As hard-core Disney fans, we are constantly telling anyone who will listen about our most recent trip to the “Happiest Place on Earth.” The common response we hear from friends and family is that they would love to do a Disney vacation, but “it just seems too expensive.” For some reason, people have this misconception that a Disney vacation is excessively more expensive than the average beach trip or renting a cabin in the mountains. Today, we are going to set the record straight. Let’s break down the numbers and compare exactly how Disney stacks up against other common vacation destinations.
We are going to look at 3 different common vacation options.
A family trip to the beach: We live in Georgia, so we are going to look at a typical family vacation to Panama City Beach, FL, a popular destination for Georgians.
A cabin in the mountains: Again, for us, it is a pleasant drive to the North Georgia Mountains with plenty of cabins and entertainment options to choose from.
A family vacation to Disney: This is going to be a nice, but average Disney trip featuring a value resort, a Disney Dining plan, and park tickets.
- We are not looking at airfare. Today’s discussion will assume that either you live in driving distance to all of the locations or the resulting travel expenses (airfare, car rental, etc.) would be comparable across all three trips.
- We are basing today’s discussion on an average family of four. Larger families may find different results based on their accommodation needs.
- We are looking for a five night, six day vacation in July.
- The prices below are not quotes or guaranteed costs. They are for representative purposes only.
This is where a lot of the confusion originates. People tend to relate the cost of their vacation to the upfront price they pay when booking. For average non all-inclusive vacations, this cost is your accommodations. When you are booking a Disney vacation, your entire vacation price can be bundled up front. So the cost of booking the vacation seems more expensive with Disney.
For a beach trip, we will assume an average cost of $150-$200 per night in July. This will be a standard room with good amenities.
For our mountain trip, you can find a cabin rental in the $175 – $200 per night range. Obviously, you can spend much more on a luxury style cabin or a bit less on a more rustic cabin. Let’s stick with the cozy and clean mid-range cabin.
In Disney World, we are looking at a value resort. Pop Century currently lists a July rate of about $150 per night. The value resorts have comparable amenities to our beach vacation resort – pools, hot tubs, arcades, dining, etc.
This is where the vacation prices start sneaking up on you. Rather than being paid up front like our Disney option, the food costs for our beach and mountain trips sneak into the price after you are already on your vacation. For our family of four, we will spend about $150-$175 per day on food alone. That cost will be relatively consistent across all three of our trips. The only difference with the Disney trip is that we are prepaying it as a Dining Plan.
This area can vary widely on the beach and mountain vacations. This is another cost that doesn’t really hit you fully until you are on vacation. This could include putt-putt, go-carts, golf, movies, amusement parks, shows, skiing, snorkeling, deep sea fishing, or any number of other tourist activities. This is a number that is going to be based on your family’s level of activity. Based on our last family beach vacation, this cost can easily be in the $150-$200 per day range. For Disney, this cost is your park tickets, and it can be the majority of your vacation price. For our family of four (2 adults and 2 kids), our ticket costs are around $1,200, which is four days of park tickets. (You can typically find discounted tickets or “additional day free” deals that allow you to get five days of tickets for the same price.)
So what does it all mean? Here is the breakdown:
The beach and mountain trips have price ranges due to the vast number of options available. The Disney vacation is still a rough estimate, but is based specifically on five nights at the Pop Century Resort with the Disney Dining plan and four days of park tickets. While these prices are not exact quotes, they represent a general price range that should be achievable for each trip.
The result is clear. While Disney isn’t a cheaper alternative to your normal beach vacation, it is definitely a comparable choice. And it has the added benefit of being pre-bundled and paid up front. This way you can save and plan for your $2,700 vacation. This is much better than thinking you have saved money by choosing a $1,200 beach trip, only to get home and realize you have ran up an additional $1,500 on your credit cards for food and entertainment. For the price you pay, it is hard to beat the service, quality, and enjoyment of a Disney vacation. Don’t take my word for it though, visit Dreams Unlimited Travel and compare the prices for yourself. You might find your next vacation in “The Happiest Place on Earth!”