How to Budget for Theme Park Vacation

How much a theme park vacation costs is largely dependent on the goals of the trip, the ages and stages of the party traveling and what everyone likes to do. Here are some key considerations to help you budget for your family vacation.

How many days are you planning to experience the parks?

When it comes to Disney or Universal theme park destinations, historically, the more theme park ticket days you add, the cheaper the price-per-day becomes.

For example, during the holiday seasons, it is completely possible for park-to-park and Park Hopper (visiting more than one park in one day) can be upwards of $200 per person, per day. And with any child 10+ years or older are considered an adult, the price for one day can get very expensive. However, when you extend the length of your visit to say 4 or more days in the parks, your price per day can be almost slashed in half as you continue to increase the number of days of tickets.

Universal Orlando resort will often offer Buy 3 get 2 days theme park tickets free when you stay at their resort hotels. This means you are paying the price for three days in the park but get two more additional days for no additional charge. Whether you go three or five days, the price is the same.

How do you plan to eat?

Do you plan to eat on the go? Eat in the room? Pack meals? Sit down and enjoy interaction with characters? Fine Dining?

See where I am going?

There are a lot of variables to how the cost of eating at your destination could tally.

My family often orders or picks up some basic snacks and staples for our room almost every trip. These include things like water, sports drink, snacks and breakfast type items. Having these items in our room and in our backpack saves us time and money from having to stop in the park and getting expensive and unnecessary snacks. We don’t deprive ourselves from treats or meals but we definitely save where we can when it comes to refillable water cups, sports drinks and snacks for prevention of “hangry” family members.

Types of meals you plan to experience

If you plan to eat mainly quick service meals, think about how much your favorite fast casual restaurant at home costs. Whatever that typical cost is for you, consider that cost for every quick service meal you order.

Look at the menus in the app or on the website. See what locations your family will eat and the current pricing. Note that your most expensive meals will be any character dining experiences, all-you-care-to-enjoy and signature dining locations. These can be anywhere from $35+ for children under 10 and $65+ for adults. Additionally, parties of 6 or more are typically charged an automatic minimum gratuity.


One of the biggest logistically decisions about vacation is whether or not to drive or fly. Calculating how long it will take to drive or fly, cost of rental car, etc., this is one of the biggest decisions in really getting the trip “on the books” and happening!

Once you are on property at the Universal Orlando, Disneyland and Walt Disney World resorts, it is very easy to get around the resorts and enjoy most everything. Walt Disney World is very large and thus, sometimes the available transportation may not work in your plans. In this case, you may need to hire a service like Minnie Van, UBER, LFYT, or other private car.

Be aware, if you are driving, almost any theme park destination will charge you a daily (once per day), parking fee.

Amenity Needs

If you are staying at Walt Disney World’s Ft. Wilderness, you may need to rent a golf cart so that your access to amenities is easier and you can enjoy more experiences within the resort. Additionally, you may need to rent an ECV or Stroller. These are all things you need to consider when you think of how your family with navigate your vacation plans and the physical abilities and limitations your family may have during the trip.

Extras, Merchandise, Special Experiences

Are you going to participate in special ticketed events or booking special activities, like fishing excursions, Harmony Barber Shop, etc? May you wish to buy Magic Bands or Interactive Wands, etc., These all add to the experience and make your trip fun, for sure, but they are an additional charge.

Once you have thought through your vision of what your family’s must haves, we can then discuss how we can best hit your family’s needs and meet those expectations and budgets. This is all part of the planning process. I assist clients with navigating the possibilities and making decisions and plans that would provide for the best vacation experience.

What to do Next?

Does the planning process overwhelm you? Don’t let it! This is what Vacation Planner, like me, are here to do. We know the destinations very well and work with them regularly. I work with a variety of clients with different needs and interests and know how to make decisions much less complicated and stressful.

So if this has you ready to take the plunge and plan a vacation, please reach out to me and let’s get rolling! Many destinations are now booking through 2023 and most cruise lines are booking through 2024! Now is the perfect time to start planning. Click here to get started with my no-obligation quote form.

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About Crush on the Magic

I'm a Midwestern mom that embraces fun whenever possible! Crush on the Magic is focused on all things Disney and Universal Destinations. I'm here to provide insights for all Disney/Universal vacationers, from the theme park regular to the once-in-a-lifetime trip goer, this site is for you! Thinking of booking a trip? I am happy to provide my expertise at no additional charge. Contact me at or complete my no obligation form at