6 Expensive Disney World Experiences Worth the Price Tag

Source: @hikarimurakami
Source: @hikarimurakami

In news that will surprise no one, visiting Disney World is expensive. You need to consider the travel expenses, the cost of tickets, a hotel, dining…the list goes on and on. And as expensive as a regular Disney World trip is, there are actually tons of experiences at the parks that can make the cost skyrocket.

I’ve visited Disney World dozens of times over the past decade for work, and been lucky enough to experience a lot that the parks have to offer. I’ve also discovered certain expensive experiences that are very much skippable and others that you may want to consider. While it can be hard to swallow the price tag of certain experiences, if it fits within your budget, there are certain things you can do at Disney World that are very much worth spending the extra bucks on. Now, there is a caveat. Not all of these experiences are worth it for everyone. However, if they fit within your budget and your group’s interests, these six expensive Disney World experiences could very much be worth it.

1. Staying at Disney World Deluxe Hotels

There are a ton of different on-site Disney World hotels that you can choose from for every budget. Disney World offers Value, Moderate, Deluxe, and Deluxe Villa resorts that offer varying levels of theming and amenities for guests to enjoy.

As you may have guessed, the most expensive category are the Deluxe Resort hotels. In general, these hotels feature the most amenities and dining options and the best locations you can find at any of the Walt Disney World hotels. Pricing can vary based on the time of year and which hotel you’re looking at, but the rate for a standard room at a Disney World Deluxe hotel can range anywhere from in the $300s to thousands of dollars per night.

So, why are they worth the cost? Well, the first reason is the location. If you are looking to spend a lot of time in a particular park, having the ease of just walking over or taking a quick Monorail ride makes a huge difference in maximizing your time at Disney. The Magic Kingdom Resort hotels in particular can be a great pick for families with young kids, as you’ll be able to hop on the Monorail and get to your hotel in far less time.

The other reason to consider a Deluxe hotel is for the added benefit of Extended Evening Hours. This is a perk that is only available to guests at Deluxe hotels on select nights where you can have an extra two hours in a certain park after it closes. We’ve seen this happen at Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, and Disney’s Hollywood Studios on select nights, and it makes a major difference in the crowd levels and how much you can do within the park.

expensive disney experiences worth it
Source: @thosegarciagirls

2. Disney Genie+ and Lightning Lanes

When visiting Disney World, you can pay to “skip the line”—and it’s often a cost that can be worth it. Disney offers two paid services that will let you bypass the Standby line: Genie+ and Individual Lightening Lanes.

Planning Your Ride Strategy

Depending on the time of year you’re visiting (check our Disney World crowd calendar!) you can easily spend well over an hour waiting in line for some of Disney World’s most popular attractions. If you want to get as much done in the parks as possible, paying the extra money for Disney Genie+ or an Individual Lightning Lane is the best way to help achieve that. Just be sure to plan your ride strategy ahead of time, as both Genie+ and Individual Lightning Lanes are booked the day of your park reservation—starting at 7 a.m. (no sleeping in on park days!)


You can purchase Disney Genie+, a service that fluctuates in cost based on the park and day that you visit. It’s a per person, per day service that allows you to select rides throughout the day that you can use a Lightning Lane for as opposed to Standby. A Lightning Lane is Disney’s version of an expedited line, letting you get on attractions with a shorter wait time.

Individual Lightning Lanes

Additionally, there are select rides at each park where you can purchase an Individual Lightning Lane entry. Separate from Disney Genie+, these are rides you can purchase a la carte, allowing you to pay a set cost per person to ride some of Disney’s most popular attractions (like Star Wars Rise of the Resistance, Avatar Flight of Passage, and Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind). These would only be worth it if you want a guarantee of riding a favorite attraction with a short line. You could still try to get in line when the park opens at “rope drop” to hope for a shorter line.

3. Booking a Behind-the-Scenes Tour

At Disney World, there are a variety of different VIP and behind-the-scenes tours that you can take advantage of. Perhaps the most well-known is the VIP tour, which gives you and your group of up to 10 guests the chance to experience the parks with a personal VIP tour guide who will customize your day however you desire. However, this perk is pricey—it can cost up to $450 to $900 per hour, so it’s a particularly expensive add-on for a day in the parks and not within the majority of visitors’ budgets.

However, the experiences I’d really recommend are the ones that actually take you behind the scenes of the parks. Examples of this include the Wild Africa Trek, which will allow you to go on a privately guided tour through Kilimanjaro Safaris at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Or, take a trip into the giant aquarium at EPCOT, where you can take to the Seas and go diving into the tank. 

These experiences range in price, anywhere from $35 per person for the Caring With Giants tour to $219 per person for the EPCOT Seas Adventures DiveQuest. If you are with teens or older kids in your group, though, these can be truly one-of-a-kind experiences you won’t be able to do anywhere else.

Disney experiences worth the price
Source: @melodyinthemaking via #sharetheeverymom

4. Attending Holiday After Hours Events

Throughout the year, Disney World offers various after-hours events for guests. These events require a separate ticket, but allow you to experience the parks after they’ve closed for regular admission. Typically they’ll include special treats, lower crowds, fun entertainment, and more for you to enjoy.

Two of the best known specialty ticketed events are Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party, and Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party. These holiday events take place on select nights from August through December, with both including special entertainment, food, attraction overlays, and more.

What’s Included in the Disney World After Hours Events

While the cost of tickets for these varies based on date, you can be spending anywhere up to $199 per person, per ticket to attend on the most popular nights. With such a large price tag, is it worth spending more than you might pay for a regular ticket? If you love celebrating the holidays and would enjoy the special seasonal festivities, then the answer may just be yes.

Along with unique entertainment, these holiday parties allow you to get into the parks while they are still open to regular guests, so you will actually get quite a few hours of experience out of your ticket. With lower crowds during the parties, you can also get a lot done during that time. In fact, if you are buying separate tickets for each of your days, you may find you can get enough done during the holiday parties that you don’t need to visit the park during the day as well. One caveat is they are usually evening events and probably aren’t the best for little ones with an early bedtime.

5. Enjoying Certain Dining Experiences

Disney World isn’t your typical “theme park” when it comes to food experiences. Yes, you’ll find typical fair-type food like chicken nuggets, corn dogs, and funnel cake. But, you’ll also find some incredible dining experiences that you won’t want to miss.

Now, there’s a range of dining experiences you can take advantage of in Disney World, from snacks and quick-service meals all the way up to signature dining experiences. Two types of meals that very well may be worth the price tag for your group are character dining meals and signature dining experiences.

Disney Character Dining

For younger kids who love Disney characters, there are certain character meals that are absolutely worth visiting. Fans of Winnie the Pooh will love The Crystal Palace buffet at Magic Kingdom, while fans of the Disney Princesses may adore Akershus Royal Banquet at EPCOT. Character meals are typically prix-fixe menus or buffets, so you’ll be paying a specific cost per person no matter what you eat. They can be a great way to hit some favorite character meet-and-greets outside of the park. As someone who recently took my daughter to Disney World for the first time, I can say that seeing her face light up when she met Pooh was worth every penny.

expensive disney experiences
Source: Morgan Flaherty

Disney Signature Dining Experiences

For signature dining experiences, Disney offers a range of spots to enjoy. The Deluxe hotels, some Moderate hotels, and each of the parks offer table-service dining experiences available with an a la carte menu, a prix-fixe menu, a buffet, or family-style dining. I have had some of my favorite meals ever at Disney World (shout out to Jiko at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge!), that were well worth the cost. 

In January 2024, the Disney Dining Plan returned to Disney World, which will help make planning out meals a bit more budget-friendly. The Disney Dining Plan is a prepaid meal package that allows you to purchase “meal credits” that can then be used at quick-service and/or table-service restaurants. It can be a well-worth investment if you plan on eating your way through the Most Magical Place on Earth.

6. Purchasing a Disney World Annual Pass

A Disney World Annual Pass is a ticket option that allows you to visit the parks as much as you want throughout the year (with blockout dates for some tiers). With an Annual Pass, you can visit the parks, as well as get discounts on merchandise and dining. Disney World’s Annual Passes come in four different tiers: Disney Incredi-Pass, Disney Sorcerer Pass, Disney Pirate Pass, and Disney Pixie Dust Pass. 

Types of Disney World Annual Passes

  • The Disney Incredi-Pass is the most expensive at $1,399 for the year, but can be purchased by anyone and allows you to visit the parks throughout the year with no blockout dates.
  • The Disney Sorcerer Pass is only for Florida residents and Disney Vacation Club members, offering admission to the parks with limited blockout dates for $969 per person. 
  • The Disney Pirate Pass and Disney Pixie Dust Pass are both only for Florida residents and have more blockout dates than the Disney Sorcerer Pass. Florida residents can purchase the Disney Pirate Pass for $749 per person for the year, or $399 for the Disney Pixie Dust Pass.

When Disney World Annual Passes are Worth the Cost

Annual Passes to Disney World are pricey, BUT they could be worth it if you are planning to visit enough that the cost of your tickets exceeds the cost of an Annual Pass. If you are only planning to visit Disney World for a handful of days over the course of a year, buying a Disney World Annual Pass is not worth the extra cost. Do the math based on how much Disney’ing you plan on doing in the upcoming year.

The Annual Pass will include free standard theme park parking, as well as discounts on merchandise and dining. If it will cost you less than tickets to get an Annual Pass, you’ll find that you end up saving a fair amount of money using that Passholder discount throughout the parks. Additionally, if you plan on going back to Disney World the following year, you’ll have the option to renew your Annual Pass at a discounted renewal rate.

And no matter what you decide to splurge on–from overnight accommodations and dining to attractions and special events—you’ll certainly be rewarded with magical and memorable moments to last a lifetime. Besides, it’s Disney World. What kiddo wouldn’t appreciate you giving them the precious opportunity to be shown ‘a whole new world,’ bells and whistles included or otherwise?

best of family travel