If you’ve already started to book a trip to Disney, Universal and Orlando or are thinking about whether or when it might be affordable, one of your first questions is likely to be “how much will my Orlando holiday cost?” Putting together a budget for your Orlando holiday is a great first starting point to work out how much the trip will cost you.
Everyone’s plans and budget for a Disney and Orlando holiday will vary, but this handy guide will help you think about the costs that you might have on your trip.
Don’t worry if your budget is coming out higher than you expected – we’ve also got some super tips about how to save for a Disney holiday.
Budget for Travelling to Orlando
The costs of getting to Orlando is a major part of most people’s Orlando and Disney budgets but it isn’t just about the cost of flights. Here are the things you need to think about in your Orlando budget for getting to the sunshine state.
Getting to your Departure Airport
Think about the costs of getting to your departure airport whether that is through public transport, being dropped off by friends and family or driving yourself.
You will want to think about:
- Costs of public transport tickets
- Any pick up/drop off fees at the airport car parks
- Cost of parking at the airport or airport hotel – Holiday Extras can be a place to check out basic costs of parking at the airport you’re flying from
- Petrol costs for getting to the airport
Accommodation before you travel
As you’ll need to check in around 3 hours before your flight, and lots of the USA flights leave earlier in the day, many people make use of hotels near the airport the night before they travel. Make sure to include these costs in your Orlando budget if you think that might work for you.
Remember to find out if there are any costs for shuttles to get you to the airport terminal, although these are often free.
Many airport hotels offer packages that include parking which can be a great way to save on airport parking.
The basic cost of your flights is the first thing to consider, but with airlines increasingly ‘unpackaging’ flights, you may also need to think about:
- Baggage costs – does your ticket include bags or do you need to pay to add these?
- Cost of seat selection and/or upgraded seats (eg. bulk head or emergency exit rows)
- Cost of any additional onboard entertainment – some airlines offer an upgraded entertainment package for a fee
- Any cabin upgrade costs should you wish to do this
- On-board food and drinks if not included as part of your flight cost or snacks/meals purchased to take on board with you
You can find more advice here on how to save money on flights to the USA.
Other Airport Costs
When thinking about your Orlando budget, make sure to think about whether you’ll use any of the following facilities at the airport, which may incur additional costs if not included as part of your flight tickets:
- Fast track security access
- Airport lounge access
You’ll likely want to have a proper meal in the airport before you fly too, and don’t forget to remember the inevitable airport spends on things like magazines, water and snacks for the plane, as well as any Duty Free bargains you want to pick up!
Costs of Accommodation in Orlando
Accommodation will be another major cost of your Orlando holiday and will, of course, vary depending on where you chose to stay.
Think about the basic cost of your hotel, villa or resort accommodation, but also consider the following additional items to budget for:
If you’re staying in a hotel or resort, make sure to find out if there are any additional ‘resort fees’ which are normally daily charges payable on your resort site to cover things such as internet access, bottled water etc and use of the resort facilities. Not all hotels will charge these, but many do.
If you’re renting a villa, make sure to find out all of the costs that you will incur, which could include things such as deposits, cleaning fees, service charges and pool heat (which can be expensive). Additional costs for villas can vary a lot so make sure to find out before you commit to your accommodation choice so you can budget appropriately.
Food and Drink Costs
Food and drink can be a challenging one to make a budget for as people’s requirements and dining choices can vary massively. Here are some good questions to think about though:
- Do I have a dining plan, such as Disney Dining Plan, included in my package or booking already? If so, will I want/need to buy food and drink outside of this package?
- What is included in my hotel room rate? Is breakfast included?
- Will we plan to eat inside the parks or take our own food in? Not all parks allow this though so make sure you check with the specific parks you want to visit.
- Do you plan to do any character meals or other special dining events? These can be quite costly (great fun though!) so make sure to budget appropriately. Choosing breakfast character meals rather than lunch or dinner can often save you money here.
- Will you look to purchase any of the All Day Dining passes at SeaWorld or Aquatica?
- If you’re travelling with people over 21, do you want to budget for alcoholic drinks?
If you are going self-catering in a villa, be aware that the cost of groceries in Orlando is generally higher than you would expect to pay in the UK.
Don’t forget about tipping costs too if you’re eating out, even if you are on some of the Disney Dining Plans – more on tipping later though!
Once you’ve had a think abut all of the above, it’s probably easiest to to work out a daily budget per person, and them multiply that up by the number of days you are away. Don’t forget travel days too!
Okay, getting on to the more fun stuff now! Park tickets are usually a large proportion of a budget for an Orlando holiday so it’s important to make sure you know what you’re likely to need to budget for.
First think about the parks that you’d like to visit and how long you’ll be in Orlando. Often park tickets can often be only fractionally more expensive for a longer duration, so think about how much flexibility you’ll want on your trip too.
There are some great sites such as Floridatix and Attraction Tickets Direct, which package up multiple tickets for one cost. They will often let you just put down an initial deposit and pay over time too.
Attraction ticket sellers will often offer freebies alongside your tickets, such as dining cards. Make sure to see if you can get cashback on any online purchases of park tickets too.
In-park Experiences and Photo Passes
There can be additional costs on top of park tickets for a number of the in-park experiences such as Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique, animal encounters at SeaWorld and Universal Express Passes. None of these are required, but just make sure to budget for them if they are important things for you as part of your Orlando Holiday.
Photo passes (including Disney’s Memory Maker) are often included in park ticket costs, but if not, it’s worth thinking about whether you’ll want to purchase these separately.
Other Activities and Excursions
Of course there is more to Orlando and Florida than just the amusement parks! Remember to budget for any other activities you think you’d like to do whilst you’re there, such as Gatorland, the Crayola Experience, ICON Park, SEA LIFE Orlando or the Kennedy Space Centre.
Travel in Orlando
Your budget for travel once you arrive in Orlando will depend a lot on whether or not you choose to hire a car during your holiday.
If you do hire a car, make sure to think about all the additional costs over and above the basic hire fee. This can include additional insurance, hire of car seats or sat navs and any additional driver/young driver surcharges.
Once you’ve hired your car don’t forget to budget for petrol, parking at the parks and possibly your hotel/resort, and tolls.
If you’re not going to hire a car, you’ll need to think about 2 main costs – getting to and from the airport and travelling around Orlando. If your hotel provides free shuttles this can be a bonus, but if not make sure to budget for taxis or any chargeable shuttles. Planning to stay around the International Drive area? The I-ride trolley can be a great way to get around this area, including to Universal and the outlets.
Shopping and Souvenirs
If you know you’re likely to shop whilst you’re in Orlando, you might want to consider adding this to your budget, including any souvenirs you want to bring home with you.
Also consider how much you are likely to spend in the shops here before you actually get on the plane to go to Orlando. We are certainly very guilty of spending rather a lot on new treats before we head off!
If you’re thinking at this point that the costs are really starting to add up for your Orlando budget, remember to check out these top ways to save for your Disney holiday! You are so much better off knowing how much it’s likely to cost you though!
The American culture of tipping is very different from in the UK and you will need to budget appropriately for this. As a rough guide 15-20% is expected in restaurants, around 10-20% for taxis and $1-2 per person per day for hotel housekeeping. There is a great guide here on what to expect for other services too.
You’ll need to budget for the costs of getting your ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorisation) for entry to the USA. This should cost no more than $14 per person (as at August 2019). There are lots of sites that will try and charge you more though, so check out this guide from the team at MoneySavingExpert.com If you are denied an ESTA and need to get a visa instead, you will incur additional costs.
Travel insurance is an absolute necessity when travelling to the USA and is generally more expensive than you’d pay for travel insurance for a European holiday. Make sure to get adequate cover, declare any pre-existing conditions and budget for this as part of your Orlando holiday budget.
Depending on your mobile phone plan, you may also want to budget for costs of using your mobile phone(s) whilst you’re away.
Contingency Fund – just in case!
Any good Orlando and Disney budget contains a ‘just in case’ amount, or a ‘contingency fund’. This is for any unexpected expenditure that you might not have thought about or might come up if something goes wrong, you get delayed etc. We would recommend a 10% contingency fund. If the end amount you’ve calculated seems like a lot for your trip, maybe do 10% of the cost without attraction or park tickets included.
The above should give you a great starting point to create your Orlando holiday budget and consider all the expenses you might incur on this trip of a lifetime.
If it seems like a lot, or unaffordable, think about how else you could save money for the trip. Consider how much you could save for the trip each month and whether it is affordable for you on the time frames you’ve planned.
If it seems out of reach right now, don’t worry. Maybe push back the trip a year or so? Orlando will still be there and your family will still have a great time regardless of when you go. Please don’t get into debt or stretch yourself too far for Disney or Orlando – it simply isn’t worth it.
If you’ve looked at your budget for your Orlando holiday and it does seem achievable, we hope you have a super trip!
Finally, if you think there’s anything we’ve missed or if this has been helpful to you, leave us a comment below.