(NerdWallet) – When you’re deciding whether to vacation at Walt Disney World in Florida or Disneyland in California, there’s a lot to consider, like the size of the parks, the number of rides and the distance from home.
But if you’re purely picking based on price, which is cheaper: Disneyland or Disney World?
Disney World tends to be cheaper overall for stays of one night or more, largely due to Florida’s lower hotel prices. But for some expenses, like tickets and food, Disneyland is cheaper.
A recent NerdWallet analysis looked at Disney World and Disneyland prices between April 2023 and April 2024 across four categories:
- Park tickets (and add-ons, like Genie+).
- On-property hotel room rates.
- Food at park restaurants.
- Add-on activities, like spa treatments and tours.
Read more about NerdWallet’s methodology at the end of this piece.
Here’s a closer look at the data on Disneyland versus Disney World costs.
An overall cost breakdown
Disney World tickets are about 3.9% more expensive than Disneyland tickets, and Disney World food runs about 9.9% more expensive.
But because the prices of Disney-owned hotels near Disneyland are significantly higher (nearly 50% higher, on average) than those near Disney World, the Florida resort tends to net out far cheaper overall than its California counterpart.
Our conclusions average estimated costs per person across three price tiers: Value, Moderate and Deluxe. Hotel room rates are based on Saturday night stays, which generally are more expensive than weekdays.
Here’s a look at some of the average individual line item costs.
|Disneyland average price||Walt Disney World average price|
|One-day theme park ticket||$154.||$160.|
|Value property room rate (Saturday night)||$574.||$286.|
|Nightly Moderate property room rate (Saturday night)||$744.||$366.|
|Nightly Deluxe property room rate (Saturday night)||$962.||$877.|
|Average cost per meal at Value restaurants||$18.||$19.|
|Average cost per meal at Moderate restaurants||$55.||$59.|
|Average cost per meal at Deluxe restaurants||$83.||$93.|
These estimates don’t account for other costs like airfare, gas and parking, which vary depending on your transportation mode and starting location.
But all else equal, Walt Disney World tends to be far cheaper overall. And that doesn’t even account for the myriad free and low-cost Disney World activities available such as live music, fireworks viewing, bike rentals and fishing — all of which don’t even require a theme park ticket.
If you take on-property hotel stays out of the equation, Disneyland is actually more affordable than Disney World.
There are some similarities between Disneyland tickets and Disney World tickets. At both resorts, theme park ticket prices vary based on park and date, but Disneyland’s are almost always slightly cheaper.
The average price for a one-day Disneyland ticket for entry between April and August 2023 is $154. At Disney World, an average Magic Kingdom ticket (the closest park equivalent at Disney World) costs $160, making Disney World tickets, on average, 3.9% more expensive.
|One-day, one-park ticket advertised price range||$104 to $179.||$109 to $189.|
|Average one-day ticket price||$154.||$160.|
A huge factor in Disneyland’s higher cost comes down to its on-property hotel prices, which average 49% more expensive per night than Disney World hotels.
One reason for the high prices is that supply is limited. There are just three Disney-owned hotels at Disneyland compared to the more than two dozen at Disney World, offering far more options at every price point, from budget-friendly to higher-end.
Nightly rates for one of Disney World’s most expensive hotels, Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, start at $780, according to Disney price tracking site Touring Plans.
This makes the West Coast equivalent, Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa — where room rates start at $475 — look like a deal.
But whereas you should expect to pay a minimum of $210 per night for Disneyland’s cheapest property, the Paradise Pier Hotel, Disney World rooms run as low as $128 per night at Disney’s All-Star properties, according to Touring Plans.
|Hotel price tier||Disneyland average hotel rate (Saturday night)||Disney World average hotel rate (Saturday night)||Price winner: Disney World|
|Value||$574.||$286.||Disney World is $288 less (-50.2%).|
|Moderate||$744.||$366.||Disney World is $378 less (-50.8%).|
|Deluxe||$962.||$877.||Disney World is $85 less (-8.8%).|
|Average across all price tiers||$760.||$510.||Disney World is $250 less (-32.9%).|
For what it’s worth, Disneyland’s higher hotel room prices align with broader regional trends.
The U.S. General Services Administration, an agency of the government that manages federal property, collects average hotel room price data. These numbers serve as an indicator for mid-range hotel prices in each market.
Between April and September 2023, the average daily lodging rate in Orange County, California — where Disneyland is located — is $182, according to GSA data. For Orange County, Florida — home of Disney World — it’s just $129.
Food costs at the parks
Across all price tiers of dining options, Disney World meals average 9.9% more expensive than equivalent-quality meals at Disneyland.
For an average budget meal at a Value restaurant or cart, expect to spend at least $1 more per person, per meal in Florida. For high-end, waiter-service meals, Disney World is roughly $10 more expensive per person, per meal.
|Restaurant price tier||Disneyland average price per person, per meal||Disney World average price per person, per meal||Price winner: Disneyland|
|Value (counter service or cart)||$18.||$19.||Disneyland is 5.3% less expensive.|
|Moderate (waiter service, casual restaurant)||$55.||$59.||Disneyland is 6.8% less expensive.|
|Deluxe (waiter service, fancy restaurant)||$83.||$93.||Disneyland is 10.8% less expensive.|
For trips of three nights or more, NerdWallet’s data factored in additional entertainment beyond theme parks, like spa services, tours and bowling. Price differences in this category across the parks are a mixed bag. Depending on the activity, it might be cheaper at one park or the other, so research your specific interests when budgeting for your trip.
To compare Disneyland versus Disney World trip costs, NerdWallet analyzed more than 200 ticket prices, more than 550 price points across hotel room rates at Disney-owned hotels, and prices for more than 100 additional activities and restaurant menu items.
NerdWallet’s trip costs start once you’re on property, thus don’t account for parking, airfare or driving costs. Each trip assumes three meals per day in the parks, daily theme park tickets and overnight stays at a Disney-owned hotel.
NerdWallet broke trips into one-night, three-night and seven-night trips, and also categorized trips into three price tiers: Value, Moderate and Deluxe (the same classification that Disney World uses for its hotels).
Here’s what’s included in each price tier:
|Travel style||A budget-minded traveler seeking affordable on-property eats and few frills.||Someone price conscious but who occasionally splurges.||Someone who will pay top-dollar to access the high end of what Disney offers.|
|Tickets||One park per day tickets.||One park per day tickets with Genie+.||One park per day tickets with Genie+.|
|Hotels||Overnight at Disney’s Value hotels.||Overnight at Disney’s Moderate hotels.||Overnight at Disney’s Deluxe hotels.|
|Daily meals||Three meals (one entree and one beverage) at Value counter service restaurants or food carts.||Two Value meals, plus one Moderate meal (one entree, one dessert or side and one beverage) at a casual, waiter-service restaurant.||One Value meal, one Moderate meal, plus one Deluxe meal at an upscale, waiter-service restaurant.|
|Extra activities||Value add-ons, like cheap seats at Disney World’s Cirque show or a lower-budget spa treatment (like an express pedicure).||Moderate add-ons, like central seats at Disney World’s Cirque show or a grand pedicure at the spa.||Deluxe add-ons, like front row seats at Disney World’s Cirque show or a full-body massage at the spa.|
From there, NerdWallet used average costs to build sample trip budgets.
- Because Walt Disney World ticket prices vary by park, one-day ticket prices were based on Magic Kingdom admission. Two-day ticket prices were based on Magic Kingdom and Epcot.
- NerdWallet’s analysis did not account for Park Hopper tickets, which allow access to multiple theme parks in one day.
- All prices are per person other than hotel prices, which are listed per room. Your individual hotel costs might be less than what’s listed above if you share a room with multiple people.
These budgets should be used to estimate rather than determine your own Disney trip costs. For instance, you might spend less if you pack your own snacks, or you might spend more if you spring for miscellaneous costs (e.g. taxis, Mickey-shaped balloons or PhotoPass).
Sam Kemmis and Carissa Rawson contributed to this report.
Source: Fox 8 News Channel
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