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.
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.
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.
- 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.
- 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.