Welcome to part V of planning your Disney World Vacation. In previous installments we have covered a lot of ground. If you are just joining us in this planning series, I would suggest that you take this opportunity to search the site and read parts I-IV first. They lay some important groundwork if you are a newbie and this is your first WDW vacation or perhaps it has been a long while since you visited. In this installment, we will cover: Park Tickets and options as well as how much time to spend at WDW and look at an estimated cost for a Disney World Vacation.
Over the years, Disney has named and packaged their park tickets in a variety of fashions. In the early days, there was a basic entry ticket that allowed admission to the park (only the Magic Kingdom existed at that time). Some attractions were free but most required a separate ticket. They could be purchased either alone or in a booklet fashion. Attractions were categorized as A, B through E. The E level attractions were considered the best. This is where the “E Ticket” expression comes from.
Disney now labels their tickets as “Magic Your Way Tickets” These range in length from one day to as many as ten days. The basic ticket allows admission to one park and access to all attractions in that park for that day. Some minor exceptions such as the shooting gallery and similar arcade style games have an extra cost. The cost per day drops dramatically as you purchase more days (more on this later).
There are three options to the basic tickets. These are the Park Hopper, Water Park Fun and More and the No Expiration Options. Without the Park Hopper Option you are allowed to visit only one park on a given day. This option allows you to move between parks as you wish for that day. The No Expiration Option allows you to keep unused portions of tickets you purchase and use them at a later date. Finally, the Water Park Fun and More Option allows use of the water parks and some other venues during your stay.
Which options should you purchase, if any? I recommend for sure purchasing the Park Hopper Option. Very typically we will start the day at one park and end it in another park. This gives you the flexibility, for example, to take advantage of Extra Magic Hours and if the park gets crowded, you can move to another one. It also allows you to start the day at Animal Kingdom for a morning ride on Kilimanjaro Safaris for example, and then have dinner in World Showcase in EPCOT. I do NOT recommend the No Expiration Option. It is pricey and forces you to pay up front for something that you will not use until your next vacation. Although it does isolate you from increases, I prefer to purchase just what you need and no more. If you are planning on visiting WDW a couple of times or more in a twelve month period, you should consider an Annual Pass (AP). The break even point for an AP is around 11 days or so at this writing.
I recommend purchasing the Water Park Fun and More ticket Option only if you are pretty sure you want to do a water park. You can save money by doing this versus purchasing a ticket to it after the fact. For example, for a seven day stay, it costs an additional $22 for an adult or child. If purchased after the fact, the cost is $49 for an adult and $41 for a child. We have found in recent years that we have been content with the pools at the various Disney Resorts and haven’t felt the need for a water park. This is a matter of personal taste, possibly dependent upon the age of your children, and your family may be different.
How much time do you need to spend to both see most of the attractions at something other than what I call “The Disney Death March” pace? I recommend allowing the following time for your visit:
Magic Kingdom – 2 Days + Evenings
EPCOT – 2 Days + Evenings
Disney’s Hollywood Studios – 1 to 1.5 Days
Disney’s Animal kingdom – 1 Day to 1.5 Days
Blizzard Beach / Typhoon Lagoon – .5 Days
Only you know
Downtown Disney – Leisurely evening
Disney Quest / Cirque du Sole – 1 Evening each
Total for “active” touring = 7+ Days
All right you ask. How much will all this cost? First of all let me prepare you for some “sticker shock”. Disney is not cheap if you look only at the dollars (or Euros, Pounds, Yen, whatever). You can take a great vacation at many places for less. I feel that what Disney provides is an experience, that is unmatched anywhere else on the planet. Our family has visited every continent and many countries. We have wonderful memories of those vacations but there is a reason that we go back to Disney year after year and even several times a year. The experiences we have shared there shine far brighter in our memories than any others. Disney is very special to our family.
So, with that said, what does the cost look like? Let’s assume a family of 4 (Husband, wife, two kids under 10). For a seven night/ eight day stay, the cost would look something like this:
|Air Transportation||4 X $300= $1200|
|Disney’s Magical Express||Free|
|Lodging (Pop Century)||7 X $89 to $184 = $623 to $1288|
|Theme Park Tickets (Adult PH)||2 X 7 X $49.29 = $690.06|
|Theme Park Tickets (Child PH)||2 X 7 X $46.71 = $653.94|
|Meals (Adult)||$50 to $75 X 2 X 7 = $700 to $1050|
|Meals (Child)||$5 to $30 X 2 X 7 = $70 to $420|
|Misc||$30 X 7 = $210|
|Grand Total||$4147 -$5512|
The airline cost is a good average figure for east coast to midwest parts of the country. West and west coast will be higher. Fares from other parts of the world will obviously be higher. How the meal and hotel costs were arrived at is explained in other parts of this series. The miscellaneous cost is my own personal observation based on recent trips to the World.
As I promised earlier, we will now look at ticket costs, As you can see from the graphic below, the cost per day drops dramatically as more days are purchased.
In our example we assumed that we would purchase a 7 day ticket. You’ll notice that we are planning on visiting for 8 days. This includes the partial day for our first day and the partial day after checkout before we head for home. The way I would suggest how long to purchase, first start by counting “full days”. Next consider arrival and departure times. In general, don’t add a day if you arrive at your resort after 3:00 pm or if you depart before 3:00 pm. You can use the partial days to take advantage of other opportunities. You could visit a water park, Downtown Disney, Disney’s Boardwalk or Disney Quest. You could also use the time to visit the other Disney Resorts or plan a sit-down dinner or dinner show to unwind on your arrival day.
I had planned to cover my planning timeline but I believe the topic deserves more coverage as this post is already long. So, next time we will cover DisneyDragons planning timeline, and also look at traveling to Disney with various age kids, without kids and guests with special needs.