PlanningThe ParksTips

Hidden Costs You Want to Budget for at Disney

When planning a vacation to Walt Disney World, most of us set a budget. We look into flights, resort costs, tickets, and food. Once you have budgeted for those big items, there are still some additional costs that you will want to keep in mind as you prepare for your Walt Disney World vacation.

These hidden costs can sneak up on you if you aren’t ready for them. We don’t want that to happen to you so we will bring them to your attention.

WaltDisneyWorld Bus
credit: Disney Tips


The first hidden cost you will need to process is transportation. This might seem confusing, as you have probably read about how Disney offers free transportation to guests. This is true. Throughout Walt Disney World Property, guests can use the complimentary boats, buses, monorails, and skyliner to get around.

The hidden costs come in getting to the Disney bubble. You must budget for getting from the airport to your Walt Disney World Resort hotel. There are many options, so you should find something that will fit your needs and budget.

Mears Connect is the most budget-friendly option. Guests can book this before their trip. Once they arrive at Orlando International Airport, they will head to the motor coach, taking them to their Disney Resort.

This is a shared service, so even though it is the most economical, it won’t be the fastest process. Guests will have to wait at the airport and might have multiple stops before getting to their Disney resort.

Other options that Guests can choose to book are private transfers. There are a lot of companies to choose from, but make sure you do your research. What is included in your fee, and is it private and direct? Cost for private transfers ranges in price depending on the size of your travel party, but for a family of four, budgeting around $200 to $250 would be wise.

Finally, you can take Lyft or Uber from the airport, but consider surge pricing. If you travel during a busy time of the year, you might see high prices. Usually, a one-way trip is below $50 but always double-check so you aren’t surprised.

Transportation is an additional cost that Guests need to budget for now, where they didn’t have to do so before heading to Walt Disney World.

VIP Tour at Disney's Hollywood Studios Toy story Mania
VIP Tour at Disney’s Hollywood Studios Toy story Mania

Additional Magic

If you want to add magic to your trip, you must set aside some money. Tours at Walt Disney World are a fantastic way to experience the parks uniquely. Keys to the Kingdom takes guests throughout Magic Kingdom, giving them access behind the scenes. Over at EPCOT, enjoy Behind the Seeds, a tour of the gardens that make up Living with the Land, or enjoy getting up close with rhinos and elephants in Disney’s Animal Kingdom with special tours.

These are excellent ways to experience the parks significantly and uniquely, but they will cost additional money.

Throughout the year, special events occur at the Disney parks. Events such as Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party or an After Hours Event allow guests to enjoy extra magic in Disney parks. These experiences are extraordinary, but they will also cost additional money.

You can also celebrate through cakes or decorations. Have your room decorated, or order a special birthday cake for your meal. Add some additional magic to your trip, but set aside some extra money.

Credit: Inside the Magic


As you budget for your Walt Disney World vacation, don’t forget to plan for tips. Although most cast members at Walt Disney World aren’t allowed to accept tips, there are a few times when you will want to have cash on hand.

You will want a few dollars for those who help you with your luggage throughout the trip. Bell service at the Disney resorts will hold your luggage while you head to the magic and help you to your room. It is always nice to ensure you have some money for them.

In 2024, the dining plans will return to Walt Disney World. Even though this will allow guests to prepay for their dining, it doesn’t include gratuity. It is customary to tip between 18 and 20% at restaurants where you are waited on by cast members. Enjoying some meals at Walt Disney World, such as Cinderella’s Royal Table or Chef Mickey’s, can be a substantial additional cost if you aren’t prepared. Look over the menus beforehand so you can have a reasonable budget in mind that includes tipping.

Credit: V Mills/Disney


Another additional cost that Guests will have to budget for, if they choose, is Genie+ and Individual Lightning Lanes/Individual Attraction Selections. These fluctuate daily based on crowds, but you will need to add anywhere from $15 to $35 per person per day to your budget if you plan to invest in Genie+.

Genie+ gives Guests access to Lightning Lanes (the paths to the rides) at the four Disney Parks. Guests can book these starting at 7:00 a.m., and they can continue to book one at a time throughout the day.

Guests must also determine if they want to invest in Individual Attraction Selections. These are individual rides that aren’t included in Genie+.   To use the Lightning Lanes for these rides, Guests must purchase them individually.

These are optional additional costs that Guests will have to determine if they want to add to their budget. Make sure you do some research about these features so you can make an informed decision.

If you aren’t prepared, those hidden costs might sneak up on you during your Walt Disney World vacation. We hope that by sharing these additional costs with you ahead of your trip, you will be able to budget for some of these other items.






Jennifer Retzlaff

Jennifer became a lifelong Disney fan during her first trip to Walt Disney World in 6th grade. From that moment, Disney became a big part of her life. She quickly started to introduce her love of Disney to her family with a Disney honeymoon and then family trips when her youngest was 18 months old. She loves the magic that Disney brings to people through theme parks, cruises, and adventures. As a teacher, she tries to bring Disney magic into her classroom to help kids believe that “If You Can Dream It, You Can Do It.” She is also part of the Magic Vacation Planner team as a personal travel advisor. With this team, she can now help others plan magical vacations. She loves bringing her love to Disney to readers with How to Disney.

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