The Deal Mommy

Is Disney World Overrated? No. Here’s Why

My buddy Nick at Personal Finance Digest finally prompted me to write a post that’s been years in the making. He announced that Disney World is overrated. Nick’s argument is basically that Disney World is the Vendome of theme parks: overpriced, overcrowded, over-hyped, and overrated. 

Is Disney World overrated?

Hakuna Matata!

Is Disney World Overrated?

While I relish my role as community contrarian, I’m fully in the tank for Disney.  I want to spend some time today explaining why. Nick’s post provides a great point by point so I’ll use it as my touchstone. 

I wasn’t intending to write a Disney World Hacks advertisement, but my first thought upon reading Nick’s post was “he needed my book before he went.” Many of his issues with the mouse house have solutions that I cover in my guide. 

Disney World is Overrated Because it Costs Too Much

I’ll concede that costs for Disney World tickets can add up. I’ll also concede that price increases occur too often and that for a single day or two can seem outrageous. 

My first piece of advice is not to go for just a day or two. Prices per day drop significantly after day four. Check out Undercover Tourist to see what I mean. After day four it’s only about $20 a day. I try to plan for at least a week. Yes, you’re spending more, but amortizing the costs makes a lot more sense. Undercover Tourist often shows up on American Express offers and also codes as travel for Arrival +. 

You can purchase discount Disney gift cards to help mitigate the dining costs. I grabbed a $500 Disney Gift Card recently at Sam’s Club for $479.88. Using a 2 percent cash back card and getting 2 percent back on DOSH, the net is $460.48, or 9 percent off. That’s about as good as you’re gonna do for a Disney gift card. Even better, the DOSH cash showed up in less than an hour. Referral link for $5 to Dosh:

As far as lodging, I’d recommend a vacation rental as Orlando is chockablock with excess timeshare inventory. I’ve rented for as low as $249/week via Skyauction

Is Disney World overrated? It can seem so if you don't do it right.

It doesn’t have to be this way.

Disney World is Overrated Because of the Crowds

This is where my book would have come in most handy for Nick. I discuss tricks and tips to get around the lines that anyone can use without bending Disney’s rules. It’s entirely possible to skip the majority of attraction lines and to find the dining venues that are both appealing to the palate and uncrowded. You just have to know where to go and what to do.

Disney World is Overrated Because it Requires Too Much Planning

It’s possible to wing it at Disney World. However, it isn’t recommended if it’s your family’s one and only trip to the most magical place on Earth. That said (insert book plug here) if you have a quick guide it is easy to plan what you need to enjoy your trip without going so deeply in the weeds that you forget the point is to have fun. 

Disney World is Overrated Because They are Taking Over Everything

I’ll concede this point…to a point.  On the Disney-crazy scale I’m about a 6.5 out of 10. That may be hard for you to believe- especially since I’ve just published a book on the subject. However, it is entirely true. There is definitely a Disney sub-culture that can seem a bit, well, creepy from the outside.

That said, have you ever tried to discuss miles and points with a “civillian”? We look just as crazy as the Disney nerds do to most members of even your own family. And don’t get me started about #AvGeeks… 

Why Disney World is Not Overrated

Nick closes his post by conceding that Disney World is clean, has terrific theming, and that his problems with Disney stem from market forces agreeing with the first two points. 

I want to dig a bit deeper on this one as it’s important. The theming is on such a different level than anything else on earth that it takes slowing down to really appreciate it. In the Jock Hangar (Indiana Jones) bar in Disney Springs, it was a good 1/2 hour before I realized the case under my seat was jam packed with historically accurate artifacts.  

I spent a long time last year in the Animal Kingdom noticing the torn layers of posters in Harambe Market.  Each one was hand painted just to be ripped up so a 1/2 inch would show.  I had a chance to chat with the Harambe Market Imagineers. They spent weeks in Africa sourcing artifacts and researching the scenery.  If you don’t take time to notice, you’ll miss all of that hard work.

Just as market forces stimulate demand and pricing, they also affect the labor pool. Disney’s talent is second to none from the trash picker-uppers to the hotel staff to the performers. That’s because Disney is a prized addition to any resume and the company cherry-picks from tens, if not hundreds, of applicants for any open position down to bathroom cleaning. Much of the Disney magic stems from this fact. The people who work at Disney World really want to be there. 

Service is a large part of what keeps me coming back again and again. From Buzz Lightyear doing pushups in honor of our anniversary to the cast member who gave Deal Kid an extra pin with his first pin trade Disney is all about the surprises. 

What are your thoughts on Disney World?

Do you agree with Nick that it’s overrated or think it’s worth the hype? 

Looking for more Disney World tips and tricks? Check out my Amazon bestselling book, Disney World Hacks


Is Disney World Overrated? No. Here's Why.

25 thoughts on “Is Disney World Overrated? No. Here’s Why

  1. Pingback: Am I the only one who thinks Disney World is overrated? - Personal Finance Digest

  2. Justin

    I agree with you that Disney is not overrated. It is a far superior product than any other amusement park I’ve ever been to.

    I’m pretty sure you can bring in your own food…at least that was the case at Disneyland a few years ago. We just stopped at a 24 hour Subway en route and put the sandwiches in a backpack. That will save more than discounted giftcards.

    1. thedealmommy Post author

      That is true, you can bring in both food and drinks. That said, I’d plan on a few Disney meals. Done properly, the food is really good and not terribly priced.

      1. Francisco Luis Burgos

        Did you go to Disney? Even coffee is “terribly priced” definitely bringing food inside is the way to go. And yes it is way too overrated and I don’t think you actually gave valid points to that confirm the contrary. But that is just my point you can still think that a 10$ turkey leg is not overpriced

    2. Michae

      We always bring in our own food. A few bags of beef jerky, some granola bars, and apples or grapes usually last two of us all day with the occasional ice cream being our only in park purchases.

      Florida residents have it easy with the yearly weekday only pass – it’s comparatively cheap (I think the break even point was 4 days in the parks).

      Crowding is my only gripe about Disney for our situation and style, by it’s really no big deal when you consider the three fastpasses in the morning and then dropping new ones for the rest of the day…

  3. flyernick

    Is it fun and well-managed? Of course. But over-rated and over-expensive? Absolutely! We could never understand the people with a week of vacation and whatever budget they have, let’s say $3000 for family of 4 and they would spend it at Disney World. For the same budget, we’d take our family to Prague and Vienna, see real castles, ride real mountain trains and gondola, and experience real different cultures,…

    Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been to DW a few (I think 4) times, but spread over 3 decades+. Would I go back? Sure. It is a good time. But they’ve managed to sell themselves as the greatest place on Earth and I’m amazed at how many people spend serious $ to go back time after time to the exclusion of many other wonderful places in the world.

    Pro Disney comment: I defy you to find any fast food restaurant or concession stand anywhere in the world that moves through a big line as fast as the hamburger stands at DW. That’s some impressive operations management!

    1. thedealmommy Post author

      I absolutely agree that you can get many other places with the same vacation budget. To me they’re apples and oranges. Some trips I want to explore, some I want to unplug. Disney allows us to do just that.

    2. icicle

      But for some of us Floridians, it’s a great day or short weekend trip. For me, I have a job where it is hard to coordinate a week off…but a 3-day weekend can be done more easily. And with an annual pass, park-hopping is fun and free parking is great.

      There are a lot more Floridians at DisneyWorld than most people realize.

      And DW is just a few miles from a popular university. Can you imagine giving college students an annual pass (they have a FL addy while in school)?! A great way to spend time with friends for lunch or dinner!

  4. phxbne

    Thanks for your post! I agree it is expensive, crowded and complicated. But we love it, And we mix our Disney trips in with a lot of international and domestic independent travel. And I know you do that too and your kids have seen lots of things.
    Like any vacation choice, there are people who like it and people who don’t….guess that is true for anything in life. We choose to spend a lot of our disposable income on travel, and don’t ‘get’ people who get a new car every 2 or 3 years or pay a lot of money to watch professional sports. But they don’t get why we travel…..and we accept each others choices.

    1. thedealmommy Post author

      Very true. Disney tends to uniquely polarize people…and bring out condescension from “real travelers”. It’s entirely possible to be both an explorer and a Disney aficionado.

      1. icicle

        Plus I think it is a good way to mix both. For several reasons, it is has been difficult for me to go back to Europe. So EPCOT feeds my love of France and my desire to travel thru GB. It reminds me to Not. Give. Up! That some day I will get to see the real square in Venice, and see fjords in Norway. But until I can, I can listen to the accents of the EPCOT workers and hear stories of their home cities.

        DW is exactly what one makes it out to be.

  5. EricRfromNJ

    The first time bringing my family had that Disney “magic”. I couldn’t wait to bring my kids back. Each time since, I’ve increasingly felt it was overrated. We just returned from a trip to Orlando and didn’t even bother going to WDW. We are blessed to be able to travel as a family rather frequently. For the cost, there are just so many other places I’d prefer to go. Your point is fair, the longer you book, the amortized cost per day decreases substantially. I just can’t imagine spending more than 4 days in the parks. Time is worth more than money, and the Disney experience gets to be too much by day 4 in my opinion. I think everyone should go at least once for the experience, I’ve likely made my last trip for quite some time.

    1. thedealmommy Post author

      Hi Eric,
      I actually enjoy Disney World as much without the parks as with. We’ve had many trips where we stay at a resort and enjoy the pools and other activities.

      I do agree that time is the immovable object these days more than money- especially with school schedules.

  6. Mark D.

    Disney is way too expensive.

    If you are not enjoying it other than that, you are either doing it wrong or came in with an attitude that you wouldn’t like it. There are just too many options for fun to say otherwise.

  7. ff_lover

    I think you have convinced yourself (self brain washing), over time, that you will like no matter what the situation is…you will have a way out since you have spent so much time and $$, you have to like it..
    Disney is as overrated, over-priced and over-hyped as Apple products . People with low self-esteem and their need to fit in or show-off, typically find a way to reason or justify with this type of behavior..

    1. thedealmommy Post author

      Ummm…no. I’ve been to 40+ countries and have plenty of self-esteem, thanks. You can be both a Disney lover and a genuine human being.

    2. icicle

      I have a high self-esteem, and I love Disney. Yes it is overpriced et al, but I am completely aware of this going in. I’ve been in the shadow of Disney since 1983. I’ve seen the good, the bad, and all things in-between. If one is aware of all the negativity, then one can avoid it before going in (or at least devise some good coping mechanisms. Long lines are a great opportunity to have non-private family chats or play 20 questions, or Mad Libs, or share “What is your favorite….?” to better learn about each other).

      And how does one show-off at Disney? Do you mean those that actively participate in the imagination and spirit of Walt? That is not “showing off”; that is joining in the fun!

      And I am the last person that wants to “fit in” anywhere. I have been “different” since I can remember (that’d be age 3)…and I have no desire to be like anyone else.

      But whatever. I can apply your arguement to why people drink alcohol excessively or why people eat too much at a buffet restaurant.

      If people want to dress up like Minnie Mouse and dance down Main Street….if this makes them happy, they aren’t hurting anyone, they can afford it, and they are not infringing upon the rights of others….then let them do it. Like is too short not to dance, eh?

      By the way, I just spent today with my Mom at Hollywood Studios. And I bought a “It’s a Small World” tote bag. It made me happy. Nothing wrong with any of that.

      Happy Holidays to all of you, no matter how y’all spend it!

  8. Tyler @ The Traveling Toddler

    For me, the best thing about Disney is that it’s one of the few companies that don’t make you feel like your young children are a bother to them. That’s why we go back year after year. You don’t get that same level of service from anyone else in the travel industry.

  9. Unsatisfied

    Am in process of completing first trip to Disney. This is by far one of the worst experiences ever on a vacation. Everything extremely over priced and as an amusement park, I’m sorry but to have to wait to get on a ride for over two hours is ludicrous’. There are way better values out there for the price paid.

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