[ Disney Vacation Planner
One aspect of our Floridian holiday that always seems to suprise
people that ask me, is the question How much did it all cost ?
Whether or not you have had good value from a holiday is a very
personal matter, as is whether it was a cheap or an expensive
holiday. I speak to friends in the UK that have had a two week
holiday in a small Bed & Breakfast hotel on the UK coast, and
I'm staggered to find that they have spent almost as much as me
for the same duration holiday in Florida, or that they've been
to Spain for a fortnight and spent just as much.
When looking through the various holiday brochures, Florida and
WDW in particular never struck me as a particularly cheap place
to visit, however when you take into account the relatively inexpensive
cost of hotel rooms in Florida compared to the UK, and the correspondingly
low cost of living, again compared to the UK, a two or three week
holiday in Florida can start to look much more inviting.
The cost of the holiday also depends on if a complete package
is booked in advance, or if a flight only is booked with hotel
accommodation being arranged on arrival, and of course on the
time of year the holiday is taken.
One thing that has really suprised me this year (1998), is that
I'm currently looking to book a fully inclusive 3-week trip, going
through a UK travel agent rather than doing it all myself this
year. The holiday will include a 21-night stay in one of the All-Star
Resorts, or possibly in one of the moderate resorts instead, and
will include full insurance on the car. Finally everything will
be prepaid before leaving the UK.
Checking out the standard brochure prices, Unijet (love the free
video) and Virgin were within a few quid of each other (I expected
Virgin to be quite a bit more). Also, if I booked the hotel myself
at standard Disney-quoted prices, it would cost exactly the same.
The advantage of doing everything through the agent is of course
peace of mind, with the main disadvantage being the price since
I wouldn't be getting a last-minute deal price.
A hidden disadvantage however, is that there's less flexibility
to alter the hotel booking, hence I'm going to be booking the
fully inclusive fly-drive through Virgin, but will continue my
preferred practise of booking the hotel directly through Disney
CRO, which will leave me free to take advantage of any upgrade
openings, or any MKC discounts that become available.
Getting to Florida
The first expense is the cost of getting to Florida in the first
place. My experience over the last two years is that a considerable
saving can be had if the flight and car are booked together through
a suitable tour operator, but hotel accommodation is booked directly.
It should be possible to get a flight for two adults, including
airport taxes, a hire car, and travel insurance for under 700
pounds, depending on the time of year. Additionaly if an option
exists to pay for "CDW" or "LDW" insurance in
the UK this will also save money over the cost of the same in
Don't forget though, that on top of the basic "getting there"
price of the flight and car, youre also probably going to have
to pay out for suitable travel insurance, and also the "free"
hire car will almost certainly turn out to cost somewhat more
than you'd expect for something that's free.
Rule 1: There's no such thing as a "free" car.
The cost of a hotel room varies considerably, and many guides
recommend allowing between $55 and $75 per person per day for
accommodation, however I believe this to be excessive. My own
experience is that a good clean room with air conditioning, two
king-size beds, and a private en-suite bathroom should cost no
more than 30-35 pounds per night during the low season. It is
inevitably more expensive to stay in a Disney hotel than in a
hotel outside of WDW, however staying "On Property" has
a number of very real benefits, so should be considered. A t stay
at the All Star Sports resort for example should cost approximately
50 - 65 pounds per night for the room (sleeping up to 4 people)
depending on the time of year and the exchange rate.
Access to the parks
Another expence that must be considered is the cost of getting
into the theme parks themselves. Park admission can make a considerable
dent in the budget if it's not allowed for. Generally, around
$40 per adult per day should be allowed for each day of admission
to the major theme parks in Florida. This holds good for both
the Disney operated parks, and the other surrounding parks such
a SeaWorld, Universal Studios, and Busch Gardens.
When buying tickets, make sure you know how long you intend to
spend in each park, and which parks you intend to visit. Bonus
and Hopper passes offer several days access to Disney parks, whereas
combination passes are available for access to SeaWorld, Busch
Gardens, Universal Studios and Splendid China, both offering considerable
savings over buying single day passes.
For 5-day entry into the main Disney parks, with access to the
minor Disney parks included as well, the 5-Day All-In-One Pass
is a good option to consider, or better value still, the 7-day
All-In-One pass. These can also be purchased in advance of the
trip, at any Disney Store if you'd rather stretch the expence
out over a few months.
When comparing hotel prices, remember that many all inclusive
packages (particularly those booked through Virgin) may include
an Unlimited Magic Passport, which provides full access to all
Disney parks for the full duration of your stay. This alone can
easily be worth 250 pounds per (adult) person providing you intend
to make good use of it.
Food is far cheaper in Florida than in the UK, and a family of
four can get a good meal at many of the roadside restaurants such
as Dennys, Wendys, The IHOP, etc, for under 50 dollars, including
drinks, tips and sales tax. Most restaurants also offer free drinks
refils once the initial drink has been purchased, so you don't
need to buy two or three cokes each during your meal - refills
are free. Food within the Disney parks themselves is obviously
more expensive than food outside the parks, where there's no captive
audience, however if you assume that a trip to one of the in-park
eateries will cost roughly the same as visiting a McDonalds or
Burger King in the UK you won't be far wrong.
I haven't mentioned the hidden costs in the hire car agreement
in this section because I've devoted a separate page to information
you need to know about hire cars, however it is worth mentioning
fuel costs. Inevitably, if you have a hire car for two weeks,
you're going to need fuel for it, unless you stay in Disney all
the time. If you're a UK resident, you're going to find fuel costs
suprisingly low, at under a pound per US gallon. Generally petrol
prices are around a third of the UK price, so fuel costs at least
aren't likely to break the bank!
Don't forget that you'll also need to make allowances for spending
money and for souvinirs etc, while at WDW. I can't really give
too much guidance here, because it depends on how much you like
to spend, and what sorts of souvinirs and presents you like to
buy. I can however say that souvinir prices, aren't as high in
Disney as you might expect, and strangely are considerably cheaper
than at the Disney stores in the UK.