A Closer Look at Our Disney Vacation Budget
I wanted to go into more detail about things to consider when budgeting for a vacation. My family loves to go to Disney. We pay for our annual passes on a monthly payment plan so it’s easier to budget. It costs us around $130 a month vs. $1,000 or more at one time. Plus, we can go more than once per year.
We love to stay at one of Disney's value resorts because they provide transportation to the parks and we don’t have to drive. We usually spend between $150 and $250 per night. They charge parking fees of $15-$20 per day, so we budget for that as well. I’ve found that with parking fees and resort fees at other hotels, it’s just as much to stay off property at Disney.
For us, it’s a 6.5-hour drive. We maximize our time by driving down early and spending the first evening doing something fun. We also spend the morning of our last day in the parks and then drive home after lunch. I plan our trips around hotel prices. If it costs too much, we go another time. If we want to go when prices are more, we go for fewer days.
I know that a quick meal costs around $50 for our family of five. A nicer meal costs closer to $100 with a tip included. Our kids are 7, 4, and 2, so we share a lot of meals right now. We eat two meals a day and have snacks in our room for breakfast and in between meals.
And we pack our own snacks. A LOT of snacks. I save a ton of money on food by bringing uncrustables, Lunchables, and soup to keep in our hotel room for our kids. We also bring yogurt, fresh fruit, and bottles of water to refill. A banana at Disney costs $2-$3. A bottle of water is $5. A kid’s yogurt is $3. It doesn’t sound like a lot, but it adds up. If all three of my kids eat yogurt and a banana for breakfast that’s $15. I can bring yogurt and bananas for the week for the price of a single days' breakfast.
Inevitably, my kids don’t even want half of the food at restaurants we go to. The pizza looks different, the french fries aren’t right, and the broccoli isn’t the same. Snacks are a lifesaver. My kids have full bellies, we get to enjoy our meal, and everyone is happy.
I don’t care what you say, you’re totally buying souvenirs. You may not buy a lot, but you’re buying something. Go ahead and budget for it. My kids are still too young to really understand how much things cost, but I still give them a budget. I explain that they can pick one big thing or several small things. If they see something they want 30 seconds after we walk into a store, they know that they’re not getting anything else the rest of the day.
You can always let your kids hold something and take a picture with it. That works for us. We can remember it for later, or inevitably forget it altogether and no one misses it. I try really hard not to waste money on souvenirs that will end up in the trash. We love buying bubble blowers, cups, and plush toys that we can use at home and love for a long time to come.
Katy Hebebrand is a mom of three and freelance writer working in Pensacola, Florida. She earned her Public Relations BA from the University of West Florida and her Media Design MA from Full Sail University. She was born and raised in Pensacola and spent the first ten years of her career working in Pensacola before shifting to doing contract work full time in 2018.