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  • Writer's pictureAudra Krieg

Outer Banks to Disney World - Less than $1500!

Ahh… Disney World. Most moms have priced it out at least once in their lives and like me, looked at the price tag for a 3-4 day trip for the family and slammed the laptop shut with an exaggerated rolling of the eyes. It’s absurd. I have local neighbors who told me about taking their family to Disney World and couldn’t believe that they spend $3000 on a theme park and I’ve gotta say, I’m right there with them. It’s really borderline offensive to me that a theme park can cost so much money when there are some kids who simply don’t have food in this world… So when Penelope started asking me to take her to Disney World, I was so conflicted. With the majority of her days being spent playing pretend in Princess fantasyland, I knew she would love it but I just couldn’t justify it. I turned to all of the Disney vacation planner professionals and they still couldn’t understand that I didn’t want park-hopper options and multiple day park tickets. I just wanted to go to Disney World and stay in a decent hotel and take my girl to see the Princesses! My total budget was $1500 for the entire trip and I stayed exactly at that.

I’ll be honest, I don’t understand how anyone survives in Disney World for more than two days. We could have done just one day and Penny would have been pleased as punch but I chalk that up to being an Outer Banks born and raised little gal. We only entered the park for one day with one day passes for this reason but we did spend more time on the Disney Resort property. I don’t think that kids on the Outer Banks thrive on a Disney level of stimulation and entertainment especially for extended periods of time. They’re just not accustomed to that much “stuff” and it’s a little bit of sensory overload when you’re used to the simple and slow pace on the beach. I can at least speak for my own kids when I say that their learning and stimulation is much different when it comes from the beach and nature instead of electronics and toys. Different in a good way! So when I was planning this trip, I knew that my little Penny would crumble after a full day in the park. All of the Disney Hotels have at least one swimming pool so if you don’t go to the park on your second full day, you will still have plenty to keep your kiddos busy! I’ll never forget taking Joey to Disney World when he was 5 years old and within two hours of park play he asked us to take him back to the hotel so he could go swimming. We were dumbfounded… but we also made him stick it out until mid-day!

First of all, flying anywhere from the Outer Banks is sort of ridiculously overpriced. But flying to Florida is CHEAP. Do yourself a favor and look up Allegiant Air out of Norfolk. We flew into Orlando/Sanford for less than $100 per person, round trip. Sometimes living on a sandbar makes traveling feel daunting but I promise, this was a quick and easy flight and since the terminals are so small, it's less hectic than flying with a larger airline!

$1500 Disney Budget Breakdown:

Roundtrip with Allegiant Air, direct flight to Orlando/Sanford, FL from Norfolk, VA: $94 per person. ($282 total)

Hotel stay on Disney property for 3 nights at a value resort: $151 per night. ($453)

One park ticket per person: $115 per adult/ $109 per child


We brought our breakfast foods because I remembered from our last trip that we spent over $300 in the hotel cafeteria and I really didn’t want to fall into that trap again. So, we brought a box of cereal and picked up fruit at Target before checking into our hotel. Total was less than $15.

We used mobile ordering at the parks to purchase meals. We ordered a grilled chicken sandwich and a basket of chicken tenders and french fries and shared it all, we all had plenty to eat. Total for in park ordering: $30 per day

Dinner: We splurged and had dinner with Cinderella and her Prince Charming one night which was $160 and while it was beautiful and great to have Penny see the characters during her meal, it also made her not want to eat her ridiculously over priced buffet food and the trade off is less than 5 minutes with the character. Magical, yes. Worth $160, but not if you’re on a budget. I’m still really happy that we did this because she is raving over having Cinderella and the Step-Sisters at dinner!

Snacks: I brought granola bars and dried fruits for the girls and I. We splurged and got one Mickey Mouse shaped treat for Penny and spent $9 on said rice krispy treat. Granted, it was covered in chocolate and m&m's and I ate the last few delicious bites... it was still at $9 rice krispy treat! {Insert eye roll here.}

Fun fact: You can bring water bottles and your own food into the park. I could have actually saved $30 by bringing in a packed lunch and it probably would have been better tasting and healthier, this is one way I’ll save next time for sure.


We knew that the Bibbidi Boppiti Boutique would be a home-run for Penny and splurged on it for her. With multiple levels of “magic” to choose from at the boutique you can either bring a dress from home or buy one there in the store. The majority of the girls in the boutique while we were there had brought their dresses from home. The total for her hair, makeup and nails was $70 and worth every single penny in my opinion! She is still rocking her bun four days later, although it has almost completely fallen out. She still thinks it is top notch!

I also bought our souvenirs on Amazon and snuck them into my suitcase. Penny and Eloise each had a stuffed character surprise on our first night and I purchased each one for $9 with Amazon Prime. Later in our hotel gift shop I saw the identical Minnie Mouse doll that I gave Eloise for $28. Total win! Penny carried her Ariel around the entire park with her and even shared her drink at lunch...

Also, I bought glow wands and necklaces at the Dollar Tree and snuck them into our park bag for when it got dark. Penny had no idea that they weren’t the same as the $19 glow sticks that the park was selling.

Lastly, I bought her autograph book on Amazon for $6. They sold the same one at the park for $12. Again, total win. My girl loved collecting the autographs of all the "girls" in the park and she didn't want any autographs from the boys...

What I would do differently:

I’d pack way less “stuff” because all I needed was comfy stuff…don’t try to make Disney World a fashion show y’all because everyone is wearing weird Disney t-shirts and tennis shoes…

I’d upgrade our hotel and bring more food from our Target stop instead of buying it at the resort or parks. Our hotel, Pop Century Resort was fine! It was clean, like squeaky Mickey Mouse clean and it had plenty of options for things to do and eat but I would have liked to have a little bit more room. That way when the girls went to sleep, I wouldn't have felt like I had to be silent so I didn’t wake them up.

All of that brings the total to less that $1500, so I spent every penny of the remaining dollars on coffee. ALL THE COFFEE THAT MICKEY SELLS!


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