When it comes to planning a Disney vacation (or any vacation), our finances play a key role. After all, paying for the trip is part of the gig, and Disney vacations aren’t necessarily cheap. So which one costs less? Disneyland or Disney World?
There are obvious factors that could affect the answer to this question. Are you staying on or off the property? How long is your vacation? And what about transportation? Let’s take a look at some of these factors up close to determine which one costs less in the end… Disneyland or Disney World.
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Off-property, both Disneyland and Disney World offer a wide range of selections for any budget. So ultimately, they cost about the same if this is what you’re planning to do. But if you’re planning to stay ON property, Disney World can definitely save you money. With only three resorts on Disneyland property and the cheapest one costs $210-350+ a night depending on the season… you can definitely save by staying on property in one of Walt Disney World’s value resorts, which average about $120-179+ a night.
Winner: Depends… but probably Disney World. If you’re willing to stay off-property, both cost about the same. But if you want to stay near the parks, Disney World can definitely be less expensive as they have more budget-friendly options.
Currently, at Disneyland, ticket prices range from $97-$124 for a single-day ticket depending on the day. Tickets currently range from $109-159 per day for Walt Disney World. Both parks offer discounts for multi-day tickets and charge about $60-70 to add a park “hopper” option (allowing you to hop between parks on a single day). Keep in mind, these prices have fluctuated (gone up) a bit in the last few years, but overall, both parks are reasonably close when it comes to how much it costs for admission into the parks.
Winner: It’s a tie. Both parks will cost about the same for park tickets. One way to save money on your tickets, however, is to go during a non-peak time. This will save you money at either resort.
Walt Disney World currently offers free transportation to its resorts from the airport (through the end of 2021) as well as free transportation to and from the parks. Honestly, this is one area where Disneyland falls short. You will need to book (and pay for) transportation to and from the airport even if you’re staying on Disney property. And unless you are within walking distance to the park, you will need to check your hotel for transportation options to and from the parks. Many area hotels use ART, which is fairly simple to use but does require a fee.
Winner: Walt Disney World. Unless you are within walking distance at Disneyland or staying at a Good Neighbor Hotel with free park transportation, you will need to pay for transportation in Disneyland. And you will definitely need to pay for transportation from the airport to your hotel if visiting Disneyland. There is no word yet as to what will replace the Disney Magical Express in Walt Disney World when it ends its free service at the end of 2021, but even when it ends, the free transportation system in Walt Disney World is definitely a perk.
Length of Stay
Obviously, the length of your trip will affect the cost and ultimately YOU decide how long your vacation is and how much you want to spend. But… this is included here for a reason. Walt Disney World is much larger than Disneyland. With four parks and two water parks, there is far more to see and do than there is at Disneyland with only two parks to visit. A “short” Disneyland trip is totally possible, but a short Disney World trip means skipping some of the fun.
Winner: Depends… but probably Disneyland. You definitely need to plan a longer vacation if you plan to see much in Walt Disney World. With four theme parks, two water parks, and much more, Disney World is much larger than the Disneyland Resort. That being said, you can plan a shorter vacation and save money, while still seeing everything if you decide to travel to Disneyland in California.
Disneyland or Disney World?
Winner: It depends…
Most people I talk to wrongly assume that Disney World costs more because it’s bigger. And while you do need more time to see all of Disney World, you don’t HAVE to see it all on every visit. On our last trip, we stayed at a Disney Value Resort and only visited two of the four parks. And we had a blast! Our price per day was actually LESS than it was in Disneyland. (By the time you pay for the pricier Disney hotel and transportation, you will probably be paying more per day at Disneyland.) That being said, there are lots of ways to visit both parks and save money.
**Looking to plan your dream Disney vacation? Be sure to visit one of my step-by-step guides to get started! (Walt Disney World – Disneyland – Disney Cruise Line)