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(Disneyworld Version)

Hello, Guru Joey here! So, you are thinking of visiting Disney World. Hooray! It should be a fun trip no matter what you do. If you are like us gurus, you are probably looking for ways to get the most bang for your buck. Else, why would you be here?

While you scour the internet looking for the best tips and deals to save you money, let the Mouse Gurus enlighten you on what you may be getting. One of the most common ways people try and save money on their trip is by staying in a non-Disney hotel. After all, you are just going to sleep there, right?

Well, let’s break it down!

Below is a quick reference chart. For further break down of each item please click on the specific perk.

*Family of 4 visiting with 3-day park hoppers (Cost of ticket $120 per day)

TransportationDisney Magical Express-Free
Bus system in parks-Free
Rental car: $25/day
Disney Parking: $25/day
Non-Disney +$50/day
Magic BandsFree$15/person
Family of 4: $20/day
Non-Disney +$50/day
Extra Magic Hours12 rides per day average9 rides per day averageDisney -$40/day
Fast Pass Choices3 per day 60 days in advance
14 rides per day
3 per day 30 days in advance
9 rides per day
Disney -$26.60/day
Dining Reservations189 days in advance180 days in advanceDisney -Unknown Value
ShoppingPurchases sent from store to resort room
Disney Stores at Hotel
Carry all purchases with you through the park
No stores at hotel
Disney -Unknown Value
Immersive ExperienceLeave the park, but not the Magic
Themed resorts with special activities
Close proximity to parks
A place to stay until the
next day at Disney World
Disney -Unknown Value


Hotel ChoiceAverage CostAdded cost or Subtracted
(additional Value)
Actual cost for your
DisneyDeluxe: $345
Moderate: $185
Value: $100
-$66.60 plus added Value
not easily translatable to dollars
Deluxe: $278.40
Moderate: $118.40
Value: $33.40

Transportation (Back to top)
On your trip to Disney World most people are going to have to get themselves from the airport to their hotel of choice. For the purpose of this exercise we are going to go with the least expensive option. Rent a car. The average per day cost of renting a car in Orlando is around $25.

Once at your hotel, you will also need to get yourself to Disney World. FYI, parking is going to cost you another 25 dollars per day. Yikes!

If you stay at any of the Disney World resort hotels you have the option of booking Disney’s Magical Express. This is a complimentary shuttle that will take you from the Orlando International Airport right to the entrance of your hotel. They will even send you bag tags in the mail prior to your arrival which will allow you to exit the plane and go straight to the coach without even a second thought for your bags. Those bags picked up and delivered to your room by the helpful folks at Disney (My wife’s favorite perk).

Now that you’re are at your resort hotel, travel to any of the parks is also complementary. No need for pesky parking fees!

Verdict? Non-Disney +$50 per day!

Magic Bands(Back to top)
Ok, this is an easy one. If you stay at a Disney resort hotel, your magic bands are complimentary. On Magic bands are going for around $14.99 per band, so for a family of 4 the cost is about 60 dollars. Spread that over your 3-day trip and if you are staying at a non-Disney hotel, you could be adding 20 dollars per day to your trip!

Verdict? Non-Disney +$20 per day!

Extra Magic Hours(Back to top)
Another perk of staying at a Disney resort hotel is the extra magic hour. Each day select parks either open early or remain open for an extra hour just for Disney Resort Hotel Guests. That means for 1 hour the crowds at the park drastically decrease and wait lines for rides shrink substantially.

The average family of four at Disney World rides about 9 rides per day. Divide that number by the price per day of a 3-day park hopper and you get roughly $13.30 per ride per person. Due to decreased wait times during extra magic hours, families can ride anywhere from 3-7 rides in that hour. For the purpose of this post, let’s just go with 3. What is the value of those 3 rides? If you take into account the average cost per ride, you gain a value of about $40 per person.

Now technically we should add a value of $120 here because it’s based on a family of four, but we will just say $40.

Verdict? Disney ($40 added value) so -$40.

Early Fast Pass Access(Back to top)
Another perk of staying at a Disney Resort Hotel is early fast pass access. Those that stay at these hotels can set up 3 fast passes per day 60 days in advance. All other guests can book theirs 30 days in advance.

Having gone to Disney World a few times since this started, I can tell you the fast passes go fast. No pun intended. Often even a day or two into the 60 day start time many of the best rides no longer have fast passes available. This means what is left at 30 days can often be underwhelming.

This benefit does not as easily translate into a monetary value, but it is not unlike the extra magic hour. If you really want to go on the popular rides you will probably wait in line for them. This will take time and most likely decrease the number of rides you can go on throughout the day. For the sake of simplicity, I will just say that because of this perk you will be able to ride 2 more rides than you otherwise would.

Verdict? Disney ($26.60 in added value) so -$26.60.

Dining Reservations(Back to top)
All Disney World guests can make reservations at the restaurants of Disney World 180 days in advance, but when you are staying at a Disney owned and operated hotel you get a 9-day head start! That may not seem like much, but if you were hoping to get a table at the Be Our Guest restaurant then it could be the difference between getting a reservation or not getting one. Furthermore, you may be able to score a reservation at 180 days, but what time would you be eating?!

There are a number of restaurants in Disney World that are so popular it is nearly impossible to just walk up and eat there. So, if experiencing a great Disney eating establishment is on your list this perk has value.

Verdict? Disney (You add the value).

Shopping(Back to top)
When you stay at a Disney resort hotel you have the option of having the souvenirs you buy in the park sent directly to your hotel. That means not lugging the items around in the park all day. For a family of four, that could be a big deal.

Most resort hotels also have a Disney store somewhere on the premises. If you didn’t find exactly what you wanted at the park, try one of those when you get in at night.

Verdict? Disney (You add the value).

Immersive Disney Experience(Back to top)
Whether you are staying at a deluxe, moderate or value Disney resort you are immersed in Disney Magic. You don’t have to put your Disney experience on pause when you leave the park.

Come home from a long fun day to extensive Disney theming, Fantastic storybook pools, more Disney shops, and fun activities for the whole family!

Adults, don’t worry. There are plenty of quiet, child free activities for you too! And did I mention, your hotel is just minutes away? Oh yeah! Don’t forget that wakeup call from Mickey!

Verdict? Disney (You add the value).

Choosing where to stay when coming to Disney World Is not as cut and dry as the number of dollars a night the hotel costs. Just using what we discussed above, let’s get a closer look at what that hotel decision could cost you.

Disney resort hotels:
Value- around $99 per night
Moderate- around $185 per night
Deluxe- around $345 and up per night

When looking at the price you should also realize the added value of some of the perks. Subtract $66.60 (This would be what you are really paying for just the “room”).

Non-Disney hotels:
Hotels outside, but near Disney World range anywhere from $100 to $350 per night but most seem to be around $150. When looking at the price of that hotel, be sure to add actual costs of specific perks you will not be getting.
Add: $70.00
150 + 70 = $220

So, Disney hotels would be:
Deluxe: 345 – 66.60 = 278.40
Moderate: 185 – 66.60 = $118.40
Value: 100 – 66.60 = $33.40
Your Non-Disney hotel would be: $220

Now, if this post has made you more likely to stay in a Disney Resort Hotel, but you don’t think you can justify the deluxe resort cost, check out our post on Deluxe accommodations at nearly half the price!