How Disney World caters to big spenders while working families pay the price

LAKE BUENA VISTA, FL - JULY 09: A view of Mickey Mouse at the Walt Disney World theme park entrance on July 9, 2020 in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. The theme park is scheduled to reopen on Saturday despite a surge in new Covid-19 infections throughout

A new travel article claims the only way for families to enjoy themselves at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida, these days is to spring for the VIP treatment. 

But data shows those who would most like to visit the amusement park are people less likely to be able to afford it. Yet many make the trek regardless, pointing to the power the Disney brand holds on the average American.

Earlier this week, Town & Country's Danielle Stein Chizzik recounted her family's recent trip to Disney World in "The Fancy Girl’s Guide to Disney," likening the cost to the equivalent of an African safari or a trip to Paris while insisting the added price of high-end hotels and $600-plus Private VIP Tours on top of the already-costly trip will make it worthwhile.

"The brutal truth: Disney is far more crowded, and costly, than when you were a kid," Stein Chizzik wrote. "After you’ve purchased the flights, the hotel and the very expensive daily admission to the parks, you can expect to spend most of your day waiting on lines that stretch to two hours long. It’s a depressing ROI. The only way around this is — you guessed it — to throw more money at the problem."

But many Disney fans are already feeling tapped out on the price, and, for many, it's out of reach.


Last year, FOX Business spoke with several visitors at Disney World who complained that the cost of their vacation was more than they expected. One family of four expressed sticker shock over their trip that cost upward of $10,000 once airfare was included.

Soon after that, Insider published a poll that found those most likely to say they would "definitely" or "probably" visit a Disney theme park in 2022 had annual incomes of $75,000 or less, while those making between $150,000 and $199,999 were least likely to show interest in a Disney vacation.

A study released last month by LendingTree found many families are willing to put at least some of their Disney vacation on a credit card, with 18% of respondents admitting they took on debt to take a trip to the House of Mouse. The research found that parents with children under the age of 18 were most likely to take on the additional debt, and 71% who overspent at the parks said they did not regret it.

"A Disney trip can be an experience that you and your family remember for the rest of their lives, and those are the types of things people are willing to go into debt for," LendingTree Chief Analyst Matt Schulz explained.

Although Disney declined to comment on the record to FOX Business in response to the "Fancy Girl's Guide" or prices in general, the company said it is listening to guests and recently made a number of changes to make its parks more budget friendly.

Earlier this month, the company announced overnight parking would once again be free for guests staying at Disney Resort hotels at Walt Disney World, telling fans in a blog post, "This is a Disney difference many of you have asked us to bring back, and we’re happy to reintroduce it to make your vacation a little easier and more affordable."

In the same post, the company said Disney World annual passholders would soon be able to visit the theme parks after 2 p.m. without needing a park reservation and that visitors who purchase its Disney Genie+ service will receive complimentary digital downloads of their Disney photo pass attraction photos. Both of those changes can be expected within the next few months.

FOX Business' Jon Brown contributed to this report.