How Much Spending Money To Take To Orlando?

Orlando, Florida, is one of the top tourist destinations in the world. Home to incredible theme parks, amazing experiences and delicious food.

As such, it’s very easy to overspend when you’re on vacation here (I speak from experience). But how much money do you really need when going to this attraction-packed city?

The minimum amount of spending money we’d recommend for a trip to Orlando is $30 per person, per day. This covers drinks, snacks, tips, miscellaneous spending (think band-aids & penny pressing machines) & the occasional souvenir but not meals, theme park tickets, parking or hotels.

Of course, depending on factors such as where you’re staying, what attractions you plan to visit and who you’re travelling with, the amount of spending money you require could significantly increase.

As such, we’ve put together this guide to help you decide on the amount of spending money you’ll require for your Orlando vacation.

Factors To Consider When Deciding On Your Orlando Spending Money

There are a handful of factors you’re going to want to keep in mind as you go through this guide they are;

  • Duration of your trip
  • Domestic or international travel
  • Car hire or public transport
  • Staying on-site (at Walt Disney World or Universal Studios) or off-site
  • Staying in a hotel or a villa
  • Number of people you’re travelling with
  • Type of holiday (once in a lifetime or semi-regular summer vacation)

These factors will dramatically influence the amount of spending money you’ll want to bring on your trip to Orlando.

Things To Budget For When In Orlando

Whether you’re travelling to Orlando solo, as a couple or on a family vacation, there are six key categories you’ll need to consider budgeting for;

  • Travel
  • Accommodation
  • Attractions
  • Food & Drink
  • Souvenirs
  • Miscellaneous

I’ve gone ahead and broken this post down into each of these six categories to help you understand the costs (and ways to save) for each.

Travel

There are two types of travel you’re going to want to consider for your Orlando vacation; getting to Orlando and getting around Orlando.

Since this is a post about spending money, I’m going to go ahead and assume you’ve covered getting to Orlando and instead need to consider the costs involved with getting around Orlando.

In this case, the first consideration is going to be how you’re going to get around Orlando. This could be in a car you drove to the city, it could be in a hire car or using public transport.

If You Drove To Orlando

If you drove to Orlando from home, then the costs you’re going to want to consider are;

  • Cost of gas driving in Orlando
  • Cost of parking at the hotel
  • Cost of parking at attractions

The amount of gas you require for your car when in Orlando will depend on the vehicle you own (and how much gas it consumes), how long in Orlando and how much driving you plan to do during your vacation.

For example, if you’re staying in a villa and driving 10 miles to Walt Disney World daily, then your gas and parking costs are going to be higher when compared to simply staying on-site at the Walt Disney World Resort.

At the time of writing, Walt Disney World hotels charge the following for parking;

• Disney Value Resorts: $15 per night
• Disney Moderate Resorts: $20 per night
• Disney Deluxe and Deluxe Villa Resorts: $25 per night

Meanwhile, the cost of parking at one of the Walt Disney World parks is;

  • Preferred parking: car or motorcycle – $45 per day during non-peak seasons; $50 per day during peak seasons
  • Standard parking: car or motorcycle – $25 per day
  • Shuttle, Limo, Camper, Trailer, RV, bus, or Tractor Trailer – $30 per day

Similar prices apply to the majority of other hotels and attractions in Orlando. As such, if you’re driving to and around Orlando, expect to budget between $20 and $40 per vehicle per day.

If You’re Hiring A Car In Orlando

If you’re coming to Orlando on a long domestic or an international flight, then you might choose to hire a car during your vacation.

Hiring a car can provide you with a lot of flexibility and even save you money if you’re planning on travelling between different locations a lot during your trip. However, there are some additional costs you’ll need to consider.

As this post focuses on spending money, I’m assuming you’ve already factored in the cost of your hire car and any associated insurance.

Once that’s paid for, you’ll want to consider all the additional expenses highlighted above (If You Drove To Orlando) as they will also apply.

If You’re Taking Public Transport In Orlando

Taking public transport in Orlando removes the need to pay for parking at hotels and attractions in Orlando (which you’ve probably realised by now can get very expensive) however, it can also somewhat reduce the flexibility of your travel plans.

Helen and I travel from the UK to the United States and as such we’ve never mustered up the courage to drive on the other side of the road. As a result, we’ve always relied on other forms of transport when visiting Orlando.

The key factor in taking public transport in Orlando is where you stay during your trip.

For example, the best way to save money on transport costs in Orlando is to stay in one of the many hotels that provide shuttle busses to the major parks (usually Walt Disney World, Universal Studios & Seaworld).

In some cases these shuttle busses are complimentary, and in others, a small fee of around $2 per person each way is required. 

Meanwhile, if you’re planning on spending a lot of time at Universal Studios in Orlando, then you can also save money by staying in a hotel within walking distance of the resort.

Walking from your on-site hotel is also possible with SeaWorld & Legoland but sadly not possible with Walt Disney World given the size of the resort and lack of sidewalks.

If you’re planning on spending a lot of time at the theme parks in Orlando, then in some cases paying more and staying in a hotel on-site at the resort you plan to spend the majority of your vacation at can pay in benefits.

The benefits you’ll receive from staying in an on-site hotel will depend on the exact theme park resort & hotel but at a minimum, they all include complimentary travel to their respective parks.

This means that with Universal Studios, guests of resort hotels will be able to travel directly to Universal Studios & Volcano Bay for free.

While guests staying at a Walt Disney World hotel will benefit from complimentary bus service to any of the theme parks & water parks inside the Walt Disney World Resort.

If you’re staying in a villa, a hotel with no shuttle buses, or need to fill the void when the shuttle bus times don’t work, then you’re likely going to opt for a ridesharing service such as Uber or Lyft.

Rideshare services are readily available in Orlando and can take you to major attractions, grocery stores, the airport and more.

However, they come at a cost.

In our case, most trips from our hotel to the nearest Walmart cost around $15 each way, while a ride to/from Orlando Internation Airport was circa $35.

As such, if you’re planning on taking public transport in Orlando, then you’ll want to budget up to $20 a day. Unless you’re planning on staying entirely on-resort.

Accommodation

Your Orlando spending money budget assumes that you’ve already paid for your accommodation. However, I figured it was worth mentioning since where you stay can significantly impact the amount of spending money you require.

By now, you’ve probably realised that where you stay in Orlando can affect;

  • How much money you spend on gas
  • How much money you pay for parking
  • Whether you’ll be able to get a shuttle to the theme park
  • Whether you’ll be able to walk to some of the theme parks
  • The cost of a taxi to different attractions & the local grocery store

However, where you stay in Orlando can also affect;

  • The price you pay for souviners
  • How much you’ll need to budget for food
  • Your miscellaneous expenses

In some cases, spending more on a hotel can reduce the amount of spending money you require and increase the overall quality of your trip.

As such, if after reading this post you decide to change your accommodation, then check out some of our recommendations;

Attractions

Orlando is home to several major theme parks, most notably Walt Disney World and Universal Studios Orlando.

However, you’ll also find several other attractions here, such as; SeaWorld, WonderWorks & the Crayola Experience.

In some cases, you might even find yourself travelling outside of the city to other major locations such as Daytona or Tampa.

As the vast majority of visitors to Orlando purchase any theme park tickets in advance (as it’s significantly cheaper doing so), I’m going to go ahead and assume you’ve budgeted and/or paid for them already.

Keep in mind that the attractions you visit during your trip to Orlando are going to impact the amount of money you spend on food, drink and souvenirs (more on that later).

However, in some cases, you might choose to visit additional attractions while on vacation in Orlando.

For example, we went to Universal Studios Resort back in 2015 and spent five nights on-site at the Loews Sapphire Falls Resort. However, after three days, we chose on a whim to mix things up and spend the day at Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World.

At the time, this was around $120 per person that we didn’t budget for in attraction expenses – and in learning from our mistakes here, we chose to add this line item into our future trips to Orlando.

Fast-forward to our wedding in Orlando in 2019. We chose to celebrate a couple of days after the ceremony with the additional experience of Dolphins in Depth at Walt Disney World.

While this wasn’t paid for or arranged before we arrived in Orlando, it was something we had the budget to do, having learnt from our previous experiences.

As such, we recommend budgeting roughly $100 per person in spending money for these unknown entertainment and attraction expenses while in Orlando.

Sometimes your additional attraction expenses might be spent on something simple like tickets to the cinema or crazy golf, and in others it might be something slightly more expensive such as a dinner show or go-karting.

That said, if you’re going on a once in a lifetime trip to Orlando, I’d consider adding more to this budget line wherever financially possible since you’re not planning on returning to the city in the future.

Food & Drink

In this case, I’m categorising food and drink spending money as snacks and drinks and not traditional meals at restaurants, food from the grocery store etc.

As a rough guide when we travelled as a family of nine (six adults, three children) for ten nights we spent $3,500 on food. 

This included one resturant meal per day at a resturant at Walt Disney World or the equivilent (usually lunch or dinner) and groceries from Walmart. 

These are the foods and drinks you could go without but don’t… because you’re on vacation.

I’m talking about;

  • Starbucks Coffee
  • Fizzy Pop
  • Ice Creams
  • Pretzels
  • Popcorn
  • Candy
  • Chocolate

The cost of these items will vary dramatically depending on where you purchase them.

For example, if you’re planning on spending the majority of your Orlando vacation at the Walt Disney World Resort, then you’ll want to budget $6 for ice cream instead of $3.

In our opinion, this is an easy area of your spending money budget to cut back on without heavily comprising on the experience.

As a general rule, we like to budget $10 per person, per day, for drinks & snacks while we’re at any of the theme parks or the beach, with any additional drinks & snacks being covered in the vacations grocery budget.

Souvenirs

It’s almost impossible to give you an idea as to a budget for souvenirs when in Orlando.

I’ve seen people spend thousands and thousands of dollars inside stores within Orlando’s theme parks and at the nearby shopping malls and outlets.

Meanwhile, I’ve known plenty of others to simply go without souvenirs altogether, or simply pick one item that represents the trip, whether that be an ornament for the Christmas tree or a keychain.

In our case, for many of our first trips to Orlando, the only souvenir we came home with was photos because we’d spent every penny we had on the trip itself.

However, as we got older and our vacation budget increased, we spent more and more on souvenirs.

These souvenirs included everything from new clothes to craft supplies to home furnishings.

With that said, in recent years, we’ve found that as we declutter our home, a lot of what we opt to sell or donate are the souvenirs we purchased on these trips.

As a result, we’ve now opted to be more mindful as to what we purchase when on vacation (both in Orlando and elsewhere) moving forward.

If you're looking at purchasing sovuiners from Walt Disney World then be sure to visit the Disney Character Warehouse. 

There are two Disney Character Warehouse's in Orlando. One at Orlando Vineland Premium Outlets & one at Orlando International Premium Outlets. 

Be sure to check out Youtube to get an idea as to the items you might be seeing during your trip and the associated discounts. 

Of course, if you’re travelling with children then going without a souvenir is near impossible.

As such, we recommend giving them a budget and sticking to it. Whatever that budget may be.

Miscellaneous

There are a handful of other miscellaneous expenses that you’ll want to consider budgeting for when visiting Orlando.

These will vary depending on a host of factors, including the circumstances you encounter, where you’re staying, who you’re travelling with & how you’re travelling.

However, consider thinking about the expenses that might be associated with;

  • Any dietry needs you have
  • Any money you might want to spend at the airport
  • Tips at resturants, hotels etc.
  • Any first aid purchases you need to make
  • Excess baggage charges
  • Laundry fees
  • Hiring pushchairs & wheelchairs

Miscellaneous expenses are tough to plan for in advance. However, we’ve experienced something along the lines of everything mentioned above at least once during a trip to Orlando.

As a general rule, we find that it’s always worth budgeting $100 per person for these miscellaneous expenses (up to $500 per trip).

We rarely go over $100 in this category. However, it’s always nice knowing we’ve budgeted accordingly should we need to hire a wheelchair or do some emergency laundry.

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