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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