When I budget for a trip to Disney World, I don’t only think about how long I want to stay. I think about how long I can afford to stay. Disney World vacations have four main cost categories: lodging, food, tickets, and transportation. You can have very different trips with the same length of stay and the same budget – it all depends on how you decide to divvy up your dollars.
Today we’re going to break down how many days of lodging you can get for a specific dollar-value budget. We’ll cover each tier of resorts – Value, Moderate, and Deluxe – to help you plan your trip. You can combine these numbers with information on the cost of tickets and food to decide how many days you can afford and how to slice your personal budget pie. Our goal here is to figure out how long your Disney World vacation could be for the money you are able to spend.
About the Numbers
Disney World has 20 different resorts and each one has several categories of rooms. Each room can be a different price every night. To get something that’s useful for your planning, we’re going to need to simplify. I’m going to explain the rationale for each of these choices, but if you just want to see the numbers feel free to read the bold headers and skip on ahead to the charts. Remember that we’re just looking to get a ballpark number here – you’re going to have to look at your specific dates in order to be sure about the exact number of nights.
I’m only going to price the cheapest room at each resort.
If you’ve done your budget based on the cheapest room, you might find when you go to book that you can afford an upgrade. Maybe that’s right for you. Maybe it isn’t and you’d rather spend the money on Dole Whip. What is not right is for me to leave your eyes glazed over with the dizzying array of all 150 or so possible resorts and room combinations. I’ll make an exception here if there’s a room category that sleeps more people than the cheapest room type.
I’m going to give each week an average daily price.
I’m not going to use a single price over the whole year. If I’m looking at budget numbers in $250 increments and the difference between the highest and lowest rate is $1,000 – well, the answer I give you won’t be very useful.
There are two problems I need to tackle here; how the price varies based on the day of the week, and how it varies based on the time of year. To solve the first, I’m just going to take the average price over the whole week and call that the daily rate for that week. If you’re taking a 1-day trip on a Saturday it will be a little low; if your overnight visit is on a Wednesday it will be a little high. But it will be good enough to give us a solid estimate.
I’m going to throw out the weeks with the highest and lowest prices.
When I’m done giving each week an average daily price, I’ll still have 52 different prices for each room. That means that when I divide the budget target by the daily price, I’m going to get different numbers based on whether I use the most expensive price or the least expensive one.
An earlier analysis showed that the top and bottom 10% of weekly prices for each year can be as wide or wider than the middle 80%. It’s not helpful for me to say “anywhere between 6 and 14 nights”, so I’m going to take those ranges down to something useful by taking out those huge swings caused by Christmas, Easter, and the doldrums of September – I’ll just be using that middle 80%. If you’d like to see that earlier analysis, it’s here: 2023 Disney World Hotel Prices: When to Go, When to Say No
I’m only going to use the rack rates.
Disney might release a discount for the time when you plan to go, and you may be able to afford more days than you’ll get based purely on rack rate calculations. However, I’m only good at predicting the future when I see my kids leave their glass of milk right on the edge of the table. I hope you do get a discount. But I’m not going to show numbers based on any discount assumptions.
Disney World Resorts: What You Get for What You Pay in 2023
Under $100 might get you a campsite at Fort Wilderness if you go at the right time of year. The All-Stars will cost you $150-$250 per night. If you’d like to be on the Skyliner, Pop Century and Art of Animation will run you a minimum of $200-250 per night. And if you’re looking for a Family Suite that sleeps 6, you’ll be paying between $400 and $700 for each night of your stay.
At the Value resorts you’ll tend to find the cheapest rates (and therefore the most nights) in January, April, August, and September. The expensive months tend to be February, March, and early October.
For the Moderate resorts you’re looking at a minimum of $200-$300 per night, running all the way up to $650 per night at the most expensive times of year. The Moderates tend to be similarly priced to each other, with the exception of the Cabins at Fort Wilderness. You’ll usually find the cheapest rates in January, April, August, and September. On the other end of the scale, the expensive months tend to be February, March, and October/November.
You’ll pay to be on the monorail or the Crescent Lake boats – the cheapest rooms are found at Animal Kingdom Lodge and Wilderness Lodge, and they are still about $500 night on a good day. On the other end the Grand Floridian is in a class of its own and can run up to over $1,000 per night.
The Deluxe resorts have a slightly different pricing pattern than the Values and the Moderates. The cheapest months here tend to be January, July, August, and September. The most expensive are February, March, October, and November.
Tips on Budgeting for Resorts
If you’re considering staying in a Moderate, and you can plan well in advance, you might consider renting Disney Vacation Club points. I didn’t include any of the DVC resorts in this analysis, because the rooms are not reliably available to book, but all DVC resorts are considered to be Deluxe level accommodations. You might not be able to afford a room at Animal Kingdom Lodge. But the same building houses Animal Kingdom Lodge Villas Jambo House, and you might find that you can stay there for the same price as a room at Coronado. See: Don’t Be Intimidated! How to Rent DVC Points.
When you stay at a Disney Resort, you get to enjoy the resort amenities on both check-in and check-out day. Consider a split stay with a night at one of the Moderate or Deluxe resorts. Disney will move your luggage, and you can enjoy the pools, restaurants, and other features of the higher class of resort for two days. See: Four Reasons to Do a Split Stay at Disney World.
If you’re arriving late at night consider staying in a cheap hotel near the airport with a free shuttlebus. You can fall into bed quickly when your flight arrives. You’ll wake up in the morning with most of the day ahead of you in the parks, and you’ll likely save a couple of hundred bucks to boot. Got an early flight? Do this in reverse – spend the day at the parks, and then head out to the airport to sleep.
Last but not least, consider staying off-site or at a Good Neighbor hotel. I didn’t include those prices in this analysis, because I don’t have good enough data to be confident about the estimates. (Maybe that will change in the future). But off-site stays are frequently cheaper; even for the same price you can get suite-type accommodations that allow you to do some cooking and save money on food if that’s how you swing. If you’ve priced out your Disney resort and you’d like to know how it stacks up to off-site, our agents at TouringPlans Travel can help you to find the price that’s right for you – and of course they can book your stay at a Disney World Resort too.
What are your favorite ways to slice up your hotel budget? Let us know in the comments!