Creating a budget is one of the first things you’ll have to do as you plan your first trip to Disney World. There are many factors to consider – some of which will be obvious to you, and some of which you may not have thought of. Here are a few simple tips to make sure you’re covering all the budgeting basics.

Setting up your accommodations budget

One of the largest factors in your budget will be how much you spend on accommodations. You have three basic options: staying at a Disney resort, staying at a local Orlando hotel, or renting a vacation home. Each has its own advantages.

  • Disney resorts. You’ll be as close as possible to the parks, and can take advantage of free bus and / or monorail service into the parks, but you’ll pay much, much more for this convenience.
  • Local Orlando hotels. Many of these hotels are just as close to the parks as Disney resorts, yet they can be a 1/3 of the price.
  • Orlando vacation homes. You get tons of amenities, like private pools, full kitchens and separate living and sleeping areas, and the cost can be as low as $99.

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Your best bet is to price out a few different options, weigh the pros and cons of each, and decide which makes the most sense for your unique circumstances.

Budgeting for food

Food will be another large expense. Once again, you have a few options. If you rent a vacation home you’ll have a full kitchen in your home, which allows you to prepare some of your meals and save significantly. If you stay in a hotel you can choose to eat all your meals within the Disney parks, which will quickly get very expensive, or you can visit some local Orlando restaurants that provide more affordable options. The right choice for you depends on your overall budget. If you plan to eat all your meals within the parks themselves, you can generally budget around $50 per day, per person, for food. This number can drop dramatically if you prepare one or more meals in your own private kitchen.

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Transportation costs

No matter how you arrive in Orlando you’ll have to consider transportation costs. If you fly you’ll likely need to rent a car. If you drive your own vehicle down, you’ll need to pay for parking. One tip it to consider buying one member of your party an annual pass. This gives them free parking at all Disney parks plus a variety of discounts on food and merchandise within the parks. Upgrading one of you could save you significantly on parking costs.