe: The on-site Walt Disney World Deluxe Resorts are the hotel tier where there’s the most variance, with it costing $425/night just to get you in the door, and prices quickly going upward from there. At Wilderness Lodge, regular season rack rates start at $555/night. By contrast, regular season rates at the Grand Floridian start at $857/night. Prices can go up from there. Total cost: $3,433.25 after taxes and fees.
On top of all this, Walt Disney World discontinued its Magical Express airport shuttle. Visitors now need to find their own ground transportation from the airport to their hotel, and we cover the range of options in our Guide to Airport Transportation for Walt Disney World. There is no one-size-fits-all perfect solution–it depends on your party size, budget, and other factors. No matter which option you choose, it’ll cost you.
Another added expense is that Walt Disney World resorts and most off-site hotels now charge for parking. This isn’t a brand new development, but it’s newly relevant for those debating rental car v. airport shuttle v. Uber or Lyft. In short, not only are hotel room prices higher, but they include less–so your net outlay will be even more money for stay on-site at Walt Disney World.
If things weren’t already complicated enough, another monkey wrench here is that the Disney Dining Plan is still “temporarily” suspended at Walt Disney World. In When Will the Disney Dining Plan Return?we forecast timing for its comeback, as well as our rationale. It’s a good read that explains why the Dining Plan is integral to Walt Disney World and offers our prediction as to when it’ll return.
Without question, purchasing the Disney Dining Plan will cost you more than it would cost you to eat at Walt Disney World on a tight budget. What the Disney Dining Plan offers is peace of mind in paying for your food in advance and knowing that you don’t have to worry about it when you arrive. If you can budget money, you are usually better off skipping the Dining Plan and paying out of pocket.
Some people can save money using the Disney Dining Plan, but those are people who like to eat “aggressively,” not those who are trying to be frugal. With that said, those who take advantage of the Free Dining discount are much more likely to come out ahead, especially at our example party size of 2 adults and 2 kids in one room. As noted above, Free Dining is unlikely to be offered until Fall 2023.
With that little cautionary note out of the way, let’s take a look at a few options in terms of eating on a Walt Disney World vacation…
Frugal: Purchase groceries and bring your food to the parks. Many people don’t realize that, unlike sporting events and your local library, you can bring outside food into Walt Disney World. Not only that, but they’re pretty liberal with the rules: you can bring a soft-sided cooler (now don’t get too carried away, you can’t bring in a pony keg to make ‘it’s a small world’ more enjoyable). Figure that the cost here can be as low as what you’d eat at home, plus allowances for occasional snacks. Ballpark cost: $400.
Value: Eat a huge breakfast in your hotel before you leave for the parks each day, then have a counter service meal in the parks in the early afternoon costing around $20/person, bring snacks to get through late afternoon, and have dinner in your hotel each night. Ballpark cost: $700. (Alternatively, the Quick Service Disney Dining Plan, if available, would cost $810 and allow for lunch and dinner inside the park.)
Moderate: For the sake of simplicity, we’re going to assume the average family would be inclined to purchase the regular Disney Dining Plan if it were available, and that its prior list price would be roughly analogous to what they’d spend on doing a counter service meal, table service meal, and snacks each day. Of course, price increases are likely in the intervening two years, but as we noted above, paying out of pocket is usually cheaper than doing the DDP. In other words, the two countervailing factors should net each other out. Ballpark cost: $1,250.
Deluxe: We’ll stick with the Disney Dining Plan comparison here, and this time do the Deluxe DDP. This is essentially the “all-inclusive” version of the Disney Dining Plan. (Not really, but it ends up being that for most since it’s way more food than the average person can eat on vacation.) This will let you do multiple table service meals, character dining, and even Signature Restaurants if you so desire–and budget the time for it. Ballpark cost: $1,800.
Even within the different tiers of vacations we’ve priced out for the hypothetical family of 4, there’s a pretty substantial range to the price of their Walt Disney World vacation. Still, we thought it worthwhile to give a rough approximation of totals…
On-site hotel pricing is based on regular season, when prices are at their average rates. If you’re visiting in September, you’ll find lower rack rates and you might luck out with the return of more aggressive discounts. Conversely, if you’re visiting during the weeks of Thanksgiving, Christmas, or New Year’s, you will almost certainly be paying considerably more.
Regardless of what your actual costs appear to be when you crunch the numbers, it’s always a good idea to build a 15-20% cushion into the budget for unforeseen expenses–that’s a savvy move with travel in general, regardless of the destination.
As high as these totals might seem at first blush, we’ll reiterate that these don’t take all costs into account. Airfare, rental cars, parking, shuttles, or other ground transportation will likely add another $1,500 to $3,000 onto each bottom line.
The cost of Genie+ and Lightning Lanes is also not included, and this is something we’d recommend adding for at least Magic Kingdom–and possibly Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Again, this service now uses date-based pricing, and has almost doubled in price for the most popular dates of the year as a result.
Hard ticket events like the After Hours, Halloween, or Christmas parties are also not part of the budgets. Prices for those are all over the place, but you could easily spend $125 to $150 per person on those event tickets. Dessert parties and other upcharge offerings–such as building a lightsaber in Star Wars land–also add up fast. If you start adding on these things, your costs can easily ballon by thousands of dollars more.
Some of these things are totally optional, but some form of transportation–both to Florida and around Walt Disney World–is not.
Nevertheless, these totals might surprise you, especially if you visited a few years ago and paid considerably less. For our 2023 Walt Disney World vacation budget update, the effective cost increased dramatically across the board. As compared to March 2020, the value and moderate tiers have each increased by over $2,000 and the deluxe tier has gone up over $3,000.
It wasn’t long ago when a value vacation total was ~$2,000 and a moderate cost $3,500 with a deluxe costing around $5,000. Base prices have increased every year for the last decade, but the effective increase became more pronounced last year when discounts dried up.
Again, this is exacerbated by the end of Disney’s Magical Express and free MagicBands, plus paid Genie+ and Lightning Lanes replacing free FastPass+ and other on-site perks that have been eliminated. This is to say nothing of the nighttime spectaculars and other entertainment that are still suspended, or the shorter park hours. That’s right–not only is a Walt Disney World vacation thousands of dollars more expensive, but you’re paying more and getting less. Double whammy!
With so many caveats, it might seem like these numbers are rendered meaningless, and this post is just an exercise in futility (like most things I do!). However, the info and numbers here should at least provide a good baseline so that those of you who have never planned a Walt Disney World vacation have a ballpark idea what kind of costs you’ll encounter.
There are numerous (clickbait) blog posts with headlines like “How to do a Walt Disney World Vacation for Less than $1,000.” Those make big promises that are incredibly misleading, disingenuous, and ultimately lead to disappointment or unrealistic expectations. For 95% of guests, $3k is the bare minimum needed just to get in the door, and even that’s really pushing it. You’d have to visit during the off-season, stay off-site, and be exceedingly frugal with your food and other purchases.
Obviously, this isn’t one-size fits advice or vacation budgeting. Frugal traveler-hackers may scoff at the “high” prices here, and luxury travelers may find that they spend significantly more than the amounts set forth here. There are obviously going to be outliers on both ends of the spectrum.
We’ve heard of high rollers easily dropping $15,000 to $25,000 for a luxurious Walt Disney World vacation, and that could pretty easily turn into $30,000 for a longer trip, with additional people, or more upcharge add-ons. More than a few readers have reported dropping $40k (!!!) on their Walt Disney World vacations after all was said and done.
In our case–and likely in the case of many readers of this blog–we can be outliers on the low end of things, as the sunk costs of Annual Passes make our tickets $0* and we can get our on-site hotel costs down to as low as $100/night with via Disney Vacation Club Point Rentals or Priceline Express Deals if we move our dates around a bit and work around deals.
However, this is impractical to a lot of people, especially those without flexible schedules or planning their first trips. (*Of course, the AP itself has a very high upfront cost, but the per visit basis drops dramatically given how often we are in the parks. Obviously, your circumstances are going to differ considerably from ours as bloggers who write about Walt Disney World!)
Ultimately, this is simply a jumping off point with specific numbers that are only meant to give you a rough idea of 2023 Walt Disney World vacation costs. Hopefully this topic can be an open dialogue about Walt Disney World trip expenses and budgets, as the way we vacation certainly differs for others.
To that end, Walt Disney World veterans who are willing to present some information about your own budget, such as how many people, duration of trip, hotel, dining, etc., when you visit would be much appreciated. Like I said, this post is only meant to be a rough baseline, and the more actual data points and examples newbies have before starting to plan for their own trips, the better. So thanks in advance if you choose to help.
How much do your average vacations to Walt Disney World cost? Have you noticed a sharp increase when pricing out 2023 Walt Disney World vacation packages? Think Disney is still worth the money, or has it become unreasonably overpriced? Where do you splurge and where do you “trim the fat” from your trip budget? Do you veterans have any data points of your own to help newbies out? If you’re a Walt Disney World first-timer, do you have any questions after reading this? We love to hear from readers, so if you have any thoughts or questions, post them in the comments!