About six years ago, I wrote a TouringPlans blog post called “Doing Everything at Disney World: What Would it Cost?” In that post, I endeavored to determine how much it would cost to do everything Walt Disney World has to offer. How much would it cost to stay in every hotel, take every tour, visit every theme park, enjoy every type of recreation, and so on. Spoiler alert – doing everything at Disney World in the summer of 2012 would have cost about $30,000.
A lot has changed in those six years: New Fantasyland opened, Ellen’s Energy Adventure closed, Animal Kingdom introduced whole new land, and the Dole Whip stand moved. Heck, even the purple wall has been updated.
Along with these other movements in the arc of Disney history, you’ve no doubt heard that prices have changed too. While some Disney vacation item prices have held steady (pressed pennies are still a bargain at 51 cents each) and tiny a handful of items have gone down in price (the standard princess dress price has decreased from $64.95 to $59.99), the majority of items available for purchase at Walt Disney World have increased in price. Additionally, the number of items available to purchase has increased; there are now more tours, dessert parties, and more special events to entice the dollars out of your pocket. Even the introduction of MagicBands contributes to guest spending at the parks by making it so darn easy to make room charges.
But in aggregate, how much have prices really changed? As I did in 2012, my goal here is to determine how much it would cost to do EVERYTHING at Walt Disney World, and then ultimately see how much that everything cost has increased over time. So, how much would it, in the summer of 2018, cost to do everything at Disney World?
Before I dig in, here are the rules:
- What Counts as Doing Something?
In figuring out pricing, I decided that when there were price variations in a product I would choose the version that best applied to me personally. For example, if there were child and adult pricing, I chose the adult pricing since I’m an adult. I also chose the least expensive version of an activity. For example, there are regular (less expensive) and deluxe (more expensive) versions of parasailing. I chose to list the price for the regular version. My rationale was that I felt I could, with a clear conscience, say that I could cross parasailing off my list if I experienced the regular version.
There are many hundreds of different room types and configurations at WDW. It would be all but impossible to stay in every one of them. To simplify things, I decided to price out the cost for an arbitrary summer 2018 visit for what would allow me to credibly say that I had stayed at that hotel. Usually this meant I chose standard view pricing. Although not technically Disney, because of their location I added in the Swan & Dolphin and Shades of Green. My family has no military connections, so I worked under the assumption here that I could find a friendly service person to bunk with for the night. I also added at night at the Saratoga Springs Treehouse Villas, because this experience is substantially different from the regular resort. Similarly, I added stays at the themed rooms at the moderate resorts because of their unique characteristics. For the villa resorts, I priced out a 1BR unit because the studio experience just isn’t very villa-y. In 2012, I added a night at a Grand Floridian top-of-the-line concierge suite because experiencing that bit of luxury is part of Disney World. Since I first did this exercise, Disney has added more premium experiences such as the bungalows at the Polynesian and the cabins at the Wilderness Lodge. And there’s a new Four Seasons adjacent to WDW, so I added that too. Also, in a few cases at the standard WDW hotels, the very cheapest room at that hotel (standard room, standard view) happened to not be available during for my selected date. When this happened, I priced the next cheapest option (usually standard room, water view).
As before, this was perhaps my greatest anxiety. In the best of all possible worlds, I would download the menus from every WDW restaurant add up the prices for everything on every menu, while also deleting duplicate items served by many restaurants (One Mickey bar is enough. Even I would not eat one at every cart in the parks). However, my brain is not that big. I toyed with choosing a median priced appetizer/entree/dessert at each venue. This I could do. But then what about snacks? And what about this and what about that, and pretty soon my poor brain was exploding again. I decided to take the easy way out and opt for the Deluxe Disney Dining Plan for the 32 days of my hotel stays. (Yes, I am aware that there is no DDP at Swan/Dolphin/Shades/Four Seasons. I just needed to make the math easier. Yes, I am also aware that there may be length-of-stay requirements for purchasing the Dining Plan. I used the DDP price to approximate expenses for eating well during the trip.) And I added money for some key dining experiences that are not part of the DDP (Victoria & Albert’s, some restaurants at the Swan/Dolphin). In 2012 I added money for alcohol, but now that adult beverages are included in the Dining Plan, I’m assuming that cost is now baked into the plan price. I know that if I eat the three meals and two snacks every day at a different restaurant each time without having an coronary episode, I’m still coming up many restaurants short of goal. But from a fiscal perspective, that’s the best I can do.
- Going it Alone
I’m a frequent solo visitor to WDW. I’m all good with experiencing rides alone and eating alone, but I have to say that it would be a challenge to undertake this multi-week project totally on my own. I’ve priced it for one, but if someone were to win the lotto and actually attempt this, they’d need to budget for companions.
- Making the Experience Work
I don’t have the necessary requirements for some experiences, but for purposes of this exercise, we’ll assume I do. For example, I don’t own a dog/cat, but for purposes of inclusion, I’m assuming that I can find a friend’s pup to borrow so that I can experience the Best Friends Pet Kennel and the now dog-friendly rooms at the Disney hotels. Similarly, some activities are only for children. I’m making the executive decision that it will count has having had a child-exclusive experience if I take a child to it. For example, I would count the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique in my completed experiences if I took my niece for the makeover.
I haven’t factored transportation fees into my plan. I’d need a flight and certainly a rental car for at least a month. Or possibly I’d drive down and then have gas expenses throughout. In either case, I’d have to add at least $1,000-2,000 for transportation to the final total if I were really doing this. I have added the new resort parking fee for the Disney hotels.
- Discounts, taxes, tips, and other price befuddlers
We all know that the list price for something at Walt Disney World is almost never the actual price. For most items you need to add in about 7% tax. There are also tips for food, adding 18% to most restaurant bills. And on the flip side, with a little research you can often find discounts for rooms, tours, and special experiences, saving 10-20% of the total for those items. When listing prices, I went with the most recent published rate I could find. To somewhat factor the real price variability into the equation, I decided to add a blanket 15% surcharge to the total.
So, given those convoluted parameters, what would it cost to do everything at Walt Disney World? Let’s break it down. [Note: the items listed in red did not exist when I first ran this experiment in 2012 but do exist now. There are also number of items that I included in the 2012 list but have since been discontinued and are not listed here (Cirque du Soleil, for example). I’ve also tinkered with a few things to meet modern parameters. For example, in 2012 I included the cost of a Memory Maker, but since photos are now part of the Annual Pass, I omitted that item this time around.]
The biggest slice of the pie comes from resort stays. To stay one night, during the summer of 2018, in each of Disney World’s resorts (counting villas separate from hotels) PLUS, as previously mentioned, one night each in a Pirate room at CBR, Royal room at POR, Swan room, Dolphin room, Shades of Green room, Four Season room, Tree House villa, Grand Floridian suite, Wilderness Lodge Cabin, and Polynesian bungalow would cost $19,148. Much of the increase over the 2012 price of $11,796 price is the addition of the Poly bungalow and the WL cabin, but still there is a significant bump, made even more significant when you consider that now there are $877 of additional expenses to be added to the room fee, primarily in the form of resort parking.
Then we add some General expenses, most notably a Platinum Annual Pass. The $949 pass would allow me to experience all the theme park attractions, water park attractions, photos in the parks, plus more. This section adds $2,192.
There are plenty of things to spend money on at Disney Springs. The new notable is a $125 amphicar ride. I’m not counting the zillions of dollars you could spend shopping. Add $476.14 here, plus $22 for some hangout time at the Boardwalk.
Recreation is a substantial cost, $3,141.87, the bulk of which is rental of the Grand I yacht for a little private time on the Seven Seas Lagoon. Then add $31 for some theme park extras.
Tours are a significant expense. Here too there is one item that breaks the bank, a VIP tour guide for the minimum experience of seven hours. There have been a number of recent special evening experiences offered in the past few years, but I didn’t count them since they were not currently available for purchase. $8,014.02 for tours and special experiences. (Again, note that the items in red are new since my 2012 assesement.)
As with Disney Springs, significant theme park shopping is not part of my calculation. However, some theme park merchandise is truly part of the experience. You’re not really doing Disney if you’re not wearing ears, trading pins, and hunting for hidden Mickeys. $205.40 on this line.
I mentioned above that accounting for food is a real challenge. As a shortcut, I priced the cost of an adult Deluxe Dining Plan for the 36 nights hypothetical nights of this Do Everything trip. That’s a guesstimate, but would likely well cover the amount of food an adult could be expected to consume per day, and then some. Add about $5,500 for the food line.
Totaling it up, we’re at almost $40,000 as base, plus I’m adding 15% for tax and tips (I’m a 20% tip girl, but remember that I didn’t account here for the available room, merchandise, and tour discounts for annual pass holders, so I’m giving it 15% and calling it a wash.) This brings us to $45,544.20.
As noted, that doesn’t include transportation, which would probably add a grand or two for either a flight and a car rental, or auto wear and tear and gas.
And wait, I’ve not included here items that are seasonal that couldn’t possibly take place during this hypothetical do-it-all summer visit. To really accomplish everything, you’ll have to come back and spend for Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween and Very Merry Christmas Parties, Food & Wine and Flower & Garden Festival Events, Star Wars Weekend merchandise, the Night of Joy, the Holiday D-Lights and Yuletide Fantasy tours, and RunDisney events. Those items add up to more than $1,200, not including the necessary additional food and lodging. Beyond that, I’ve already realized that I forgot to include Tables in Wonderland exclusive dinners, a couple of loads of laundry, and several other items.
So we’re now looking at well north of $50,000 for one person to accomplish something approximating everything at Walt Disney World. This is a big jump from the approximately $30,000 cost to do everything six years ago. Granted, much of the increase is related to the creation of just the Poly bungalows and Wilderness Lodge cabins, but regardless, that’s quite a jump.
And I’m still not factoring in anything related to having a Disney wedding or conference, purchasing a coveted Golden Oak home, or the new, and supremely exclusive, Walt Disney World Club 33 membership. Sigh, a girl can dream, can’t she?
But there you have it–if you had the money, would you want to do everything at Walt Disney World? Let us know in the comments.