Editorial on current Walt Disney World prices

Monday, April 15, 2019 6:06 PM

Wait. In what world does TTA (Peoplemover, right?) ever had a 30 minute line? I don't think I've ever seen more than 10 people in the station for it.

In general, I am also sort of aghast at the number of people who will pay some thousands of dollars to be at Disney and then another few hundred dollars for a VIP tour or after hours or early morning magic. But then again, I'm sure there are lots of people who would be aghast that I spent many thousands of dollars to be there in the first place.

I can totally understand people who don't see the value because I used to be one for majority of my life. Then I had kids and began to see Disney through the eyes of toddlers and tweens and now we can't get enough. If it were up to me we would literally spend every dollar of our leisure money on Disney and I would think it was worth it. Thank goodness my wife has more common sense and has limited us to about one trip every 18-24 months.

Last edited by ApolloAndy, Monday, April 15, 2019 6:06 PM
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Wednesday, April 17, 2019 5:14 AM

In a world where Disney clearly isn't hating poor people enough ;)

No, seriously, I had never witnessed the Magic Kingdom that busy, but that seems to be my thought more often in the last few years.

We thought the TTA line was a fluke when we first saw it. We arrived in that area maybe 10-15 minutes before our time for a FastPass on Buzz, and thought TTA would be the easy time-killer. They had a cast member standing closer to the Astro-Orbiters elevator than to the TTA entrance with the sign on a pole to help guests find the end of the TTA line.

Then we looked over and saw a queue to get to the FastPass entrance for Buzz and decided we should jump in line. It went behind the FP kiosk, back towards the entrance, then out into the midway in front of the kiosk. This line also had a cast member helping guests find the end of it. Not sure what was going on operationally but it took close to 15 minutes in this line to get to the outdoor Magic Band tap point.

The TTA line was still that long when we got off the ride. Completely anecdotal, but this is also the first time we've seen Aunt Polly's open on Tom Sawyer Island, and the Tomorrowland Terrace was open during the day as well, which we don't see very often.

Before this trip, we were in the "No way in heck would we spend more money on a 3-hour event after paying to be at Disney" camp. Seeing the crowd levels the first night we flew in had us thinking about it. The second night we had an RSVP to a DVC-hosted complimentary event at Hollywood Studios that was similar to the after-hours events. We got so much done that night it convinced us the paid night might be worth it.

Last edited by Ken P, Wednesday, April 17, 2019 5:55 AM
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Thursday, April 18, 2019 8:58 AM

I previously posted my confusion at how so many people are able to afford a family vacation to a Disney owned property. Perhaps debt, savings, and economic instability are areas of interest for Michiganders more than other parts of the states? For, the 2019 Michigan Personal Finance Challenge State Finals (a statewide competition) confronted Michigan high school students with the following (full story enclosed below):

The Bradleys are heading to Disney World.
Sure, they already have $3,850 in high-rate credit card debt. The mother of the family has another $8,000 in student loan debt.
And they're paying two mortgage bills each month, one on the family home and another for a rental home that's co-owned with another family member. The rental home is just breaking even. No profit there.
Two kids, ages 10 and 5, and the family doesn't have a dollar saved in an emergency fund, either.
The couple in their early 30s did come up with $500 for a down payment for a planned trip with the kids to Walt Disney World — a trip that's estimated to cost $8,000.
So Mickey and Minnie get ready, here we come.

https://www.freep.com/story/money/personal-finance/susan-tompor/2019/04/18/got-bunch-debt-trip-disney-want-need/3482982002/

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Thursday, April 18, 2019 1:14 PM

If they have to spend $8k for a family of four, they're already doing it wrong. Their starting 6-night/7-day package starts at $102/person/day as of right now. Add a grand-ish for airfare if you don't live in Alaska. Food cost depends on how you wanna roll.

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Thursday, April 18, 2019 1:52 PM

$8k seems about right in that scenario.

$102/person/day is around 3 grand for the week. Flights at $500 each bring you to 5 grand. Hotel at $200/night brings you to $6200. $50/person/day for food and now you're at $7600 and you haven't even bought Mickey ears yet.

However, if you have a mortgage on a rental home and it's not bringing you any profit then dump it and get the hell out of debt.

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Thursday, April 18, 2019 2:36 PM

That package includes the room, and $500 might be high for flights. But, $250 is probably low, at least from this neck of the woods.

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Thursday, April 18, 2019 4:19 PM

Flight cost varies on market, for sure. But yeah, packages include a room.

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Thursday, April 18, 2019 4:57 PM

Our 7 day trip for 4 (3 adults, 1 child) in fall 2015 ran around $5800 including airfare, moderate resort room, park hoppers, the middle dining plan, Memory Maker, the Illuminations dessert party, and the Not-So-Scary party. That does not include money we spent on food beyond the dining plan or my kid's experience at Bippity Boppity Boutique. Merch buying was pretty low, but I know we bought a few things. All said, I would say we came in at or below $6500 for what was largely a no-expense-spared experience. Four years later, I would think that $8000 is a little on the high end, but not out of the realm of possibility.

Fast forward to last June and we did a 7 day trip for 3 for less than $5000. One less person and not much in the way of extras. That cost was helped by a good room discount and a break on the mid level dining plan thanks to booking at the end of an adult trip the previous August. They weren't offering any kind of bounce back deal at the end of our June trip.

Last edited by bigboy, Thursday, April 18, 2019 4:59 PM
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Friday, April 19, 2019 11:08 AM

We did 7 days, 7 people for $6.5k in December + $2.5k air. Moderate resort (Caribbean Beach) package with hoppers and free dining. $100 on souveniers and $300 on tips. So grand total of ~$9.5k when all was said and done. It would have been closer to $10.5k but we got an amazing deal on Disney gift cards through BJ's. I could see doing just the immediate family (5) offsite for $3k+$2k air but staying on site is SO good.

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Friday, April 19, 2019 11:14 AM

That you can save a ton by staying off-site is largely a myth, unless you're willing to stay in a total ****hole on 192. The value resorts almost always have great deals, especially if you bundle with dining.

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Friday, April 19, 2019 11:46 AM

We used discounted Disney gift cards from Sam's Club for our trip last year. I think the discount comes out to around $20 off every $500 card. I over-purchased and used the remaining balance to cover Magic Band charges. I would have done the same thing with Southwest gift cards to cover the flights, but I didn't want to risk losing the good prices by stopping down to buy the gift cards.

I used to turn my nose up at the idea of the value resorts based on what I've heard about the crowds, the distance from the parks, and the room quality. I've stayed at Contemporary, Caribbean Beach x 2, and Pop Century x 2. The room quality at Pop Century was no worse than the other two and I would even maybe put it a tick above on the trip last summer because we stayed in a remodeled room. I sprang for a preferred room on both Pop Century stays and that was worth every penny - puts you one building away from the common area and a very short walk to the bus stop. You can't beat the location of Contemporary, especially if MK and Epcot are your bag. We stayed at Caribbean on our honeymoon 20 years ago with a rental car and stayed there again in 2015 using the bus system. The spread out nature of the resort makes getting around and using the buses a royal pain in the butt. (We only stayed there on that trip because our vacation planner said it was the best way to score us free dining. She overslept the day they released the free dining and missed out on getting it for us. My last time using a vacation planner to do something I have since done easily on my own.) The centralized bus stops at Pop Century and the other values get crowded, but feel so much more efficient than what we experienced at Caribbean.

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Friday, April 19, 2019 11:57 AM

Jeff said:

That you can save a ton by staying off-site is largely a myth, unless you're willing to stay in a total ****hole on 192. The value resorts almost always have great deals, especially if you bundle with dining.

Having learned the rotation of deals for room only discounts and free dining, I'm pretty sure we'll be staying at a value in the future rather than offsite (if we're staying on our own dollar...if grandma and grandpa are paying, it's caviar and wine. ;))

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Friday, April 19, 2019 1:55 PM

Just for fun I did a quick search of round trip flights a month out from PIT to MCO for a family of four (exactly what we'll be planning a year from now), and it looks to be about 350 for each adult.

Then again, if the family was looking to save they could also get a flight/points credit card and start using it. With the bonus points you get when you sign up plus typical usage, your flights should be covered.

We won't be paying a dime for our flights next year, and we'll still have points in the "bank" to fly out somewhere else whenever.

And why stay at a moderate resort (speaking about the project mentioned above); Art of Animation's Family Suites are still hard to beat for the price...and you get the new gondolas to try and a sweet eating location. :)

That said, the "Bradleys" should not even be considering a trip to Disney. Then again, I know several families in worse scenarios that chose more debt piled onto existing debt just to spend a week at Disney.

I recreated our last trip on Disney just to see how it looked (we spent roughly 5,000 2 years ago).

Same trip, only in October...just picked a random month (not May)...

Two adults and two kids (with one 10+)....Art of Animation Family Suite for 6 nights....with 4 base park tickets per person (one day at each park with a rest day)...plus the dining plan...

$6,658.95

If you added flights to that, the total is nearly $9,000. But as Jeff linked above, deals always trickle in if you're willing to stay at place like All-Star. That's a pretty significant savings versus doing it on your own.

Last edited by OhioStater, Friday, April 19, 2019 2:17 PM
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Friday, April 19, 2019 2:24 PM

Jeff said:

That you can save a ton by staying off-site is largely a myth, unless you're willing to stay in a total ****hole on 192. The value resorts almost always have great deals, especially if you bundle with dining.

I often think about this as three conflicting goals: (1) to spend a reasonable amount of money, (2) to be onsite, and (3) to have a reasonable amount of space. For my particular definitions of reasonable, it's very hard to have all three of these at the same time. For me, "reasonable space" means that I am not sharing a room with my kids, and in Orlando that's stupid easy to do offsite for something between what a Value and a Moderate Disney resort costs in the form of a condo or townhome, even after accounting for theme park parking and a rental car.

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Friday, April 19, 2019 2:27 PM

And that's exactly why we consistently choose Art of Animation. Not only do my two daughters have their own bedroom, but mom and dad also get their own bathroom connected to our bedroom while the girls have theirs.

And we still play less than a moderate resort that has no such option.

Did I mention the gondola?

But to each their own.

Last edited by OhioStater, Friday, April 19, 2019 2:43 PM
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Friday, April 19, 2019 4:05 PM

Last time we did WDW was 10 years ago this past February. We did a week in a savannah view room at AKL. I wanna say room and tickets (basic, no hopper) came in around $3k. Not sure why I think that, but it's the number that's in my head. I also believe it may have been some kind of special thing they were doing.

If I go to the WDW website and try to book a week in the same room with the same tickets at various times, I'm landing pretty consistently at $6300.

Yeah. No.

The funny thing is, we could probably afford that $6300 now more easily than we could the $3000 a decade ago.

Which says to me there's an absolute value there for me...and $6300 crosses that line.

And yes you can do "lesser" rooms, but:

1. I don't wanna.
2. Neither does anyone else saying in anything but a value resort.

Which leads me to ask if anyone knows offhand what the breakdown of hotels rooms on property at the various levels (value, moderate, etc) is? What's the mix of inventory Disney has?

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Friday, April 19, 2019 5:07 PM

I think the mix is "what the market will bear." Someone can check me on this, but I think much of the inventory that they've added in recent years is DVC rooms, which have less risk for Disney as long as they're making their sales targets. Pop Century was stopped in its tracks during the post-9/11 recession to avoid over provisioning, and the resulting Art of Animation is in my mind not really a "value" resort because of the room sizes.

They seem to report high occupancy every year, so they seem to have it figured out. I recall All-Star was something of an experiment to see if they could rope in the folks staying on 192 or I-Drive, but even then, they seem to attract people that are willing to spend all in one place.

I think this ultimately comes down to what you're willing to pay per person, per day, for the experience. That's how I've measured even the cruise line itineraries. $300/person/day pushes the limit (our 5-night summer trip will be this), but if we consider the quality and volume of food, I justify that down to $200, then the live entertainment, sitting on a beach where people bring me drinks, the ability to quite literally turn off my brain for everything... it gets more worth it for us. On the other hand, we did the New Year's trip to the Caribbean, and we'll never do that again because the higher price doesn't get you anything more than saying you were at sea when the calendar flipped.

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Saturday, April 20, 2019 3:05 PM

Lord Gonchar said:

If I go to the WDW website and try to book a week in the same room with the same tickets at various times, I'm landing pretty consistently at $6300.

Yeah. No.

The funny thing is, we could probably afford that $6300 now more easily than we could the $3000 a decade ago.

Which says to me there's an absolute value there for me...and $6300 crosses that line.

I'm curious Gonch - has Disney priced you out or are you just not interested in Disney? Would you be willing to spend $6,300 for a week somewhere else on vacation?

My family is firmly in the not interested in Disney camp. Even if it was $3,000 we wouldn't do it. We would much rather spend $6,300 to go somewhere that we want to go.

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Saturday, April 20, 2019 5:05 PM

A little bit of both.

We're doing 10 days in Paris/London next month and spending that. I think there's definitely as stigma there for me that says you dont spend that much to visit a theme park.

But (and here's where I'm going be as curmudgeonly as I've ever been)...

WDW has absolutely made moves that simply don't interest me or my family.

Star Wars, Avatar, Tron, Guardians Of The Galaxy - don't give a flying fart about any of it. I understand I'm clearly in the minority here.

Add to that having adult children at this point and you eliminate a buttload of the cutesy kiddie stuff as a draw and we're just not their target audience any more.

And you'd think we'd be ripe pickin's for Universal, but...

Harry Potter. They're all-in on Potter and...well...you guessed it. Not a Potter fan in the house. Never read a book, never saw a movie.

So if I try to imagine an Orlando that's full of IPs that I'm interested in, I don't know if I'd spend $6300 or not. I'd certainly be more inclined, obviously. But I still can't definitively say I would. I think I feel similar to you - I can do better for the money.

Last edited by Lord Gonchar, Saturday, April 20, 2019 5:19 PM
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Saturday, April 20, 2019 9:26 PM

You hate fun things.

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