I’ve been visiting Disney World on the cheap for years now. I really took to this cheap Disney World obsession in college when I didn’t have a lot of money to spare on my weekend trips to the World. That’s how I discovered how to visit Walt Disney World for under $1000 a person.
First, this isn’t a perfect number. Your milage will definitely vary depending on your style of travel and the number of people in your party, but it is 100% possible to visit Walt Disney World for under $1000 a person (less for kids).
So how is it done? I have to first admit that this number doesn’t include travel to Disney World. I always lived close enough to drive, so I don’t have experience flying to Orlando to visit Disney. That being said, I’ll still include some of my cheap flight tips for snagging the best discount. Hint: it’s completely possible.
Here are the expenses I included in my calculation:
- Park Tickets (4-day Magic Your Way Tickets) – $390.79
- Hotel (Airbnb or Off-Property Resort) – $75/night
- Transportation (Uber or Lyft) – $10/day
- Food – $40/day
Total: $890.79 for a 4-day Trip ($1015.79 for a 5-day trip)
Magic, right? Sure, you’ll need to forgo a lot of the luxurious of a more extravagent vacation, but that doesn’t mean you can’t experience the same Disney World vacation magic for under $1000. Are you ready to make it happen? Let’s break it down.
Affordable Flights to Disney World
First, let’s talk about air travel. Sometimes it costs less to fly than to dry, so that’s something you’ll need to calculate yourself. The main Orlando airport is Orlando International (MCO).
If possible, try to fly during the offseason. I’ve got a full post on the cheapest times to visit Disney World right here which will give you an idea of the best times.
When searching, be flexible with your days. The more flexible you are, the more affordable it will be to travel cheaply. Be wary of budget airlines like Frontier, Spirit, and Economy which have began to charge for carry on bags.
Duration of Your Stay
The duration of your stay will play largely into how expensive your trip to Disney World will be. If you’re a first-time visitor, you’ll obviously need more time in the park, but I still don’t think you need to feel limited to an extra-long stay if that’s more than you can afford.
In my calculations above, I included a 4-day and 5-day stay. I think a 4-day park ticket is all you need to experience the 4 parks. Even if you choose to stay that extra fifth day, there’s a lot you can explore outside the parks like Disney Springs, the resorts, and even some cool spots in Orlando.
The duration of your stay is honestly up to you, but I think 4 to 5 days are enough to see the highlights and get a bit of a break from the real world. More than that and it starts to get excessive!
Disney World Park Tickets
Next, let’s talk about the most expensive part of the stay. Disney Park tickets generally run several hundred dollars. I currently have an annual pass which is affordable if you’re an a Florida Resident and plan to visit 3+ times in the span of a year.
Otherwise, get a 4-day or 5-day Magic Your Way ticket. The price for these depends on the day, but the longer your stay, the cheaper the tickets cost per day. I’d suggest buying tickets in advance from a reputable place like Undercover Tourist which has some steep discounts. I found a 4-day park ticket on there for $376.11.
With the 4-Day Disney Magic Your Way ticket, you’ll get into 1 park a day for 4 days. You don’t have to use them consecutively, but you do need to use them within 7 days.
Spending a day in each park is more than enough to see the highlights. If you plan to spend an extra day in Orlando, I’d encourage you to explore outside the parks a bit. Here are some cheap ideas:
- Resort Hopping
- Disney Springs
- Take a day-trip to a nearby city
- Visit Downtown Orlando
- Check out the sights on International Drive like Old Town and the Orlando Icon
Disney World Hotels for Under $100
Now we’re onto the second biggest expense, your accommodation. Once again, this will depend on the size of your family and your needs. Luckily, you have a lot of options.
First, decide if you’d rather stay in an Airbnb or an off-property hotel. I say off-property because they’re usually the most unaffordable. You can also avoid paying parking and resort fees which add up.
An Airbnb could give you a kitchen which cut down more on expenses, but you might need to travel further to the parks. After a quick search on Airbnb, I found several condos and apartments near Disney that can fit anywhere from 4-8 guests for under $70 a night.
Bonus: Use my link to get $40 off your stay of $75 or more.
If you choose to find a traditional hotel, you can find a lot of great deals as well. The Radisson, Quality Inn, and Clarion Inn are usually under $80 a night, and that’s big savings. Remember, you’re not going to spend a lot of time in the room anyway, so this is a good place to save some money. Just make sure you read the reviews to ensure the place is clean and safe!
Saving on Food at Disney World
I budgeted $40 per day for food in my calculations and I know some of you are gaping at that number. “But Disney food is expensive!” I hear ya, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still save money on dining at Disney World.
First, you don’t have to do table service to enjoy the best of Disney World food. There are some great meals available at quick-service across the parks, and there are even healthy choices.
Here’s a breakdown of how I got to my $40 a day number. This could be greatly reduced by packing your own meals or snacks for the parks!
- Breakfast – Cereal, fruit, or another small thing in the hotel room ($3)
- Lunch – Table-Service meal at the parks ($20)
- Dinner – Quick-service meal ($12)
- Snack – Bring to the parks ($5)
If my math is right, that’s $40. You could easily lower that number by doing 2 quick-service meals rather than a table-service, or by packing your own lunch.
Transportation to Disney World
Next, let’s talk about getting to and from the parks. If you’re not staying on property, you’ll need a way to get around. Many nearby hotels offer a bus, and this can be a great option, though it’s usually running on a limited schedule.
What I’d recommend over renting a car is to just use Uber or Lyft. These can be really affordable, and it gets you around paying for parking at Disney World which can be over $20 a day. Uber and Lyft are really common in Orlando, and you can get just about anywhere in the Disney area for around $10 (most likely less).
If you’ve never used Uber or Lyft, I’ve got some discount codes that make it a bit more affordable. Use code SAMANTHAT1572UE for Uber to get $2 off your first 3 rides. Use code TETRAULT30164 for Lyft for $20 in ride credit.
To get from the airport to your hotel or Airbnb, you can use Uber, Lyft, or hire a service. It’s likely cheaper to hire a shuttle service since you can usually carpool with some nearby hotels to lower the cost. Mears offers a shuttle to and from the airport for around $30 round trip per adult.
Disney Trip Extras
Last but not least, you’ll need to budget for any extras. These will include last-minute snacks, souvenirs, and other fun things you might have planned.
If you’re traveling with young kids, you can save big money by purchasing some souvenirs in advance. You can find more affordable toys, clothing, and stuffed animals at local shops and online. Bring them out during the trip for a fun surprise.
The same goes for candy and snacks. You can easily pack a box of granola bars, pop tarts, or sports drink mix into your carry on bag for some extra food to take to the parks. These snacks will come in handy when you’re feeling grouchy in the parks, and you won’t have to splurge for those expensive treats.
Visiting Disney on a Budget
As you can see, it’s totally possible to visit Disney World for under $1000 a person. Using the calculations above, it would cost around $2,000 for a family of 4. That’s pretty impressive when you recognize that the usual cost is between $3000 and $5000 for a family of that size.
Just because you’re on a budget doesn’t mean you can’t afford a Disney World vacation for your entire family. What are your biggest money-saving tips for Disney World?
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