I got a chance to add up the receipts from our Disney vacation, and it was a pretty penny. The really crazy thing is that just about every cent went directly to Mickey’s deep pockets (DIS). We stayed at a Disney Hotel. Had breakfast at the resort in the Disney cafeteria. Ate the rest of our meals exclusively at Disney restaurants, either at the theme parks or at various resorts. Bought souvenirs only at Disney shops. Our snacks were Disney popsicles. (If you can’t tell yet, my wife loves Disney.) The only thing I can think of that wasn’t Disney-branded was the gas, and we even gassed up at a Hess station on Disney property, so they probably got a piece of that too.
They really have a good set up. They have so much real estate that it is just easier to stay at Disney for everything. Our hotel was a pretty reasonable $74/night, or actually $66/night considering it includes free parking at Disney parks, usually $8/day. Even a La Quinta Inn in Orlando would be $50/night. You also get to ride the Disney shuttles for free to and from the parks when you stay at a Disney property.
The counter food at DisneyWorld is definitely overpriced, but the portions are decent and often my wife and I would split a lunch meal or one of us would get the kid’s meal which is always around $4. For dinner, since we were with the parents, we stuck with at least a mid-level sit-down place, which racked up our costs. Other than the sheer convenience, Disney offers various enticements to eat at their establishments, such as reserved seating for night-time shows. Entrees varied from $10-$20. Bottled water cost $2 in the park, and popsicles were $2.50 I believe. Food was definitely a huge cost here, often exceeding the cost of lodging. Mousesavers.net had some good tips on saving on dough in this area.
One thing we did buy was a refillable insulated mug for $11.99. It’s basically a relatively cheap 16 oz. travel mug that you can refill with soda, coffee, hot chocolate, etc. as much as you want in the hotel cafeteria. The also had Frozen Coke Icee’s, which we had waaaay to many of.
All in all, it was a nice vacation. The weather was awesome – 70s during the day, 60s at night. Also, the crowds were light as most U.S. kids are still in school, and so we rarely had to wait longer than 10-15 minutes for each ride. I’ve concluded the best time to go is in April!
Our total bill ended up being about a thousand dollars for lodging, food, gas, and souvenirs. We didn’t have to rent a car, but we drove a lot so gas added up.