However, there are plenty of hacks to save money.
A trip to one of the Disney Parks around the world has never been a cheap thing to do. Many families have to save up for months or even years to be able to afford everything from park tickets and hotel stays to those Mickey-shaped snacks you see all over the ‘Gram. The thing is, Disney Parks are becoming more expensive year-to-year, and with recent ticket price and annual pass increases, you’ll need to save even more for a trip to the “happiest place on Earth.”
Of course, there are always deals and discounts to look out for that can save a few bucks here and there. In fact, Disney’s special offers page mentions that Disney+ subscribers can save up to 20% on resort stays this holiday season along with U.S. military member and annual passholder discounts on things like park tickets. Planning a Disney vacay is so much for than getting park tickets and a hotel, though. There are also add-ons like Genie+ and Lightning Lane that can be confusing to anyone who hasn’t been to Walt Disney World in Florida or Disneyland in California before. For a trip in 2023, here’s everything you need to know about how the Disney Parks are becoming more expensive and how you can avoid going over budget.
Disney Theme Park Tickets Are Based On Dynamic Pricing
Supply and demand will always be a pain for anyone looking to keep a tight budget. With “revenge travel” becoming popular after having to stay close to home for over a year, people are looking to finally check off that dream vacation from their bucket list. For many, that place is Disney.
Walt Disney World already increased their ticket prices once this year, but just announced another increase that will go into effect Dec. 8 for 2023. Disney World tickets are also based on dynamic pricing, so expect to pay even more when visiting on a popular park day. Which park you’re going to may also affect ticket price as the most popular of the four parks in Florida, Magic Kingdom, will cost slightly more than if you want to go to the Animal Kingdom. Here are the new price ranges, starting Dec. 8:
- $109 to $159 for Disney’s Animal Kingdom
- $124 to $179 for Disney’s Hollywood Studios
- $114 to $179 for EPCOT
- $124 to $189 for Magic Kingdom
Those are the prices for one park, so if you’re thinking about going from eating around the world at EPCOT to watching the fireworks over Cinderella Castle at Magic Kingdom, you’ll need to get a park hopper ticket. That’s an additional fee that starts at $65 per ticket.
One way to save money if you do plan to go to Disney more than once is by getting an annual pass. Disneyland just opened up sales to new customers on Nov. 16, and the cheapest pass, the Imagine Key, is $499 a year. That’s not bad, but it’s only available to SoCal residents and has a lot of blackout dates that include the weekends. If you don’t live in SoCal, are new to buying a Magic Key, and you want the cheapest option, the Believe Key is the way to go, which is $1,099 a year.
How Much Is Genie+ And Other Add-Ons?
You do get discounts on things like merch, food and beverage, and even Genie+ with your annual pass. Genie+ is a special service through the Disney app that can help you bypass the regular standby line when you visit the parks. If you’re familiar with the old FastPass Disney was known for, this is that. By booking Lightning Lane reservations, you’ll get to wait in shorter lines and maximize what you can do in a day.
Genie+ is also based on dynamic pricing at Disney World and will cost you anywhere between $15 to $22 per person, while Disneyland is a flat rate of $25. The most popular rides are also available via a la carte Lightning Lane purchases, which range from $10 to $25.
How To Save Money At Disney In 2023
Factoring this all in, you’re looking at hundreds of dollars for you and your entire family just to get into the parks. You’re not accounting for that Mickey pretzel or Dole Whip yet, but don’t fret. There are plenty of ways to save money on a Disney vacay. While the Genie+ perk definitely helps you make the most of your theme park day, it’s not totally necessary if you go on a less crowded day or get to the parks early.
One of the perks of staying at a Disney hotel is that some of them offer extra magic hours, where you can get into the park at least an hour before everyone else. This will allow you to prioritize the most popular attractions first.
Planning out your vacay as much as you can and putting together a budget before you go will also help. If you know what snacks you want to eat ahead of time, you’ll know how much money to set aside in your food budget. You can also buy merch ahead of time on ShopDisney when it’s on sale, so you won’t have to worry about buying a lot when you get there. This can also save money at the airport because if you pack light, you may not have to pay to check your bag. Other quick ways to save money at Disney include:
- Bringing a reusable bottle so you’re not paying around $5 for water.
- Packing some snacks to eat throughout the day.
- Going during the non-peak season when school is in session or on weekdays.
As expensive as it can be, the Lending Tree reported that 71% of people who went into debt don’t regret spending money on a Disney vacation. Nothing beats seeing Cinderella or Sleeping Beauty castle IRL, getting to hug Mickey Mouse, and eating a Dole Whip. It really is worth the hype, but by being smart about your future Disney trip, you can avoid spending more than you need to.