Doing EVERYTHING at Disney World: What Would It Cost?

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Bucket list confession time: I want to do everything thing at Walt Disney World. Not just ride all the rides. Not just stay at all the hotels. Not just eat at all the restaurants. EVERYTHING.

For the past 15 years, I’ve been chipping away at this goal. I’ve made good progress. The only resort I have left to stay at is Fort Wilderness. I’ve gone on all the rides (except Mission Space Orange, ’cause that’s just not happening). I’ve done recreation like waterskiing and trail riding. I’ve eaten at the uber-posh Victoria & Albert’s Chef’s Table. I’ve been on several backstage tours. But still, always, there’s more left undone.

To say you've done everything at Walt Disney World, you've got to stay at every resort.

And I wonder if there should be a statute of limitations on having something count at “done” on the list. Yes, I’ve stayed at Port Orleans Riverside, but that was back in the day when it was called Dixie Landings. Do I need a refresher stay to keep my cred current?

In a particularly scintillating bout of Disney geek pillow talk, I was discussing this topic with my husband. We started wondering what it would take to actually do ALL of Walt Disney World, in one fell swoop. What would it take to do this ULTIMATE Ultimate Touring Plan? What would it cost? How long would it take? Could this even be accomplished?

Is it even possible to say that, at a specific point in time, you’ve done all there is to do at Walt Disney World?

I decided to find out.

Because pricing for many aspects of WDW varies seasonally, I picked July 1, 2012 as my arbitrary start date.

Even small experiences have to be included.

My first step was to figure out what ALL the things to do actually are. I combed through TouringPlans.com, DisneyWorld.com, AllEars.net, The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World, and Birnbaum’s Official Guide to Walt Disney World looking for any mention of an event or activity that one could do at Walt Disney World.

I ran into some issues and questions almost immediately:

  • What Counts as Having “Done” Something? In figuring out pricing, I decided that when there were price variations in a product I would choose the version that best applied to me personally. For example, if there were child and adult pricing, I chose the adult pricing since it’s my bucket list. I also chose the least expensive version of an activity. For example, there are regular (less expensive) and deluxe (more expensive) versions of parasailing. I chose to list the price for the regular version. My rationale was that I felt I could, with a clear conscience, say that I could cross parasailing off my list if I experienced the regular version.
  • Hotels. There are many hundreds of different room types and configurations at WDW. It would be all but impossible to stay in every one of them. To simplify things, I decided to price out the cost for my arbitrary summer visit for what would allow me to credibly say that I had stayed at that hotel. Usually this meant I chose standard view pricing. Although not technically Disney, because of their location I added in the Swan & Dolphin and Shades of Green. My family has no military connections, so I’m working under the assumption here that I could find a friendly service person to bunk with for the night. I also added at night at the Saratoga Springs Treehouse Villas, because this experience is substantially different from the regular resort. Similarly, I added stays at the themed rooms at the moderate resorts because of their unique characteristics. For the villa resorts, I priced out a 1BR unit because the studio experience just isn’t very villa-y. And I added a night at a Grand Floridian top-of-the-line concierge suite because, hey, it’s my bucket list and that’s part of the Disney experience.
  • Once you've paid for your premium annual pass, you get all the Beverley you can drink at no extra charge. Whew!

  • Restaurants. This was perhaps my biggest area of angst. I had originally intended to go to the menu section at AllEars and add up the prices for everything on every menu. Then I realized that my brain wasn’t that big. I toyed with choosing a median priced appetizer/entree/dessert at each venue. This I could do. But then what about snacks? And what about this and what about that, and pretty soon my poor brain was exploding again. I decided to take the easy way out and opt for the Deluxe Disney Dining Plan for the 32 days of my hotel stays. (Yes, I am aware that there is no DDP at Swan/Dolphin/Shades. I just needed to make the math easier.) I added in some money for alcohol (not included on the DDP, but with a task like this you’d certainly need a bit of fortification). And I added money for some key dining experiences that are not part of the DDP (Victoria & Albert’s, some restaurants at the Swan/Dolphin). Assuming that I eat the three meals and two snacks every day at a different restaurant each time without having an coronary episode, I’m still coming up many restaurants short of goal. Grrrrr.
  • Going it Alone. I’m a frequent solo visitor to WDW. I’m all good with experiencing rides alone and even eating alone, but I have to say that it would be a challenge to undertake this multi-week project totally on my own. I’ve priced it for one, but if someone were to win the lotto and actually attempt this, they’d need to budget for companions.
  • Making an Experience Work. I don’t have the necessary requirements for some experiences, but for purposes of this exercise, we’ll assume I do. For example, I’d like to say that I’ve used the Best Friends Kennel, but I don’t own a dog/cat. For purposes of inclusion, I’m assuming that I can find a friend’s pup to borrow for the day. Similarly, some activities are only for children. I’m making the executive decision that it will count has having had a child-exclusive experience if I take a child to it. For example, I would count the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique in my completed experiences if I took my daughter for the makeover.
  • You must buy a few basic souvenirs, or it wouldn't be the full Disney experience.

  • Transportation. I haven’t factored transportation fees into my plan at all. I’d need a flight and certainly a rental car for at least a month. Or possibly I’d drive down and then have gas expenses throughout. In either case, I’d have to add at least $1,000 for transportation to the final total if I were really doing this.
  • Discounts, taxes, tips, and other price befuddlers. We all know that the list price for something at Walt Disney World is almost never the actual price. For most items you need to add in about 7% tax. There are also tips for food, adding 18% to most restaurant bills. And on the flip side, with a little research you can often find discounts for rooms, tours, and special experiences, saving 10-20% of the total for those items. When listing prices, I went with the most recent published rate I could find. To somewhat factor the real price variability into the equation, I decided to add a blanket 15% surcharge to the total.

So, given those convoluted parameters, what would it cost to do everything at Walt Disney World?

Here’s the handy-dandy spreadsheet I made to figure it all out. Price To Do Everything

Not surprisingly, the biggest slice of the pie comes from resort stays. To stay one night, during the summer of 2012, in each of Disney World’s 25 resorts (counting villas separate from hotels) PLUS, as previously mentioned, one night each in a Pirate room at CBR, Royal room at POR, Swan room, Dolphin room, Shades of Green room, Tree House villa, and Grand Floridian suite would cost $11,796.

Moving on, I searched my sources for the multitude of things to do, eat, and buy at Walt Disney World. I’ve estimated $3,465 for recreation, $3,346 for tours and special experiences, $3,511 for food, and on and on and on. Check out the spreadsheet link above for the deets.

Adding it all up, the total was $24,423. Then tack on 15% for tax, tips, etc. and you get a grand total of (drum roll, please) $28,086. As noted, that doesn’t include transportation, which would probably add a grand or so for either a flight and a car rental, or auto wear and tear and gas.

And wait, I’ve not included here items that are seasonal that couldn’t possibly take place during this hypothetical do-it-all summer visit. To really accomplish everything, you’ll have to come back and spend for Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween and Very Merry Christmas Parties, Food & Wine and Flower & Garden Festival Events, Star Wars Weekend merchandise, the Night of Joy, the Holiday D-Lights and Yuletide Fantasy tours, and RunDisney events. Those items add up to more than $1,200, not including the necessary additional food and lodging. Beyond that, I’ve already realized that I forgot to include Tables in Wonderland exclusive dinners, a private Illuminations party, a personal portrait session, a couple of loads of laundry, and several other items.

So we’re now looking at well north of $30,000 for one person to accomplish something approximating everything at Walt Disney World.

Of course, that’s not factoring anything related to having a Disney wedding or conference, or purchasing a coveted Golden Oak home. :-)

So my fellow park goers, is this what you thought it would cost to become a TRUE Disney expert? If the PowerBall numbers were in your favor, is this something you would do? Anyone want to attempt it and invite me along to report on your progress? Let us know in the comments below.

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Posted on May 16, 2012

45 Responses to “Doing EVERYTHING at Disney World: What Would It Cost?”

  • Starting to save now :)

  • Actually that’s not as expensive as I thought it would be! I figured it would easily be well over 50 grand. Very cool experiment. I feel like I’ve probably already spent $30,000 in the last 10 or so trips, and I KNOW I haven’t seen everything. I’ve only stayed at one Disney resort, and only once! Time to make myself a Disney World bucket list…

    • by Erin Foster on May 16, 2012, at 2:49 pm EDT

      To REALLY do it, the would be a bit more than these numbers indicate because you’d have to come back to go to MNSSHP, runDisney etc., but I think it would still stay well below $50,000.

  • Yeah, I was thinking it would be way higher too!! There is little we haven’t done in the parks, and we’re slowing whittling away at the resort list. That might have to wait til we’re older and have more indispensable income! LOL!

  • by Stephanie O on May 16, 2012, at 2:21 pm EDT

    LOVE this post. Thanks for crunching the numbers! Now I just have to multiply that by 5 so I can take my family… :)

    • by Erin Foster on May 16, 2012, at 2:46 pm EDT

      Well, it’s not exactly by five. At many of the resorts you can all stay in one room, so you’re already cutting expenses. All you have to do is pay five times the food, activities, and entertainment. :-)

  • by Dogstardaddy on May 16, 2012, at 2:26 pm EDT

    What a great blog post!!

  • by Tracy Conie on May 16, 2012, at 2:41 pm EDT

    Wow I thought it would be over $50,000, one win on the lottery should get this done. Oh I have to actually do it to win it

  • Love this post! As a tour obsessive, I do want to give a shout out to the discounts the theoretical big money baller could get using their AP included on the spreadsheet. AP holders can get 15% off most WDW tours. Since I’m on a mission to do all the tours myself, I found it worthwhile to get a Disney VISA for the 20% tour discount. I’m saving at least $600 for just me doing all the tours. Plus I saved almost $150 for the Backstage Magic Tour alone when I took some family members.

  • Obviously you mentioned the various discounts possible in your calculations explanation, but I know a lot of folks with Disney VISAs that don’t realize it offers discounts than APs sometime. Great work!

    • by Erin Foster on May 16, 2012, at 3:14 pm EDT

      You’re correct that there are many ways to economize. I was really just trying to get a ballpark number. If I were actually going to do this, I’d definitely enlist the help of a good travel agent or three to help me sort it all out.

  • My brain hurts after reading this but thanks for sharing! If I win the lottery Im buying the highest DVC and just move there :)

  • Oh I would so do this if I win the lottery!! I’d do it all in 1 year….10 days each month should give you enought time to eat at every restaurant, stay in all the resorts, and make all the special events. now to buy my Powerball tickets tonight!!

  • FYI – you don’t have to be a kid for BBB. I have a son. So I booked my adult sister. It was great fun for all of us.

    • by Erin Foster on May 16, 2012, at 4:08 pm EDT

      In the past they took adults, but recently they changed the policy to only take kids ages 3-12 :-(

  • This is so awesome – thanks for putting it into a spreadsheet and sharing all your wonderful thoughts. At each place I would have just picked what I wanted to do/ride/buy/eat most. 30,000 or 60,000 either way I won’t – but love to plan and think.

  • I am retired Navy, you can bunk with me for one night or I’ll sponsor a room for you and your hubby.

  • Wonderful exploration/fantasy vacation!
    Did you include Beach Club Villas?

    • by Erin Foster on May 16, 2012, at 4:41 pm EDT

      Ack, you’re right. I missed one. And that’s my family’s favorite. We’ve stayed there 6 or 7 times. Gotta add in another 500 bucks.

  • Now how much of that could you squeeze into Platinum or Premium Plan stays, and would that make the plan more cost efficient?

    • by Erin Foster on May 16, 2012, at 4:48 pm EDT

      I was just having that discussion with someone on Twitter. I did consider those Super Deluxe plans, but I thought it would be more fun to price it out individually.

      Many of the items, particularly merchandise and smaller items, wouldn’t be covered under those plans. But you’re right, most of the tours and recreation would.

      Again, if you were really going to do this, you need to do some serious math.

      • Now that Premium & Platinum packages have 3-night minimum, you really would have to do the math and plan your days to the fullest to get the most money’s worth. At least when you pay out of pocket, you can do all this at your leisure.

        • Wow, I didn’t realize that these plans had a three day minimum. It would GREATLY increase your hotel expense if you had to stay three nights at each place.

          Also, when I initially considered whether to price it out with the Premium/Platinum plans, I decided that it would just be too weird to stay at a value resort with them.

  • What a great experiment! I’m with the other commenters, I thought it would be more! Very cool.

  • This was an excellent blog and really cool experiment! I love the way you think! I believe I will be making my own Disney exclusive bucket list now. My regular bucket list has so many Disney activities already; making a separate one makes so much more sense. Thanks for the inspiration. You Rock!

  • This is a tremendous and thorough post! This is one of the reasons Touring Plans is by far the best Disney information service!

  • I’m in! :) Plus, I’m DVC, so that could help with the cost a bit. And, my husband is a veteran, so that would help with Shades of Green! Another thing to think about – if you were to become a cast member, you could get discounts on nearly everything! Save yourself lots of $$ and get a fun experience of working for Disney! I think your next project should be pricing an around the world Disney trip – not Adventures by Disney (that could be another project) but just visiting all of the parks in the world! :)

  • Great post, and only Disney geeks would REALLY understand the importance of an exercise like this :) I don’t mean to be picky, but DW and I found a couple of other special experiences not mentioned, such as Candelight Processional Dinner Pkg (maybe Fantasmic! Dinner Pkg also), Aloha Dinner Show @ Poly. That said, what a great exercise (and now you have us excited to plan our next trip home!). Thanks again for the post, truly a lot of fun :)

    • Those items could be experienced with the Dining Plan, which I faux purchased. That being said, I’m sure there are a few items that I missed. The stuff to do at Disney is never ending. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

  • Next, you’ll need to move on to the DCL! Wow, now THAT would really add up!

  • Great post. Been to WDW 34 times and still need about 100 more visits to do your list, but I’ld love to try. I guess I’ll have to book another trip today and start.

  • If I won the lottery this would be at the top of my ‘things I’d buy if I won the lottery’ list. I’d have to take 25 people with me though (kids and grand kids)so I’d need to win BIG!

  • Erin,

    Great Post. I especially liked the line “I added in some money for alcohol (not included on the DDP, but with a task like this you’d certainly need a bit of fortification).”

    If you add in the Golden Oak, it only comes to $1,530,000, assuming the cheapest “Oak.” Maybe one day you will get that Oak – Hey, you never know. There’s still time…

  • If I win the lottery, I’ll consider taking you along to document the adventure. LOL

    For mine, you’d have to add on an additional $400 +/- to cover getting EVERY squished coin offered at WDW. I’ve already got a substantial dent made in the list for the parks, but I think I only have about half of those. And none from the resorts.

  • I thought it would be way higher, too, but I’m still hiding the total from my husband so when I can cross everything off of MY bucket list, he won’t know how much money I’ve actually spent!

    Can you win this much on a scratch off?

  • You would also have to add about 200 per day for an experienced talented photographer to shoot you doing the whole thing… let me know!

    :)

    Jud

  • WOW!!! surprisingly not that expensive to do all WDW activities
    Thanks Erin, it is the best article I’ve read here :)

  • Oh man, my husband just informed me that he is buying a $30000 used Porsche next weekend. Knowing I could do this instead really sticks in my craw.

  • I would love to do it, and have you along to report on progress! This sounds like a great opportunity to get a sponsor and have a TV show. I am an avid Disney fan and think this would make a great Disney TV special or a travel channel special! Having been almost every year of my life, I definitely think there is a statute of limitations. The Pirates of the Caribbean that I went on as a kid does not count since they added in the Johnny Depp version! Anyway, great blog! Feel free to e-mail me if you need someone to take this 32 day Disney Dream!

  • Is there a list of extra paid activities? I keep learning of things like the wonderland tea party, and wishes dessert party, and I want to know all the things that I could possibly do for our April 13 visit…