The Cost of a Family Trip to Disneyland

Math? Yeah, what is that?

I'm the opposite kind of nutcase. I usually "eyeball" my trips, and don't think about the total cost until it's too late. Then I get home and wonder what the hell happened. My brain tends to live in denial until the reality hits.

And I can't believe I just admitted that...lol

I wish I could shut my brain off like that sometimes... My OCD often turns a good time bad.

I'm not a "math person", and am more creative than analytical, but I am occasionally guilty of breaking down a day at the amusement park on a cost per ride basis. We were at SFOT a couple weeks ago, and I bought my partner a friday evening ticket that ran 44 bucks. I had a season pass. He's not really a ride person, but claims he likes to go, and after we got in the gate he announced he wasn't feeling well (really?...) and after 3 rides he decided to sit out the rest of the night. So I quickly deduced he was running about 15 bucks a ride which to me is unacceptable.

Once at the Florida State Fair I purchased a midway wrist band which was an expensive ( I thought) deal at 35 dollars. So I decided to show them and do all I could to get my cost down to a dollar a ride, which to me is very acceptable. Shouldn't have been a problem, as Florida has one of the largest and most amazing independent midways ever, right? Wrong. By the time I got to Power Surge I had been flipped and spun so many times that I thought I was gonna hurl during the ride (so did the guys across from me) then had to ride the bench (laying down) for about an hour. After that I half heartedly took in a few dark rides, funhouses, and the drop tower, but I think in the end I wound up at a little under 2 bucks a ride.

My recent trip to Disney World was a package deal through the resort, and my compulsion to break it down ended right there. I could never go to the lengths that this guy did, nor would I want to!

^ I'll do you one better. Had a friend pay full gate price to go to Canada's Wonderland $56. Goes on zero rides with us. Buys a funnel cake to end the day for $12. You could either call it a $68 funnel cake, or infinite dollars per ride.

Lord Gonchar said:

2. You end up with kids able to do the work, but not truly understand the

Reminds me of my 8th grade math teacher. His motto was "the what is nothing without the why." I didn't truly understand that for another couple of years, but looking back it makes lots of sense.


And then one day you find ten years have got behind you
No one told you when to run, you missed the starting gun

eightdotthree's avatar

Gonch, have you ever read Mr. Money Mustache?

Last edited by eightdotthree,
janfrederick's avatar

I was always told to show my work so that I could troubleshoot when I got an incorrect answer. Figure out where I went wrong. Then again, I guess that's just another aspect of understanding the why.


"I go out at 3 o' clock for a quart of milk and come home to my son treating his body like an amusement park!" - Estelle Costanza
Lord Gonchar's avatar

No, I haven't. But I'm clicking the link right now.


ApolloAndy said:
I used to agonize about all these things on trips.

Now I have a paycheck and a "Vacation" line item in the family budget (Yes, I have line items in the family budget) which is about 4% of the take home pay. When we go on vacation, we know how much the line item is before we leave and w spend on whatever we want until it's gone.

Haha, Dave would be proud of you. ;)

I am with Jason on the subject. I like to have majority of trip paid for in advance. So, once the trip starts, there is less to worry about financially. I am currently thinking of going to Florida in few months. I am getting Flex-Tickets for the two of us. Then make hotel reservations and figure how much I will need for gas and start putting that aside. I try not to think about price per ride. To me, it comes down to one thing: Did you enjoy yourself? If yes, money should not be a concern.


Jerry - Magnum Fanatic
Famous Dave's- 206 restaurants - 35 states - 2 countries

rollergator's avatar

Six Flags or Cedar Fair parks seem like better candidates for performing a "price per ride" analysis. If I were to ignore the shows we saw on Saturday (Magic, The Memories and You, and Wishes), then our visit consisted of a couple rides each on Space Mountain and Buzz Lightyear and one lap on Tomorrowland Transit Authority -although it'll always be WEDWay Peoplemover to me. We had a fabulous time with only 3 hours in the park (4 hours "on property").

Of course, with passes, we've already destroyed the math....it'd take the Freakonomics guys to figure out!

Well I just got back from my obligatory Disney vacation. To me it's terribly overpriced, and I don't see myself getting back down there ever.

Raven-Phile's avatar

billb7581 said:
Well I just got back from my obligatory Disney vacation. To me it's terribly overpriced, and I don't see myself getting back down there ever.

Cool story, bro.

Maybe, he should make a trip report about his Disney trip that he knew he wouldn't like before even going.

Jeff's avatar

Manifest destiny in action.


Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Phrazy

Lord Gonchar said:
Oh, there are much worse things to waste effort and/or brain cycles on.

Like whether or not Great Adventure needs to build a hotel? :)


This Isn't A Hospital--It's An Insane Asylum!

ApolloAndy's avatar

TerraCoaster said:

ApolloAndy said:
I used to agonize about all these things on trips.

Now I have a paycheck and a "Vacation" line item in the family budget (Yes, I have line items in the family budget) which is about 4% of the take home pay. When we go on vacation, we know how much the line item is before we leave and w spend on whatever we want until it's gone.

Haha, Dave would be proud of you. ;)

Dave who? If Dave Ramsey, I've never read a word he's written or heard a word he's said, but from what I understand my natural/family upbringing approach to money is very much what he advocates.


Hobbes: "What's the point of attaching a number to everything you do?"
Calvin: "If your numbers go up, it means you're having more fun."

Lord Gonchar said:
Courtesy of cockeyed.com

Some interesting non-enthusiast (but definitely geeky) insight and analysis in this TR.

With my $199 three-day ticket, I experienced twelve characters, thirty rides, three walk-throughs, four parades and one fireworks show.

Obviously the "ride" is the base unit of entertainment in the resort, but I needed numbers for character interactions, parades etc., so I came up with relative values to those activities and tweaked them until my total price equalled that $199.

Thus my trip can be dissected into 30 rides at $4.70 each, twelve character visits for $2 each, three walk-throughs for $3, four parades for $5, and a fireworks show for $5.

I could also divide the price by the total number of hours being entertained to the Disneyth degree, but I'm not going to bother. I'll just tell you it was well worth it.

Ok. It amuses me. :)

What if his whole basic assumption was wrong? What if he actually got $224 worth of entertainment for his $199? Or only $183?

Somewhere along the line, somebody will read this article and try to sue Disney because they were gypped 2 rides and a parade on their 3-day pass. Of course their suit will be thrown out when it's discovered they got 3 extra character interactions.

Lord Gonchar's avatar

Well, I see it as another example that the amusement park experience isn't fair to begin with. (a common theme in the VQ/FOL debates)

Some of us pay $4 a ride. Some pay more. Some pay less.

Hell, at Disney we don't even all pay the same admission for our day there based on the variable nature of the ticket prices based on length of stay.

And more to your question, I don't think the point was to figure the value of his purchase but to simply break down what he paid.


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