If you’re planning a Disney vacation this year, make sure you have an action plan to take care of the financial side of your getaway. According to Sally Black of VacationKids.com Travel Agency, the average cost of a Disney vacation for a family of four is $150 per person, per day. Our Hipmunk travel data reveals that, on average, a family of four will spend more than $3,000 on travel, accommodations, and park admission at either Walt Disney World Resort in Florida or Disneyland in California. Factor in holiday season rates, last-minute flight bookings, and purchases you make along the way, and the total cost of the trip could be a lot higher.
Budgeting your Disney trip and taking some time to seek out the best rates on Disney hotels near the resorts will help you maximize those hard-earned dollars. Here are some smart ways to budget for that much-needed vacation.
Choose Your Resort or Hotel First
Rates at Disney hotels in Orlando are, on average, significantly lower than rates at Disneyland in California because you have more options. In fact, you can choose a value-based resort right near the entrance, enjoying themed rooms and other perks of a Disney property in Orlando, at a lower cost than your options in California. We found that the average nightly rate for a Disney World Resort hotel is just under $350. The average nightly rate at Disneyland Resorts in California is just over $530 per night. Kissimmee hotels are among the cheapest options for accommodations and will put you with a short drive or shuttle bus ride from the parks in Orlando. Consider all of these options when putting together your travel budget — especially if you plan on staying for several nights.
Plan for Deposit Payments
If you plan on renting a vacation home instead of staying a hotel or resort, you may need to make a deposit or down payment based on the number of nights you are staying. Many Kissimmee vacation rentals require a non-refundable deposit upon booking. Consider this when you are planning a Disney vacation several months in advance, as you will need to have that cash available to confirm your reservation.
Shop Around for Flight Deals
If you’re getting ready to book that flight to Florida or California, make sure you’re taking the time to shop around for the best deals and booking on the best day of the week — experts say Tuesday is the cheapest day to book a flight as long as you buy three weeks in advance. Avoid booking on weekends, when average ticket prices tend to be much higher than average. You can shop around for flights and monitor prices for a few weeks to make the most of your travel budget.
Consider Total Food Costs
The cost of food can put a dent in your travel budget, whether you plan on eating at the theme park restaurants, or enjoying meals at restaurants and cafes off the property and around your hotel. Disney’s Dining Plan is an attractive option for many park-goers. It allows you to pre-pay for your meals, and enjoy a variety of offerings at themed restaurants and concession stands around the parks. WDWPrepSchool.com provides a comprehensive overview of how this plan works and the average cost of your meals using dining plan credits. You will save money with the Disney Dining plan, as long as you’re choosing meals at restaurants that cost more than the Disney Dining Plan. This requires a little planning, which is where the cheat sheet from WDW Prep School can help. Establish a budget based on your food plan investment or estimated daily cost of food so that you know what to expect come trip time.
Budget for Transportation
Do you plan on renting a car for the entire trip? Or will you be relying on shuttle service to get you to and from the parks? Car rental costs can fluctuate significantly from month to month and depend on the travel season, availability, and type of vehicle you plan on reserving. You also need to factor in the cost of gas, insurance, and parking fees both at the parks and at your hotel or resort.
Consider taking advantage of shuttle service offered by your hotel to take you to and from the airport, and to other destinations on your trip. You can also consider a ride share service like Lyft or Uber. The average cost of an Uber or Lyft ride per trip is less than $14, according to Time Magazine. Local cab fare can be significantly higher, especially if you are traveling during a peak time of day. If you put together an estimated breakdown for transportation costs based on how you plan to travel for most of your trip, there won’t be any major surprises en route.
From choosing the right resort to estimating food costs, there are several things you need to consider when budgeting for that Disney vacation. Whether you’re heading to Florida or California, use these tips to make some smart budget moves and maximize your travel dollars.