Is The Magic Worth The Price At Disneyland?


I don't know if you've been following the news, but Disneyland just raised it's price of admission to $99 for anyone 10 and over and $93 for kids under 10.  Wow, if you are an average family of 4 you need to spend roughly $400 just to get through the turnstiles (as of today, March 5th 2015 a trip to Disney World in Orlando, FL will now cost $105 per person).  Once inside you are under attack from vendors at every turn hawking ridiculously priced drinks and snacks (how about $6 for a small bottle of water that costs you 99 cents at the market).  If you get hungry for lunch or dinner, expect to shell out the big bucks for a fast food quality meal.  Oh and let's not forget the gift shops at literally every exit off every's just overwhelming not to mention annoying. Honestly, going to Disneyland for me feels like a giant vacuum hose has been dropped into my purse trying to suck out every penny I've got. I am guessing a day at Disneyland for an average family after all is said and done can easily top out at $600-700 with parking, food, snacks and souvenirs. Ouch!

wallet-with-american-moneyWhen it comes to our travel budgets, most of us have limited money to spend in addition to limited time. When it comes to planning trips for my family I really like to think about the return on my investment.  Sure everyone is going to have a great time wherever we go but am I getting the most bang for my buck in terms of how much we'll get to see and do? Sorry Disneyland, you're just not worth it!

If your family is planning a big trip to Disneyland, I hope you reconsider and  opt for a family road trip instead. Yes, Mickey and Minnie and the gang are adorable, but what do they offer in terms of a 3D learning experience? They've got nothing on The Grand Canyon, The Alamo or The Freedom Trail just to name a few.  If you are looking for rides and thrills you can ride the historic Cyclone at Coney Island (which we'll be doing this summer) or wakeboard in Cincinnati or race a dune buggy on the Oregon dunes for starters-they'll definitely get your pulse pounding. And if you want fun and tasty snacks, they may not have a Mickey Mouse on them, but you can taste amazing and uniquely interesting foods all across the country all while learning their origins and how they're made.

DSC_0214A few years back, on trip #9 to Florida I relented and took my kids to Disney World-a visit that left me very sad-heartbroken actually. All around me I saw so many families spending tons of money to have a great time. Parents shelling out cash and swiping their credit cards on drinks and snacks and souvenirs to make their kids happy-like a super sugar high that leaves you crashing hours later.  All I could think about is how much more these families could be doing out on the road spending time together exploring America instead of going broke to support Disneyland's bottom line.

Given the choice, I'd take a family road trip any day over a day at Disneyland. Why give your kids Mickey Mouse when you can give them a real adventure that will leave them smarter, more cultured and uniquely appreciative of all we have to be grateful for as Americans. Sure you'll make priceless memories wherever you go, but there is just no comparison in terms of value, and the opportunity to learn and explore out on the road. -Safe Travels, Alisa



  1. Nicole White says:

    We’ve done both Disneyland and Disneyworld. They were great vacations (thanks to my Disney credit card points). What I really don’t understand are people that literally only go to Disney as their family vacation. Every year it’s back to Disneyworld. Our family vacation motto is: “That was a fantastic town/city/place, but we’ll never be back.” There is too much else to see and do! And, walking Epcot does not count as a “road trip”. Haha

  2. Nicole White says:

    PS – we’re off to two of the places you mention above on this summer’s road trip. Wakeboarding and The Alamo (I promise not to ask about the basement). Can’t wait!

  3. i agree that Disney is outrageous but I think there is something amazing about the place. Everything is commercialized to death (including the Alamo, with the gift shop you have to exit through). Disney has so much to teach the kids as well. Customer service is incredible, Epcot is full of learning opps, the technology is amazing . I let me 5&7 year old help plan our fast passes which teaches them about maps snd time etc. I’m not saying it should be done for every trip but it’s not as if it’s not worth it a couple of times. The other natural landmarks …except for the Alamo..I’m a Texan and even I admit that it’s so boring!!

  4. just got back from a five day trip to Disneyland. It was nothing like I just read. I was with my grandkids and it was truly magical . I bet you spend 3.50 on a fru fru cup of coffee. We are a average family barely middle class. Sure it is expensive but you can bring in your own snacks. Another thing I never saw or heard anyone barking any products. The service is amazing and the place is very clean. We had a great time and I can’t wait for next year. I am sorry you didn’t have a wonderful time with your family. It looked to me like you were unable have fun and be a kid again.nwhen I go through the gates a am able to leave the outside world behind. It must be hard to be so judge mental all the time.

    • Alisa Abecassis Alisa Abecassis says:

      Hey Kevin,
      Just because I’m not a fan of the Disney magic does not make me judgmental. In my opinion families with limited time and money will get more bang for their buck on a family road trip. But again, that is my opinion. There is much to love at Disneyland and they have a huge fan base just don’t count me as one of them.

  5. Erick Carlson says:


    As a longtime Disney visitor and avid road tripper, I respectfully disagree with your analysis of Disney not being a good bang for the buck. As you point out frequently on your blog, planning is a key to an enjoyable vacation. We typically purchase our tickets and hotel stay through Costco. For an example if you purchase a 5 day park hopper pass and hotel for 4 at a Hyatt within walkable proximity, the total for the stay comes to $1851 for 2 adults and 2 children (ages 10 & 8 in my case). If you only average 10 hours a day in the park ( we frequently stay closer to 14 on days open later) it averages out to $92.55 per person per day including park entry and lodging. Disneyland allows visitors to bring food, snacks and drinks in plastic bottles inside the park. We bring in most snacks and lots of bottled water. We typically only purchase 1 main meal a day and some snacks for fun. I figure we spend about $150 a day per person. For the 10 hours we are there a day the price runs little more than a movie here in Sacramento. Not a bad bang for the buck in my opinion.

    • Alisa Abecassis Alisa Abecassis says:

      Hi Eric,
      You make a good point and a smart traveler like yourself can find many ways to make it affordable. I guess I just don’t want to lug around bottles of water and snacks for 10 hours. I have taken my kids and they enjoyed it for the better part of a day, but it’s not somewhere we want to make a pilgrimage to over and over like some folks do. In my humble opinion my kids have gotten so much more visiting places that are fun but still stimulate their minds teaching them valuable lessons they can’t learn at Disneyland. Our stay was at a Disney hotel, where he had to pay outrageous amounts of money for breakfast and had to exit and enter through a gift shop just to leave the hotel. The TV featured only Disney channels and commercials for Disney timeshares and a Disney home development (that I kid you not had Disney faucets and other “magical” decor). It was Disney overload. My kids and I explored Epcot until the afternoon when we felt compelled to escape the “Magic Kingdom”. We ended up going to Wonderworks in Orlando that was a cross between a science museum and a fun house and was infinitely more enjoyable for my kids. But that is the beauty of it all and what makes the world go round….there is something for everyone and we can agree to disagree.

  6. David Reed says:

    I have to disagree with this completely. There is just as much learning opportunity at Disney as many science museums. We watch videos about how the rides are created, learn about the physics of the rides, learn about the history of Disney himself and study the times while he was alive and creating Disneyland. This can also be done at the park. It is magical and there are ways to save money. We are traveling the country this year and plan to visit both Disneyland and Disney World. We homeschool, so we are going in early May before kids get out of school and the week after Labor Day. Rates are cheaper for everything, but we are also taking a travel trailer to explore the rest of the country along the way. We will see many national parks and musems this summer, but Disney will definitely be the highlight for my kids. We all LOVE Disney parks. The attention to detail does justify the high costs for us. I once waited in line for two hours for my daughter to meet the princesses and the look on her face was worth every minute. I can’t say the same about a Disney Cruise because we just had a blast on a “cheap” Carnival Cruise, but I feel the parks are worth every penny. When I hear people complain about the costs, I don’t think they understand what goes into the process. Last year we also saved money by finding a condo across the street from Disneyland which was more inexpensive and just as convenient as the non-Disney hotels. That also allowed us to save money on food. We will definitely plan on seeing the 50 states as much as we can, but we will see Disney parks as often as possible as well.

    • Alisa Abecassis Alisa Abecassis says:

      I applaud you David for homeschooling your kids and taking them out on the road. You sound like an amazing parent. Your kids are very lucky to have the opportunity to see America as well as enjoy Disneyland and Disney World. While I totally get that many folks are enamored by the magic kingdom, and yes I agree there is tremendous attention to detail, my kids and I felt for us there were more negatives than positives and being a bit older, they weren’t wowed by the magic. We appreciate the magical quality of Disneyland but when we have a choice we find more magic in the things most folks take for granted and don’t require standing on line for hours on end. That doesn’t make it better or worse, it’s just a matter of opinion. You make some great suggestions for families to make their visits more affordable.

      • David Reed says:

        Thank you, and while I appreciate your response and always appreciate differing viewpoints, there was a sentence that irked me.
        “Why give your kids Mickey Mouse when you can give them a real adventure that will leave them smarter, more cultured and uniquely appreciative of all we have to be grateful for as Americans. ”
        That is a very arrogant statement. Learning can and does occur everywhere. Walt Disney is as relevant as one of the founding fathers in American history. The beauty of the parks is what you make of them. And while lines can be part of the experience, there is incredible artwork and engineering that went into the design of the entire experience. It’s hard for us to notice the negatives when you take the time to be amazed by the positives. The Disney parks can be hot, crowded, and expensive, but there is a magic and opportunity for education that is equal to anything else, as long as you let yourself see it.

        • Alisa Abecassis Alisa Abecassis says:

          I guess we’ll just have to agree to disagree. I don’t feel my statement is arrogant at all and I stand by it. Disney fans love for the magic runs deep-and sometimes get offended when others don’t share it. I am sorry I cannot share your enthusiasm. I’ve never denied my children a visit the to magic kingdom at home where we live in southern California or on our road trip to Florida, but it’s not something they were excited to do for more than a couple of hours at either park.