Deciding Between a Disney World Getaway and a Disney Cruise
So you’ve decided to take the plunge and go on a Disney getaway. If you’re new to the Disney planning game chances are you’re having the great Disney World VS. Disney Cruise Debate. Though both options can be nothing short of magical, determining which option is best for your family can depend on a myriad of different factors. That’s why we here at MickeyBlog thought we’d give you a brief rundown of the pros and cons of each to help you pick your preferred destination.
Walt Disney World
Every parent dreams about that moment where you introduce your little ones to Mickey Mouse for the first time, stroll down Main Street U.S.A or ride Dumbo the Flying Elephant. Nothing really conjures up magic and whimsy quite like a visit to Walt Disney World. Though there’s a ton to love about this destination there are also a few cons that those having the theme park versus cruise debate may want to consider. Let’s take a look.
Options for All Budgets – Anyway you cut it, a trip to Walt Disney World isn’t cheap. However, with over 25 resorts on Walt Disney World property there are ton of options and many different price points. This means greater flexibility for the budget minded-traveller. For instance, Value Resorts are typically in the $125 – $200 range, Moderates in the $200 – $325 range and Deluxes start at around $400 and go up to $600+ depending on options.
Lots of Variety – Walt Disney World (coming in at a whopping 43 square miles) truly offers something for everyone. There are four incredible theme parks, two water parks, miniature golf courses, spas, watersports, a downtown shopping district and so much more. More variety means the ability to pick options that you know that your family will enjoy! Thrill ride seekers may opt to fill each day with theme park visits. Those with small children may opt for fewer days at the parks and more days at the resort pools. Adults travelling without children may want to hit the golf courses or head to the spa!
Customize Your Package the Way Yout Want It – The most common question I get asked by those planning a Disney getaway is “How many days should I stay at Disney?” The beauty of this question is that there’s no right or wrong answer. Unlike cruising where you’re locked into a set number of days, with Disney World you determine the amount of time that will work for you! You may decide to stay 2 weeks for a grand getaway or only for 3-days for a weekend getaway. Either way, you’ll have a magical time. Want that all-inclusive feel? Then add one of Disney’s incredible dining plans allowing you to pre-pay for meals. Only have the budget for a bare-bones package? No problem. Skip extra things like Park Hopper Tickets, Memory Maker packages and dining for a more budget-friendly option.
Plentiful Discounts – Throughout the year, Disney World will release discounts for those looking for a Walt Disney World vacation package. Depending on the time you visit, you may qualify for hefty room discounts, FREE dining or complimentary gift cards offered during your stay. The awesome thing about Disney discounts is that you can also apply them even after you’ve booked. This is the perfect option for budget-minded travellers looking to save as you go!
The Crowds – Back when I first started working as a Disney-focused Travel Agent there was such a thing as “off-peak” at Disney WOrld. During these times you could expect crowds to be lower making for a kinder gentler theme park visit. There is no longer really an off-season at Disney. You can pretty much expect hefty crowds any time of year. With this in mind, it becomes much more important to strategize your visit to avoid swelling crowds, long-lines and limited availability for dining reservations etc. If the thought of sharing your Disney days with throngs of people make your nervous, you may prefer the less hectic pace of a cruise!
Lots of Planning- For first time Disney travelers, tackling all of the intricacies involved in planning a Disney getaway can be nightmare inducing. There are dining reservations to make at the 180-day mark, Fastpasses to be booked, itineraries to create, routes to plan out. I could go on. In order to prep for Disney, there is a ton of forward planning involved in order to maximize your time and money. It’s not the place to go for those who want to “wing it.” With that in mind, it may not always be the best option for those who prefer to relax and not plan out your getaway with military-like precision.
Fast Paced – According to my Fitbit, on a recent visit to the Magic Kingdom, I walked an impressive 8 miles in one day! Do that every day over a 4 or 5-day visit and it’s easy to see that a visit to the theme parks (though enjoyable) can be a lot of work. Many families will be on the go from 8 am when the theme parks get ready to open until late into the evening. There’s also dining reservations to make, resort buses to hop, FastPasses attractions to reach during your designated window and showtimes to make. It’s not surprising then that relaxing is rarely a word that comes to mind when describing a Disney World getaway!
The Heat – Even if choosing a Disney Cruise that heads to tropical climes you have a relaxing sea breeze or easily accessible indoor amenities to keep you cool! At Disney World (unless you travel during the month of December and January) can be super hot. Couple this with the fact that most of us only have the luxury of visiting during the Summer holidays and you may find yourself tackling that 8-mile theme park day with a heat index of 100 º.
Walt Disney World Costs :
For a family of 4 planning a 4-night Walt Disney World stay with 3-day theme park tickets (non-discounted)your costs may look something like this:
- VALUE: All Star Music- Standard Room- $2007.00
- MODERATE: Disney’s Port Orleans Riverside – Pool View Room – $2641.00
- DELUXE: Disney’s Yacht Club Resort- Garden or Woods View Room- $3728.00
Want to add the dining plan? You can make your package all inclusive for a family of 4 by adding on the Disney Dining Plan for an additional $1018 (to any of the packages listed above. )
Disney Cruise Line
If you’re the sort of family that prefers sandy beaches to Space Mountain then going on one of Disney Cruise Line’s incredible sailings may be the better option for you. Like a visit to Walt Disney World, there are many pros and cons that may help determine which option is the best for your family. Check them out below.
A Wide Variety of Destinations – If hanging out in central Florida doesn’t sound as appealing as cruising the Mediterranean, checking out the glaciers in Alaska or enjoying Disney’s private island Castaway Cay, then cruising is definitely the way to go! Disney Cruise Line heads to some mighty impressive destinations including Alaska, Mexican Riviera, Bermuda, Bahamas, Eastern Caribbean, Western Caribbean, Panama Canal, Hawaii, Canada, Europe and so much more. With an incredible array of itineraries ranging from the 2-night Baja sailing to the 14-night Transatlantic Crossing, there’s also an option bound to work for your family!
All-Inclusive – If you do a basic price comparison between a Walt Disney World getaway and a Disney Cruise, it’s the cruises that typically come out as more expensive. However, the main reason for this is that there are so many things included in the cost of your cruise. All meals, onboard amenities, entertainment and more are factored into the cost of your cruising fare. This means fewer surprises at the end of your stay. Though things like port excursions or alcoholic drinks aren’t included in the costs, I guarantee you’ll walk away from your first cruise impressed by all the bang that you get for your buck!
Downtime for Parents – There was a time when Disney World used to have Kids Activity Centers where parents could check their kids in, know that they would be entertained Disney-style while mom and dad go out for a romantic meal for two. However, these centres were closed a fewl years ago making it difficult for parents to enjoy some downtime. However, Disney Cruise Line offers this in abundance. There is practically an entire floor dedicated to kids activities. The Oceaneers Clubs are jam-packed with games, activities and characters. Once your kids see it, the won’t want to leave. These centers are safe and secure meaning parents have peace of mind before heading to the spa, to the Adults Only deck or for a romantic meal at Palo or Remy!
Slower Pace- Many of Disney Cruise’s awesome itineraries include lots of time at sea to enjoy all that your cruise ship has to offer. That means more time lounging by the pool, lying in and ordering room service, or checking out a movie at the onboard cinema. You’ll definitely walk away from a Disney Cruise more relaxed than when you started. Unfortunately, with the fast pace of a theme park visit, guests at Walt Disney World can rarely stay the same.
Cost- Because Disney Cruises include an impressive array of onboard amenities, you’ll often see this reflected in the cost. As a result, those comparing the cost of a Disney World visit versus and Disney Cruise will almost always find the cruise the more expensive of the two options. Though you don’t have to shell out as much while on the actual holiday many families looking at initial costs for a Disney may find prices a bit daunting. Those used to bagging a last-minute bargain with other cruise lines or getting crazy free add-ons like complimentary alcohol or stateroom credits also won’t find these sort of deals with Disney. The Disney Cruise Line fleet is small (only 4 ships) and due to the popularity, the sailings they tend to fill up fast. This means Disney doesn’t need to offer incentives.
No Discounts – Disney Cruise Line operates under an early-bird model. This means that rates are the most affordable when they first come out and gradually go up as the ship start to fill up. For this reason, those looking to bag a last-minute bargain will rarely find one with Disney. In addition, this pricing policy also has the knock-on effect of raising prices during popular times of the year. Those going on a 4-night cruise during an off-peak period may find costs around the $3000 mark for a family of four. Try to find the same cruise in mid-June when school gets out and you’ll see prices double that!
Ships Can Feel Claustrophobic– Due to the very nature of cruising itself, things onboard your cruise ship are on a much smaller scale compared to the grandiosity of a visit to Walt Disney World. Let’s start with the staterooms. Though standard room at a Walt Disney World resort may be anywhere from 260- 400 sq ft. your Disney Cruise Line staterooms are smaller with Inside Staterooms starting at a humble 169 sq ft. Another place this can be felt is in the swimming pools which are more like dipping pools. All of the pool options onboard your Disney ships are small (to say the least) and during peak periods (especially during days at Sea) it seems like there are more people then there is water!
Expensive Add-Ons- Depending on the length of your sailing you’ll make stops at a variety of different ports of call. If you want to enjoy activities or go on tours during your stops all of these activities come at an extra cost. Though Disney is good at making sure there are a variety of port adventure options at different price points they can add up! For instance, visitors to Disney’s Castaway Cay may pay as little as $54 for a stingray adventure or as high as $500 for a private cabana. Depending on your tastes and the number of stops you make, these costs can quickly add up.
Disney Cruise Line Costs:
For a family of four looking for a 4-night sailing to the Bahamas in October, you may find rates similar to those listed below:
- Inside Stateroom – $3385.00
- Outside Stateroom – $3577.00
- Verandah Stateroom – $3721.00
Guests should note that while most things including taxes, fees and port expenses are included in the fare some things are not. For a closer look at extra expenses check out this article.
A Bit of Both
Still can’t decide what option would be best for your family? Why not opt for both! Going on a Disney Land and Sea vacation is a popular option for families with a healthy budget that want to get a taste of both the theme parks and the cruise ships! The most common Land and Sea combination that I book for clients is a 4 or 5 night Walt Disney World resort stay combined with 3-days at sea on one of Disney’s Bahamian sailings out of Port Canaveral! For guests going on a Land and Sea getaway, Disney takes care of a lot of the logistics including baggage collection and ground transportation from your Walt Disney World resort to the cruise terminal so that you can relax and enjoy your holiday!
For those interested in Land and Sea getaways check out this article and find out how to get your FREE, no-obligation quote.
Thinking about a Walt Disney World vacation or a Disney Cruise? Enlist the help of an Authorized Disney Vacation planner like MickeyTravels who can take care of all of the logistics. Getting started is easy! Simply fill out our form below to get your FREE, no-obligation quote.
Find articles like this helpful? Then why not consider working with an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner? As an agent with MickeyTravels, I’ll be on hand to assist you with everything from finding your perfect package to helping you plan lots of special touches to make your visit truly magical. Best of all my services are absolutely FREE. Get in touch at 1.800.801.4025 via email at email@example.com or follow along on Facebook
I’m glad someone is finally admitting there isn’t an ‘off season’ anymore. What are your thoughts for how long crowds will be larger with opening of Star Wars at DW? My son- a big adult nerd- thinks it will be 3 years. Which may be about right to make another trip with daughter’s twins.
Your son may be right! Though, Disney seems like they are figuring out how to manage the wait times a bit better these days…