PlanningThe ParksTips

Skip or Splurge: Breaking Down Disney Experiences

Walt Disney World is an expensive vacation.  Saving for the Disney Resort, Disney tickets, dining, and now Genie+ is a lot for families.  Once you have these costs planned for, you then find out that there is a variety of different ways to add additional costs to your trip.  From specific dining experiences to Resort rooms to magical additions, there are numerous additional costs Guests can add to their Walt Disney World vacation.

We are going to take some time to break down some of these options so you can determine if they are ones you are going to skip or splurge on during your Walt Disney World vacation.

Pop Century Main Pool
Credit: Disney

Preferred Rooms

When booking your Walt Disney World Resort, you have the option to have a standard room or a preferred room.

What makes rooms part of the preferred category is that they are located closer to the main transportation center, pool, or dining locations.  Cost for these rooms can be as cheap as $10 more per night and up.

As you are making the determination of if you should skip or splurge on a preferred room, we would suggest thinking about a few things first.  The main thing to consider is what Walt Disney World Resort are you staying at?  If you are at a larger value or moderate Resort such as Pop Century or Disney’s Port Orleans Riverside Resort, having a preferred room might make a huge difference.

For those staying at a more deluxe Resort that is smaller in size or at least more compact, a preferred room might not matter as much as everything is centrally located.

Another thing to consider when determining if a preferred room is right for your family is your touring plan.  If you don’t plan to be at the Resort a lot, does the location of the room really matter?

Typhoon Lagoon Disney World

Water Park Ticket

As Guests purchase their Walt Disney World Park Tickets, they have the option of adding a water Park option.  This allows Guests to visit Typhoon Lagoon and Blizard Beach (when opened) throughout their stay.  This ticket option is called the “water parks and more”.  You can add this for an additional $55 per person.

As a single-day ticket to the Water Park is typically around $67 per person, this can be a great deal for those wanting to experience something different during their Walt Disney World vacation.

Disney water parks are a lot of fun and are a fun way to get away from the four main theme Parks during the vacation.  For those that have kids that love to swim, adding a water Park could be a great option.   On the other hand, if you have little ones that don’t swim or don’t like water, this might not be a good investment.

Chef Mickey's
Credit: Disney

Character Dining

A big part of the magic at Walt Disney World is the characters.  It really isn’t a Disney vacation unless we get to hang out with Mickey Mouse at some point during it.

One way that Guests can meet Mickey and other beloved Disney characters is through character dining.  At a variety of different restaurants around Walt Disney World, Guests are able to enjoy a meal while meeting characters.

As you can imagine, these meals aren’t cheap.  Currently Chef Mickey’s, one of the more popular character dining options at Walt Disney World, is $47 at breakfast and $55 at dinner for adults.  Children that are nine and under are $27 for breakfast and $36 for dinner.

Depending on how much your kids eat or their feelings about characters this meal could either be a big hit or a huge miss.  Really think about how important meeting the characters are to your plans and what dining experiences will be the best for your family.

California Grill Fireworks
With sweeping views of Magic Kingdom fireworks from atop Disney’s Contemporary Resort, the re-imagined California Grill also features a new design inspired by mid-century modern California, and a new menu showcasing seasonal ingredients and a lighter touch. Known for its stellar wine list, the restaurant now boasts about 250 wine selections, 80 by the glass, an expanded sake list, eight kinds of craft beers and ciders and signature cocktails created by staff mixologists. Disney’s Contemporary Resort is located at Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (Kent Phillips, photographer)

Signature Dining

Another dining option that Guests can splurge on is signature dining.  Throughout Walt Disney World there are specific restaurants that are known as signature dining.  These are fine dining experiences where Guests can expect the best food, service, and drinks at a higher price point.

These meals are some of the best that Disney has to offer.  California Grill, Narcoossee’s, Flying Fish, and Yatchmans Steakhouse are just a few that Guests could choose from.  Entrees start typically in the $40 to $50 price range with appetizers, drinks, and dessert also offered.

If Guests are celebrating a special occasion, these can be amazing dining experiences.  Take a look at the menus and pricing before making any decisions.

Memory Maker
Credit: Disney

Memory Maker

For $169 ahead of their Disney vacation Guests can add the Memory Maker to their Walt Disney World package.  With this purchase, Guests get unlimited photo downloads as well as on-ride photos taken throughout their vacation.

If you are a fan of photos, this is one splurge that you might want to look into.  Even though most of us have phones with amazing cameras, the work that the Disney PhotoPass Photographers do is truly magical.

Credit: Disney

Magical Extras

There are a lot of magical extras that Guests can experience during their Walt Disney World vacation.  From special ticketed events such as Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party to firework dessert parties, Disney offers a variety of ways to add a little extra magic to your trip.

These experiences are great, but they also come with a high price tag.  When looking into these options, take time to really learn about what they have to offer to make sure that they fit into what your family would enjoy.  Don’t spend hundreds of dollars on a dessert party that the kids aren’t going to stay awake for.

We love that Disney is always providing ways to make our trips extra magical; however, sometimes we have to slow ourselves down to make sure that the cost is really worth it for our family.  We hope that this helped you do the same for your Disney vacation.

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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