Admission tickets

Image: DisneyYou’ll have the least wiggle room with admission tickets. While some third-party vendors sell discounted tickets, the fractional savings may not justify the risk of buying Disney tickets from a non-Disney supplier. Even if you are willing to take that chance – and I have on occasion – you’re still only saving a few dollars a day.

Here’s my hot take on the subject. Disney ticket pricing is remarkably fair. A few years ago, I compared Disney’s ticket price inflation to some other long-established American brands and products. The results genuinely shocked me, as theme park tickets have increased in price at a lower rate than some of these comparison items. While Disney has expanded their vast collection of wonderful attractions, theme park admission has remained relatively static in price.

Even though clickbait headlines suggest outrageous Disney price increases each year, the reality is that the cost of admission is reasonable and fair for a product as terrific as a day at the Happiest Place on Earth.


Image: DisneyOn any vacation to a popular tourist area, you’ll spend an exorbitant amount of money on food. Meal mark-up is standard operating procedure at destination locations. Walt Disney World is just like everywhere else in this category. A cheeseburger starts at $15 and can get even more expensive from there. When I evaluate meals, something I’ll factor into the discussion is that tourist trap inflation isn’t a Disney thing; it’s an everywhere thing.

Something that I quite like about Disney is that your food budget has a great deal of elasticity to it. Whether you want to scarf down sandwiches every meal or put on your Sunday-finest and eat at Victoria & Albert’s multiple times, you have the power and freedom of choice. Disney will even provide a bit of guidance if you suffer analysis paralysis.

Image: DisneyThe Disney Dining Plan is more than just a way to set a finite food budget for your trip. It will also inform your meal choices each day. You’ll receive a set number of entitlements for Quick Service and/or Table Service meals. These are Disney’s terms for counter service meals and sit-down restaurant dining experiences.

The standard plan over the years has included one Quick Service and one Table Service meal a day. It sort of trains people to grab and go once a day, breakfast or lunch for most people, and then sit down for a more relaxing meal, usually at dinner. This sort of compartmentalization actually makes planning a Disney day a bit easier. Your meal informs your park behavior before and after eating due to the location of the restaurant.

Image: DisneyDisney even provides packages that include the Disney Dining Plan (DDP) for “free” with an official resort stay. Cynics are quick to comment that Disney makes up the price of the dining plan by raising prices elsewhere. While this is true to an extent, the free DDP means that you’ll know your food cost prior to your trip. I find that invaluable during the planning phase.

Should you skip the DDP, you’ll have other ways to maintain control of your meal budget. For example, Epcot hosts festivals at the World Showcase on more than half the days of the year. During these events, pop-up food kiosks sell entrees that can fill you up, and they’re almost always less than $10. It’s Disney’s version of street food, affording you the opportunity to eat cheap.

Image: DisneyYou can save on food in other ways as well. Florida residents and Disney Vacation Club members may purchase the Tables in Wonderland card, which discounts meals at many restaurants by 20 percent. Annual pass owners and DVC members also receive standard discounts of 10-20 percent at several restaurants. As another option, you can stretch your food budget by eating off-site.

While Disney does have tourist trap pricing at many establishments, my opinion is that food cost relative to food quality here is extremely reasonable. I believe that you’ll get tremendous value for your food budget here.

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