I’m back from Disney and feeling those post-trip blues, so the only thing to do is to talk more about the trip right? I’ve heard some requests on Instagram to talk about how I budget for and pay for my various trips, so since I just did this one, I’ll use a real example and give some tips along the way. I’ll walk through each of my expenses for my trip in general and also my Dapper Day outfits in this post!

I’ll start by talking about the trip basics/essentials – flight, hotel, transportation, park tickets – and then go into expenses while I’m on the trip and end with the cost of my Dapper Day outfits.

Flight

This is always the first thing I buy and what prompts me to figure out the rest (like where I’ll stay). I usually scout for cheap flights and am flexible on dates, but this time I obviously had a set weekend I wanted to be there. I almost always fly on Southwest because of the 2 free checked bags and, more importantly, amazing customer service.

I flew Thursday morning (April 25th) at 5:40 am out of the Indianapolis International Airport and landed at Orlando (MCO) at 7:55 am. This is what I recommend, because it meant I was at the parks right around opening time (a bit later because of Magical Express – more on that below). It maximizes your time and you don’t spend a whole day on travel.

I flew out of Orlando on Monday evening at 8:35 pm and landed back in Indianapolis at 10:50 pm (all times are Eastern by the way). Again, I recommend flying out as late possible to maximize your time on your last day as well. I could fit in just about a whole day before going to the airport. I just can’t see a night show on my last day, but I have other days for that.

As for cost, for the roundtrip it came to $283.96, bought back in December. That’s fairly average for them and not bad in my opinion. The early/late flights are also usually the cheapest, so that’s another reason to go for those times! I paid for this initially with a credit card and paid it off over the next couple months.

Hotel

While I usually stay off property to save money here, I chose to stay on property this time because I was doing Dapper Day and they had a group reservation discount. I also wanted the convenience of being able to go back and forth quickly if I need to change or something. It was a splurge, so you’ll see some areas where I cut budget later.

I chose to stay at Pop Century because it was the cheapest option available with the group rate. I also just love Pop Century, especially with their newly renovated rooms. I don’t plan to do much more than sleep and maybe lay by the pool for a couple hours at the resort, so I don’t need anything fancier.

For this cost, it came to $612 for four nights (Thursday-Sunday, check out Monday). I paid the first night + tax of $153 in December when I booked, and the remaining balance of $459 in February with my tax refund.

Transportation

By staying on property, I can use the Magical Express bus to get from the airport to my hotel. I had heard some concerning things, but I had plenty of time on Thursday and I had also never done it (so I’m calling it research and ~content~ and going for it). This is included in the resort stay, so there’s no extra cost. Having now gone through it, I was beyond impressed with the Magical Express process. It wasn’t ~tragical~ at all. You can see the process outlined on my Instagram story highlights.

I also don’t have to budget for ubers from an off property hotel, a rental car, etc. (I’ve done both options before, so I’ll write more about that in some future posts if there’s interest!).

Accounting for about $50-75 in uber to and from the airport plus another ~$50 for the whole stay in ubers to and from the parks and around town, that’s about $100 that I’m saving. Factor that out of the hotel cost above, and it’s fairly close to the cost of an off property hotel. It’s still an added expense, but it’s not totally outrageous like some might think.

Park Tickets

I have an annual pass, so this cost is a bit different than it might be if you’re buying tickets for a specific visit. I pay $56.45 per month on my Platinum annual pass (no blockouts, no water parks). I’ve just got this factored into my regular monthly budget, Disney trip or not, so I’m not including it in this budget outline – keep that in mind as you keep reading.

Where are we at so far?

ExpenseCost
Flight (Southwest)$283.96
Hotel (Pop Century)$612.00
Transportation$0.00
Total$895.96

So I’m at $900 for the basics of the trip, plus my annual pass monthly payment. This is for one person going to Disney for five days with a four night stay on property, flying in from several states away. I could have cut it by staying off property, maybe by a couple hundred, but transportation would go up to at least $100.

On-Trip Expenses

To save for these, I started buying Disney gift cards to have on my trip to spend on dining, souvenirs, and other things I might need. I paid off my hotel when I got my tax refund, but I still had quite a bit left so I bought one round of gift cards – totaling $150 – at that time as well. I also budgeted to buy the same amount earlier in April, because it’s easiest for me to set aside money during the month of a trip because I’d spend some of that money whether I was at Disney or not during that time.

That’s my best advice for saving for Disney: buy gift cards. If you buy at a Sam’s Club, Costco, or similar bulk store, you can get them discounted. I paid $145 for $150 in gift cards each time. If you go to Target and have a Red Card, you get a discount and cash back to save money as well. It adds up quick, especially if you are paying for a hotel/ticket package. In the future, I will likely buy gift cards first and then use them on hotels rather than directly paying Disney with a credit/debit card.

That gave me $300 in Disney gift cards that I could set aside, can’t spend on anything but Disney, and if I didn’t spend them all, they are easily applicable in the future on trips or on future hotels/tickets. (I actually had $100 left over that I didn’t spend and put towards the cost of a hotel of a future trip.)

Dining Plans

When budgeting, it’s important to consider what you’re going to eat each day. You will know this quickly because you’ll be making dining reservations 6 months out (or as soon as you book if you book within that time frame like I did). I was still far enough out that I could get some good reservations (which isn’t common for my trips) so I took advantage of it and got some good table-service reservations.

  • Be Our Guest Dinner on Saturday Night – I finally got to meet Beast y’all! I gladly took the extra cost here. They have a fixed cost of $60 per person for their dinner service.
  • Wine Bar George Dinner – I booked this late, but once I started seeing how good it was I had to grab a reservation (Tip: Do it on their website, not the MDE app, to find availability). I ate with two other people (who I met through Instagram!) and our bill came to a total of $60, split ways into $20 each.
  • Tutto Italia Ristorante on Sunday Night – I love Italian and also have the bucket list goal of eating in every Epcot country, so this will help me make progress toward that. (I booked this, but cancelled it the day of because I was doing meet ups and enjoying hanging out with all of you too much!)

Seeing that I had two in-park table service dinner and a relatively pricey dinner at Disney Springs, I kept that in mind when buying my gift cards. I’ll have plenty to cover it and then some, though.

Other dining I had included park snacks and a few quick service here and there, plus some Starbucks each morning. All in all, that was covered by gift cards I had bought and then I had money left over. I’m really bad about eating meals if I don’t have a reservation because I won’t take time to stop and eat anything.

Souvenirs/Shopping

I bought only a few things in the shops this trip, because I spent more money on my hotel and meals than I normally would. I bought the yellow spirit jersey for $60, a personalized brick at Disney Springs for $25, and some shirts/pins and Donald Duck butt ears. I spent a total of $150 on shopping/souvenirs for the whole trip.

Updated Budget

ExpenseCost
Flight (Southwest)$283.96
Hotel (Pop Century)$612.00
Transportation$0.00
Dining150
Souvenirs/Shopping150
Total$1195.96

Dapper Day Outfits

Because this was a Dapper Day trip, I had more expenses than usual. If you’re reading this to help plan an average Disney trip, you can stop at the updated budget just above this section. This next part will outline what I spent on my outfits for two Dapper Days and where I got each item.

Outfit 1: Captain America

ItemStoreCost
EarsLebownitte (Etsy)$39
ShirtH&MPre-Owned
Bow Tie/Suspender SetSweet Looks Collection (Etsy)$55
PantsSolidColorPants.com$37
SocksH&M$4
ShoesExpressPre-Owned
Total$135

Outfit 2: Bing Bong

ItemStoreCost
EarsTheAvengears (Etsy)$35
ShirtH&MPre-Owned
VestSolidColorPants.com$20
PantsSolidColorPants.com$37
SocksH&M$4
ShoesExpressPre-Owned
Total$95

I’m not counting the shirts and shoes I already owned (from work, honestly) in the budget because I didn’t buy it for the trip/outfit. That shows how you can use what you already own to make a great outfit! I did spend quite a bit on both outfits, and you totally don’t have to do that. I also could have made two (and more) outfits out of what was already in my closet, but I wanted to Disney Bound and bring these ideas fully to life.

I will say – solidcolorpants.com was a great find for me. I got the blue and purple dress pants from them, along with the brown vest, and they have some great quality products. I did have to get the pants hemmed, because you only order a waist size and they come super long. That was another $15 total, which I’ve factored into the cost of the pants (they were a little less than $30 from the site originally). I wish they had an Instagram so I could tag them in posts, but unfortunately they don’t seem to have any socials.

I did spend money on shirts and other clothes/shoes I wore in the parks on this trip, but I’m not including that here because 1) I would have bought them regardless and 2) I will get continuous out of them on future trips. They’re mostly from small shops and I enjoy supporting them even when I don’t have a trip planned right away.

Final Budget

ExpenseCost
Flight (Southwest)$283.96
Hotel (Pop Century)$612.00
Transportation$0.00
Dining150
Souvenirs/Shopping150
Dapper Day Outfits$230
Total$1425.96

All together, I spent just over $1400 on this trip from outfits to food to souvenirs to flights and hotel nights. I splurged in some areas, and cut a little in others (including cancelling some dining reservations that would raised the cost). This is all for just one person (me), as well.

What questions do you have about paying for Disney after reading this post?

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