Which is Cheaper to Visit - Disney World or Disneyland?

August 5, 2015, 9:28 AM · Travel reservation site Hipmunk recently ran the numbers to decide which is cheaper — visiting Walt Disney World or Disneyland?

Hipmunk's Disney Smackdown

Hipmunk looked at airfare, hotel, ticket, and food prices to determine that the Walt Disney World vacation is up to $1,000 cheaper for a four-day, four-night stay for a family of four.

But if we dive into the numbers that Hipmunk collected, we see a more complicated picture. Hipmunk found that ticket and food prices were lower at Disneyland, with higher airfare and hotel costs making up the difference and pushing overall costs lower at Disney World. Hipmunk priced four-day, non-Park Hopper tickets at the two resorts and the prices of Dole Whips, floats and pineapple spears as proxies for food costs.

For hotels, Hipmunk looked at both on-site and off-site hotels, finding a much larger gap in the price of on-site hotels, which makes sense. Disneyland offers only three on-site hotels, all of which would be in the higher-priced "Deluxe" category at the Walt Disney World Resort. If one compared the average prices of rooms at Disneyland on-site hotels with the prices at three comparably-rated Deluxe hotels at Disney World, the gap likely would be much smaller.

Still, many people want the option of staying at a lower-priced hotel, so the availability of so many moderate and value-priced options at Walt Disney World make that resort a better option for budget-conscious travelers who have the heart set on staying on-site, at a Disney hotel.

As for airfare, Hipmunk priced airfare from several cities to the airports closest the two resorts, which would be Orlando International for Disney World and Orange County John Wayne for Disneyland. But one can find lower airfares from certain cities into Southern California if you fly into Los Angeles International, which is only about eight miles farther from the Disneyland Resort than Disney World's Transportation and Ticket Center is from Orlando International.

Disneyland does not run a free Disney's Magical Express service, as Walt Disney World does from the Orlando airport, so a family flying to Disneyland would also need to add in the cost of an airport shuttle or renting a car, as they would if they were staying offsite in Orlando, too. Hipmunk did not consider ground transportation or parking costs in its analysis. Considering those ground transportation costs, it might be that the cheaper resort to visit would be the one that a family of four could more easily drive to.

Ultimately, the relatively wide range of price points available at both resorts — in tickets, tours, food, transportation options, and accommodations — means that one family could put together a package at either resort that would be cheaper than the package another family might put together at the other. (And we haven't even started thinking about which resort delivers better value for each dollar spent.) But with its abundant value and moderate resorts, the Walt Disney World Resort offers the wider range of pricing options between the two resorts, making it a better "first look" option for budget-conscious theme park fans.

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Replies (12)

August 5, 2015 at 10:32 AM · Our Orlando vacations end up costing us about the same as our DLR/Cali trips. Our hotel costs are higher in Orlando (we stay on-site at value resorts) but our flight cost is higher to go to Cali (we live in Eastern Canada). Overall, neither trip is cheap, but we find great value at both.
August 5, 2015 at 10:56 AM · It's probably not this simple, but doesn't more parks mean more tickets which means more money?

Because Disneyland is my Home park, I can't really answer which park is cheaper.

August 5, 2015 at 10:58 AM · Orlando is more expensive because you need 4 days minimum as opposed to 2 days minimum for Disneyland. Orlando has more food options so you feel you need to have expensive meals to have the full experience.

I believe a vacation to either place is the same in the end, because the airfare, local transportation, and hotel are pretty predictable and the largest fixed expense.

August 5, 2015 at 11:05 AM · My five day onsite Disneyland trip in 2013 was as expensive as my ten day onsite Disney World trip in 2010. Not having a moderate onsite hotel option at Disneyland Resort was the real kicker. Additionally, the drive from the Kansas City area to California is 24 hours (two hotel stops) while the drive to Orlando is 18 hours (one hotel stop).
August 5, 2015 at 2:37 PM · Bonus points for DLR: Inexpensive hotels and restaurants are within walking distance of both parks. No parking required, and you can get a nice hotel for the same amount as the value options at WDW.
August 5, 2015 at 2:43 PM · What is with the obsession with Disney Mr. Niles?
August 5, 2015 at 2:48 PM · It would be cheaper to take your kids to a hypnotist and have them believe they went to either park or both parks.

Another option would be to take them to the county fair and tell them it is Disney World.

August 6, 2015 at 6:22 AM · Blake-this is a website that talks about theme parks. The Disney parks happen to be the most popular theme parks in the world. Ergo, talking mostly about Disney would lead to more clickable headlines.

Kris-that would a great idea! Come to think of it, how do I know I've actually been to Disney? What if I've actually been to some county fair but my parents used a hypnotist to make me believe I was at Disney? Wait, what if my parents didn't just use the hypnotist for Disney but for every aspect of my life? How do I even know I'm commenting on TPI and not on Brad Pitt's Facebook page? (Gasp!) MY LIFE IS A LIE!

August 6, 2015 at 3:37 PM · Yes, but this website is talks about other parks as well, but recently the last 8 articles have been about disney.
August 7, 2015 at 6:32 AM · Touché
August 9, 2015 at 6:31 AM · I had to laugh at the thought of "budget-conscious travelers" staying at a Disney Value at WDW.

Quite a contradiction, the price Disney charge for their value motels is obscene.
You can pick up a Deluxe class nearby for less.

I really don't understand why people pay so much over the odds for what are very basic and average motels (unless you go Deluxe).

I don't think convenience is even a possible factor, driving off-site is almost certainly quicker than Disney transport to the value motels or moderates.

August 10, 2015 at 5:39 PM · In Orlando there are an abundance of rental homes, cheaper for a 5 bed/4 ba house with your own pool. You can have multiple families stay together and save huge. Much more to do in Florida.

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