The Best Money I’ve Ever Spent in Disney World

by | May 15, 2024 | WDW Blog

While there’s no arguing that Disney World is expensive, there are some experiences and items that have been more worth the money than others. I’m sharing some of the best money that I’ve spent in Disney World.

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Disney World is pricey, let’s just get that out of the way. The tickets, the hotel, the travel to and from — it all adds up to an expensive trip, even when you’re budgeting as much as possible. But, while there are essentials you must buy to get in (tickets, for example), there are also some Disney World experiences that are optional. And while these all may add to the cost of your vacation, there are some that are absolutely worth the money. I’ll be sharing some of the best Disney World experiences that I found were very much worth the extra cost.

Behind-the-Scenes Tours

While it’s easy to fill up your days in Disney World with rides and food, there’s another option that is well worth your time (and money). Disney offers a variety of behind-the-scenes tours that offer a unique experience you won’t find anywhere else. Over in Disney’s Animal Kingdom, you can travel through the savanna of Kilimanjaro Safaris from a different vantage point with the Wild Africa Trek.

On a privately guided tour, you and a small group will journey across the area on paths, a rope bridge, and a safari vehicle with the chance to view the animals up close. The experience includes African-inspired snacks and photo services. Additionally, EPCOT has tours such as the EPCOT Seas Adventures – Dolphins in Depth, where you can swim with dolphins in the Seas. The experiences vary in cost and provide a potentially once-in-a-lifetime experience that will add something special to any Disney trip. You can find a full list of tours you can book here.

Disney Genie+ (on Crowded Days)

Yes, we all miss the days of free FastPass+ at the park. Its replace, Disney Genie+, is a paid way to skip the line that has surge pricing depending on teh date and park you’re visiting. And while, honestly, it’s never a joy to purchase the service, there are some days where I am incredibly thankful that I have. When I’m visiting the parks with my toddler and don’t want to wait in long lines, Disney Genie+ provides a great option to be able to hop onto the rides we want to get on without having to test her patience in a queue.

When I’m visiting during a crowded time of year (which seems like it’s getting more and more frequent as time goes on), I have found that the price of Disney Genie+ has been well worth the time I have saved from having to spend in a line. It’s helped me get more out of my day, letting me get on more rides than I would have been able to without it.

Really Great Dining

When people ask me what my favorite part of Disney is, I always tell them it’s the food. My husband and I did our honeymoon at Disney not because of the rides but because we splurged on the Disney Dining Plan and went to town to try out some of the best restaurants that Disney World has to offer.

While expensive, restaurants such as Topolino’s Terrace, Jiko, and Narcoossee’s have given me some of the best meals of my life, both for the food and the atmosphere. For a few of our favorite restaurant recommendations, check out the links below:

A DVC Hotel

For me, it’s not realistic to stay in a Deluxe Resort or Deluxe Villa every time I visit Disney World. However, when I have rented DVC points to stay in a DVC villa I have genuinely never regretted it. Renting through David’s Vacation Club Rentals makes it easier (and more cost-effective!) to stay in a DVC villa for your Disney World trip. Now, why have I loved these hotel choices so much? The main reason is the space and amenities.

grand floridian room tour

DVC Studio at Disney’s Grand Floridian. Photo by Danny Shuster

The DVC villas are typically at Deluxe Resort hotels, meaning they have some of the best transportation, dining, locations, and amenities of any of the Disney World hotels. Additionally, they come in deluxe studios, 1-, 2-, or 3-bedrooms, which have been ideal for giving space to younger children who may need an earlier bedtime. While not an option for every visit, when I can stay at a DVC villa, I never regret it.

PhotoPass

Now, this may be one that doesn’t apply to everyone, but one of the best Disney World experiences I’ve paid for is Disney PhotoPass. I’m a mom, which means my phone holds thousands of pictures of my daughter with friends and family, and almost none of her and myself. Honestly, same goes for pictures of me and my husband, However, when we go to Disney World, we always end up with tons of pictures, and the sole reason for that is Disney PhotoPass.

For non-Passholders, Memory Maker ranges in price from $75 for one day, to $210 when you buy it during or post vacation (or $185 if you purchase before). Now, if you don’t plan on taking too many pictures of yourself and your group, or you think a phone will do just fine for the job, this may not be the case for you. But for me, the price is well worth it for the pictures I can have to remember the trip.

Posts by Morgan Flaherty

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Morgan is the Staff Editor for WDW Magazine. A lifelong Disney fan, her dream day involves just about anything to do with Animal Kingdom. Along with several years of experience writing about Disney, Morgan has also written as a contributing writer for Well + Good, Scary Mommy, Brit + Co, and Baby Chick.
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Authored by
Morgan Flaherty

Morgan is the Staff Editor for WDW Magazine. A lifelong Disney fan, her dream day involves just about anything to do with Animal Kingdom. Along with several years of experience writing about Disney, Morgan has also written as a contributing writer for Well + Good, Scary Mommy, Brit + Co, and Baby Chick.
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